Here’s a topic that keeps coming up, no pun intended. While living in Isla Vista one often hears such phrases as, “I love him”, “You’re sexy,” “Don’t forget your annual pap smear,” “Wear a condom,” “Oh, the big O,” and “OMG, I need plan B now!”
It’s undeniable that sex is a hot topic in I.V. So, whether you’re practicing abstinence, conjoining like rabbits, or dabbling somewhere in between, the exploitation of sex affects I.V. residents in a major way.
In my favorite HBO series, Sex and the City, four very different women take on New York. Each approaches life differently – especially her sex life. There’s Charlotte, the traditional, innocent brunette and Samantha, the wild blonde who can’t get enough. There’s Miranda the uptight, driven redhead and Carrie, the show’s relatable sandy blonde, who has a wide range of qualities. Though not every viewer fits one of these four molds, we can all relate to each leading lady in some way, especially when it comes to sex.
In my experience, I have found that Isla Vista culture promotes extreme variations on the salient qualities of Charlotte, Samantha, Miranda, and Carrie. While it is socially acceptable to be senseless on the weekends, it is expected to be studious during the week. With this role-play rollercoaster, it’s no wonder the meaning of sex in I.V. has become distorted. No matter what happens over the weekend, whether you shake someone’s hand or shake someone’s “egg roll and dumplings,” if you will what’s the difference? Wherever the shaking lands on the spectrum of intimacy, both people most likely will go about their week, studious as ever, thinking nothing of it. Sex is just sex – who knows who remembers anyway, right? I think this is the wrong attitude.
For many freshman students, Isla Vista is the first “home away from home.” Most of us have cuddled under our parent’s safety blanket for years, attending high school, after school sports, and SAT study groups, and completing college applications. Then we move to Isla Vista, a place where herds of wild blonde “Samanthas” romp the streets on any given night. It’s not a role, it’s a routine, and it’s expected.
I’m saying if you got it flaunt it, but don’t let the way you present yourself mask your self-respect and individuality. Sex is a form of self-expression, so the way I.V. residents talk about and act upon sexual acts expresses them in a certain way.
Throughout my college years, I have taken on many roles while living Isla Vista. After all, college is a time to discover who we are in all settings, and I’m not just talking about the setting between the sheets. Attending the university develops our intellects, integrity, and leadership. Working makes us appreciate just how hard it is to make a dime, and how to communicate in a business situation. Partying forces us to understand the fine line between letting loose and letting friends cart you home because you are too drunk to know your name. And what role does sex play in our lives?
I think sex has become a replacement for dating, especially in Isla Vista. It affects the way I.V. residents present themselves to others through dress, speech, art, music, dance, and whom they associate with. A superficial, trivializing view of sex affects etiquette. For example, the other day, I heard a guy bargain, “If you have sex with me, I’ll run home naked.” Though admittedly a clever deal, has sex, which is among the most intimate experiences you can have with another person, become equal to the act of streaking down a street? I don’t think so.
Treating sex like some funny joke, or insignificant pastime, that happens on a “lucky night” with some “hot chick” or “that cute guy that I’ve been talking to” will have an impact on our adult lives. I understand that this petty view of sex is not exclusive to Isla Vista. I’m sure many other college campus residents have a similar outlook, though in I.V., the classic booty call has taken on new dimensions of casualness and convenience, since we all live within a block of each other, making late night sexcapades that much more accessible.
I believe that it’s everyone’s prerogative to screw till their heart’s content, and in fact I commend those who live life and are lovers and not fighters. But when it comes to discovering individuality and self-love, sex has repercussions which may be positive or negative. This is not some askew version of a vagina monologue, but the way we use our bodies is not meaningless. Set aside the health risks, set aside the life-altering mistakes and the morality, and sexual relations still affect the way both men and women respect themselves. A quote from my adored Carrie Bradshaw resonated with me: “But the most exciting, challenging, and significant relationship of all is the one you have with yourself. And if you can find someone to love the you you love, well, that’s just fabulous.”