Sexual experimentation in college not as common as once assumed, CDC says

By Allison Thomasseau
The Daily Free Press
March 23, 2011

College may not be quite the hot spot for same-sex experimentation that it was once thought to be, according to a study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The CDC interviewed 13,500 women and men and concluded that only about 10 percent of women with a bachelor’s degree had experienced a same-sex encounter, while about 15 percent of women without a college education had same-sex experimentation.

Many people questioned whether or not the discrepancy between college-educated and non- college educated women showed a correlation between education and same-sex experimentation.

“Class privilege and education do not exactly translate into sexual freedom, and we equate the two too easily,” said Keith Vincent, a Boston University assistant professor of Japanese and Comparative Literature, whose research includes queer theory and psychoanalysis.

While same-sex experimentation has become more accepted within society, it is questionable whether homosexuality has become less taboo in actual practice.

“Our campus is very fluid, people try to mask [same-sex experimentation],” said Aretha Pinkney, a College of Arts and Sciences sophomore and social chair of Spectrum: BU’s LGBT Social Organization.

The peer pressure to fit into social groups, such as sororities, she said, is the main reason behind hiding experimentation.

Pinkney also said there was a double standard when it comes to men having same-sex experiences verses women.

“Guys fall into what they want to do, while girls flirt with the idea but don’t follow through because of social expectations,” she said.

BU students said they were surprised at the lack of same-sex experimentation in college.

“That’s definitely less than what I thought,” said Melissa Yee, a College of Communication freshman. “I feel that in college you tend to experiment. Especially at BU, a lot of people came out of the closet freshmen year, because as you grow older, people are more accepting.”

While it may be a stereotype that students experiment in college, Jason Jennings, a first year School of Law student, said he thinks that the stereotype remains true.

“The reason [experimentation] happens is because people see the stereotype, so people feel they have to fulfill it,” he said.

With the media portrays experimentation positively on TV shows such as Glee and Pretty Little Liars, which have openly gay characters, some students believe that same-sex encounters are more accepted and encouraged.

CAS sophomore Ileana Tauscher feels that being “bi-curious” has become more prevalent in today’s culture, including at BU.

She said a lot of experimentation is because the “hook up culture is more lax” and that it has become more acceptable to hook up with different people before actually dating.

“It seems like a lot of girls experiment nowadays,” Tauscher said.

However, some students think that because things are so open in college it is harder to conceal experimentation in college, lowering the chance of sexual encounters for college women.

“It’s harder to hide it in college, and all your friends will probably know about it,” said Kerry Ellard, a COM senior.

Yet, Christine Chen, a COM freshman agreed that there is a double standard but thought it worked the other way around.

“It’s different for girls, because they can kiss a girl for attention. And they can kiss without repercussions, whereas with guys it’s not that way,” she said.

Even with differences between male and female experimentation, Vincent said that homosexuality being accepted in society can cause new struggles with coming out and experimentation.

“There is a certain fluidity of identity that we may have lost now that the educated among us are so sure that we know what sexuality orientation means,” he said. “The result is that it requires more of a commitment and a self conscious, deliberate choice [to come out]. We have become so certain that people belong to one of two categories that the consequences of whom one sleeps with may have even greater ramifications in terms of identity.”

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