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UK's Horniest Student - don't kid yourself that this isn't exploitative

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There’s little doubt that by now you’ve heard of Elina Desaine, the 20-year-old Exeter undergrad who last week was crowned the “UK’s Horniest Student” by ‘no strings dating site’ Shag at Uni.

The internet has lapped up the story of Desaine and her six fuck buddies, computer room trysts and desire to get it on with her lecturers like a giant, out of control cat who’s got the proverbial cream. Obviously, because the story is one of a female who has sex and talks about it loudly and (despite bravado) appears a little bit unsure about how to cope with this newfound thing called ‘adulthood.’

There’s no doubt that to put herself in such a public position of ridicule Desaine must be incredibly naive. But this doesn’t mean she deserves the vitriol that she has received.  

Just look at her ‘competition entry’:    

“I should be the UK’s horniest student because I have sex with at least 2/3 different people a week. Sometimes I go clubbing, have sex with someone, and then go back to the club to pick up my second victim. Feeling horny right now, so might just text someone on my ‘shag list’ and do it in the computer room (I’ve done this before, was great!) With your help of Alcohol I will be able to become an even Hornier Student!”

And afterwards, on the marvel of condoms: “It's great because you can have fun without getting any diseases.”  

She also calls herself a ’Slutvian’(because she was born in Latvia), has renamed her university ‘Sexeter’ and keeps a descriptive list in order to ‘remember’ all her conquests.

It can’t be just me who gets the impression from reading the above that Desaine is a person who has just discovered a whole new concept – sex! – and is going about dealing with her new discovery in all the wrong ways. She talks like she's the only person to have ever benefited from the use of a condom. 

Which, of course, should be ok. Because isn’t everyone allowed to have sex with whomever they like, and talk about it if they so wish, and make mistakes that they can laugh/cringe over later -  especially when they’re 20 years old and have nothing to think about other than their own immediate satisfaction?

It’s hardly surprising that, having grown up in a culture as sexualised as ours and having only slept with two people before university, Desaine is revelling in her new found freedom and taking it further than is healthy. Everyone is guilty of this at some point, but not many have it documented to the world.

Most of us (Miley Cyrus aside) are allowed to make our mistakes, realise for ourselves what is acceptable and eventually grow up in private, and not have them go globally viral on the internet – the only place, of course, that we cannot erase our mistakes from.

 

 

 

Of course Desaine wasn’t visibly coerced into entering the competition or posing with a bunch of tenners stuffed down her pants. But if you’ve grown up in our creepy let’s-make-sex-the-epitome-of-everything culture and you’re enjoying your first taste of freedom/adulthood, you can’t be blamed for thinking this kind of thing is ok and will have no ensuing consequences. Even if you are an IT student at one of the UK’s top universities and probably not after a career in soft porn.

So what of the sexism question, and the fact that the ‘winner’ is female? Commentators are likely to say that the competition isn’t sexist or degrading to women, because it was open to both sexes and thus a man was just as likely to be selected as winner as a woman.

But let’s be clear here – Shag at Uni is playing the publicity game and this competition/marketing stunt has worked spectacularly well for it. So, which would ignite more outrage and thus gain more media coverage - a woman in underwear bragging about her sexual conquests, or a man?

Female sex sells, whether the product is shampoo or chocolate or The Sun newspaper or a vaguely tawdry ‘hook-up’ website. Female sexuality, especially youthful female sexuality, provides revenue in a way that male sexuality never can. This is not news.

So I think we know the answer about which gender was going to emerge ‘winner’ in this situation (a situation, of course, where the only real winners are Shag at Uni/corporate greed), and that Shag at Uni has been playing one cynical and, for Desaine at least, ultimately degrading game.

But this much is largely obvious, and although unacceptable is not overly newsworthy. The more relevant issue at hand is the way the ensuing uproar has highlighted the misogyny that is still prevalent when it comes to women and sex.

Let’s look at the comments that abounded on The National Student after we reported the original story.

First up was Aiden Pryor, who hopes “she realises she isn't fit and is just a place some men see fit to dump their penis for three minutes or so...”

Followed by Jack Rae, who accuses her of being the "student with most daddy issues."

Dan Williams believes that, alarmingly, “Someone needs to end her quickly before she passes on her 748392 diseases.”

(As a side note, Desaine has revealed that she only practices safe sex and that a recent Chlamydia test came back negative. Not that it's anyone else's business.)  

Isaac Qureshi simply believes that recent events make her a “horrid girl.”

Predictably, the amount of times she’s called a slag is insurmountable, as are the numbers of people questioning how proud her parents must be, and calling her dirty, grim, a slut, etc.

Amongst this is the odd comment in Desaine’s defence (Joe Fowler: "A woman enjoying sex?! How dare she, the fucking whore!”) - but they are few and far between.  

Desaine has now disabled her twitter account. Mail Online comments have also been closed. I dread to think what kind of outwardly conservative (but secretly, probably vaguely aroused) mock-outrage would have been present had the comments not been moderated.

Exeter University, meanwhile, has diplomatically commented: "We certainly don't condone this sort of behaviour but our main concern is for the student and the impact this may have on her over the long term."

Which is the only issue that should be in question here. Not the fact that a 20-year-old has a lot of sex (shocker), not even that a website can disregard all responsibility for broadcasting it under the veil of ‘choice’ – but that a society that condones sexualisation on such a visible scale can round so viciously on a person who has fallen for the lie it pedales so publically.   

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