Nonconsensual sex on campus has been a persistent topic of public conversation over the last few years. The current academic year has included a first-person account of rape published in the Amherst College student paper and a subsequent oversight-committee report, student protests that led the administration at Dartmouth College to cancel classes for a day, and claims that the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill retaliated against a student who HAD spoken publicly about the institution’s lack of response to her claims of sexual assault. And in what seems like an annual event, a high-profile athletic team was investigated for sexual assault; this year it was the University of Montana football team.
Administrators may think there is little they can do, because sexual conduct and misconduct reflect individual choices that are beyond institutional control—but we disagree. Campus-based awareness, educational, and support programs—including events to promote safety, rape-awareness activities, and counseling services for victims—suggest that the institution plays an important role. When sexual assault or rape occurs, campus police and the institutional judicial system often, but not always, become involved; local police and courts rarely do.
Critics accurately point out that most safety programs teach “don’t get raped” instead of teaching “don’t rape,” and that other programs help victims but don’t prevent victimization. They argue that campus judicial systems do not effectively handle subsequent concerns about safety: Victims are typically left to alter their course schedules and living arrangements to ensure that they don’t come in contact with perpetrators. This creates neither a sense of safety nor a positive learning environment for those trying to cope. What’s more, prohibiting victims from speaking publicly about their cases suggests that these judicial systems are more interested in protecting the college’s image than in protecting students.
Several factors make this a particularly vexing issue, not least among them the propensity among administrators to view students’ sexual behavior as a private matter. Perhaps reasonably, colleges encourage students to make informed decisions and be responsible for their own actions.
Nonetheless, sexuality is discussed all over the typical campus: Residential-life and student-affairs offices offer programs like “Take Back the Night,” undergraduates lead organizations that educate students about sex, and women’s- and gender-studies centers and LGBTQ organizations provide information and guidance. Faculty members teach courses on human sexuality, housed in a broad variety of departments. Student health centers deal with reproductive health, particularly with information on sexually transmitted infections and pregnancy prevention. The counseling center often helps survivors cope with trauma. Sexual assault is prohibited under conduct and honor codes, described in student-policy handbooks and enforced by institutional judicial processes and the campus police.
But sexuality is far broader and more complex than even that range of services would indicate. Although the vast majority of adults have sexual experience, most have little formal education on the topic and rely on fragmented information and broad cultural scripts to guide their beliefs about both sexuality and gender.
In some ways, the issue of student sexual behavior parallels several decades of concerns about alcohol on campus. In the past, campuses took a piecemeal and often reactionary position that encouraged students not to drink; penalties were applied intermittently and inconsistently. In response to cultural changes in the 1980s, like the increase in the minimum drinking age to 21 in all states and the enacting of stricter drunk-driving laws, colleges looked critically at their campus cultures, including the systems and programs that facilitated alcohol consumption, and made changes. As a result, undergraduates experience a different campus alcohol environment today than they did 20 years ago. Alcohol is not so easily available on campuses; many Greek systems work with administrations to deal with alcohol concerns; and treatment programs are more readily accessible, among other interventions.
It is now time to begin to understand sexual cultures on campuses and to begin a sustained, coordinated effort to create a sexually healthy population of undergraduates. It will not be comfortable, in part because of a general cultural discomfort with talking in public about sex.
Campus sexual cultures are composed of far more than the sexual assaults and traumas that make news, more than the contraception-and-prophylaxis pamphlets found in many campus health-center waiting rooms. Campus sexual cultures also include the many ways students meet, mingle, and become sexual with each other. “Sexual health” is more than the absence of sexual victimization, sexually transmitted infections, and unwanted pregnancies; it includes the emotional, physical, mental, ethical, and even spiritual aspects of well-being. Sexual health and well-being includes understanding individual desires, respecting self and others, and developing a sexual self that has boundaries, openness, and pleasure.
Understanding campus sexual culture means examining institutional structures that can facilitate sexual health, broadly speaking, as well as structures that respond to sexual misconduct, to determine what they’re doing well and where they can improve. That also means developing comprehensive strategies that identify goals and promote coordination across a broad spectrum of the college: campus-life professionals; legal-affairs units; mental- and physical-health staff; student leaders; the campus police; and faculty, among others. It means examining the ways in which institutional structures respond to the heady mix of alcohol, drugs, and sex that are foundational to many campus sexual climates.
Here’s an idea. Give women some agency by pausing now and then and allowing them to say YES and ask for what they want! I swear, it is sexy as hell to give somebody exactly what you know they want, without wondering if you’re guessing wrong.
Silence is only sexy because we like to assume that everybody is on the same page! Imagine how much sexier it would be if you didn’t have to assume, if a woman said, “Yes, please do that. I like that.” To have a woman actively pursue what she wants, and not just passively receive what someone assumes she wants, guarantees more fun and more pleasure for both parties. Just think of all the pornography that depicts women screaming “yes!” Consent is sexy; giving someone what they want is sexy; knowing without a doubt that your partner is satisfied is sexy.
I did a bit of research on this and the best and most concise answer I found to this question was from Women’s Day (if you click through, be warned that they picked really strange pictures to go with the questions):
“Cramping after intercourse can be normal, especially if the cervix—the bottom portion of the uterus—has been jarred at all during sex, through contact with a penis, fingers or a sex toy,” notes Stern. “A cramping sensation can also, sometimes, be the result of discomfort in the bladder or urinary tract.” To reduce cramping during and after sex, try emptying your bladder before and after sex. Still, says Stern, if you experience persistent cramping after intercourse, it’s best to see your doctor to rule out any underlying health conditions like endometriosis, fibroids or a urinary tract infection.