Author helps FDU students open up about sex and sexuality

ORE OBIWUMI

Entertainment Editor

Author Rachel Hills recently came to the Florham Campus to give a talk about her book, “The Sex Myth.”

The book centers around commonly held misconceptions about sex in the United States, England, Canada and Australia. Hills stated that she focused on English-speaking countries because they tended to have the same beliefs and attitudes toward sex. 

Hills began her March 23 talk with an anecdote about the time she was picked up from the airport by a student. The student, who considered herself to be sexually liberated, asked Hills when she became liberated. Hills responded that she did not think that she was sexually liberated at all and went on to explain to the audience that she did not believe sexual liberation was a destination but rather a process through which people improved daily. She stated that she decided to write about sex precisely because she did not feel liberated and that she was “hyper-aware” of the rules that governed people’s sex lives.

“I wrote about sex not because I was liberated, but because I felt anything but,” said Hills. She also said that she spent her entire college experience not having sex, not because she was committed to chastity but because “chastity was a state that chose me.”

Hills said that because of her lack of sex, she decided to begin researching sexual attitudes. She realized that there was a large disconnect between people’s beliefs about sex and the reality of sex. For example, she said that there is a general belief that young people have a lot of sex, yet that was not true in her experience or in the experiences of those around her. She felt that virgins were often judged in society, which made her angry and inspired her to write her book.

Hills stated that even though today’s view of human sexuality seems to be one of “unprecedented freedom,” there are still large boundaries on acceptable sexual behavior.

There are lots of rules and norms about how much sex one can have and what kind of sex is acceptable. She also pointed out that some rules look like a form of freedom, yet they still conform to a set of rules. Some examples she brought up were the idea that everyone is having sex, or that a good relationship requires sex. Both ideas conform to the societal norm that sex is extremely important.

Hills also explained that through her research, she discovered that she also judged those with different sexual experiences than hers, and that religion played a much larger role in people’s attitudes about sex in the United States than in any of the other countries she researched.

At the end of her presentation, Hills allowed the audience to ask her questions or comment on their views of sex. Several students stated that they felt judged; the men if they were not having much sex, and the women if they were.

Students were educated about the sex myths that permeate daily life and they were able to examine how they were helping to perpetuate those myths.

Hills’ visit was sponsored by Becton College and the Office of the Campus Provost.

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