Early Monday morning, I woke up to a text message from my
19-year-old sister. “When you were in college, did people just like, have sex in public?”
“Um, definitely not,” I wrote back. “Why?”
Apparently, two of her fellow students at the University of Delaware celebrated St. Patrick’s Day by having sex in broad daylight behind some Dumpsters in a parking lot on the school’s campus in Newark.
My sister had no idea who they were but when
she walked into class on Monday, a few guys were passing around a video of the couple. “They thought it was funny and posted stuff on Instagram
to be cool and to ruin the girl’s rep.”
They certainly succeeded – by the time I got to the office, photos of the so-called “Dumpster F*ckers” were all over social media. The Huffington Post even published a cheeky post that included a totally NSFW video clip with onlookers laughing in the background.
Pardon me if I don’t think there’s anything remotely funny about this story. I guess I keep imagining how I would feel if the girl behind the Dumpster was my sister.
I am 10 years older than my baby sis, which means I have an extra decade of life experience as well as all the benefits of perspective. But college is not so far in the rearview mirror that I’ve forgotten how easy it is to find yourself in a bad situation.
I love my sister impossibly much and I worry about her constantly. What if someone slips something in her drink? What if she gets separated from her friends? What if she makes a mistake, a stupid mistake, and it winds up all over the Internet?
If she’s reading this right now, I can tell you with 100% certainty that she’s rolling her
eyes. She knows never to put her drink down at a party, duh, and yes obviously
she uses the buddy system and OF COURSE she would never have sex in public, Megan, are we seriously even having this conversation?
We are. And we will have it over and over again, because I want her to be a smart and strong woman who knows how to make good choices.
In pursuit of that goal, here are some things I’ve already told her a thousand times – and some things I wish that I could tell the girl in those pictures, who is probably also someone’s sister:
You aren’t old enough to have casual sex.
Sorry, but you just aren’t. Sex and intimacy are complicated; there are a lot of emotions involved especially when you’re just figuring everything out. Casual hook-ups send the message that sex doesn’t matter – but it does and it should. In another five or 10 years, when you are a fully-formed person, if you choose to engage in sexual encounters with people you don’t care about, I will still not approve but I will do my best to respect your choices.
Always use protection.
From the uncensored photos, it was obvious that you neglected to bring a condom to your trashcan liaison. Don’t be an idiot, it’s just not worth it. STDs are, at best, humiliating and at worst, seriously life-threatening.
Surround yourself with friends who will look out for you.
I can’t tell you how many times I heard stories in college about a girl getting left by her friends at a party or passing out drunk in an empty bedroom and (surprise!) something bad happens. Don’t EVER leave a friend sleeping alone in a strange house – and make sure they know that you never want to be left behind, no matter what condition you are in. To this end, you need to have a inner circle of girlfriends who won’t take no for an answer when it comes to your safety and won’t let you do dumb things like have sex in a public parking lot. Pro-tip: choose wisely because these same ladies will probably be your bridesmaids someday.
Anything you do could wind up on the Internet.
Thanks to social media, there’s really no such thing as privacy anymore. Keep that in the back of your mind when making important decisions, such as where to engage in sexual intercourse. Ask yourself, is “Dumpster Girl” really the Google search result I want attached to my name? Or as my sister put it, “Everyone has a camera phone, get some common sense.”
You are a beautiful, valuable human being – act like it. Set high standards and live by them. Respect yourself and insist that others treat you with that same respect. Always.
We all make mistakes.
Listen, it happens. Sometimes we make really terrible errors in judgment and it can feel like the end of the world… but it isn’t. Don’t let your mistakes define you: learn from them, leave them in the past and do better in the future.
Big sisters everywhere