It is undeniable that the established rhetoric which damns casual sex still dominates our society. However, there is an increasingly popular move away from prudence in favour of sexual transparency. The University of Manchester has created space for sex-positive activism, a move which has allowed personal exploration to take place.
Freshers’ Week is characterised by young adults let loose on the city without parental restrictions. However, the common narrative of regretted one-night stands overshadows a wealth of sex-positive conversations and actions happening in Manchester. According to the Archives of Sexual Behavior, 1 in 4 young adults (aged 20-24) are choosing abstinence. However, this does not mean that sexual awareness has stagnated. The rise in media focused on alternative identities has led to a greater number of people exploring their own sexuality.
University is a time of self-exploration, and there is no better city to do that in. In recent years, advice services and inclusivity have become a primary focus within the University of Manchester. This year, the University jumped 25 places on the charity Stonewall’s Top 100 Employer list to 16th. Paul Marks-Jones, Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion Partner, said the new ranking proves LGBTQ+ members are “an important and valued part of the workforce.” Additionally, the LGBT Foundation, a non-profit organisation based in Manchester, holds events, running comedy events, craft workshops, and much more to “increase skills and reduce feelings of isolation.”
There are multiple opportunities to get involved in sex positive activism at UoM, for example the annual Reclaim the Night march in February. The march aims to spread awareness about street harassment directed towards women. Sex Week, run by the Student Union, holds panel discussions and art exhibitions with the aim of encouraging the creative side to sex. The University also hosts numerous sex-positive societies, such as the LGBTQ society. The society work to create a “welcoming and safe environment” for everyone who identifies as LGBTQ+ and holds weekly coffee meetings as well as Mental Health and Wellbeing Support events.
It is extremely common to feel alone in your personal sexual experiences at university, especially when those experiences are negative. The University of Manchester offers numerous services to students who need help. You can contact the University at [email protected]. Additional information about sexual health services and advice is available at fresh4manchester.nhs.uk. Here you can find your closest clinic and get answers to any questions you may have regarding sexual health.
It is easy to feel pressure to have sex, especially during Freshers’ Week. Manchester as a city, and as a University, has a wealth of support services to offer students who may be concerned about, or are exploring, their sexuality. Beyond that, the work of groups and societies to expand conversations about sex are contributing to greater inclusivity. Sex has expanded beyond its traditional definition, and formed communities effecting active change. So, while at University, embrace the opportunity to start a sexual revolution of your own.