Behind bedroom doors

UWO’s sexual choices

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

A guy and a girl taking each other's clothing off in bed

Jon Purdy

Every year The Gazette conducts a sex survey asking students about everything from their most unusual fetishes to their weekly masturbation habits.

While the results are interesting and at times amusing, we don’t ask students why and how they make their sexual choices and whether being at Western has changed their choices or sexual identities.

Several brave souls shared their stories with The Gazette. Here’s what some of what they had to say:

On coming to understand my sexual identity…
Michelle, 22, fourth year:
When I was little I thought boys were gross, but once I realized they were less gross than I thought, I realized girls were kind of cool too.

I was very lucky I didn’t have a situation that caused me grief, and my parents were very supportive if I needed them to be. [My bisexuality] came very naturally.

I had to deal with the usual high school and childhood teasing based on sexuality. It made me a bit bitter, but I think I got over that. It was the same sort of thing that everyone goes through in one way or another.

It’s also made me see people less as separated into men and women. I don’t see certain people as friends and others as potential partners " I try to see everyone as fairly equal.

Chris, 21, third year:
I guess at first I thought I would have one girlfriend, we’d get married, and that would be it. That belief came from a lot of religious ideas.

So I had one girlfriend, we went out for four years, and then I realized I really need to stop fighting the fact that I’m gay and just leave her, because it’s not working out at all.

We had sex, and I always thought about men more than I thought about her, but I didn’t want to be gay, so I just thought I’d stay with her and I wouldn’t have to deal with it.

Jessica, 21, second year:
I’ve known I’m bisexual from the age of four...it’s kind of funny how things happen. But I haven’t had any sexual relationships with women, just because nothing’s come up so far.

I didn’t come out to everyone I know until last year. I kept it in. Everyone was really receptive, and nobody had a problem with it. My family wasn’t uncomfortable, but if I bring a woman home in the future it might take a little bit of getting used to.

On things that influence my choices...
Michelle, 22, fourth year:
My upbringing is my biggest influence. My parents are kind of hippies, so nothing is taboo in my mind so long as it’s between consenting people, preferably adults, who have the knowledge to be able to consent.

Chris, 21, third year:
Until around high school, religion was very important. My family was Protestant, and for a while we lived in Florida and went to a southern Baptist church. They’re very intense people...the atmosphere was very encouraging of monogamy and getting married.

When I was 19... I took a couple of sociology courses and realized that what I was thinking and doing actually wasn’t normal. A lot of people don’t understand the difference between ethics and norms. Just because you believe something should be a certain way doesn’t mean that’s what people are actually doing.

Jessica, 21, second year:
I’ve always based my decisions on feelings of readiness. The first time I had sex was when I was 15. I don’t know if I was ready, but I felt ready, so I went through with it... I don’t have any regrets now because it’s helped me become who I am.

Also, my parents have been married for 32 years. I think that had a large impact on me and my feelings towards meaning in relationships. Because they’ve been married so long, longevity seems to be an issue for me [when making sexual choices].

Julie, 21, fourth year:
I waited until I was 18 to have sex, but there was always pressure from girls and guys. I had boyfriends since I was 15, but I always knew I was going to wait.

A lot of people didn’t understand why I had to put a number on it, but I just thought at 18 you become an adult, legally. It wasn’t really that " it was just that I didn’t want to worry about STIs and pregnancy. I wanted to be a kid until I was 18.

On being comfortable with myself and my choices...
Michelle, 22, fourth year:
I became sexually active reasonably young, but I didn’t engage in intercourse until I was 18 because it wasn’t something I wanted. I didn’t define sex just in terms of intercourse.

It just sort of seemed messy and painful, and I’ve changed my mind of course, but I just wasn’t ready for it, and I knew I wasn’t. Any pressure I felt was easily brushed off because it wasn’t something I wanted.

I don’t have any regrets about becoming sexually active early, but for people who want to get married and go into a relationship virginal... you just have to understand the potential consequences. Sure you’re not going to have any STIs, but you’re also not going to have any sexual knowledge or maturity. You won’t understand your body or your partners and it’s going to be kind of scary and it might also be painful.

Chris, 21, third year:
A lot of guys still think I’m straight because they knew me when I was with my ex for four years, so it’s hard to say, “well, no, actually...sorry.” Anyone that I meet now, I’m out to, though.

My extended family doesn’t know and I don’t think they would take it too well because they’re very religious. My mom’s pretty accepting now that she’s over the shock, but she was disappointed at first... probably because she’s not going to have grandchildren.

Jessica, 21, second year:
The third person I slept with was someone with whom I was in a relationship with for two or three months, and it wasn’t as special as the other two times [which were in long-term relationships].

That time, I did kind of regret it...I felt almost, not cheap, but kind of ashamed that I’d done it.

I said, “Okay, I’m an adult. I can handle these things,” but I was still taken aback by my own actions. I couldn’t believe that I had sex with somebody I wasn’t in love with. After that, I knew I didn’t feel comfortable having sex without at least having more meaning in a relationship.

On the meaning of sex and the gender gap...
Michelle, 22, fourth year:
Sex is completely natural and neutral. It has no meaning except what we give it. There’s nothing inherent about sex.

You could have sex with someone completely casually and it could have no emotional impact as long as you both know what to expect. You can also have a completely deep, meaningful relationship without having sex as long as neither of you are expecting anything different.

Chris, 21, third year:
After I broke up with my girlfriend I thought, “I’ve spent so long not having fun that I deserve a good time.” I wasn’t ready for another relationship, and I wanted to explore a bit, so I did.

At first I was kind of scared, and I realized after that I put myself in some pretty dangerous situations, but I realized it was just sex. I was just thinking about what it means to be gay and exploring the culture. Maybe it wasn’t the best way, but it got the job done.

My ex put a lot of stock in the meaning of sex, but I could have sex with a guy and go play video games after and it wouldn’t mean anything. I presume it has something to do with social expectations and the way we think people are supposed to act...and when you put two guys together who are both supposed to be out looking for sex, things can go pretty quickly.

Eventually I knew I had to stop doing that. It just wasn’t sane. After a while it started to feel a little too casual.

Jessica, 21, second year:
Animalistic, free-for-all love affairs are fun, but there’s so much more, and so many more feelings when love is there.

When you just have a one-night stand, there’s just so many feelings going on. I know for me, I’m not good with the whole “leave it at the door” thing.

I think that idea might be particular to women because society tells men they can have sex with feelings attached or not if they don’t want to. But, a fair amount of men I know would probably be hurt if they had sex and the woman just got up and left. I think that would hurt anybody, because you’d think, “Oh, I wasn’t very special,” and that kind of sucks.

Julie, 21, fourth year:
I think sex is just as important as the actual person you’re doing it with. Having sex is not only something that creates intimacy in a relationship, but it’s also a need.

I know a lot of people who are very religious, and they don’t do it because they say you were born to procreate...but to be honest, you were born with hormones and you’re just as much of an animal in bed as an animal in the wild. I wouldn’t have this many hormones in myself if I was meant to procreate only once. Sex is completely normal; it’s just people who have made it seem evil and taboo.

On being at Western...
Michelle, 22, fourth year:
At Western I notice a sort of giggly atmosphere where we think we’re being very open but we’re actually very puritanical. Sometimes I hear these Victorian ideas that women don’t have or don’t feel as much pleasure and that female masturbation is wrong.

It’s almost a setback to be so apparently candid but really very uncomfortable with the subject. We’re getting there, but we still think we’re much more advanced than we actually are.

Chris, 21, third year:
Western’s a pretty good [place to be gay]...There’s PrideWestern, and if you need support you can go there. I hang out in their office once in a while. Club 181’s a decent gay bar, especially because others can be really seedy and filthy and over the top.

Western also has a great sexual health campaign. You can get free condoms and STI tests as a student. It’s a pretty good place to explore your sexuality.

Jessica, 21, second year:
I was in Saugeen in first year and I never felt any pressure to fuck any of my neighbors...maybe because they were younger than me.

Western’s a great place with a beautiful campus, but sometimes I can see when I go to bars where people are hooking up with random people everywhere that it seems like [this kind of behaviour is] expected. It’s like we think we’re Western students and that’s what we’re supposed to do.

Not every student is like that, but it’s just the image that maybe Western students might project, or it’s projected onto us from the things like the Saugeen Stripper last year. I think Western still has that label of partying, promiscuous students looking for a good time.

I think if you don’t have a very strong sense of your own identity you might adopt the “Western identity.” I saw that at Saugeen a lot last year. It helped that I was a bit older, and it’s just easier for me because I’m independent and confident and I have a very strong sense of identity.

*all names have been changed

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