College campuses are trying to figure out how to make safe sex cool in the age of Tinder and Grindr
“It’s time for students to have a serious discussion about sex; no, not that one, the other one.”
According to the CDC, the rates of STDs are on the rise, particularly in students between the ages of 15 and 24. The three STD/STIs rising the quickest are syphilis, gonorrhea and chlamydia. Rhetoric and American Culture professor Stephanie Amada of Michigan State University responded to the study by saying that hookup culture could be the explanation and that it downplays the necessity for protected sex.
“[Lack of communication] leads to all kinds of problems, but one of them is not using condoms . . . There’s this fear that [using a condom] is going to disrupt the moment, that it’s going to ‘kill the mood’ Amada said. So people don’t want to interrupt to ask, or insist, which maybe is what ought to be happening.”
Amada also brought up the use of apps like Tinder and other platforms of social media, saying that they may be making it harder to have conversations about this type of subject matter.
However, while hookup culture in America can be problematic, it cannot be blamed entirely for the rise of STIs and STDs. Schools across the nation, especially high schools, are not adequately preparing students with a knowledge of safe sex techniques. According to the Guttmacher Institute, as of August 2015 only 22 states in the U.S. required that sex education be taught in school and only 13 required that teaching to be medically accurate. There are also no standardized guidelines in order to assure that each student receives the same level of information. This is where a majority of the issue lies. One student may know the risk of unprotected sex, while another may not know that there is any risk at all. It is then up to parents to answer questions such as:
What is an STI? What is an STD?
What does “safe sex” mean?
What are condoms or dental dams for?
What does it mean to “get tested”?
However, many parents do not want to have such an intimate conversation with their children and therefore push the responsibility back to educators who may never answer those questions at all.
This contributes to a societal atmosphere in which sexual activity and everything that goes along with it is extremely stigmatized. It casts a shadow on the conversation of contraceptives, protected sex and how STI/STDs may be contracted. In this sex-negative perspective, the phrase “I don’t want to know!” creates many more problems than just a parent not wanting to know their child is curious about sexual activity. It makes people afraid to be firm in their request that their partner use some kind of protection, or even get tested for an STI/STD at all. The rising rate of STI/STD transference in students is an important subject to address and so is the lack of proper, unbiased education which may be the principal cause.