Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past few years you may have noticed the overt sexualization of campus activities. From seminars like Kink 101 to school-sanctioned extracurriculars like the recent drag shows, it seems like everything has been sexualized at Syracuse University. While at first glance these eccentricities of college life may seem harmless, the truth is that they are anything but.
Students on campus have noticed. Sophomore Ralph Graham, an attendee of SU’s most recent drag show, said that he was speechless while watching the show.
“The drag show finals were definitely over-sexualized for the most part, and (it) was not what I was picturing in the first place,” he said. “No wonder why many friends of mine decided not to attend anymore at the last minute.” No wonder indeed.
Graham said the show involved nudity, routines, music and dialogue that wouldn’t be out of place at a strip club. But because many people think condemning lewd drag is a criticism of the LGBTQ community overall, which of course is political and social suicide, they avoid judging such activities at all. While the show may have felt empowering for individuals on stage, it plays into various stereotypes and can further alienate the LGBTQ community.
One would think that a university intent on escaping its party school reputation would seek to limit this outward appearance of raunchiness. And it has to an extent, promoting safer sex and therapy opportunities. But incomprehensibly, it then turns around and creates seminars like Kink 101 which, as columnist Augustus LeRoux writes, is “aimed at teaching students how to tie-up, whip and burn their sexual partners.”
Political science major Anthony Draghi reacted to Kink 101 by saying that “offering these sorts of courses and openly talking about these activities can create a social stigma that undermines the most intimate aspect of a relationship and can help create an environment of social gratification that pushes people to revert to obscure measures for pleasure, ones they may feel unsure of later on.”
Apologists for this trend of oversexualization typically fall back on the idea that it is consensual and therefore is both harmless and not anyone else’s business. But the same people who would make the case that these matters are private affairs that don’t concern anyone else turn around and advocate for the normalization, public acceptance and even celebration of those same behaviors.
In The Daily Orange’s coverage of this most recent drag show, Ilsa Dohner, who goes by Dilf Dangerbottom, echoed the sentiment of flouting social norms. “I can be sexual, I can be funny, I can be goofy, and I don’t feel embarrassed about it,” Dohner said. “It’s like putting on a persona but also, Dilf Dangerbottom lets me be who I really want to be without thinking about what people think about it.”
The explicit goal, or at least the result, of this lewd behavior being accepted on masse is the dissolution of social standards, the annihilation of shame, and the normalization of all sexual activities as equally wonderful and productive. That may sound nice on paper but it’s simply not true and pretending like it is has dangerous ramifications. Overexposure to sex, in the form of pornography or hypersexual activity in general, has been correlated with the shrinkage of parts of the brain as well as decreasing decision-making skills and general restraint.
When it comes to BDSM, what qualifies as true consent isn’t all that obvious and the activity can often bond more aggressive brain functions to sexual ones. Psychiatrist Norman Doidge writes in his book “The Brain That Changes Itself: Stories of Personal Triumph from the Frontiers of Brain Science” that the brain is subject to changes.
“The human libido is not a hardwired, invariable biological urge but can be curiously fickle, easily altered by our psychology and the history of our sexual encounters,” he wrote.
This is the real danger. These hypersexual and deviant behaviors do not only affect those involved with the behaviors because exposure alone can literally alter minds without consent. And the campus is becoming increasingly saturated with this activity. If this trend continues, no one should be surprised if SU never shakes off its status as both a party school and a hotspot for sexual misconduct.
At the moment, this is not the end of the world. There’s still time to avoid these consequences. There’s a way to deal with sex without making its very mention taboo, but this current trend is reactionary overkill. The fix is not to demonize sex, but it’s not to worship it either. The solution is really quite simple: to make intimacy intimate again.
John Parker is a freshman Writing and Rhetoric major. His column appears biweekly. He can be reached at [email protected].
Published on March 30, 2022 at 8:29 pm