Gooey marshmallows and hard bananas: do you mean penis?

Posted: April 14, 2012 by chelsiehinck in Uncategorized

As I type this blog post I find myself becoming increasingly angry about the current state of my University. To give you a little back-story, I attend the University at Buffalo and have for the past three years. UB has 2 student publications that run regularly and neither is anything special. They are what you might expect from a typical campus news source and aside from a few poorly written articles each issue they do all right.

That is of course until this year, with the addition of the self titled “sex column” to UB’s The Spectrum.

The writer of this column’s name is Keren Baruch and she attempts to write on all topics relating to sex—as she calls it. She signs off most of her posts with “be safe, be smart, be sexual.”

I feel I should clarify that I have no personal problems with the idea of a sex column. Writing about sex isn’t something I think should be taboo or removed from college newspapers. Sex is essential to life and as such should be conversed about (whether that be in print or not).

What I think is problematic about a self titled “sex column” can be summarized by Keren Baruch’s column from January: What’s your number?

The second paragraph of this article reads:

How many times have you been in this situation: pants off, condom on, laying on your back ready for his gooey marshmallow to make the inside of your graham crackers complete.

Well, Keren, I can honestly say with some experience on this topic that I’ve never been in this situation. I might even stretch far enough to say that putting gooey marshmallow anywhere near the “inside of my graham cracker” sounds like I’m asking for a yeast infection.

Actual picture from The Spectrum's website associated with Keren's column

Keren goes on to create a setting in which a female is in a bar and is interested in a man and suddenly her mind shifts to sex and then to worrying about his “number.”

The number she is referring to is the amount of sexual partners a person has had. She poses the question if a high or low number has a negative connotation and feeds directly into heteronormative gender stereotypes.

Many girls feel that guys hold high expectations of the vagina that’s about to become the peel to their hard banana. These high standards set by previous freaky experiences and porn can be nerve-wracking, especially for a virgin.

Again with the weird, unnecessary food metaphors. I would hope if you are writing a sex column you would at least be able to use the words “penis” and “vagina,” but maybe that’s just me. I will say that she makes an interesting point to add in that the expectations of sex are extremely hyped up due to pornography–but I believe all people experience anxiety as a result of this in some form not just “virgin girls.”

Keren then goes on to speak for all men in saying:

 Guys want their girls to be good in bed but at the same time they don’t want their girls to have high numbers.

And gets a super reputable quote by sourcing a UB business student:

“The lower the number for the girl, the better,” said Ryan McTigue, a senior business major.

This generalization is problematic and I would even go so far as to say oppressive. Women must be good in bed, but they can’t have a high number of partners on which to establish practice for “good performance.” So, if the pressure put on people to perform a certain way during sex wasn’t already enough with the use of the before-mentioned pornography industry, (you can view it for yourself with a quick google search if you need a reference) now women especially must be good in bed and maintain a lower number to appease their male counterparts. Keren goes on to dig her philosophy a little deeper with this gem of a statement:

 simply “getting the crazy nights out of our systems,” isn’t an excuse to portray ourselves as easy and slutty

So, if a woman likes to have sex– I’m going to assume here she is speaking for all women as a whole, as she lumps herself into this “we” mentality in this statement– and has sex with whomever she wants, EVEN if she is safe, she is being “easy” and “slutty.” Gesh, pearls of wisdom.

She ends her column with a warning message for “naive” girls who are trusting in what their partners tell them to be their “numbers,” and sources a “relationship expert” who essentially says that everyone lies when it comes to the amount of sexual partners they have.

While I can understand the use of (what she may view as funny) food metaphors, and over simplification of sexual relationships, I can’t for the life of me understand how the editors of The Spectrum think a sex column this poorly done is helping their publication. This isn’t just a problem facing our campus, this female vs. male differential treatment when it comes to sex is incredibly problematic in everyday life situations. Take for example recent reproductive health laws and then read this column and think about who is being oppressed.

This column is not the only one of its kind to come from Keren Baruch, which is pretty unfortunate.

UB MEME's response to Keren's "sex column"

As stated before, I have no qualms with publications that print “sex columns” per se. And I do understand that a column is reflective of the opinion of the writer and not necessarily of the entire publication as a whole. It’s that this depiction of females is harmful and degrading, the male perspective has inherently become some sort of authority within this piece for the basis of Keren’s argument on women’s sexual choices. Not to mention the entire lack of mention of anyone functioning outside of a heterosexual relationship.

Is your “number” important to you? And how do these implications affect your relationships?

As always, thanks for reading.

  1. mewalsh6 says:

    I didn’t read the actual spectrum piece but from the quotes you provide I can tell it was horrible. I completely agree with a lot of what you’re saying. Especially, when you discuss the quote by Ryan McTigue. I agree with you that the statement is oppressive. If women aren’t supposed to have a lot of sex then its going to be kind of hard to get any better at it so I’m not really sure what this student actually wants from a woman. Also, to answer your first question I don’t care about numbers. It’s really not important to me at all. Both men and women should be able to do whatever they want with whoever they want. Our sex life shouldn’t be put under a microscope because some members of society think it should be. At the same time though, if a man doesn’t want to sleep with a woman because he feels she have too many partners it’s his decision to make and we should respect that.

  2. lildanadoo says:

    I think that your post really shows a major gendered difference here. I loved your witty-ness and i think you make some excellent points. I think that by focusing on “the number” makes people only as sex objects, and erases the idea of the relationship. This also creates a no win situation. You’re damned if you’re number is too low and damned if it is too high. I think you should send this into the spectrum!

  3. alkothen says:

    I really enjoyed your post, as I’ve wanted to rant about the Spectrum’s “sex column” many times. The way that she writes plays right into stereotypical gender roles, (ex: the way that she sets it up so that the woman is just laying there waiting for the man, playing the passive sex object rather than someone equally engaged in sex) is extremely problematic and I’m glad that you’ve pointed this out. Also, the numbers issue is beyond annoying to me, as I’ve never really seen why it matters one way or another so thank you for deconstructing her argument about that as well. And I definitely agree with Dana that you should send this blog post in to the Spectrum!

  4. Ugh, ew. I don’t read The Spectrum and I’m glad now that I don’t. I did check out the piece you mentioned and completely agree with your analysis. Very well done. I think “number” is totally irrelevant, and is just a nasty way to reinforce hegemonic gender dynamics and to slut shame.
    – Linnea

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