Catching Up with Samantha Felmus About Why Sex Sucks

Last May, Samantha Felmus, student at Sarah Lawrence College, wrote an article entitled “Unpopular Opinion: End the Sex Obsession” published on SLC Speaks. In it, she highlights the “excessive amount of sex” present on campus and how it creates a hazardous and unwelcoming environment for people who, like her, are not as sexually active. Mitchell Sunderland sat down with Felmus to discuss her article.

What has the response to your article on SLC Speaks been like?

 

[The reponse was] very negative. I mean, it was meant to be part of the Unpopular Opinion contest for SLC Speaks. With that, it did its job. However, I wasn’t expecting this much hate. It was also meant to be an opinion piece [on one person’s perception of] sex. I don’t think I was very clear in my background, but I was under tight word constrictions for the contest.

For those who do not know me that well, I come from Richmond, VA. I consider VA to be hell for diehard liberals. My sex education was called “family life.” It lasted only a week, and [we] basically just went through every STI known in the book. [The course ended with:] “The only thing that can prevent all of this is abstinence.” It’s like the health class in Mean Girls.

Since being here, I have started to understand the other side of it, and I now stand conflicted between two sex worlds. Here’s what I have to say for those who hate my article so much: Don’t say you didn’t like it because it was poorly written. I put a lot of care into that piece. I know some things I have said seem very odd, such as my first impression of “Genderfuck Week, but if you don’t vocally describe what the missions of your sex-related events are, then how am I supposed to know? Be open. Talk. Don’t coward with your identity groups about your appreciation weeks and not let those on the outside know.

Why do you think Sarah Lawrence students love sex so much?

Personally, I see it as an emotional need. As I said before, we often are isolated as students, and it feels like sex is the only way to feel emotionally attached to someone. There are other things. Attend events on campus. Hang out with friends. But don’t go to a party and expected to get drunk and laid.

Why is too much sex at Sarah Lawrence a bad thing?

Unexpected pregnancy. The last thing this school needs is someone who is pregnant and gets called a whore or thinks that their life is over. Again, there are always abortions and adoptions, but that doesn’t stop from the emotional pain.

You know in those terrible high school set shows like The O.C., Gossip Girl, and the 91210 reboot, all the popular kids do is go to a house party over the weekend then get laid. That is where this is coming from. I also happen to have a personal connection to this. Someone I knew back home had an unexpected pregnancy after dating a guy for two months. At first, she took it as a turn for the worse, but she has embraced it, got married, and had the baby. However, she dropped out of college, didn’t finish a degree, and now works at Capital One. Sadly, I don’t think she will ever be what she wants to be now that she is a mom.

My straight girl friends complain they can never get laid. Why do you think they’re full of shit?

They are not necessarily full of shit. They are just not popular enough. It seems that since my sophomore year there has been a strong change from students who really didn’t give a fuck what people thought of them to students who just want to party all the time and get wasted. It takes me back to my high school days when everyone partied and got fucked up. Last time I checked, the reason why I came to Sarah Lawrence was to get away from that environment. It was rough last year being on campus while a majority of your class is abroad and you are inundated with nothing but party invites from sophomores promising booze and making sure that they will never get caught by security (because at Sarah Lawrence, we never register our alcoholic parties like we should). The picture that comes to my mind is the beginning of the episode of Unforgettable in which Sarah Lawrence College was featured in. Boozed up party, and a couple getting ready for sex. That is an easy way for getting your life fucked up.

Is sex ever a good thing?

It is when the moment is right, not when you are jacked up on drugs and alcohol.

How much sex is too much sex?

When you have two sex education sessions during orientation, and one is extremely popular because it is just “funny” [in] how it is presented. And when appreciation weeks for LGBTQ identity groups use derogatory words like “sleaze” and “fuck.” I think the South Park episode “Proper Condom Use” does a better job explaining how much sex education sucks for all the parties involved than what we do on campus.

Is this a “millennial problem” or a Sarah Lawrence problem?

I think it is more of a cultural problem. A lot of underage or teenage sex, sadly, revolves around kids in low-income environments and families. That says a lot. If we should change our culture from the ground up, we need to be open to talking about sex more than hiding it. Hiding it makes it worse, but talking about it nonstop also makes it worse for those who have never engaged in any sexual activity. Like me.

Why should the Phoenix stop running my sex column?

The Phoenix is free to publish your column. Just stop talking about your exploits with your various sex partners. It just makes virgins, like me, feel that I am not getting any action. So while you are addressing your exploits, you’re making some people feel uncomfortable.

Our culture has made this happen. We need to change it so that conservative jerks stop teaching that sex is bad because you will get pregnant and a bunch of STIs and die.

 

*Article will be re-published in the Phoenix.

Illustration by Anna Quinlan

Originally from Hollywood, Not California--a city in South Florida better known as "that town where Anna Nicole Smith died"--Mitchell moved to New York to study writing and gender studies. He has written for Thought Catalog and worked as a writer's assistant to novelist Cara Hoffman. Next spring he will intern at the publicity department at Simon & Schuster. He blogs at mitchellsunderland.tumblr.com. Be like a stripper in Miami and follow him on Twitter (@mitchsunderland).

7 Comments

  • Reply November 13, 2013

    Anonymous

    How I see it: As long as a person’s behavior is safe/consensual, whose business is it whether you they have sex, and why? I don’t feel like it’s my place to judge someone for how they express their sexuality, and I certainly don’t make conjectures about their reasons for having sex. That’s some risky territory right there.

    If you view sex strictly as a popularity contest or misplaced emotional outlet, then that seems to be a reflection of your own perception of sexuality (something we all deal with on a personal level). Otherwise it sounds like you’re telling other people to shut up because you feel like you can’t contribute to the conversation, and that’s kind of uncool.

  • Reply November 13, 2013

    R.

    Hookup culture exists on every college campus (even conservative/religious ones). The majority of progressive college campuses have sex-themed events and publications as well. Every school I got into had at least one drag dance per year. Everything Sam is complaining about is pretty standard.

    Seriously, Yale has a sex week AND a naked society. Wesleyan used to have a naked dorm. We’re not unique at all, and it’s weird to me that she doesn’t get that.

  • Reply November 14, 2013

    Anonymous #2

    i think samantha makes lots of good points. her perspective is a highly marginalized one, often ridiculed, and usually ignored. profligate fucking in the dorm rooms is not ideal. fuck some people, not all of them. i think anna drew a really nice illustration. i think we should all take care to note that the world is not america. people in other countries have distinct notions of social acceptability, and not to say we should cater to them, but it is important to be respectful. as a guy, i did not appreciate being approached by hot blond girls who were down to fuck at formal. i didn’t know them, therefore it was weird.

  • Reply November 14, 2013

    e

    mission get samantha felmus laid

  • Reply November 16, 2013

    horon anud

    Samantha, it’s like lays. No one can eat just one 😉

  • Reply November 19, 2013

    T

    can someone tell this woman that genderfuck is NOT about sex. its about the fluidity of gender identity not having sex. its crazy and really sad that she is walking through life thinking genderfuck is a “sex related event.” Someone should help educate her on the nuanced concepts of sex, having sex and gender because this is just ignorant miseducation to the next level. And please, “A lot of underage or teenage sex, sadly, revolves around kids in low-income environments and families.” where are you getting your statistics? Because this is wrong. Your assumptions are deafening and down right laughable. Owning one’s sexuality and agency is not an obsession- that’s your right as a human being. That’s called being a healthy grown up. Running away from understanding sexuality and running around fixating on everyone else’s sexual pursuits is the definition of obsessive.

  • Reply November 19, 2013

    Please Stop Policing MY Fucking Body

    Please take your sex-shaming self somewhere else. Please. Just because you don’t wish to involve yourself with campus culture, sex between consenting parties being only a small facet of that culture, doesn’t mean you can push your shame onto the rest of us. Now I’m not saying you should be ashamed for virginity OR for pursuing sexual pleasure in whatever way that works for you, but equally you should not shame people for making their own choices, using their own bodies and owning their culture. You need to understand that many of the comments you’ve made in this response and others are deeply offensive especially in your reference to “a cultural problem. A lot of underage or teenage sex, sadly, revolves around kids in low-income environments and families.” Why you gotta be making assumptions and wild accusation which ring of classism? Know your audience and own up to your oppressive attitude, and please please PLEASE stop body-policeing the rest of us.

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