Sex means something different to everyone. To some, it’s a way of expressing love. To others, it’s a casual weekday activity. Regardless, if one thing about sex is for sure, it’s that no one knows sex better than college students. 

The Varsity asked three writers to reflect on what sex means to them. 

Sex is grounded in respect for yourself and others

Through art and science, there have been many attempts to understand sex. This is demonstrated in the erotic writings and imagery spanning various civilizations, cultures, and eras. What we’ve learned from these explorations is that human sexuality is complex, that sex isn’t the same for everyone, and that not everyone wants it. 

Is it wrong to say that sex is not necessarily perverted but has suffered great perversion? I could be argumentative and list things like the detriment of porn, the increasing youth access to violent and reductive portrayals of sex, and the stigma around quality inclusive sex education that protects and informs us. Fundamentally, sex is about finding pleasure for yourself and creating it for someone else.  

Importantly, sex is fully encompassed by consent. Consent — like sexual pleasure and performance — is an active and ever-changing response. You sense another person’s movements and signals. There’s a mutual sort of rhythm, a promise of tension and embarrassment. What makes sex great is the consensual surrender of both sides and a constant communication of countless sensations and subtleties. 

Sex exists with and without love. Whether it’s with your ‘forever’ or your one-night stand, sex involves a commitment to an enjoyable experience. It can be meaningful or casual, emotional or fun. And of course, there’s a proper time and place for it. Sex can also often carry a performer’s guilt with it, as our perceptions are laden with certain imagery, behaviours, and roles to fulfill.

But, at the end of the day, the most important aspect of sex is that it is grounded in bodily respect. Find your own dignity before you seek it in someone else. 

Mia Rodrigo is a first-year student at Victoria College studying political science, sociology, and English.  

Sex is confusing

When you are younger, the idea of two people ‘sleeping’ together means nothing. There are countless moments when I would be watching a film and, upon seeing women fretting over ‘sleeping’ with their partners, I would shrug before muttering, “What’s the big deal with sleeping with others?” 

Turns out, as I realized over time, sleeping with others is quite a big deal! Sex also becomes an especially pivotal concept in your life when you realize that you are its product. But sex is, above anything, thoroughly confusing –– before, during, and after. I remember having walked out of my first sexual relationship with the same questions I had walking into it. How much is enough or too little? How can it become more gratifying? All the while, how can you remain extra cautious? The only way you would know is to have more of it. 

While my understanding of sex has remained fixed throughout the years, the major shift in thought lies in how much I value the psychological connection between the people involved. I no longer see why sex must be preconditioned with a relationship or any emotional bond in particular, whereas others may find it irrational to have sex with others based on pure physical attraction. As Samantha Jones from Sex and the City once charmingly put it: “The right guy is an illusion… Start living your lives!” 

Eleanor Park is a second-year student at Trinity College studying English and religion. She is an associate comment editor at The Varsity.

Sex is overrated

As far as we’re concerned, sex is ‘that’ thing.

It begins when we’re children. Years before we sit in the classroom and watch birthing videos, we hear about sex through the grapevines. It’s that thing, the taboo subject Mom and Dad won’t tell us about. As far as we’re concerned, sex is jumping on the bed together — a signal to the stork that you want a baby, of course.

Later on in the years, when the innocence has washed off, it’s a little less about theorizing and a little more about gossiping and experiencing. Still, sex is that thing: the ‘Big V’ we all talk about losing; the end goal of any budding relationship; and sometimes, how we measure an individual. As far as we’re concerned, sex is intimacy, sex is pleasure, sex is everything. 

Our entire lives, sex has been painted as the holy grail of physical contact, of romance, of adulting after dark. To a certain extent, it’s sort of understandable — after all, reproduction and life itself are rather important, to say the least. 

But still, it’s not everything. Intimacy comes in many different forms, and pleasure isn’t all about sticking the ‘pencil in the bagel.’ We treat it as such a big deal from the moment we’re born, and yet, if it’s not baby-making you have in mind, there’s really no “it factor” to the act. Sure, sex feels amazing — for most people — but so is being loved by your partner. Or being drunk before the hangover. Or eating cake. You don’t see people placing labels all over that. Romance and intimacy exist just fine without sex. Sex isn’t all that, really. It’s just sex.

As far as I’m concerned, sex is overrated. Just eat a cinnamon bun and call it a day.

Isabella Liu is a second-year student at Victoria College studying public policy and international relations. She is an associate comment editor at The Varsity.