Monday, September 24, 2007

College Cold Showers

Since I spilled the beans about those frisky geezers, it’s only fair that we check out the other end of the demographic. This is back to school season and parents of college kids are fearful that they are dropping their kids off at a four-year orgy and footing the bill for it. They have less to fear than they think according to the writers of the IvyGate blog. In their Sunday Washington Post Outlook piece called College Sex: Going Home Alone, they let on that perhaps things are not as wild as all those teen sex comedies make it out to be. In their words:

But as the Class of 2011 settles in on campus this month, we're betting that the students are discovering the cold-shower truth: The type of action they're likely to get is more hanky than panky.

I have no idea how the hanky line got past a clueless editor, and they also turn “heat up a Hot Pocket” into an innuendo-laden metaphor I really don’t want to explicate. Still, it’s good to know that things haven’t changed much since my college days.

One of the college secrets they let leak is the complete ambiguity of the phrase “hook-up”. At least two books have been written raising the alarm. WaPo writer Laura Sessions Stepp, who discovered the phrase “wingman” about a decade after beer commercials did, wrote Unhooked about on-campus lust. White-suited Tom Wolfe wrote a completely clueless essay about Hooking Up that later formed the base research for his instant classic I Am Charlotte Simmons. I recommend Charlotte Simmons to all the parents of female high school seniors I know. The rather over-the-top set pieces are typical Wolfeian masterpieces, but the overall level of hysteria is Reefer Madness hilarious. But it still terrifies parents of teenagers.

These parents spend the high school years wishfully thinking out loud “I don’t think my daughter is sexually active because she would tell me if she was.” Once their daughters become college coeds and legally able to sign Girls Gone Wild releases, the parents lock down into don’t-ask, don’t-tell mode even as the kids bring newly found boyfriends or girlfriends home on the weekends. Fortunately, statistics are on their side:

In a 2000 Zogby poll, 40 percent of students nationwide reported that they were not "sexually active" -- a term left vague enough to include everything from kissing to soliciting strangers in a Minneapolis airport men's room. At the country's top schools, the dry spells approach levels not seen since 1930s Dust Bowl Oklahoma. Harvard's health department reported last year that 47 percent of students there said they had not yet had vaginal intercourse. (Numbers not adjusted for homosexuality, apparently.) At the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, a 2001 survey found that only 51 percent of undergrads had lost their virginity; at Princeton the same year, the student body was 44 percent pure.

Parents and other interested parties often confuse having had sex with having sex regularly. One landmark 2000 study found that kids have an average of 10.8 hookups in college. That seems like a lot. But the math works out to only 1.35 hookups per semester -- and remember, some of these incidents are merely make-out sessions.

In 2005, a survey of four universities found that...80 percent of students had had one sex partner or fewer in the previous year.

So if those kids are having sex, they are keeping too busy with studies and activities to get TOO busy. These stats aren’t that much better than the numbers for kids in high school, meaning that if you didn’t get laid on prom night, your odds don’t improve much in your dorm room.

Of course, like the similar binge drinking stats, these beer glasses are half-full or half-empty depending on your situation. The primary purpose of sex surveys is to make you think everybody is having more sex than you. College students already erroneously think the other guys (and gals) are getting three times as much action as they really are.

And if you want a squeaky clean look at the travails of a college freshman as hot as Amanda Bynes, I heartily recommend the silly flick Sydney White. The film is loosely based on Snow White but also steals shamelessly from Revenge Of The Nerds toned down to a family friendly PG-13. And if I had to choose between fairy tales, I would have to guess that Sydney is much more true to life than Charlotte.

BlatantCommentWhoring™: College sex, over-hyped fear mongering or not that big a deal?


Cham said...

I'm confused, why is sex while in college a bad thing? You have a better shot of getting laid while you are young then afterward when you get a job, a bunch of bills and other responsibilities. People don't get better looking as they grow older and fatter. You will remember the hot stud you bedded, you most likely will forget the joy of high grades. Use those college years wisely.

Impetua said...

I went to college, and the most "hooking up" I did was to obtain and keep a boyfriend for a couple of years. Sure there was plenty of sex, but I wasn't whoring around the campus or anything.

As I recall, the hooking-up years were POST college.

Jeff and Charli Lee said...

I agree with Cham. I'm more concerned about reckless drinking than reckless sex. I plan to give my kids a case of condoms and beg them to use them responsibly. I'd be a fool to think they weren't going to "hook up."

2fs said...

I'm child-free, so don't listen to me: but I also think responsibility is a far better approach than "just say no" (not that you're advocating that). It's frankly absurd to expect young humans - who've reached physical maturity many years before - to abstain completely from sex. Of course, get them self-hating enough, and they will end up all Larry Craig and looking for the least responsible but most deniable sex they can find.