Sex is in Danger and We Must Save It

By: Nicole Bates Instagram: @nicolebates_

I have a pretty tumultuous relationship with Tinder.

I first downloaded the app on a whim in high school one night while hanging out with friends. We swiped away until we could swipe no more, giggling girlishly at every familiar face we came across. Then, at the end of the night, I deleted my account, because I of course was not using Tinder seriously to try to meet someone.

Then I continued on with my pretty boring and uninteresting love life, refusing to give in and accept help from the Internet dating app, because in my heart I still had hope for romance. Though I present a cynical exterior at times, inside I am a romantic. I love playing imaginary scenarios in my head, where me and the imaginary boy I had been friends with for years finally realize we love each other and then go on to have a beautiful little love story. Or I would imagine meeting a boy when we both go to see the same movie alone and end up sitting together and falling in love. I watch movies like 10 Things I Hate About You, La La Land, Call Me By Your Name or even Twilight (so bad, it’s good), and I long for these grand, poetic romances; but frankly, I don’t think they really happen all that often in real life.

So, this brings me back to Tinder.

At the end of my second semester at UMass, when the famous “Swipe-Off for Cardi B” took place, I re-downloaded Tinder so I could do my part to contribute to the competition as a UMass student.

During this period, I probably changed my Tinder an embarrassing amount of times. First, I created a real account fully-equipped with my most flattering photos, but with “only for Cardi B” in my bio, just to show people even though I’m on here showing off my best self, I don’t want to be bothered (but if you’re really cute and do message me I might respond). Then I decided this was stupid, so I deleted all my photos and put up one picture of Cardi B, just so there would be absolutely no confusion.

Since then I have created and deleted several Tinder accounts, put myself on “pause,” swiped away, matched and messaged, but never have I actually met someone from the app.

And through all this time I have remained single with a relatively dull love life. So, what does this mean? I suck. I’m unattractive, uninteresting and un-dateable… or maybe I’ve just fallen victim to a bigger societal problem in the world of dating.

According to journalist Kate Julian, who wrote Why are young people having so little sex? for The Atlantic’s December 2018 issue, we have entered a “sex recession.” She cites several reasons as to why we are seeing a decline in rates of sexual activity among young people, but a big one I found to be super relatable as a college student is social media. The platforms that are supposed to bring people closer together are actually pushing people further into isolation.

You sit alone in the dining hall or you take an elevator ride with a stranger and you go on your phone. Our phones are now like crutches that give us a socially acceptable way to avoid social interaction. The windows of opportunity to “meet people” are dwindling when the norm is becoming to always be on our phones when we are out of our comfort zone. So, we turn to online dating apps, because it is easier than having to face the scariest thing of all-

Talking to a stranger and not knowing what might happen.

In her article, Julian acknowledges that in this sexual awakening where people are liberated to freely practice whatever kind of sex they want, these apps are helping people in niche sexual groups find each other. So she states this sex recession may be a mostly heteronormative one.

However, the bigger problem of losing our ability to socialize affects everyone. I personally believe that sexuality is a spectrum, and if we allowed ourselves to be open to new people and new connections more often we might have better luck finding fulfilling romantic and sexual relationships.

Another problem in finding sexual and romantic relationships is that in a “#metoo” age, the stakes for a man flirting with a woman are higher than ever before, because his actions could quickly be spun into sexual harassment. No man wants that.  Similar to Kate Julian, I would definitely consider myself a feminist: I support women sharing their stories, and I believe women always deserve respect from men, but a part of me empathizes with these men. I can imagine how stressful it must be not knowing how to flirt anymore because you don’t know where the “line” is.

Girls dream of men stumbling into their arms in some magical, romantic way at a coffee shop or on the bus or even maybe in the library, but how is this ever going to happen if every time a man flirts with a woman it is interpreted as creepy.

There is a fine line between what is acceptable flirting and what is not, but eliminating it all together can make for a lot of lonely people, who may be able to find companionship in one another but never will because they are too scared of what might happen.

With this mass crucifixion of straight males, nobody wants to be the next one to be ousted for mistreating a girl, but that doesn’t mean talking to girls in person (NOT on the internet) has to be out of the question.

There’s no harm in striking up a conversation with someone who you find intriguing and finding out what things you may have in common. And if the conversation progresses to something more, you begin to hang out, you try to figure out if it’s a “date” or not, this can be one of the most exciting parts of dating!

The most important thing to remember is just to ask for permission before doing anything sexual to make sure you are both on the same page, and you can have a mutually pleasurable sexual experience ( which if you read Julian’s full article, you’ll see is rare these days!)

Sex is fun! And humans are unique in that we have sex our entire lives just for recreation! Even in situations that couldn’t possibly lead to reproduction, we still have sex just to have sex! Sex is good for your happiness, and it does not and should not be tossed to the sidelines just because it is too complicated to navigate in the modern world. Go read Julian’s full article and figure your sex life out, because it is important for your health and well-being!

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Love; Reflecting on New York

By: Taeko Gupta Instagram/Twitter: @taekogupta

Personal Blog: https://tgupta820.wixsite.com/taekogupta

Last weekend, my friends and I took a 4-hour bus ride to New York to get some good Instagram content.

But I came back with so much more.

At 6am when the bus pulled out of the design building; I had no idea what to expect from the trip. I thought I would come back tired and sick of my friends, but more importantly, I was thinking of my friend Loreta as I sat on the bus next to Nora (a random foreign exchange student who offered me Saltines at 7am) knowing I would’ve been sitting next to Loreta if she hadn’t slept through her alarm and missed the bus to New York. I wondered if her FOMO would overcome her and force her to buy a $50 ticket to meet us in the middle of Manhattan later in the day.

Right as we stepped off the bus, Constanza (our designated photographer friend) almost got hit by a biker who cursed at her as he angrily sped away. I watched him zoom off into the distance with a bouquet of wildflowers hanging off the side of a DIY bike basket. It was small but it put a dorky smile on my face. This young man was in such a rush he would have run over Cons in an instant but under that hard exterior of a mean, in a rush, New Yorker, was a big softie waiting to go home to give someone he loved flowers. Maybe he wasn’t (they could’ve been funeral flowers or “give me a raise” flowers) but when I saw that- I thought of love.

While we walked along the Brooklyn Bridge, we saw tons of little locks with initials and hearts hugging the metal caging of the bridge. The bridge itself was marked with people’s love- dates, initials, quotes, and hearts. On my right there were people on bikes yelling at me to get outta the bike lane. But on my left, my hand lingered on the bridge, tracing all the little indicators of love. I saw a guy riding a BMX bike and facing him was a girl standing on the little pegs laughing as they struggled to get up the bridge.

Everybody around me was in their own little world.

It was like living in a TV show where I was an extra for a scene where the actors take their love interest to New York. Everything in this episode was sepia toned and in the background there was soft soul music playing.

I was sitting on the bridge when I looked down and saw a heart outlining the words “Girls Trip 2004”. My mushy gushy heart leaped at the thought of some group of girls 15 years ago sitting in this exact same spot just like my friends and I were doing in that moment. It showed me that love is so timeless and universal, it doesn’t choose people to bestow upon, and it’s not hard to find. Love can be found anywhere between anybody.

And that’s what makes it so beautiful.

Anyways, remember my friend Loreta (girl who slept through her alarm, had grade A FOMO, and dropped 50 bucks for a bus ticket to come hang out with us for a couple hours in New York)? She made it! The four of us were finally together and on our baddest behavior (which basically means we lost the tour group four times).

While the sun was setting behind us, we ended up in a cute cafe on 34th St and 9th Ave. We were exhausted and our feet hurt but we sucked it up and bought a coffee so we could sit, pee, and of course- use the Wi-Fi.

The two girls working at the café decided to put on “Shallow” from “A Star is Born” and somehow our tired asses mustered the energy to belt out every line of the song. The cafe girls started harmonizing and dancing with us and we even got a man on a call at the cafe to sing along with us too.

In that moment it didn’t matter whether we were lost/late, if our phones were dead, or how much our feet hurt.

It was just a group of girls in a tiny cafe in the middle of New York singing.

It was euphoric to not hold anything except for love and joy; even if it was just for 3 minutes and change. It felt relieving to be fully in love with the moment, with my friends, and with the song. On the outside, New York is littered with shitty people who are mean, aggressive, and will run you over with their bikes. But the closer you look on the bridges or on the sidewalks- there is so much love dusted around. It’s so subtle and gentle that it almost goes unnoticed.

Almost.

25 dollars and two sore feet later, I made the trip back realizing how universal love can be; even in a place like New York where no two people are the same.

FU NY
Graffiti we saw while we got honked at for j-walking. New York baby!

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