A Month After Debut, Daily Texan Sex Column Series Deals with ‘Expected Backlash’

Virgin Veronica, Fabulous Frank, Committed Caroline and Sexy Sally are stirring up “some backlash” and major buzz at the University of Texas at Austin.

Roughly a month after their debut in The Daily Texan, the pseudonymous student sex columnists have become the paper’s most prominent, controversial figures– producing “some of the most-trafficked stories on the Texan’s site” while simultaneously in the eyes of critics “contributing to the ‘decline of journalism.’”

The quartet’s mission is “to talk about what every college student thinks about but is probably too embarrassed to actually discuss: SEX.”

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Each week they address the same SEX-themed topic, built atop “four very different sexual experiences.” Veronica is “a 21-year-old facing college graduation, job hunting and dating in the ‘real world’ all while carrying my v-card.” Frank is a gay male who has “fantasized about David Beckham for a solid decade.” Caroline has “been in a relationship longer than Beyoncé and Jay-Z have been married.” And Sally is so sexually experienced “I’m basically a professional at it. You may think that makes me sound like a whore, but I view it more as embracing my sexuality.”

So far, the student team has dived into first kisses, masturbation and how they fared on the flexuality test, “which evaluates the boundaries of heterosexuality, homosexuality and bisexuality for test takers.”

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As an expert in this micro-area of collegemediatopia (I’ve even written a book on the subject! Here’s me on Nightline!), I can confirm the foursome column approach is broader and bolder than most student newspaper attempts when it comes to grappling with sex, love, dating and hooking up. The writing is strong. And the slants the students take are appreciably fearless.

Hence, there are haters. Along with the columnists’ growing fan base, the no-sex-in-the-student-press police have been popping up with increasing frequency in Austin and online.

As Larisa Manescu, a separate student columnist, wrote earlier this week in the Texan, “The Daily Texan’s sex column series just turned one month old, and as expected, it’s already received some backlash. It’s a bit cheesy, and the comical, vulgar nature of the writing has offended some and will continue to do so. On social media, I’ve seen replies to the columns from the Texan’s account that mourn the desperate direction the Texan has taken and criticize the paper for contributing to the ‘decline of journalism.’ … [S]ome people may never wrap their heads around the idea that a newspaper can simultaneously produce enterprising journalism and a sex column, or that the two types of work are both of value.”

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A commenter beneath a Committed Caroline column on, ahem, self-pleasure: “I could tell these columns were going to be poorly-written tripe the moment they showed up in my Twitter feed, solely for being a transparent attempt at provocative material to lure more students into reading the Texan, but this is ridiculous.”

For her part, Manescu rightly contends the purposeful provocativeness of the column series is part of its inherent value– “because it desensitizes taboo topics and embraces the diversity of sexual history and preferences.”

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In her words, “It’s a known fact that Texas in particular does poorly when it comes to providing high school students with objective information on sexual education. … By including everyone in the conversation, and narrating the real version of how sex plays out instead of the idolized one seen in the media, students can make sense of their own sexual encounters and questions. This freedom of expression about sex is like a breath of fresh air to college students in Texas.”

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