Okay, so it may only be a book review, but I feel pretty proud to be published in the current Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy.
I reviewed “Sex & the Soul: Juggling Sexuality, Spirituality, Romance and Religion on America’s College Campuses” by Donna Freitas.
Freitas interviewed and surveyed students from a variety of colleges, including Catholic and Evangelical schools. Initially she thought she would be comparing these religious campuses with the non-religious ones, but she soon discovered that the real distinction was between the Evangelical campuses and everybody else.
What I couldn’t say in my review is that I totally identified with her description of the Evangelical campus. I went to a conservative Christian college in Minnesota in the mid-90s. There was a lot of pressure to NOT LOOK sexual, NOT ACT sexual, and definitely NOT BE sexual outside of marriage. There was a strict code of conduct that included things like stipulations on how long a woman’s skirt had to be – and it was enforced.
We also had visitation hours strictly enforced. As a resident assistant my junior year, it was my duty to monitor the dorms on the weekends and be sure that if the opposite sex was visiting, that the door was open, the lights were on, and there was no hanky-panky going on. I may not have agreed with the rules, but I managed to adhere to (most of) them. Imagine my confusion, then, when at one point I was taken to task for having a piece of art in my room that was deemed offensive. The closest thing I had to anything “suggestive” was a tasteful (I thought) black and white print of Isabella Rossellini and Mikhail Baryshnikov. (Although, now that I think of it — he did have his shirt off! And they were in an embrace. And dancers do wear those tights that show everything. Ah yes, I can see what was so disturbing to one’s virgin eyes!)
So although the other schools have their share of sexual issues to deal with, it’s clear (at least to me, and I believe to Freitas) that the Evangelical campuses have their share of problems as well. They may not be the “obvious” problems that draw attention, but Evangelical campuses are perpetuating a possibly dangerous naivete among their students.
Ignorance is not bliss.