They pose naked for student glossies and pen "how to" and "to
avoid" advice on amorous engagement. Across the country, college
students' choice of extracurricular activity is revealing a growing
clinical frankness on matters that would have made their
grandparents - and parents - blush.
Harvard University was sent reeling this month when two students
announced their newest inspiration: H Bomb, a publication that would
be replete with poetry, fiction - and photos of naked coeds. In the
past several years, similar magazines, sex columns, even campus-
wide events have become the latest trend.
The week before Valentine's Day, Yale students put on Sex Week,
which featured panels with a pornographic movie star, among others.
Columbia University's student newspaper just launched a weekly sex
and dating column. Class lists nationwide increasingly feature the
study of pornography and "sex-positive theory," and back at Vassar
College, students are preparing the sixth edition of Squirm, the
campus magazine of erotica.
To some students, not to mention parents, all this is
inappropriate, even offensive, in the halls of American academe. But
to those involved in the movement, mostly women, it's a valid form
of campus entertainment. It's also about soul-searching and
challenging perceptions of sex in an increasingly sex-saturated
Of course, interest in sex is not new on campus. The sexual
revolution of the '60s was more radical. Colleges today, many say,
only reflect society's tolerance of using sex to sell everything
from music to shampoo.
And many students are feeling it's their right to express their
sexuality however they see fit.
"It's a push back against the political correctness of the
1990s," says Robin Sawyer, a human sexuality professor at the
University of Maryland."There is a lot of envelope pushing going on
on college campuses."
Harvard students Katharina Baldegg and Camilla Hrdy (pronounced
"Hurdy") wrote in their H Bomb mission statement: "What we are
proposing is an outlet for literary and artistic expression that is
both desired and needed...." The university initially accepted the
idea, with reservations. But after the media likened the endeavor to
pornography, Harvard's Committee on College Life backpedaled,
reflecting the ambivalence universities feel about crossing the line
between free speech and becoming platforms for sex.
But students seem undaunted. Indeed, while "Sex and the City"
ended its six-year run Sunday, character Carrie Bradshaw seems to
have inspired a cadre of young sex columnists.
This winter, Columbia University junior Jessica DiCamillo entered
a contest to become the student newspaper's new sex columnist. "Sex
is always a conversation starter, an icebreaker." Ms. DiCamillo
Yet some worry there is already enough sex in society. "There is
a strong addictive quality associated with sex," says Bruce Cook,
the founder and CEO of Choosing the Best, an abstinence-only program
for teens. …