Entries Tagged as 'Sex and Relationships'

The ABC’s of B.C.

12.04.2014

The pros and cons of birth control among college women

By Sex and Relationship Correspondent, Christine Stanwood

Untitled

As I sit in the gynecologist’s waiting room for my procedure to have an IUD inserted, I begin to wonder: Why is it my responsibility as a woman to be the one in charge of birth control? On that Friday afternoon, I awaited the pain of my cervix being stretched for the purpose of preventing a baby bump within the next five years. Meanwhile my male counterparts have already started drinking pitchers of Natty Light to kickoff the weekend.

While they don’t have to order birth control pills through their local CVS pharmacy or have an IUD procedure done, they do spend the occasional $14.99 for a 10-pack of Trojan condoms. But besides condoms, do collegiate men leave the pressure on women to prevent pregnancy? Professor Kim Warren of the Woman’s Studies Department at the University of Kansas believes sexual responsibility is inevitable.

The University of Kansas Watkins Student Health Services offers a free Women’s Health Clinic for those who need “confidential examinations, treatment, and information regarding all women’s health issues.” Multiple forms of contraception are available including: pill, ring, Depo-Provera, IUD, Necplanon, Patch, Diaphram, Condoms, and Emergency Contraception. Walk-In Hours are on Monday-Friday from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. and on Saturdays from 12 p.m.-3 p.m.

“I think there is added pressure, in general, for people to take an active role in the management of their health and their reproductive lives,” she says. “At the same time, there is a tremendous amount of pressure on women to manage their reproductive health, and then to manage childcare once children are in the picture.”

*Elizabeth, a senior at KU agrees with Professor Warren. “I think it is an added stress for women at times, but by no means do I think there is a sole individual to be held responsible.” However, she does go on to say that it would also be irresponsible for a guy to refuse to wear a condom and play the “blame game” within a pregnancy situation. The “P” word itself can make any college student shudder. According to a study conducted in 2011, the rate of unintended pregnancies among 20-24 year rose from 59% to 64%. Unfortunately, that means all dreams of a social life, potentially studying abroad, and a future career can flash before a woman’s eyes if faced with a pregnancy scare.

Thankfully, Sally, a senior at KU has not experienced a pregnancy scare but one member of her family had the unthinkable happen. “My sister actually got pregnant on birth control,” Sally recalls. “She wasn’t very good at taking the pill at the same time every day, which supposedly is a factor in how effective the pill is.”

There are many women like Elizabeth who live with a group of women. She knows that taking the daily pill can be forgotten with an ever-changing routine. “There have been a few instances where I’ll hear down the hall from my room, ‘Fuck, I forgot to take my birth control!’ she explains. “Because students’ schedules are typically more sporadic, I think we tend to be less responsible about it.”

Part of the reason why I chose to have an IUD (intrauterine contraceptive device) inserted was so I didn’t have to face the fear of having an accidental pregnancy during college. Too many times I forgot to take my birth control pill or went weeks without taking the pill because I didn’t have a sexual partner. By the off chance I wanted to have sex, I ran the risk of pregnancy. It was unfair and irresponsible to be unsafe, not only for myself but for the man I was having sex with.

After a poor experience with having multiple periods a month, bloating, and weight gain, *Sarah, a senior at KU decided to all together get off the pill. “I didn’t feel good about my body,” she adds. “I’ve been much happier since being off the pill.” Because Sarah isn’t on birth control, she is adamant that her partner wears a condom.

However, I was concerned when I found out that Sarah wasn’t using a second form of birth control. She explained to me: “There’s always the crazy story of a girl who was on the pill, or that used protection that got pregnant anyways,” she tells me. “It’s always a bit scary, but I don’t think not being on the pill is the reason for that.”

Sarah isn’t the only girl to run into problems with the pill. Several female college students have faced physical and mental obstacles with birth control in order to have sex. Elizabeth noticed an increase in hormones and emotions while taking the pill. “I’m typically not an emotional person,” she says. “But after getting on birth control I experienced extreme emotions over minuscule things and swift changes in my mood.”

Jamie, a senior at KU, also noticed a change within her emotions when first taking the pill as a junior in high school. “I got an Ovarian Cyst that ruptured and it was the most pain I’ve ever felt,” Jamie remembers. “The doctor said the cyst would return if I didn’t get on the pill.” Fortunately, because Jamie stayed on the pill, she no longer faces problems with her cysts.

But what if Jamie, like other women, wants to try an alternate form of birth control? Jamie tells me that she would consider trying another form but is reluctant to try something new with fear of the cysts returning. Turns out, other women aren’t opposed to the idea of switching but still prefer the pill. “An IUD would be ideal because of its lifespan and reliability but has its cons as well,” Elizabeth says. “Eventually I decided the pill was the best for me.” Based on data from the CDC, the pill is the leading contraceptive method among women from ages 15-29.

It wasn’t until I was laying legs apart in stirrups having the doctor buzz in another nurse when I knew this wasn’t a simple procedure. Getting an IUD was far from a simple procedure. The pain I felt within that 2-minute session felt like an hour. I gasped for air and screams came out of my body that I couldn’t control from what felt like a sharp cut inside me. “Hold her hand”, the doctor motioned the nurse toward me. With a swift step, she took my hand and didn’t break eye contact. She acted as a mother figure in a moment where all I wanted was my mom.

Reflecting back on that day, I’m glad I was able to make an adult decision for myself. I would encourage women to become familiar with all options for birth control. And men, continue to appreciate your condoms.

*These women chose to remain anonymous based on conversations about sexual and personal decisions

 

Photo by Christine Stanwood

Edited by Katie Gilbaugh

Anal: The New Black?

11.09.2014

By Callan Reilly

black

It seems anal sex is taking over, with articles being written everywhere about what was referred to as “the road less traveled.” But still, beliefs behind the popular sex trend are complicated.

GQ, Cosmo and even Huffington Post have all dabbled in the hot topic — whether it’s a how-to guide or persuasive essay.

“I think it’s the fact that we are getting a little older that it’s not such a weird thing,” said Annie*, a junior from Overland Park. “Even a year or so ago I had heard a friend of mine had done it, and I thought it was so weird,” she said. “Now it’s not such a big deal.”

According to a Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report that polled people between the ages of 15 and 44, 36 percent of straight women and 44 percent of straight men admitted to having had anal sex at least once in their lives. Additionally, the Journal of Sexual Medicine announced in 2010 the number of 18 to 19 year-olds who’ve been anally penetrated rose by 20 percent between 1992 and 2010.

Though anal sex play seems increasingly popular, the topic is still holding onto some taboo stereotypes.

“From a girl’s point of view it’s looked down upon as slutty or trashy,” said Katie*, a senior from Leawood. “I also feel like guys like taking a new virginity from someone again. It’s almost like a game.”

This is what University of Kansas professor emeritus and sex therapist Dennis Dailey calls “sexual male bravado,” which he describes as men bragging or competing with sexual activity — whether it’s oral, vaginal or anal.

A Live Science study also reinforces Dailey’s point. One hundred thirty teens ages 16 to 18 from diverse backgrounds were interviewed on their opinions of sexual experiences in August. Males in the study appeared to perceive having anal as a competition. Even though not all the young men in the study said they wanted to have anal sex, many of them said men encourage one another to try the practice. The teens also expected men to find pleasure in anal sex, whereas women were mostly expected to endure the negative aspects of anal sex, such as pain or a damaged reputation.

So, does this make the increasingly-popular anal sex “degrading?”

“I think any sexual behavior if expressed in a certain way can be degrading,” Dailey said. “Even though there’s more openness about anal sex play, it’s still 30 or 40 percent of people who get involved with that with any kind of regularity. I think those who do it do so as part of a pleasurable experience with each other. I don’t think it’s naturally a degrading experience.”

Despite the conflicting reasons behind performing the act, it is happening.

“I think it has to do with a general level of comfort with sexuality,” Dailey said. “I think that what’s changed is not that there’s more of it, but more comfort or more openness in talking about it. Over the last several decades there’s been a small incremental change and openness about sexuality, even though there’s still a lot of people who struggle with issues and problems.”

Ben*, a senior from Kansas City, Kan., is open to anal sex. I asked him if a woman who is also open to anal sex play affects his opinion of her. “Absolutely not,” he said. “If anything it’s a bonus because it shows she’s open to different things. If the girl wants it I have no problem doing it every once in a while.”

Ben says he prefers vaginal sex over anal, but describes himself as always having an open mind.

“If my partner is really into it I’ll cater to her needs, but I personally won’t ask for it more than a couple times a month,” he said. “I am open to everything, who am I to judge? To me sex has never been just about doing a few select things.”

 

*Names changed

Edited by Katie Gilbaugh

 

Butt Why? The Return of the Backside

10.05.2014

By Christine Stanwood

It’s a breezy, 75-degree day outside and I decide it’s the perfect time for a joyride. I roll down my windows and turn on the radio. Jason Derulo is crooning, “You know what to do with that big fat butt,” over the airwaves. Not quite feeling the popular tune, I quickly turn off the radio and focus my attention to the newly yellow leaves on the trees throughout campus. Ah, Jayhawk Boulevard! Free at las—asses, more asses. Yoga pants and high-waisted jean shorts quickly blur my vision. I drive back home and turn on MTV only to find Nicki Minaj twerking in a neon pink thong to her newest hit, “Anaconda.” Face palm, America.

I can’t be the only one crazy to think that this ass obsession is getting out of control. Butt why?

Recent articles in the New York Times and even Vogue are saying that butts are back in style. Having a juicy butt could be comparable to flannel for fall. Patricia Garcia, associate culture editor of Vogue says in an article, “In music videos, in Instagram photos, and on today’s most popular celebrities, the measure of sex appeal is inextricably linked to the prominence of a woman’s behind.”

Here to stay
Being attracted to a big butt isn’t just a fad. David Buss, Ph.D., psychology professor at the University of Texas at Austin discussed the topic in a recent interview for Men’s Health Magazine. He talked about why the attraction of a butt is primal. He states in the article that, “If a woman has a full tush, that’s a signal to your primitive brain that she’s probably carrying enough fat to become pregnant.”

Is it possible that we could credit this recent exposure to, dare I say it, men? We know the age-old trick: men are taught from a young age to hold open the door for women, to not only be polite but to also get a quick peek at her behind. Will Webber, junior at the University of Kansas says that men are helpless to the allure of the big backside.

“We’ve been taught since the stone age to seek out wide birthing hips and start big families with big butts,” Webber said. “Personally, I believe this evolutionary trait is obsolete—much like the presence of wisdom teeth—because I’m not trying to have any kids in the near future.”

If men’s views on butts are shaping pop culture, are women changing their lifestyles to shape their butts? Bianca Fugate, senior at KU doesn’t think so.

“I personally do not focus on my butt when I go to the gym,” she said. “I figure that if I’m working on my body as a whole, my butt will do what it’s supposed to.”

Fugate believes the focus on butts varies from woman to woman.

“Some people like their butts more than anything else on their bodies, so for them showing off their butt makes them feel more confident with themselves,” she said.

However, not all men are on board with this trend. At least in collegiate culture, often times you’ll overhear guys discussing their preference of being a “tits guy” versus an “ass-man.” Collins Uwagba, a senior in the KU Pharmacy school explains that being a “tits guy” can trump the butt trend.

“I like tall slim girls, and that doesn’t really come with them having a big ass,” he said. “A big ass doesn’t really excite or entice me.”

Regardless, we all know that trends are cyclical and next year could easily be the “Return of the Rack” and cleavage could be the new black. But Webber doesn’t think the butt obsession is going away anytime soon.

“I think it’s probably here to stay,” he says. “Or who knows, maybe men will soon come to the realization that girls do, in fact, poop.”

 

Photo by Allie Welch

Edited by Katie Gilbaugh

She’s Just Not That Into You…Or Is She?

7.16.2014

By Emma McElhaney

George-Costanza

It’s a common trope — the clueless guy who doesn’t take any of the hints an interested girl is sending him, even when they’re in capital neon letters. Before she made it clear she was into him, Emily Pinkston struggled to snag her current boyfriend’s attention.

“I sat behind him in class, and after I decided I was interested in him, I tried multiple times to walk with him after class,” said Pinkston, a University of Kansas senior.

He would either leave the room immediately, giving her no chance to show interest, or he would be engrossed in a conversation with someone else and she “would have looked dumb waiting for him,” she said.

“I would also try to talk to him before class about homework or other stuff, but it rarely extended beyond homework chat,” Pinkston said. “Finally, one day he turned to me and started talking to me after class to ask about my plans.”

For many guys, reading into a situation is risky — what if she’s just being friendly? But missing an opportunity could be equally as disappointing.

Doug Lawson*, a KU sophomore, said body language, such as a girl touching your shoulder or hands or giving you playful pushes, are good indicators of interest.

“If she feels comfortable enough with you to touch you, that’s a pretty good sign,” Lawson said. “If she hangs around — spends a longer amount of time with you specifically — or goes out of her way to continue a conversation with you, then she’s probably into you.”

It may be tempting to overanalyze all the signs, like body language or text messages, searching for a clear and obvious green light. However, Daniel Packard, professional love coach and touring speaker, said this isn’t a useful strategy.

“Nobody’s smart enough to think their way to love,” Packard said. “It’s too complicated; people are crazy.”

Sometimes life is uncomfortable, Packard said. You may be waiting around forever for an explicit, “Yes, I’m interested.”

“Things take courage, and people try to avoid courage, to try to skip that step and think their way through,” Packard said. “Even if you know what to say or not to say, if you walk up to her with the approach of, ‘I have to get this right,’ you’ve already lost the battle.”

Packard suggests focusing less on the outcome. Don’t be so caught up in whether they give you a yes or a no.

“Make your measurement of success be how you showed up. Were you courageous? Did you take a risk? Did you own what you want? These things make you proud of you. Then, no matter what they say, you walk away from the interaction feeling better about yourself,” Packard said.

Putting yourself out there can be scary, but through trial and error, Lawson said, you eventually figure it out. And sometimes it just takes courage.

“If you’re interested, ask her out,” Packard said. “People say no for a million reasons and none of them have anything to do with your worth. Just go for it.”

 

*name changed

 

Edited by Hannah Swank

The Fade: Suitable Way to Split or Cold Cop-Out?

6.11.2014

By Emma McElhaney

Untitled

Becca Campbell says she’s been the victim of the fade on more than one occasion.

“I’ve mostly had it happen when things were going more quickly than they were ready for. I think that’s kind of the trigger, and it’s just time for them to go,” she says.

It can happen after the first date. It can happen after you’ve taken the next physical step. It can happen before you even meet.

The fade – that kiss of death in any budding relationship – is what goes down when one person isn’t interested in another and slowly backs out without being direct about his or her feelings or intentions.

“It’s a very sly and inconsiderate way of tapping out of a potential, or real, relationship,” says Campbell, a recent University of Kansas graduate.

There’s a speed and simplicity to fading, says Suzanna Mathews, a dating coach and matchmaker in Wichita. Ending something via text is much easier than sitting down and having a heavy conversation.

“I find that a lot of people in their 20s are fairly fluid about dating. They hang out, they text, they maybe hook up, but they aren’t necessarily aiming towards a relationship,” Mathews says. “They don’t seem to need to pin down what it is. And that also kind of keeps it freer and more loose for when it’s time to drift away or do the fade.”

A Lesson from the Dating Coach: How to be Direct Without Being a Dick 

Instead of fading on the next date you’re just not that into, Mathews suggests serving up a “rejection sandwich,” or something positive and kind on either end with the rejection in the middle. She offers something like this: “I enjoyed meeting you, I just don’t really think we have a connection. But if I know someone that might be right for you, I will keep you in mind!”

Or maybe this: “I’m really glad we got to meet, and it was really cool to hang out with you. I just don’t think this is the right thing for me at this time, but you seem really wonderful and I know you’ll meet someone great.”

“Anything you can do to be warm and polite and kind of save their ego a little bit is good, but it’s okay to be direct,” Mathews says.

Dragging out something that’s going nowhere is a waste of time for both parties, Campbell says. If she’s not feeling it, she just tells the guy. “No one is really used to that kind of honesty, but I’ve wasted weeks and months on dudes who, if they had just said, ‘Hey, I’m not feeling it,’ we both could have walked away and saved face.”

People fade for a variety of reasons, including, obviously, just not being interested. Campbell suggests people may fade when things progress too quickly. Mathews says perhaps some people think the timing is off but would consider revisiting a relationship further down the road.

If you’ve been dating for months or years, Mathews says the fade isn’t an acceptable way to end a more serious relationship. You owe someone an explicit, clean break. “If you’ve only gone out a couple times or you’ve only made out at some parties, you don’t really owe them that same sense of completion.”

Mathews and Campbell agree that it’s not too hard to determine the difference between getting faded on and just playing hard-to-get.

“If someone’s really into me, they’re going to text me back within an hour,” Mathews says. “Anything over 24 hours’ lag time on responding to a text, you pretty much know they’re just not that into me.”

KU junior Will Putzier says he’s pulled a fade before.

“Initially I thought it had the potential to go somewhere, and then I changed my mind,” Putzier says. “I feel bad, because it had happened to me where someone just straight up told me ‘no’ and I thought that was a bad way to do it. I thought that being nice and not ever doing anything was better, which it probably wasn’t.”

Someone could flake out on you once for any reason, Campbell says. “I’ve learned that any person – girl or guy – when they want something, they will get it. So if they’re doing anything to keep it from happening, then they just don’t want it.”

Most people eventually realize they’re being faded on. They may want to avoid conflict and not ever bring it up.

“I think it became obvious pretty quickly, but it still took a couple of awkward conversations,” Putzier says. “It’s kind of like finding the balance between crushing them and being nice.”

Fading takes a lot of the pressure off the person who isn’t interested, but leaves the jilted party hanging. Campbell says that fading is too easy of an out, and she wishes people would just be more direct about where a relationship is heading.

“I don’t want people to just be able to walk away without addressing it. So I always bring it up, and I would recommend that to other people too, just for the sake of your sanity.”

 

Edited by Hannah Swank

Photo illustration by Emma McElhaney