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April 1, 2019 | by  | in Arts |
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From the Archives – Sex

From the Archives

Since coming to university, I’ve discovered that not everyone received sexual education at their high school. But one thing’s for sure, the sex issue of Salient has always provided an opportunity for students to explore and share the sex narrative.

One of Salient’s first Sex issues was published in 1986, titled “Focus on Sex in the 80’s”. In his editorial, Richard Adams explained the reasoning for the issue’s creation: “Sex is something so natural and yet […] the way it is treated by parts of society makes drunken driving seem more acceptable as a form of social contact. The Eighties (if such a time exists) is a good time to be wise about such things. And why not – we have opportunities and (more importantly) information available to us in the Eighties that few of our parents had in the Fifties or Sixties”

He made the bold editorial decision to spend the rest of his piece discussing the deeply lusty, sexually charged subjects of recent NZUSA reforms, the Blackcaps test series victory over England, and the practice times of the Victoria University Cricket Club.

The “information” that Adams alludes to comprises much of the issue. Gone were the male gazey, wink-wink-nudge-nudge references to sex in the Salient of decades past—a striking example was Salient’s “Girl of the Week” on page three in 1963, an openly horny concession to a time when Vic’s student body was 75% men. The 1986 sex issue was mostly about communicating how to have safe and enjoyable sex on your own terms. Practical advice from Student Health dealt with how best to avoid some of the risks associated with being sexually active. This included articles on how to recognise, avoid, and treat STIs, and an explainer on the appropriate forms of contraception given your circumstances.

Other articles discussed the emotional side of sex and relationships. Eric Medcalf provided this piece of evergreen advice on the nature of reciprocal support in sexual and romantic relationships: “Mature dependence implies an ability to become dependent when necessary and not to become stuck or trapped in that dependence once the need has passed. In a relationship mature dependence means each partner acknowledging, respecting and (as far as possible) meeting the other’s need for support without entrapping, and also respecting the partner’s need to not be dependent. So, there will be  flexibility, a degree of negotiation and a feeling of freedom without isolation within the relationship”.

On the whole, the message of the issue holds up: Sex is something which everyone has different feelings about and a different relationship to. If being sexually active is something you want, there are risks which shouldn’t necessarily put you off but which need to be accounted for and talked about.


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