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This article initially ran in October 2006.
Utter the words “threesome” out loud and chances are you can’t help but blush or giggle, thinking about episodes of MTV’s reality show “The Real World.”
The show, of course, wouldn’t be complete without night-vision cameras set up to catch every naughty romp the “Real Worlders” have in bed, or a cameraman to film the action in a shower designed for six.
References to threesomes are ubiquitous in the media today. “Sex and the City” and “The Real World” are two popular shows to feature the menage-a-trois. Even MTV’s Music Video Awards featured a now-infamous three-way kiss between Britney Spears, Madonna and Christina Aguilera. Threesomes seem to have become a growing cultural mark of the aftermath of the sexual liberation movement.
“They’re just really interesting, how more accepted they are and how much of an interest in them there seems to be,” said a 21-year-old business major who asked that her name be withheld. The student has participated in a threesome.
She laughed uncomfortably.
“Threesomes aren’t romantic at all. It’s just the sex, straight up. All kinds of weird kinky things can happen.”
Students said there are very little practical sources for information about threesomes available.
“I guess (threesomes) are joked about with friends, but I’ve never actually heard of any of my friends being in one. And it’s not like my parents would ever talk about it,” said Amy Silverman, a sophomore communication major.
“I’ve never had one, but (they’re) definitely intriguing. I suppose if the situation were to arise, but it’s not like I’m going out of my way to look for one,” said Ben Bloff, a sophomore environmental studies major.
For most students, discussion of this topic is accompanied by awkward laughter. But for some, a threesome can be a milestone in their sexual experience or help them to define their sexuality.
“I think that I figured out that I was gay from a threesome. I don’t know, you just find out when both (sexes) are there and who you end up focusing more attention on in that situation,” said Phil Moak, a sophomore film major.
Moak said threesomes seemed to be something people did when they were questioning their sexuality.
“I would be afraid that I’d be so engrossed in one person in the moment that I would be afraid that I wouldn’t satisfy another. Kind of awkward,” Bloff said.
Sexual experimentation is almost inevitable in the dorms. For students experiencing freedom from their parents for the first time, amongst talk of first-time sexual experiences, threesomes are also a hot topic.
“The thing about college is that it’s not like high school. No one knows you, and no one is there the next day when you walk in saying ‘Ooh, you had a threesome,’” Moak said.
In today’s society, there lingers a stigma about two men interacting sexually, and there seems to be a societal perception that only women can participate in lesbian or bisexual activity.
“I think it’s more socially accepted for one woman to hook up with another (woman) and one guy than two guys and one girl,” the anonymous student said.
Students experimenting with threesomes also deal with the consequences of defying gender roles.
“I think men express themselves (sexually) more in college than in high school,” Moak said. “Most of the time though, it’s two girls and a guy. (Women) more openly express themselves earlier sexually as teenagers.”
Illicit sexual activity comes with a price, one student said.
“If a guy were to talk about a threesome, it would be something they would be proud of. On the other hand, if you are a girl, it’s slutty and dirty. (Women) have no room for sexual expression.”
Sexually transmitted infections are always a concern with any sexual activity. HPV, HIV and AIDS are only a few STIs that students may eventually have to grapple with. Additionally, there is always the possibility of an unexpected pregnancy.
“First of all, it’s important that all people in the situation are comfortable with the idea. You have to be careful with any partner, and, well, with one extra person in the mix, fluids are going to be exchanged from one person to another. Use an entire box of condoms if you have to switch (partners) up a bit,” the anonymous student said.
Bloff also expressed his concern with remaining safe during a threesome.
“Two things: no babies and no warts on my (expletive),” he said. “Always wrap it up.”
Both Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains and Wardenburg Health Center offer brief sexual-education sections on their Web sites.
Wardenburg’s Web site suggests alternative options to sex in order to avoid skin-to-skin contact or penetration, activities which might transmit STI’s. Deep kissing, mutual or solo masturbation and fantasy were some of the site’s suggestions, as well as advice on “not sharing sex toys without first washing or using a barrier method (such as condoms).”
Planned Parenthood recommends that sexually active individuals be tested for STIs every six months.