Let’s talk sex

Drew Mills, a senior vocal music education major, said the only way to remove a taboo is to talk about it.

So that is what he does. Mills said he is more open to talking about sex and his attitude towards it has changed since he was in high school.

“I was sheltered in middle and high school,” Mills said. “I’m more open and willing to talk about it now. It’s all about the viewpoint.”

Amber Paulk, assistant professor of family and consumer sciences and sociology, said that, based on research, someone’s attitude towards sex depends heavily on religious ties.

“It really depends,” Paulk said. “If someone is religious and has a history of church participation, they’re not going to be as open to it as someone without religious ties.

“In the South, there is this huge double-standard, where people will say that, based on religious beliefs, they don’t agree with it, but then they still engage in it.”

Sophomore biology major Will Thompson said that sex has never been a hush-hush conversation in his life.

“My parents didn’t try to hide it very much,” Thompson said. “I’ve always been open to talking about it, and it wasn’t a taboo topic when I got to college. My attitude towards it hasn’t changed much since high school.”

Ash Karki, a computer science major, said attitudes towards sex in America, particularly the South, are different from those of his home country.

“Growing up in Nepal, it was OK for me to talk about sex,” Karki said. “I was always comfortable with talking about it. Now, though, it feels like an uncomfortable topic. Living in the Bible belt region, it seems like people are not very open about it.

Even in America it is different. I spent six months in the North, and it’s completely different up there. Nobody cares to talk about it.”

Paulk agrees that the South is particularly cut off from talking about sex during high school and even during college. Paulk spent a period of time living and teaching in Washington, where she said the attitudes towards sex are vastly different from those here.

“Sexuality is not a hush-hush topic at all in Washington state,” Paulk said. “There is a much more seamless transition there between high school and college, because they are required by law to teach sex education in high school.”

Lee Renfroe, assistant professor of health, physical education, and recreation, teaches a course on human sexuality every year at UNA.

“It’s a very popular course,” Renfroe said. “It always fills up, and it’s my favorite course to teach. Your sexual health is as integral as any other part of your health. My goal with the class is to make students comfortable with talking about sex. You can’t be sexually active if you aren’t comfortable with talking about it and the repercussions.”

Mills said talking about sex is all about understanding people.

“It’s about understanding choices and consequences,” Mills said. “You have to look at and understand people as people. College is about sharing ideas, so why not share this one?”