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I’m not posting this because I hate the University of Texas, or because I think it’s taboo to write about sex. I’m doing it because the way UT students are writing about sex is stupid.
You may or may not have heard of this column series in the Life & Arts section of The Daily Texan, UT’s student newspaper. The series has gotten a fair amount of attention lately, and it’s easy to see why: here are seemingly honest, anonymous, no-holds-barred logs about different college students’ sex lives. Sounds juicy, right?
If by “juicy” you mean stereotype-promoting, unprofessional, and insubstantial, then yes, it’s some of the juiciest stuff out there.
I’ve compiled my biggest beefs with the sex column series, regarding both the content of the posts and the series itself.
MY GLOSSY GAMUT OF GRIEVANCES:
1) The names. I get it; the columns are supposed to be anonymous and uncensored. I am in no position to call out anyone for using a pseudonym to publish. But does it have to be these pseudonyms? Really? Writers’ pen names include “Fabulous Frank,” “Sexy Sally,” “Virgin Veronica,” and “Committed Caroline.”
Now, it’s safe to assume the writers of the columns probably came up with these names themselves, and “Fabulous Frank” (a gay 20-something) even addresses the stereotypical nature of his name, but there’s something inherently stinky here. Where is the line between playing around with stereotypes and actually promoting them?
These aren’t pen names; they’re labels. In a series that states its intention as exploring sex and sexuality, these trite nicknames compartmentalize the very experiences to which the series is trying to give genuine insight. There’s very little allowance for overlap. Seems like Veronica can’t be sexy, and Sally can’t be committed. And Frank’s got to be fabulous whether he wants to or not.
2) The content. Look. I don’t want to read about your sex life if it isn’t interesting. This whole series seems to operate on the idea that college sex stories are inherently fascinating.
It ain’t. The way these posts are written makes sexcapades seem as dry and dense as an affidavit. Imagine The Brothers Karamazov, only there’s no literary merit and it’s all about hooking up.
Posts range from super-obvious (“[Sex] is something we do together,” Committed Caroline reveals) to fanfiction-esque (“Ryan slowly guided my hand down to my vagina,” writes Sexy Sally) to just plain boring (in this post, Fabulous Frank analyzes results from a test he took online. Okay.)
3) The whole dang setup. This is less a beef with the writing than it is with the editorial staff, but like, whose idea was this? The names are dumb, the content isn’t great, but the series itself seems just so ill-founded. It’s clear the emphasis in pitching this series was less on the quality of the columns and more on the idea of “SEX!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”
Each weekly post has to be in response to a highly specific, uniform prompt. You’ve got Sally, Frank, Veronica and Caroline literally posting about the same thing. There’s no room for creativity or invention, which might explain why some of these posts are so boring and skin deep.