Minus the City: Talking Sex with Parents

Happy Halloweekend Colgate! I hope it was three days of minimal effort costumes and blissfully ignoring the swarm of parents that arrived for the Family Weekend. The student body seems to be in agreement that this could not be a more inconvenient and awkward weekend for families to visit their students, considering the pattern of shenanigans that unfolds during this time. It’s not atypical in the sense that drinking and parties are a weekly occurrence at Colgate, just that Halloween amplifies an already extreme party culture. It’s the only time of year when you can see a basic black cat dancing with Napoleon Dynamite. Arriving to family brunch hungover, however, is not what makes the crossover between Family Weekend and Halloweekend so weird. What really sets everyone on edge is that Halloween is supposed to be sexy, and parents and sex are like oil and water. As famously stated in Mean Girls, “In Girl World, Halloween is the one night a year when a girl can dress like a total slut and no other girls can say anything about it.” But what about parents?

No one talks to their parents about sex, at least no one I know. Aside from the few errant free love families that roam this continent, it is absolutely taboo to touch the subject with the people who raised you. Both parties would like to pretend that the other knows nothing about sex, so we dance our way around it and do things like ask for birth control to “help with cramps” and turn to Google when something gets itchy. The Talk™ is a fabled stepping stone in the lives of American youth; it is supposed to be the one awkward, traumatic occasion when parents and teenage children discuss the topic of sexual intercourse. According to every coming-of-age movie I’ve ever seen, it consists mainly of scare tactics and a brief explanation of how babies are made. My parents jipped me of this iconic trauma, instead opting to give me the book Girls and Sex by Peggy Orenstein. The irony is that Orenstein encourages open and honest dialogue about sex between children and parents, because it leads to teenagers and young adults having healthier, safer sexual relationships. Considering how hookup culture has evolved, that’s something everyone should want and pursue.

Between the sex education we get in school, which can range in quality from mediocre to terrible, and the lack of discourse with our parents, we don’t really have any trustworthy sources of information and advice when it comes to our sex lives. Although sex deserves a holistic approach, one that accounts for the emotional and physical aspects that play off of each other and impact us in a categorically unique fashion, we treat it like the plague. Sterile, awkward and unempathetic conversations help no one. Despite the fact that most people realize there’s room for improvement, it’s not like anyone really wants to make the change and be honest with their parents. It’s been too weird for too long. Also, ew, gross.

Realistically, Colgate students will never be able to have the genuine conversations with their parents that they should, and most wouldn’t want to. That’s the world we live in and the way we were raised. At the very least, though, we should be able to turn to our parents when a doctor has to get involved. On a lighter note, with Family Weekend behind us we can return to our parent-free nights at the Jug – cheers! 

Contact Kate Hinsche at [email protected].