Post written by Madison Candline, Wellness Assistant
Sex is everywhere. We are born into a hypersexualized culture, where images and their implications groom us as little humans into the kind of sexual beings we’re supposed to be. Unfortunately, the messaging is not only heteronormative, restricting to our sexual exploration, but it’s also incredibly hard to live up to.
We all feel the pressure. But how can we make sure that this pressure does not negatively affect the choices we make about our sexual experiences?
At one point, even I gave into the casual sex-thing millennials are imagined to be doing. Personally, it was far from fulfilling. I finally realized that although that may work for some, it just wasn’t working for me. University culture can magnify the pressure to have sex as there’s the university/college stereotype that everyone is young and horny and sleeping around. Knowing the truth that people are actually having sex much less often than we might typically think can help take a bit of the pressure to “do it” off.
The Canadian Association of College and University Student Services (CACUSS) collected data from more than 30,000 students from more than 30 Canadian post-secondary institutions in June of 2013 in a survey known as the National College Health Assessment (NCHA). The data below collected in British Columbia may surprise you – not everyone is actually doing-the-do:
- When asked about intercourse, 26.6% students said they had never had [vaginal] intercourse. That’s slightly more than 1 in 4 students. And this is without taking into account differences in sexuality and/or those who are not interested in vaginal sex.
- 72.2% have never had anal sex, and 26% had never had oral sex
- With regards to frequency, those who are having or have had [vaginal] sex, there’s 21.0% who haven’t done it in the last 30 days.
- From those who have had anal sex, 22.2% had not done it in the last 30 days
- From those who have had oral sex, 28.4% had not had it in the last 30 days.
- When asked how many sexual partners they’d had in the last year, 29.3% said they had none, and 48.1% had only had one.
- The remaining 21.2% had between 2-8 and only 1.4% had 8+.
The above stats do not reflect the diversity of sexual experience and sexualities on university campuses, as penetrative intercourse is definitely not the only form of sex/sexual activity people engage in. Sex can mean something different to everyone. For some it may be penetration, but to others it could be other forms of intimacy like sexual touching, or even masturbation, for example.
The pressure to have sex, especially in university, can be very frustrating and possibly even isolating if you’re not having “enough” or are having “too much”. Maybe you’re questioning your sexuality or gender orientation. But, (as the data would indicate) if it seems like everyone is talking about sex, chances are they’re probably not all actually having sex! The only right time for sex is when you’re ready. But how do we know what “ready” looks and feels like?
- Check out Scarleteen.com for a great “checklist” to help you go through any questions or concerns you may have about being ready for sex. This website is a sex ed resource where professionals in the field of sex and sexuality respond to the diverse questions and concerns of real and curious young adults.
- Sexualityandu.ca also has some great info on how to communicate with your partner about being ready to have sex.
- Being ready for sex means being ready to have conversations with your partner(s) about how to protect against pregnancy and STI’s, and also being able to discuss your boundaries with each other. Having these discussions are important for your safety, but also your enjoyment!
- The AMS Sexual Assault Support Centre, located on the third floor of the Nest (room 3127) at UBC’s Vancouver Campus, is available for conversations around sexuality, sex positivity, healthy relationships, and sexual assault support.
Whether you’re having lots of sex, have never had sex, never want to have sex, or are floating somewhere in the middle of all this, your feelings are valid. You are the only one who gets to dictate where you want your sex life to go. What matters most is that you are happy with your choices, healthy with choices, and feel in control of your choices regarding sex.