As a rising college sophomore, I have witnessed my fair share of sexual relationships
that for once were not fictional. Contrary to popular belief, I do not think anyone can isolate sex as a physical activity free of emotional implication. I am not saying that sex is bad, that empowerment through sex is phony, or that people who have a lot of sex should be condemned. Rather, I argue that sex is a complex subject that people should think about, because it has so many intricacies and ramifications for those involved.
Sex is almost never just sex. People who praise the idea of casual sex say that it boosts self-esteem, liberates women, and that it just “feels good.” But studies show that none of those things are always true. Of course women might feel freer after participating in no-strings-attached sex, but research reveals that they still get the short end of the stick compared to men, both physically and in regard to language. It’s tempting to view sex solely as a sign of empowerment or purely as an act of wanton lust, when in reality it has both positives and negatives.
Furthermore, people possess different motivations for engaging in sexual activity. It could be used to fill a desire to feel wanted, to add depth to an already existing relationship, or just to enjoy the experience itself. The underlying reasons matter, because certain motivations have a higher chance of leading to feelings of depression and anxiety, no matter how great the physical pleasure. Even though thinking or talking about sex might seem shallow due to certain connotations within society, discussing its deeper significance can bring a more holistic fulfillment and understanding not just of sex, but of oneself.
In my Social Psychology class last semester, we learned about misattribution of arousal, or the idea that people are often inaccurate when trying to label why they feel the way they do. In a well-known experiment conducted by Dutton and Aron (1974), participants walked across either a scary bridge or a safe one, and then an attractive woman gave them her phone number. Results indicated that men who walked across the scary bridge were more likely to call her, because they misattributed their fear from the bridge as an increased liking toward the woman. When people engage in sex, a multiplicity of feelings might arise, either from proximity or sexual arousal or any number of emotions – it’s almost impossible to call this experience “just” sex.
People have different definitions of “casual sex.” I agree that it’s possible to have a sex outside of a romantic relationship. No matter what, though, sex is not simple – it is complicated and physical and natural and emotional all at once. Which, really, is what makes it beautiful.
What do you guys think? I’m assuming that all of you are at least in high school, so you can be as detailed or as vague as you like, but what observations or thoughts do you have about the idea of casual sex? On a random note, I shared this post on Facebook, so now I’m wondering whether people think I’m some sort of sexual cretin – but, whatever,
the cold people’s opinions never bothered me anyway. You can also check out my thoughts on How to Save a Life by Sara Zarr here if you’d like, and I hope you all have a wonderful day!