What’s sex got to do with…Labels?

Can you remember a time before you were who you are now? A time when society was not telling you who you are, innocuously, through seemingly inconsequential labels? Think about who you are, how you introduce yourself. For most of us, we say something like “Hi my name is X I am a girl/boy, I am gay/straight, I am a student/professor/parent” the list goes on and on, but there is almost always a qualifying label. The great, “I am,” phrase implies that your essence is inextricably tied up with that identity. However, this thinking can be very dangerous because, most often, individuals are not choosing their own labels, but rather are being labeled and then internalizing those labels.

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Communication, Consent, and Hooking up

Define “Hooking Up,” for yourself. Go ahead, try. Now, define what someone else means when they say, “We hooked up last night.” There is a large range of activities which can be encompassed by the phrase “hooking up.” Interestingly, there is a generational change for the term hooking up. For some, especially older adults, hooking up means meeting up with a group of friends to spend time together or, “Let’s all hook up after work at Charley’s to grab some drinks and talk about the upcoming business proposal.” For others, particularly middle-school students, hooking up can mean anything from providing connections for someone as in, “Jimmy hooked me up with tickets to the school dance,” to the more traditional young adult meaning. Teenagers and young adults in this historical moment, use hooking up as an ambiguous term to describe almost any sexual experience, from kissing to intercourse. In her book, Hooking Up, Kathleen Bogle suggests that, in this instance, it is intentionally ambiguous so that one can exaggerate or minimize the sexual encounter (28). However, regardless of your specific definition, one aspect holds true through all of them: the foundation of hooking up is social interaction.

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Why Don’t We Talk?

American culture is almost a paradox in the way that culture and media are so saturated with images of sex, and yet sex and sexuality are practically taboos. Many parents and adults labor under the delusion that if they don’t talk about or teach kids about sex, that they will not have any ideas about doing it. The documentary, Let’s Talk About Sex, exhibits how in some European cultures, sex is so much more easily talked about between parents and kids, as well as between kids. The society is much more accepting of teenagers’ sexuality, and their likeliness to engage in sexual behavior. This sort of openness is what American society should strive for. Continue reading