Another year, another sex issue: Why we keep doing it

There’s a running joke in the office that we all only joined Student Life’s staff to make the Sex Issue, formally named Student Love. In some sense, that sounds a bit perverse, but then remember that currently there is no other opportunity in your life to write exclusively about sex without any sense of judgment or shame. The Sex Issue is liberating, really.

And then, there’s the running joke that is consistently told to members of Student Life’s staff: that our peers only read one issue per year, and it’s the Sex Issue. So we do it for you guys—our semi-loyal readership.


The Sex Issue exists in that rarified part of the Venn diagram where our readers enjoy what they read and we enjoy what we create.
For once, everyone is happy and journalism isn’t failing. It also creates a treasure trove of information on a college student’s sexual habits.

Take, for example, that over the past four years, the number of students who have had sex has risen from 70.3 percent to 76.4 percent. If you break that number down, a four-year trend has emerged that shows seniors are continually the grade that has had the most sex and freshman the grade have had the least. Are those numbers relatively intuitive? Yes, but it’s always nice to have numbers behind the assertion that at least 20 percent of students will lose their virginity in college.

Or if you want a more current-event relevant example of Sex Issue numbers at work, more Washington University students use the pull out method as a form of birth control (25 percent) than use IUDs (18.5 percent). Given the recent push for IUD expansion on campus, we all expected the latter percentage to be much higher than it was.

Looking at how sexual habits change over time, the sex survey also demonstrates how students are using social media. Over half of the respondents said they had used some form of online dating social media, the vast majority of which used Tinder. But the data gets more interesting when looking at the reason why. More people use online dating apps for hookups (46.8 percent) than what the app was intended for—dating (39.1 percent).


The Sex Issue also tends to shine a light on gender dynamics in our sexual encounters.
Far more men (70.3 percent) expect their partner to groom body hair than do women (47.9 percent), and more men fail to groom at all (6.9 percent) than do women (1.4 percent). And when students do groom, men tend to focus on their face and pubic hair while women focus on armpits, legs and pubic hair.

Lastly, the real excitement surrounding the Sex Issue comes from the abundance of humorous sexual experiences Wash. U. students have had. One respondent tried to role-play an office scenario and ended up telling their partner “they had missed six meetings and the printer was broken.” More than one person has had a parent walk in on them in a compromising situation; a couple met the same fate but with law enforcement.

The Sex Issue also is a good reminder that at the end of the day, sex is just another bodily function. The number of respondents who have pooped, vomited, bled or some combination of the three during sex was astounding. But maybe we shouldn’t be surprised. After all, sex is only natural, and we’ll never stop doing it…the Sex Issue, we mean.