S&M is the stuff of pop songs and runway shows, while public sex and threesomes dominate on screen. So, for university students, why isn’t life reflecting art? Community Editor Allyssia Alleyne investigates
Frantically kissing, the couple pushes their way into a dim women’s washroom, their hands roaming each other’s toned bodies.
It’s mid-afternoon, and they’re the only people in the building. Their privacy is ensured for now.
They back into the spacious handicapped stall, too distracted to consider fiddling with the locks. He slams her against the concrete walls and they proceed to make frenzied love. They’re either deafeningly loud or completely quiet. Alicia Wright hasn’t decided yet.
Sex in a public place is one of the second-year finance student’s most revisited fantasies.
Though she’d love to act it out with her boyfriend — or, in the perfect fantasy, basketball player Derrick Rose — Wright doesn’t think she’ll take that step any time soon.
“I don’t have the balls for that,” she says.
Wright is one of many university students denying themselves their sexual fantasies. According the Eyeopener’s unscientific annual Love and Sex survey, the majority of Ryerson students either do not have fantasies or are not acting on them.
In spite of this fact, the media paints young adults as limitless, willing to have indiscriminate sex, often without protection, and engage in once-shocking fantasies, from sex on camera to group sex and anonymous flings.
But some students are feeling pressured to conform to these images. University is the one time in a person’s life when experimentation is allowed, if not encouraged, and it’s easy to feel as though one is falling behind the pack.
Though she’s only 19 years old, Wright already feels that she has to live out her fantasies as soon as possible.
“There are other people my age who are probably more experienced,” says Wright, though she admits that it’s hard to figure out who’s doing what since people can be “freaks on the side.”
This isn’t an uncommon viewpoint. According to Kathleen Bogle, the author of Hooking Up: Sex, Dating, and Relationships on Campus and an assistant professor at La Salle University, many university students have a distorted perception of what their peers are doing in the bedroom.
“People always think people are wilder than they actually are,” she says.
Though her research has found that university students are having more casual sexual encounters or “hook-ups” than previous generations, she hasn’t found that student are using hook-ups as a way of living their fantasies.
Common in the drinking scene, hook-ups are more a way of engaging in common sexual behaviour, like oral sex.
According to Dr. Sue Johanson, a Canadian sex expert who has done talks at universities across North America since 1988, students are most curious about more day-to-day sexual activities.
Most questions she receives at universities pertain to birth control, penis size, orgasm techniques and anal sex.
“Giving good head is definitely one,” she says.
Niki Davis, a second-year psychology student, thinks fantasies aren’t as important to young couples as people may think.
Though she and her boyfriend of two-and-a-half years, an image arts student, are open to new things, they haven’t tried anything “that extreme or awesome.”
“It’s more about intimacy,” she says.
But when students do try to enact their fantasies, they often go about it the wrong way by using alcohol to create both the courage and the opportunity to act on their desires.
“It’s not this hypersexual world where people are acting out fantasies, as much as people [are] getting drunk to act out scenarios that aren’t as great as they thought they’d be,” says Bogle.
“People use alcohol a lot in conjunction with hook-ups because they’re not as confident as they want to be.”
A lack of confidence can also impact long-term couples. Without confidence, students don’t know how to ask for what they want, according to Johanson. “They don’t say, ‘I would love it if you would kiss me here’,” said Johanson.
“They just leave it up to their partner to decipher what they would like.”
Johanson says this confidence doesn’t typically develop until a person is well into their 20s or 30s and has acquired more sexual experience.
Bianca Smith*, a fourth-year arts and contemporary science student, developed this confidence early.
Since becoming sexually active at 15, Smith has indulged her BDSM (bondage, discipline, domination and submission) fantasies through flogging and canning among other things.
She once drove 14 hours to participate in an orgy at a pre-war Manhattan brownstone.
“I always wanted to mix things up,” says Smith.
Though most of her partners were receptive to her fantasies, she learned first-hand that bringing up your fantasies with a partner can backfire.
“I was with one guy once who was not even into rough sex. He would not do anything remotely rough. He was like, ‘I can’t do it, I can’t do it, I can’t hurt someone.’ But even if I was begging?”
In spite of that experience, Bianca thinks it’s better to discuss one’s fantasies earlier rather than later to avoid complications and resentment down the road.
“If you’re in a committed relationship, you should be able to explore that with your partner,” she says.
“And if you’re really into it and they’re really not, then there’s a probably going to be a problem.”
But for Christopher Betty, Wright’s boyfriend, having a fantasy isn’t the same as wanting to fulfill a fantasy. Though the second-year business technology management student has discussed his fantasies with Wright, he is in no hurry to cross them off his to-do list.
“People just dream big. People are filled with a lot of dreams that they can’t or don’t want to act on,” he says. “Sometimes it’s just easier to do the things that are easier and closer to you.”
*Name has been changed