By Grace Levy
Novato high school senior Connor Raiger said it best; “If you don’t want to have sex at prom, don’t have sex. If you want to have sex at prom, have safe sex.”
Growing up in an overly-sexualized culture makes it interesting to hear teens’ perspectives on sex, particularly sex on prom night. With 80’s prom-com movies in abundance such as Pretty In Pink, American Pie and Can’t Buy Me Love, the pressure to have sex at prom is embedded in the back of many teens’ minds.
“I think that there is some culture pressure,” Raiger added. “You know a lot of people have sex at prom, but there's not a lot of peer pressure to have sex at our school. It’s more of a background thought and not something that is immediate and present all the time. It's something our culture raises us thinking rather than a peer pressure thing.”
Maya Willey, a senior at NHS, described the concerns of her friends.
“I actually have friends that are like, ‘I’m really worried, I have a date and I don’t know what to do’ and it’s like, nobody expects you to do anything that you don’t want to do,” explained Willey.
In a time of growing sexual positivity, it makes sense that students would feel removed from judgement on their decision, especially in an accepting and progressive environment such as Novato High.
“If you’re secure enough with yourself and your sexuality, then you can make that decision on your own,” said senior Sophia Santa.
When it comes to sex on prom night, reasoning varies. Santa mentioned the opportunity that prom offers.
“I think what it comes down to is there's this huge pressure to make your first time special and this really sentimental memory,” said Santa. “A lot of people think that prom is the perfect time, but really there's too many expectations and you start setting yourself up to have a less fun time because you start to stress.”
Senior Allie Level discussed the societal pressure to lose your virginity altogether.
“People feel as if it’s their last chance to lose their virginity in high school. I think society as a whole casts an unsaid pressure,” said Level. “It’s not something that people are like ‘Oh you have to do it’ but I think it’s definitely something people talk about.”
Trey Fritz, another Novato High senior, described the true discomfort that can come with sex at prom.
“I think that once people are in the right state of mind, they realize it’s kind of awkward to have sex in a hotel room that you're sharing with three of your friends. It’s more of a movie fantasy,” Fritz explained.
Senior Elena Golubovich remarked on the nonchalant views our generation casts on sex as a whole.
“I think in more progressive places, like Marin, people view it more as a cliche to lose your virginity at prom,” Golubovich said. “It was probably a bigger thing in the 80’s, not so much today, likely because sex was a bigger deal back then.”
In contrast, senior Jack Mason believes sex is still a serious, monumental act in anyone's life.
“Sex is a big deal and it’s underestimated in our American society,” said Mason. “People should learn to wait. I think they get caught up in the moment [at prom] because it’s a turning point in their life. Prom signifies graduating which makes people think they can make these adult decisions, like losing their virginity or having sex.”
Throughout the variety of views students expressed about sex at prom and sex in general, one thing remained a constant with each person: only do it if you truly want to. There is nothing wrong with having sex if it coincides with your beliefs and you feel comfortable. The same goes for if you don’t want to have sex. It is completely up to whatever you and your partner are comfortable with, whether it’s at prom or on a casual Tuesday night.