Title

Talking about Sex on Campus: An Ethnography of Students' Experiences with Sex and Sexuality at Oxy

Authors

Laura Mellem

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

2007

Abstract

The college student identity is something that is widely represented in popular media in characters in movies like Animal House and Van Wilder. These representations of college life often portray students to be hyper-sexual, heterosexual, and often obsessed with alcohol and partying. In my research, I conducted a series of ethnographic interviews to see what students really experience in the realm of sex at Occidental. More often than not, students did not fit that media image. Some of the issues that did come up with my informants included their own perceptions of sex at Oxy, the intersection between race and sexuality in college, identifying as LGBTQ at Oxy, and the negotiation between religion and sexuality in the college environment. What most interested me, however, was the students? discussions of talking about sex on campus. My informants explained that there are many different arenas of discourse on campus, anywhere from the locker room to the dorm room to the class room in which the Oxy community discusses sex. One of my informants even said, ?Talking about sex is more a part of my life than actually doing, having, or engaging in any type of sexual activity.? I found that these different discourses on sex actually work to shape students? desires and identities. This array of discourses on sexuality seems to be specific to the college campus, so that perhaps what makes college students seem hyper-sexual is the constant dialogue we participate in surrounding sex.

Advisor

Elizabeth Chin

Department

critical_theory_social_justice

Support

Ford Research Endowment

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