You Get Yours, I’ll Get Mine

The Ambiguous Relationship We Have With Casual Sex

Duke Unfiltered | Pamela Petrick | March 1, 2016

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Banging. Boning. Screwing. Getting laid. The horizontal tango.

These are just some of the words I often use to describe that special activity that takes place between two consenting individuals: sex. So many types, so many different positions! Every time I think I’ve heard it all, my peers inspire me again. Yet with so many types of sexual experiences in college, casual sex is the type that we hear about, talk about, and for some, experience most often, especially here at Duke.

The idea of “casual sex” has always puzzled me. When I think “casual,” I think, sweatpants, hair tied, chilling with no makeup on… But putting “casual” with “sex”? Maybe it’s just me, but the idea of someone’s P in my V, casual is not the word that comes to mind.

Casual sex refers to sexual activity between two people who are not established sexual partners, or people do don’t know each other well. So basically everyone having sex in college except the chosen ones who can secure a relationship. And casual sex is awesome! You get to skip all that time consuming getting-to-know-each-other stuff and cut to the chase. By default, we define our relationships by not defining them.

And it’s pretty civil, really. Whether a one-night stand or a semi-consistent, mostly  ambiguous hookup, you share the goal of getting it in. You each are exchanging your goods for their services, and if the transaction is successful, you’ll both walk (or limp) away feeling satisfied (yes, I did just apply what I learned in PubPol 155 to sex). Only in college can you be in someone’s bed, naked, and 16 hours later be sitting next to them in class, asking for a pen almost as if nothing out of the ordinary has transpired. You smile and wave as you pass by them in Perkins – to everyone around you, you might as well be two people who had a class together last semester and are feeling particularly friendly. Yet you well know that their head was between your legs but a fortnight ago.  

Duke is a small enough community that sometimes, “casual” is synonymous with “everybody’s business.” If you want to know who’s done the nasty with who, you can find out. Because if you’re not the one having sex, talking about it is the next best thing. We might brush off sex as no big deal, but that doesn’t mean we don’t judge others for engaging in it. Our attitudes towards sex aren’t as lenient as we think. To understand this, we must go deeper (pun totally intended).

I knew all the words to “Promiscuous” in 4th grade, long before I knew what the word even meant. Fast-forward 10 years: I am still dropping it low to that song, but I now realize the stigma attached to the term. You’re in control of your sex life, meaning you have the power to decide if and when you have sex. It’s a blessing and a curse really: you can have as much sex as you want, but with the sexual freedom comes the harsh reality that people talk, and people judge. So here we are, at the fork in the road: at what point does casual sex transition from empowering, to something looked down upon, or something that we judge people for? There’s a fine line dividing the people we perceive as “slutty” to those who we see as attractive, experienced, or desirable.

As a case study, let’s pretend there’s a girl in my grade named Susan*. I’m friends with her on FB, I might occasionally see her in Perkins, but we’re peripheral friends at most. I don’t  even know Susan’s major, but through the grapevine I know that she likes it doggy style and has been Eiffel Towered.

My point is, there’s nothing wrong with Susan’s affinity for French landmarks, but at a school like Duke, you should be prepared for people to know a good amount about your sex life. We judge people when they have sex too often, with too many people, in too short a time span. These people get called “sluts” or “fuckboys.” But is it deserved? Do we do it out of jealousy? Because we wish we were the ones under and/or on top of their chosen partners? Because they didn’t choose us? It shouldn’t really be our business, but we make it ours. I know I’d be upset if I knew I had a negative reputation attached to my name because of what I choose to do or not to do behind closed doors. We don’t want to let people’s opinions of us dictate what we do, but it is much easier said than done to completely throw caution to the wind and give zero fucks about reputation.

If a girl wants to have a one-night stand, it doesn’t mean she has low self-esteem. She might genuinely just be DTF, and maybe she has no interest in a relationship at the moment. Maybe sex for her is pleasurable and empowering. It’s not until she hears the whispers the next day in Perkins that there is any doubt in her mind about her decision to have sex. Maybe the guy you think is a fuckboy is actually in a non-committed, no strings attached relationship with a girl who is equally as down. Maybe our constant gossip and desire to attach reputations to people’s actions deprives them of the chance to fulfill their needs and have casual sex without fear of repercussions. I say, if you want to have sex, your partner is on the same page,  and you’re having that sex for you, and you alone, then all the power to you, fuck the whole world. It is not our job as bystanders to judge others for what they’re into .  

Your definition of “easy” or “slutty” might be someone else’s definition of “free-spirited” or “carefree.” And both are valid points of view. Someone who doesn’t like to have sex out of a relationship is going to disagree with someone who wants to go home with someone after making out twice at Shooters. Before we judge anyone, we should remember that everyone thinks about sex differently. If casual sex isn’t for you and you’re looking for something deeper (pun totally intended), that’s totally cool. For some people, it’s two individuals making an overnight trip to Pleasure Town. For some, sex really is just… sex.

*Susan is a hypothetical female. Unless you actually know a Susan who’s freaky. In that case, go Susan.


#Rival Confessions

“A boy in our grade’s older brother visited for an alumni weekend. He was at our pregame, where I learned that he graduated Duke in 2011 (when I was in 8th grade), and is now 26. We made out at Shooters and we had sex in my bed on Central. The next morning he told me about what he does for work, and asked me what I was studying. Dreams do come true.”

-Age is just a number

The first boy I tried to give head to in college asked if I was going to get pregnant. He was a senior.”

-Virgin Mother

I had a pretty enthusiastic sex life with my first sexual partner (who uses they/them/their pronouns). I had been accustomed to being deathly quiet when pleasuring myself, since my house was so small, and one day I decided to give vocalizing my pleasure a shot. I got pretty fucking into it (no pun intended). But when I stumbled out of their room two hours later wearing one of their shirts and with fucked-out hair and love bites on my neck, I found their mother sitting on the couch with noise-canceling headphones on. Unbeknownst to us, she’d come home somewhere in the midst of this encounter.”

-Yikes :/

I was hooking up with a girl freshman year and while I was going down on her…I got a nosebleed. Luckily, the girl found it funny.”


“For my boyfriend’s birthday I told him he could have as many birthday blowjobs as he wanted for the day. We got to number four at about mid day, and things were going great…until he hit my gag reflex and I threw up right when he came. He didn’t realize what had happened at the time, and just thought I didn’t manage to swallow.”


Keep sending in your confessions!!