Amanda Albright is the Special Projects and Investigations Leader. She is a senior journalism major from Charlotte.
My parents and I never had the talk.
I learned about sex through Judy Blume novels and others like it. At one point, a family member went so far as to ban me from reading a raunchy coming-of-age novel.
I watched "Gossip Girl" and saw Chuck, a lead character, drug his date in the hopes of having sex with her. As an impressionable teen, this mistakenly led me to believe coercion could mean you were desired — in a good way. I saw lake house scene in "The Notebook" and assumed sex was always hyper-dramatic and happened through tears. I listened to Usher’s Confessions album on repeat — so I thought all talk about sex between couples was in whispers and baby voices.
I’m sure many UNC students had similar self-educations, so I’ll stop there.
When The Daily Tar Heel decided to dedicate an issue to sex, we decided to take on stories that cover sex as a tool of coercion, empowerment, monetization and expression.
We wrote about sex trafficking, sex work and “sugar babies" at UNC, rather than the how-to stories and tips a reader might find in Cosmopolitan Magazine.
Some of the Sex Issue’s stories celebrate sex and healthy relationships, and others shed light on the millions worldwide who don’t have agency in their sexual decisions. Our three biggest enterprise articles focus on how women's or men’s sexuality is commoditized — whether people want it to be or not.
Putting these stories under one umbrella with a seductive cover might make it seem as though we are comparing sex trafficking victims who are forced into sex against their will to sugar babies who enjoy up to $1,000 per date. But by doing so, we’ve tried to make it clear that sex is important to talk about in all of its forms.
The movement to combat sexual assault on this campus and others has been proof of the power of conversation. Those discussions led to broad policy changes this year, when the University released its new sexual assault policy. It's our hope that these articles spark more conversations — about the power dynamics inherent in some sexual relationships, about the global problem of human trafficking, and about the way sexuality is accepted or stigmatized on a college campus.
These discussions matter. It's important to identify and condemn sex when it’s used as a weapon and celebrate it when it’s used as an expression of love and empowerment.
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