At my first frat party during freshmen year, I ran into an upperclassman acquaintance. I remember him saying to me, “Freshmen girls are just too easy. You know [that other freshman girl we both knew]? I slept with her already.”

I wasn’t really sure how to respond, but thankfully his drunkenness meant that I didn’t need to. I knew in that moment that I didn’t want anyone to talk about me the way that upperclassman had talked about that girl. And yet, it wasn’t long before I picked up some promiscuous behavior and a “screw what other people think, I’ll do what I want” attitude.

It was exciting. Thrilling even. And I was honestly having fun. One Saturday after a particularly fun Friday night, *winky face* a friend of mine sat me down to discuss

the previous night’s debauchery. I remember her saying some gentler version of, “Have some self-respect!”

That comment didn’t sit well with me, but not because I was disappointed with myself and my choices, but because I felt frustrated with her judgment. To me, self-respect meant respecting my personal choices and virtues, not necessarily the ones I was told to have.

In time, I learned to prefer consistent, reliably good sex to thrilling grab-bag hook-up sex, and so I began to act according to my friend’s advice. But I’m not ashamed of my freshman year behavior, and I don’t think I should be.

That brings me to a larger conversation about how we address “slutty freshman girls” and sexual behavior in general. On campus, I hear people condemning girls for their promiscuous behavior all the time.

Who might those accusers be? The self-righteous, the former sluts, the man sluts – everyone.

Dear everyone: STOP. It is not our place to disrespect the sexual choices that other people make. Though we may be well-intentioned, our judgments will be far more effective at tearing down another’s self-esteem than changing their behavior.

That’s because entering the world of sex is a learning experience, even though we don’t often look at it that way. In time, we learn what we like and what we dislike.

We have embarrassing moments and we have moments of pride. We learn. All that we experience is extremely personal and should be respected as such. No lectures from a friend can ever be as potent as experience.

So let’s stop condemning people for making decisions about sex that we would not make ourselves. As long as no one is being harmed in the process, sexual exploration should be treated with respect and even applauded.

Everyone has different experiences, different drives, and therefore different paths to finding what they want out of their sexual lives. Let’s not judge and shame each other for our different learning paths or preferences.

When diving into the world of sex – a world that too rarely is talked about in an honest, constructive manner – no one should be expected to have it all figured out.

College is a perfectly appropriate time to be adventurous with sex, and that should be exciting, not shameful.

Let’s all respect other people’s choices. Furthermore, let’s not let fear of

disrespect from others keep us from respecting ourselves.

Armstrong is a member of the class of 2016.

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