Sex is fun to talk about. I love writing this column every week and the lovely juicy discussions that I get to have with people who react to it. There are about a billion jokes about sex and tons of funny terms for sexual acts. Sitting around with friends and discussing what’s going on in your sex lives is always a good time.

Gossip about sex is titillating, and it’s a guilty pleasure for a lot of us. It’s not just something we share with friends and lovers; the media creates a huge amount of gossip about sex as well. How much do you know about Spitzer’s friendly neighborhood prostitute or Lindsay Lohan’s new lesbian relationship? Oh man, Lindsay and that DJ are so cute together!

It’s all well and good to have an idea of what’s going on with your friends. You don’t want to accidentally stick your foot in your mouth by asking an acquaintance how her boyfriend is while she’s going through a nasty breakup.

That’s an awkward crying-in-the-bathroom experience waiting to happen. It’s easy, though, to cross the line between harmless information-sharing and spreading malicious rumors.

A lot of the time, gossip about sex is about who’s a slut or a man-whore, or who’s having ‘too much” sex with ‘too many” people. Sometimes, gossip about someone we don’t like takes a sexual form, assuming that someone (especially a woman) who is catty or passive-aggressive or different than us is in some way a slut. It’s a word we tend to throw around a lot to punish people we don’t like.

These kinds of rumors can really cause problems for the people they target. If they find out about the rumor, it will obviously hurt their feelings, but that’s not the only issue. People who develop notoriety as sluts have trouble finding secure relationships (thus reinforcing their reputation because they can’t commit to anyone) regardless of what they actually want. It can make them nervous about the sex they do want to have, in case anyone judges them for it, and that fear can last a long time.

Rumors like this are also usually about women, and they serve to reinforce stereotypes about how and why a woman can be sexual. Sex is great, and I firmly believe that people should be allowed to express their sexuality in whatever way suits them best. I think most people would agree with me, but when we use the ‘slut” label, we are judging people because they have sex in a certain way.

There is a double standard for what sexual behaviors are considered OK for men and women. The important thing for both genders, though, is to behave responsibly and to respect your partners, regardless of how many people you ram. Practice safer sex, especially if you’re not going to be monogamous, and be sure to communicate your intentions.

One of the reasons communication about sex is so important is that the sexing does cause such strong feelings. Rejection sucks, bad sex is lame and unrequited love feelings bite the big one, so to speak. It’s all bad news.

When your feelings get hurt like that, it’s tempting to run out and spread an evil rumor on campus or on the Internet to get back at someone.

Try to avoid being on the receiving end of these kinds of rumors by communicating honestly and early about what you want. Then you might avoid the hurt feelings in the first place. And the sex will be bangin’.

Of course, we could all make an effort to keep our sexual gossip realistic and nonjudgmental. I gossip about sex with my friends all the time, but it’s usually more like, ‘I heard so-and-so is screwing such-and-such. I bet they go at it like space bunnies,” or, ‘Wow, he’s actually gay? Awesome!”

It’s still fun, but I don’t have to feel guilty afterward. What more could I ask for? All sex and no guilt is my idea of happiness.

Waddill is a member of the class of 2009.

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