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Yue Wang '12: Let's talk about love

The recent campus news about the group independent study project, "The Study of Love" ("Love, Factually" Sept. 30) really caught my sleepy eyes at breakfast and made my day.

Over the past two years at Brown, as I sat down at the Sharpe Refectory everyday and checked out newspaper and table slips for new events, I learned to live with the omnipresent flyers and slips, with their luring nudy pictures and advertising on workshops about sex — an obvious demonstration of the overwhelming interest in sex around campus. Sex education events abound: Female Sexuality Workshop, Sex Week, lectures on orgasms and — how could I forget — the weekly Post- Magazine sex columnists' sensational columns giving advice on all manners of sexual activities.

It is not that I believe that sex education is unimportant to a young and libidinal population. Nor am I offended by the emancipatory undertone of sexual liberation. What bothers me is that despite the openness and prevalence of discussion of sex at Brown, there seems to be a dearth of discussion and interest about what could give sex a more permanent and spiritual form — love and romance. The huge number of workshops on sex, compared with how little and seldom our educators want to talk to us about our relationships, seems to indicate that Brown students, or college students in general, are more interested in physical sex than the more intimate and spiritual aspects of our relationships.

This can be confirmed by taking a quick look around at most Brown students' night life: frat parties, the Graduate Center Bar and the Fish Company, among other things. Students go to these events with clear knowledge of what they want: sex, or colloquially, hook-ups. Are people who hook up with strange people in those parties in love? Not unless we drastically stretch the meaning of the word. For most people, to expect a call for follow-up dates from someone who left a hickey on your neck the previous night at Fish Co. is pure naivety.

Because somehow we know that sex is much easier to get than to be in a romantic relationship; because the former could be easily obtained at a Saturday night party in a wasted state whereas the latter involves a much longer emotional commitment and patience with inevitable frustrations from time to time. The daunting commitment and frustrations attendant to genuine love deters young people from pursuing a real romantic relationship and encourages them to immerse themselves in the instant pleasure of sex. Many of the clubs we visit late at night and on weekends package sex like a fast food restaurant. For their clients, sex is just like fast food: quick, cheap, delectable and a convenient choice when one can't afford to have a romantic relationship with time, devotion and emotional maturity.

A friend of mine who loves to share stories of her numerous "sex adventures" with different people, once confessed to me that her romantic desperation began after breaking up with her first boyfriend. In the place of hope for a new relationship rose a cynical view of all true romance. The failure of her first serious romance thus caused an anxiety about engaging in later relationships. She just wanted to be happy, but relationships are just too emotionally exhausting.

I was perturbed after listening to her experience. After all, the sweetness about romance is knowing someone who will always enjoy the way you look (even without makeup or a huge volume of alcohol), who will be there whenever you need him or her, who would sit side-by-side with you on the Main Green on a sunny Saturday afternoon to watch the autumn leaves fall. An addiction to the "fast food" style of romance simply deprives one of so many beautiful things in life.

Lastly, organizers of student forums on campus should rethink their long-term approach to sex education. Overall, such forums and conversations tend to mix sex education with explicit social and political messages. Sex education indeed carries important motifs: gender equality, sexual liberalization and tolerance of the LGBTQ community. Listening to these messages is essential in shaping our lives, yet I scarcely feel these dialogues address my concerns at a deeply personal level. Similarly, school health officials are avid about teaching safe sex, and the University widely distributes information on reproductive health to the student body. But the ready answers available from official and non-official sources at Brown about sex obscures the fact that a personal and nuanced approach is required in our coping with our love lives.

Yue Wang '12 is a political science and German studies concentrator from Shanghai. She can be contacted at



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