Tusinski: Normalize sex but not oversharing

In the pursuit of normalizing sex, we’ve normalized oversharing too.

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Collegian | Chloe Leline

(Graphic Illustration by Chloe Leline | The Collegian)

Dylan Tusinski, Collegian Columnist

Editor’s Note: All opinion section content reflects the views of the individual author only and does not represent a stance taken by The Collegian or its editorial board.

The other day, I was at a small house party. I was hanging out with a group of four or five people, and for whatever reason, we were talking about various injuries and illnesses we’d had over the years. I mentioned I’d broken one of my toes while playing hockey, a girl mentioned she’d once gotten pneumonia and then another girl blurted out she’d gotten chlamydia from her ex.

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The conversation lulled for a minute as we all took in what we just heard. Obviously, there’s nothing really wrong with having chlamydia — or any other sexually transmitted infection for that matter — but it felt so out of place to hear that mentioned out loud among virtual strangers.

Even though the conversation eventually picked itself back up and the party continued into the night, that one little statement stuck in my mind for days afterward. I just couldn’t stop wondering why the hell she would say that.

It made me realize something: Over time, we’ve made a consistent push to normalize sex — which is a good thing, don’t get me wrong — but in the pursuit of normalizing sex, we’ve normalized oversharing too.

Now, I want to make it abundantly clear I do think sex and much of the intimacy that surrounds it should be normalized and treated as a normal thing to talk about. We’re living in an era wherein sexuality is politicized, which is an awful thing. From Texas to Florida and Louisiana, we’re seeing a significant push to make sexuality a taboo subject.

Fifteen states nationwide have passed some form of legislation limiting discussion of gender, sexuality, queer history and other topics revolving around intersectional identities in schools. Needless to say, this is a despicable thing, and I’m in no way saying we need to restrict conversations about sexuality and sexual orientation.

“In the process of normalizing and liberating sex, we’ve forgotten to normalize and liberate the individuals having sex. People are willing to discuss all the intimacies and intricacies of having sex but are willing to do so at the cost of their own individuality.”

What I am saying, though, is sex is still an intimate thing. Even though we should be willing as a society and a culture to discuss sex and all the topics surrounding it, we shouldn’t be as outright about it as many people seem to be.

There was a conversation I had when I first came out as queer that’s stuck in my head for years. I was a freshman in high school, and at the time I’d come out as gay since it felt like the label that had best applied to me. I remember a couple days after I’d told my friends, one of them came up to me and asked me point-blank if I was a top or bottom.

I thought then what I thought seven years later at the aforementioned house party: It was a completely unnecessary thing to say or ask. That question was also a moment of foreshadowing into the future in that it was the first instance in which I witnessed someone’s sexuality being boiled down to a relatively obscene, unnecessary statement.

In the process of normalizing and liberating sex, we’ve forgotten to normalize and liberate the individuals having sex. People are willing to discuss all the intimacies and intricacies of having sex but are willing to do so at the cost of their own individuality. Rather than treating sex as the intimate, personal thing that it is, people are willing to bleat out that their ex gave them chlamydia a few months ago — which is more than I ever want to hear at a party, especially from a stranger.

If you ask me, I think the recent Disney+ film “Turning Red” handled the conversation around sex pretty well. Instead of completely swerving around the subject or diving into an on-the-nose discussion around sexuality, the film takes a nuanced and allegorical approach. It keeps the notion of sexuality intimate and personal but still discusses its importance and its intricacies, which is exactly how I think we should handle the notion of normalizing sex as a culture.

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Reach Dylan Tusinski at letters@collegian.com or on Twitter @unwashedtiedye.