Minus the City: Mask Sex?

March 13, 2020 marked a universal END. For many of us, this was the end of academia as we know it: an unceasing brew of invigorating knowledge and scholarship fostered by a community of professors and students who relied on personal and intimate collaborations beyond the screen of an electronic device, without the need of physical barriers in the form of face coverings and six feet of radial space. This was an end to social life, to creating memories at parties and social gatherings with those we consider family away from home. 

For others, however, March 13, 2020 marked the abrupt end of another phenomenon whose significance is often underestimated and overlooked. A lifestyle that many don’t observe as a means of personal empowerment or pleasure, but one with the potential of fostering addictive and dangerous behaviors. This biopsychosocial phenomenon received its death knell as many began packing their belongings to return back home in the spring. 

Hook-up culture, as we know it, was laid to rest. 

Of course many could not stand to bear the constraints of a global pandemic, and at their own risk, and most importantly the risk of others, they sought to quench their sexual thirst. Others, the ones I dare say with an ounce of common sense, chose to stay in and suffer in silence. After a couple of months, however, that silence became conversation, and conversation became howling cries of pain as horniness panged us all with feelings of grief and angst almost parallel to those brought upon by the pandemic itself. Soon our social media feeds were cluttered with memes and videos, that, while humorous, pretty accurately depicted the emotional and physical toll of unsatisfied horniness. One of my favorites reads, “I was so horny I told him his soundcloud rapping was fire.” 

Nevertheless, months of waiting and anticipation is over and we’re finally back. Our university has taken drastic measures to ensure that the virus is contained and that its community members are safe and healthy upon arrival and throughout the semester. While some students have shown complete disregard for the unbelievable amount of hard work put in by Colgate administration and staff to ensure our safety by violating community health guidelines, a majority remain committed and vigilant. Still, months of quarantine back home and the death of hook-up culture has undoubtedly fostered an immense amount of sexual tension as hundreds of young adults reconvene to begin classes and share living spaces. So many of us are confronted with the dilemma of wanting to comply with health protocol for the sake of our community, while also wanting to satisfy desires that have built up for so long. The latter could end in serious consequences. So what is the solution? 

Well, masked sex is definitely not the answer. While COVID-19 is not transmitted sexually, any transaction of bodily fluids can result in infection. In fact, traces of the virus have been found in fecal matter, urine and semen. And while you may be certain that your hook-up partner is negative, room visitors are a gross violation of community health guidelines. 

As we transition into Gate 1, you’ll notice that not much has changed with respect to Gate 0. So, now is the perfect time to truly normalize conversations on the topic of masturbation and welcome masturbation as an extremely valid form of sex, as sex itself does not always imply the involvement of two or more parties. This may not be what you wanted to hear, but in the words of the NYC Health Department, “You are your safest partner.”