So I’m reading this story on Yahoo about an abstinence group at Harvard. It pretty much runs the course of most articles of this sort: blahblah students are oversexed, blahblah the university promotes sex, blahblah we formed a group to talk about how much sex we’re not having and how much sex we’re imagining all the other students are having blahblah “hookup culture” blahblah they’re being intolerant of my intolerance of their sex lives blahblah.
Then I got a little surprise. Why, there is something new under the sun in stories about abstinence groups on college campuses!
True Love Revolution members say the problem starts with the university. They say Harvard has implicitly led students to believe that having sex at college is a foregone conclusion by requiring incoming freshman to attend a seminar on date-rape that does not mention abstinence, by placing condoms in freshmen dorms, and by hosting racy lecturers. (Harvard students have also launched H-Bomb, a magazine featuring racy photos of undergraduates.)
Let that sink in for a moment. This group is upset that the university is requiring students to attend a seminar on date rape and not mentioning abstinence during the seminar.
Harvard trying to prevent date rape, and raise awareness that yes, getting someone drunk so you can have sex with them when they can’t really consent is actually rape, and these dipshits in True Love Revolution think that’s promoting the idea that sex is inevitable? I mean, let’s not even get into the fact that by definition, rape is sex without one’s consent. Abstinence ain’t got nothing to do with it.
(Also, a student-run porn mag has to do with the university how, exactly? But that’s just poor reporting.)
I see that magical thinking is alive and well among the young and righteous at Harvard. Because the only reason I can see for getting bent out of shape about the failure to talk about ABSTINENCE at a DATE RAPE SEMINAR is the belief that an abstinence pledge is some kind of magical force field that prevents someone from slipping a roofie in your drink.
Of course, it’s not at all hard to find virgins on college campuses, even among the secular crowd. The idea that everyone’s having wild, hot sex on college campuses — everyone who isn’t actively resisting it via purity pledge, that is — seems to be a popular one among these people, and it’s wrong.
“Sometimes that voice on campus is so overwhelming that students committed to abstinence almost feel compelled to abandon their convictions,” Murray said. He acknowledged he “slipped up” and had sex earlier in college but said he has returned to abstinence with Kinsella.
Dr. David Rosenthal, director of Harvard health services, disputed the notion that the university promotes sex.
He said students mistakenly think everyone on campus is having sex. The National College Health Assessment Survey, which included Harvard and hundreds of other campuses, found that about 29 percent of students reported not having sex in the past school year. For the 71 percent who are having sex, it is crucial to promote safety, Rosenthal said.
“Some students may have a feeling that acknowledgment is condoning,” he said, “and it’s not.”
I know I’ve mentioned before that I was a virgin throughout college, as were a number of my friends, and none of us were virgins for religious reasons, nor were we saving ourselves for anyone. We just hadn’t found anyone we wanted to sleep with. It wasn’t that big a deal. Because we weren’t obsessed about everyone else’s sex life (and nobody seemed to be obsessed with ours, for that matter). Well, other than roommates’, but mostly where that prevented access to the room or a good night’s sleep.
And the fact that my university gave out condoms and put up posters detailing safe and unsafe sexual behaviors, some of which I had to ask the guys on the second floor to explain? I’m rather glad in retrospect that I had that exposure and education. It certainly made it much easier for me, when I eventually did start having sex, to insist on protection. Since I wasn’t actually having sex when I learned all this, it wasn’t something I’d have to introduce to an existing pattern of behavior. Plus, since the university gave me a condom compact, I had one at the ready the first time someone tried to pull the “I don’t have one, but it’ll be okay” gambit.
But then, my university treated me like an adult. Which is something that Harvard does for its students, and something this abstinence group would clearly like to end.