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‘Hands Off! Let’s Talk!’ with Bob Hall
Bob Hall, founder of Learning to Live With Conflict, Inc., spoke to students about “one of the most common sources of conflict among men and women on college campuses today” – sex.
On Feb. 7 students gathered for Hall’s lecture in honor of Sexual Awareness Month.
A couch and coffee table sat in front of the Alumni Hall auditorium to ensure a comfort level and upbeat music filled the room to relax the audience before the lecture.
Hall began by asking the audience to close their eyes and listen to him speak, in order to be able to focus on the evening’s topic. He said he prefers a more dynamic approach rather than listing statistics.
“I’m not really here tonight to tell you what to do, but I am here to give you some things to think about,” said Hall.
His innovative lecture involved audience interaction.
“Humor is a great way to lower defenses,” said Hall, as he used sexual innuendos and familiar comedy to make his points.
Hall provided a souvenir T-shirt for his volunteer that read, “Just cause we’re dating, don’t mean we’re mating!” He surveyed the audience to know how they felt about the statement. Most responded positively, and many were open to reversing the saying.
His first step was what he called an orientation on sex. He chose a male and female audience member and said, “This is a man. This is a woman.” Hall said he did this to state the obvious, and to show that while everyone is aware of the distinction between genders not everyone agrees on the definition of sex.
“One of the first instinctive reactions is to figure out who we can blame,” said Hall. He said it’s easier to blame a gender for the problems that occur with sex, rather than having a mature discussion.
Hall said one reason sex is so difficult is because everyone grew up with different family values, friends, magazines, past experiences and attitudes towards sex.
“I guarantee we didn’t all hear the same things,” said Hall.
Hall said he could tell by the body language and facial expressions of the audience members, that not everyone feels the same way about the topic. This causes unnecessary confusion about sex.
“How do we express interest in someone? We play games with each other,” said Hall.
He said everyone has some little hidden agenda or secret strategy, and that communication is difficult when people guard what they share.
He compared the subject to a game of Battleship, where people are constantly imputing and processing data in a strategic way in order to decipher their next move.
In Battleship, contestants do not tell each other where their ships are, leaving the opponent with no choice other than to guess, much like the games men and woman play with each other when it comes to dating and relationships, Hall said.
Hall said that regardless of the fact that a couple may have sat in a dark movie theater together and watched a sex scene, people shut down when it comes to the actual event. Generally speaking, people have no problem exploiting sex and making money off it, but they are unable to deal with it when the situations come up in real life, he said.
When it comes down to it, Hall believes that people think talking to youngsters about sex will cause them to do it, and the only place people are open about sex is in the media.
“The only place I see censorship in this country is in the classroom when dealing with sex,” said Hall.
However, Hall feels that sexual transmitted diseases, abortion solely for birth control, and rape are far more obscene than discussing the topic in a mature manner.
Although sex is a perfectly natural act, people try to control sex with guilt, Hall said, and this messes people up.
“The best way to learn something is to teach it,” said Hall. “Sooner or later these issues are out there for all of us. Without knowledge, we end up proceeding into relationships without knowing who we are.”
Hall said society has set us up for problems and people don’t really think bad things will happen to them.
“We don’t like to think about things that are a downer to us,” said Hall.
He resents the fact that woman have to fear him, based on possible danger. Therefore, many people shy away from getting close to anyone at all.
Some people turn to drugs and alcohol so they don’t have to take responsiblitiy for their actions. They blame their wrongdoing on the influence of drugs.
Hall said it is inevitable that people want sex at some point in their lives.
“Nature made sure we are always going to be here,” giving everyone a sex drive. “It’s not a walk or a stroll, it’s a drive,” said Hall. “It’s powerful.”
“We need to do something different if we want our lives to turn out the way we want them to,” said Hall.
He said this includes not letting sex become an obsession.
“To care for people as if they were things is violence,” Hall said. “I’m not trying to tell you that sex or fantasy is bad, but if we lose the human connection by programming our minds so much with fantasy, we end up missing each other in the process and people become commodity.”
He said sex has positive and negative aspects. The positive is that it is romantic, expresses creativity, is free, good exercise, relieves stress and feels good. On the negative, if sex is a person’s only focus it has the potential to be selfish and insatiable.
For example, people will use date rape drugs and say or do whatever they can to fulfill their desire.
“They just want what they want when they want it,” said Hall.
He said many people are selfish when it comes to sex.
“No wonder why we have such high divorce rate in this country,” said Hall. “There’s violence just in the sense of dehumanizing another person.”
“Using sex for a quick fix is just like alcohol or other drugs,” said Hall.
Hall encourages everyone to realize that they are not the only one involved in sexual relations.
“Consider others before self, not instead of self,” he said.
Hall said puberty used to occur three or four years later than it does now, due to nutrition and health practices. The audience agreed with Hall that regardless of anyone’s feelings about sex, both men and women have the right to say “yes” and “no” at any point.
Hall said the media trivializes how important a decision this is to make.
“If you are not sure, say no,” he said. “You can always change your mind later on.”
He said that a good way is to ask the other person, “is this okay?”
“The best way in the world I know to show love is to show respect,” said Hall.
He also said that communication is an important factor, and that nobody should ever force anyone to do anything against his or her will.
“There is only one time when you don’t have the right to say ‘no’ to sex,” said Hall. “Afterwards.”