Wednesday, September 12, 2012

How to Have Sex in College, Part 1
Trust Me on This: Condoms

No, really.
It's the most wonderful time of the year: back to school! College students have been on campus for a few weeks now and, for most, orientation with all its helpful advice is a distant memory. Most students immediately forget about the location of campus buildings; how to call the police in an emergency; what a blue book is; and where on campus to get free condoms.

Let's face it: college is different, especially if you're going for the first time. In addition to the other new things to try in college, like veganism and reading Ayn Rand novels, people will be trying new things like getting drunk. A lot. People will be getting hammered at parties, in dorms, on campus, at football games, kind of everywhere.

They will also be having sex. You might get kicked out of your dorm room so some hammered people can have sex, a rite of passage for everyone living in dorms that is in no way addressed by the OMG BACK TO COLLEGE!!! display at Bed, Bath and Beyond.  

I want people in college to have more of what they want and less of what they don't want. So consider this occasional series a guide to solving those problems they didn't mention at orientation, your parents didn't tell you about, and you're just not going to ask your perky RA.

The first thing I want to cover in this series is condoms. If you either have a penis or would like one in your immediate vicinity at some point during college, you need to have some. "But Julie," you might be thinking, "I've never had sex and I'm waiting for the right person." Great! You'll be well prepared and your friends who are having sex will totally raid your stash.

Condoms might seem like a weird, awkward thing to buy and that awkwardness might be harder to overcome if you're not having sex in the first place but, believe me, when it's 2:30 in the morning and you decide you want to have sex, you are not going to want to get up and go knock on your RA's door, dig through your roommate's stuff, or walk out to 7-11 to get some.  Research backs me up here: a study of college men's condom use errors showed that the #2 reason college men fail to use condoms consistently and correctly is that they wanted to use a condom but didn't have one available.
What a great guy!

Trust me on this: buy some condoms and put them no further than one arm's length away from where you imagine you'd like to have sex. That means bedside table, under the mattress, or on the floor are vastly better locations than the medicine cabinet or under the sink. Unless you plan on having sex in the bathroom, of course.

Another reason people don't use condoms is because using condoms can be intimidating. Not that putting a condom on is hard--it isn't--but because saying "Do you have a condom?" or "Should I get a condom?" is a way of saying, "I'm ready to fuck!" Some people are worried that having condoms will make their partners think they're slutty or don't trust them, but some people also apparently don't think it's cool to wear seatbelts.

Women, in particular, are taught that they should never explicitly express that kind of desire and so may be too afraid to insist on condom use even when they really want to use condoms. Guys, similarly, might be nervous about stopping the action based on fears that they'll lose their erection if they have to walk to the bathroom to get the condoms stashed there (see why it's better to have them under the bed?).

In fact, the number 1 condom use error among college men is the failure to discuss condom use with a partner before sex. This suggests that people are too scared to just fucking say that they want to fuck already.

Trust me on this: saying that you want to have sex will result in one of two positive outcomes. Either your partner will totally want to have sex too and you'll have sex; or your partner will tell you that they don't want to have sex and you won't accidentally have nonconsensual sex with them! Winning!

By not asking, you're gambling that the person you'd like to have sex with isn't totally intimidated by you, afraid you'll think they're slutty, too drunk to say no, or otherwise unable to meaningfully consent. And there is only one word to describe people who willingly have sex without consent: rapists.

Assuming that you have condoms and are capable of forming the words "Hey, you wanna get a condom?" with your mouth, you're ready to learn how to put a condom on.

People who have received sex education that actually covered how to use condoms, a terrifyingly small and decreasing proportion of our population, often get an insanely long series of instructions. But there are really only three steps to condom use after you have condoms in your possession and have gotten consent from your partner.
  1. put the condom on the dick in question. 
  2. have sex. 
  3. repeat as necessary
Of course, condom use is something people routinely fuck up, but once you learn how to do it correctly it's like putting in a tampon--not exactly rocket science.

Trust me on this: Having a bad experience with one type of condom doesn't mean "condoms don't work" for you, and that isn't an acceptable excuse for not using one. Every penis is different, and condoms should not feel uncomfortable or painful. They should be snug, but not so tight that they cut off your circulation and interfere with erection. If this happens, you can try a bigger condom like the Magnum or Kyng. Keep trying different kinds until you find one that works.

If you need help picking out what type of condom to use, I highly recommend Condomania, which lets you search for condoms based on different characteristics like size, length, and features like textures and special lubes. You can also check out our reviews of different condoms here.

To review: Buy some condoms. Put them where you sleep. And good luck!