If you want to get a sense of how college students approach sex, the play Speak About It is a pretty good place to start. It's a series of skits written by students at Bowdoin, a small liberal arts college in Maine. The skits show students in a variety of sexual encounters, based on real experiences. Bowdoin students must watch the play during freshman orientation. It's meant to foster "healthy relationships" on campus by addressing the issue of consent and sexual assault.Speak About It has also been staged at colleges and universities nationwide, including Harvard, Brown, Williams, and Bates.
Think of the play as a half-baked mashup of The Vagina Monologues and Girls: blunt, confessional, lacking in delicacy. In one skit, a bisexual woman reveals intimate details of her sex life. She lets the audience know that she has "kissed big lips, skinny lips, vagina lips, and penis tips." In another, a male student confides, "Having sex with somebody you don't love just isn't worth it. That's why they invented whacking off."
In yet another scene from the play, we see two co-eds hooking up:
Female: We've been making out for a while now. I wish he would just ask me to take off my shirt.
Male: Really? That won't kill the mood?
Female: What mood? We're in a twin extra long bunk bed. You should just ask.
Male: So you think that...
Female: Just ask...
Male: Will you take your shirt off please?
Female: Sure if you take yours off!
The scene represents a normal sexual encounter between two students. There's moaning. There's orgasming. And yet, it falls flat. While the play wants to promote the idea that this kind of sex is hot and fun, in this scene, it is boring and banal. Erotic sex ideally involves mystery and an electric connection—longing—between two people. But the exhibitionism of Speak About It kills this mystery and longing—it leaves little to the imagination. As the writer and critic Cristina Nehring, author of A Vindication of Love, tells me in an interview, "Where there is no distance and no sense of transgression at all, where anything goes and everything shows, there is no erotic chemistry....continue reading at The Atlantic.