From juggling lovers to going home with strangers, students are notorious for their promiscuity. Since the swinging sixties when social taboos relating to sex slackened, the importance once assigned to relationships has increasingly been replaced by just ‘having fun’.
Besides, having sex when they want and with whom they want gives many students a great sense of freedom, especially for those having just left home. Not to mention the fact that drunken one night stands and other tales of promiscuity can be a great source of entertainment between friends and oddly enough, the intimate details often bring them closer.
Having spoken to students about their views on sex since starting university, most agreed that sex is not a big deal. Whilst this was true for both male and female students, their outlooks did vary. An interesting issue raised by many girls, was that whilst a guy that sleeps around is considered a ‘lad’, girls that do the same are considered ‘sluts’.
One male student was very matter-of-fact about having slept with three girls in his first few days after being back at university, almost as if it was something to be expected. A female student particularly concerned by this said “if sex isn’t a big deal then there shouldn’t be such a stigma attached to girls. It’s double standards.”
With responsibilities at an all time low, student life lends itself to promiscuity. Whilst students have reading and lectures to adhere to, most have no ties in terms of bringing up children or securing a full-time job, meaning all free-time can be dedicated to the kind of hedonism for which students are notorious.
What’s more, sex is made enormously accessible for students with nightclubs promoting events like ‘Jail Bait’, which encourages them to go out, drink and see where the night takes them. With all this socialising comes the opportunity to meet new people and with cheap alcohol luring students into bars and clubs, inhibitions are lost.
In addition, as club music is too loud to allow for conversion and getting to know someone, any hook-up as a result of a night out is likely to be on a completely superficial basis, thus helping explain why sex is deemed meaningless by so many students.
Aside from these aspects, it is also necessary to consider the health issues related to sexually promiscuous behaviour, because despite all of the sex education on offer, rates of sexually transmitted diseases remain high. According to the organisation ‘Advert’, the most widespread viral STD diagnosed in the UK is genital warts. In 2008 for example, there were 92,525 diagnoses of genital warts in UK GUM (genitourinary medicine) clinics. As the highest rates of diagnoses were among women aged 16 to19 and men aged 20 to 24, it is apparent just how promiscuous the student age group is.
Having said this, students in the UK are (relative to some countries) extremely well educated as to the health implications accompanying casual sex, and tend to know that if they stay safe, there is no reason why they can not have fun.
As it turns out, students all over the country are getting minxy and thanks to the sex survey on the website, ‘Student Beans’, it is now possible to reveal the top three most sexually active universities in the country. The results show that the University of Glamorgan, where on average students have had 10.9 sexual partners, is in first place but is closely followed by the University of Wales Institute where students have had an average of 10.6 partners. The University of Brighton takes third place with the students having had an average of 9.5 partners.
In March 2010 the Daily Mail reported that at Cambridge University one in five heterosexual undergraduates profess to having slept with three, if not more people in a week. In addition to this, nearly half of the students admit to having had a threesome. The report added that among gay and bisexual students, promiscuity was higher still, with two in five having slept with three or more people in a week.
Oxford University even went as far as to rate the promiscuity of their students in relation to the degree that they were studying. According to the Telegraph, a survey of 850 Oxford University students was conducted and ended up revealing some interesting sexual statistics.
Though students studying Politics, Philosophy, Economics and English Literature were found to be highly sexually active, they were mere runners-up to History students, who were found to be the most sexually active of all other undergraduates.
Of course this minxy behaviour is not applicable to all students as many arrive at university with absolutely no intention of being promiscuous and follow through with their ideal. One source explains how although she has had long term relationships, she does not feel the need to have sex until she has found the man that she is in love with and wants to spend the rest of her life with. The boyfriends that she has been with have always been respectful of her decision.
Another student describes that as she has waited so long for someone special, now that she is at university she does not see the point in being promiscuous for the sake for it. For her, flirting and kissing are very different from ‘going the whole way’ and instead prefers to just have fun socialising with friends.
Other factors that play a big part in student promiscuity are boyfriends and girlfriends. There are those who arrive at university whilst in long-term relationships, so loved up that they would never dream of straying.
Often students will spend weekends visiting their partner or being visited and it works out fantastically. On the other hand there are those who get to university, get swept up in all excitement and hardly think twice before cheating on their significant other.
Within a month of moving from a small village to a big city, one student describes how she cheated on her boyfriend of two years without any hesitation.
It is undeniable that students have a reputation for being promiscuous ato an extent as long as no one gets hurt, there is no problem with this.
Not every student approves of causal sex but for those who do, it is very often the exciting allure and naughtiness that encourages them. Moreover, with no relationship on the cards, a lot of pressure is removed. Casual sex offers an alternative to the emotional ties that come with relationships and appears to fit in very well with the student way of life. However, a problem that certainly should be taken into account is one of self-respect. More often than not, students find themselves getting emotionally involved with one of their ‘casual’ partners which can become problematic if one partner wants more than the other. Being cast aside after a casual fling can trigger feelings of low self-worth and result in the rejected party feeling bitter and used. Who knows what effects this happy-go-lucky lifestyle, which is adopted by so many students, has on future relationships? Whilst some can blissfully walk away from a fling, others may have generated negative feelings which can taint future liaisons.
When it comes to sex, some students have yet to form their own personal boundaries and protection mechanisms, causing them to launch themselves into sexual experiences that they may not feel comfortable with. This may leave young people more open to abusive contact or being lured into sexual acts which they would not normally consent to. It is important that students do not get themselves tangled up in compromising situations because whilst having fun is one thing, having their emotions manipulated at the mercy of someone else is quite different.
Unfortunately, no matter how much students deny it, sex can lead to a whole heap of emotional baggage which becomes heavier with each additional lover. An accumulation of unresolved feelings and relationships can naturally shape behaviour towards future long term partners.
In terms of morality, who is to judge?
Whereas some students see promiscuity as immoral and others make a conscious effort to ignore their own moral code at the expense of placating social pressure, others simply enjoy a guilt free trip which has little or no apparent effect on their future relationships. Students are promiscuous for numerous reasons and whilst this is compelling for some, it does not work out as well for others. While it is worth making the most of youth, freedom and recklessness, it is also worth remembering that some things are worth hanging on to.