The Weekly Ringer

The University of Mary Washington Student Newspaper

Staff Ed: An explanation of Cosmy Pellis’ sex column and the importance of encouraging open conversation at UMW

3 min read

The Blue & Gray Press

The Weekly Ringer Editorial Board

The Weekly Ringer’s sex column emerged from a series of vulnerable conversations amongst our editors, where we realized that we all had received varying levels of inadequate sexual education. In these heartfelt and validating discussions, we found that many of us still had lingering questions and had been harmed by a lack of information about sex. Thus, The Weekly Ringer editorial staff stands by the sex column.

College is often a time when students start discovering their sexuality. The sex column is intended to be a way for students who have never had candid—or any—conversations about sex to gain confidence and a lexicon to discuss it. This column doesn’t imply that every Mary Wash student is sexually active, and we recognize that having sex is a personal choice, just as reading the sex column is. 

Talking about topics that make people uncomfortable is vital to intellectual and personal growth. Whether you personally want to have sex or not, we believe it’s important to have enough information to make safe choices and honor your beliefs. We understand that there is a subjectivity to sex, and Cosmy responds to student-submitted questions in order to represent ideas that students have. 

Reducing a person to be merely a sexual object is problematic, yes; however, we aren’t encouraging that, nor is Cosmy supporting that idea with her column. People have sex for various reasons, and we’re not here to judge. If you want to have sex for the mere sake of pleasure or if you’re waiting for marriage, that’s your own choice. Cosmy is here if you have any questions that can inform whatever your sexual journey may be.

Cosmy writes from a place of personal experience and she has educated herself about sex. As a queer woman and a rape survivor, these are topics that she feels passionately about. Education extends beyond formal settings, and talking about topics like sex is education. Because many of us had to educate ourselves, this column is a resource where Cosmy compiles that knowledge so that students are given information that she had to seek out. 

Furthermore, you mention that the sex column seems to send a message that “we can do whatever we want (with or without consent).” We were surprised to hear your take on this, especially the implication that Cosmy is promoting sex without consent, as Cosmy’s sex column frequently mentions the importance of consent. Many of our staff members have experienced sexual assault, so we are aware of the importance of consent and will never encourage nor promote any activity, sexual or not, that occurs without consent. 

The column does promote sexual liberation (in which consent is inherent and mandatory), so perhaps this is a source of confusion about the sexual freedom Cosmy advocates for. For instance, the debut sex column firmly established the importance of personal boundaries during sex. It may be true that the column’s discussion does not have a boundary, but this is intentional. We are not going to let the harmful, taboo nature of sex scare us away from fostering a vital discussion about sex.