Sex on the Square: WSN’s new sex column

Almost everyone is having sex, but few people are talking about it openly. Writers Rachel Fadem and Shreya Tomar hope to change that — at least at NYU.


Aaliya Luthra

(Illustration by Aaliya Luthra)

Rachel Fadem and Shreya Tomar

Welcome to Sex on the Square, WSN’s new weekly sex column. We’re two seniors who are open-minded and passionate about discussing sex and sexuality within the world of NYU. New York City is a great place to date and hookup with people, but it can also be scary and intimidating — and we’re here to help.

We want the sex column to be a platform for students to ask questions, read about one another’s experiences on campus and help each other live their most honest sex lives. Curious about how to navigate safer sex in the city? Hookup horror stories? The best drug store sex toys? We’re taught to be ashamed, but we hope that people will begin to break down some of that internalized shame by answering questions like these. 

While we have a range of our own stories to share, we’ll also feature professionals to merge the clinical expertise with normal experiences. Sometimes, it can feel like you are the only person with a question or a certain experience — we hope to help people realize that they aren’t alone.

To send us your questions or experiences, fill out this form.

Why are we interested in starting this sex column?

Rachel: People have so many interesting stories. I’m so excited to hear them and share our own. Sex is a huge part of life for so many people, but for a lot of people, it’s a hidden part. It doesn’t look the same for everyone, and that’s OK.

Shreya: Sex is a crucial part of who I am, and discovering that about myself at a time when I didn’t even know how to navigate sex was extremely challenging. I want to help educate people about healthy sex, especially when they are just starting to explore it. Sex doesn’t have to be a priority for you to understand it. 

Rachel: People don’t know how to talk about sex because we were taught that it is dirty and taboo. Destigmatizing talking about sex and how to do it safely and comfortably while still feeling empowered in your body is really important. 

Shreya: We were never given comprehensive sex education. We are told to use a condom, but that’s it. What kind of condoms? When do you put them on? What about dryness? Lube? Do I have to orgasm for it to be considered good sex? All of this and more is missing. Having answers to these questions won’t make you a sex god or goddess, but it can help make the experience feel easier.

Rachel: Feeling comfortable in your body is important. The more comfortable I am, the more confident I am and the more I’m willing to explore sexually. I’m able to say “I’m curious about X, can we try it?” without feeling that internal shame or judgment. 

Shreya: It’s crucial to explore our sexualities on our own. If you don’t know what turns your body on or which finger to put where, how can you expect your sexual partner or partners to know? You need to know what your body likes sexually so that you can create the safe space it will need when you are about to have sex with someone. Masturbation allowed me to feel more open about my sexual desires and find beauty in my body.

What did we wish we knew about sex and sexuality before coming to NYU?

Shreya: Approaching sex as a college student feels different here. Most of us are not even having sex with NYU students — we’re having sex with New Yorkers. I have had one-night stands with people who are much older than me, and those experiences have been completely different from what I was told or saw through Hollywood. 

Rachel: It can be hard to learn how to navigate dating and hooking up in a huge city while in college, and that’s where safety and knowing your boundaries really comes in. I remember my first year in college just going to someone’s dorm or apartment without meeting them first. I never learned how to navigate hooking up and dating apps in a safe way.

Shreya: I wish I knew the importance of communication. Talking about sex, before having sex, is the foundation of having a great sexual experience. You have to tell your sexual partner or partners what you like and don’t like, what feels safe and what doesn’t before you get in action.

Rachel: Some of the best sex that I’ve had is when I talked about it. I was always afraid that if I talked about sex before having sex, I was going to be judged or viewed as too promiscuous. If I am judged, that’s on the other person, not me. 

Shreya: This applies to every consensual sexual situation. Once, a guy did something I wasn’t comfortable with, and it just felt revolting. I also found out he was a Trump supporter after we had sex, so everything he did made sense, but I just didn’t have the vocabulary to confront the problem at the time. I also promised myself that after that date, never again am I having sex with someone without knowing their views on Trump. Before I started having casual sex in the city, I had zero information about what’s out there and how to approach sexual experiences. 

Rachel: In New York, you can be more open. There’s a culture that promotes healthier explorations of sex and sexuality. We’re really fortunate to be in New York.

Contact Rachel Fadem and Shreya Tomar at [email protected].