There's a lengthy article in The New York Times Tuesday about Harvard Sex Week. What's Harvard Sex Week? It's "a student-run program of lectures, panel discussions and blush-inducing conversations about all things sexual," according to The Times' Douglas Quenqua. It's Harvard's first such event, inspired by a tradition begun at Yale in 2002.

Plenty of schools around the U.S. have hosted their own sex weeks, addressing the question of contraception as well sexuality in general, a subject many students feel their high school health classes haven't adequately prepared them for. And, really, how could they? Aside from the limitations of nearly any high school class on sexuality, there's a whole lot of contradictory information out there, and there's plenty more that while not necessarily contradictory, may or may not apply to one's own situation. And things are constantly changing! As Quenqua writes:

Organizers of these events say that college students today face a confusing reality: At a time when sexuality is more baldly and blatantly on display, young people are, paradoxically, having less sex than in generations past, surveys indicate.
 
“I think there’s this hook-up culture at Harvard where people assume that everyone’s having sex all the time, and that’s not necessarily true,” said Suzanna Bobadilla, a 21-year-old junior.
Furthering that confusion are media portrayals of twentysomethings having sex with varying degrees of success and/or satisfaction, and how that is over and over again equated with "liberalization," or something we should all be doing, having fought for the right to do it: "For instance, the idea that all women are so liberated that they are happy to have sex without commitment (a theme that is examined in depth in the new HBO series Girls)."
 
But just because someone can have casual sex, without overt judgment, without being branded by scarlet letters, should they? This is a more complicated question, and a key one in a sexually-revolutionized state. A recent series in The Wall Street Journal questioned whether the sexual revolution was "good for women." While this is a ludicrous question—of course it's good for women to have more freedom, to seek their own sexual satisfaction, to move toward gender equality—there's another side of it. It seems like what gets ignored is that this isn't a simple equation. Sexual liberation doesn't equal sexual happiness, or happiness of any sort, necessarily; it's just a step toward it.
 
So when I watched Girls on Sunday night and felt so sad seeing younger women depicted having unsatisfactory and even pathetic sexual relationships with ill-chosen men who, in some cases, didn't appear to deserve them or try, really, at all... Well, that's one side of that coin. The choice to have bad sex, uncomfortable sex, sex without strings but also without the comfort of a committed relationship: That's a choice we're allowed to make, and should be allowed to make. But that doesn't mean everything that comes from that is pleasant. Nor does it mean that next generations have to keep going through the same motions of what we think liberated adults are "supposed to" do—if the sexual revolution changed things so dramatically, it would be silly to assume our norms can't change again, or won't. 
 
To go back to Girls, this may be the chord that's struck deepest with me. With all the writing that's been done about slacker twentysomething dudes and, as The Wall Street Journal's Kay Hymowitz among others have hypothesized, that too readily sexually available women are creating a situation in which guys no longer have to be men, I think there's something deeper at work, a next wave, in a sense. We can experiment and try new things under this liberalized culture, yes, but that that's not the end-all so much as part of the process of getting there. This is obvious, I think, to anyone watching Girls, or even Sex and the City: These are women figuring things out. It's not a permanent reality, even as some would have us believe (or worry) that it is.
 
Harvard Sex Week seems to indicate the continuing shift in this "next wave." If students are having less sex than were previous generations, you have to ask why. Maybe, simply, it's that the more information and conversation about this, the better, for everyone—not that less sex is better, but that more well-chosen sex is. Again, Quenqua writes: 
“Education does not mean giving everybody every choice they could make,” said Isabel Marin, a member of Undergraduates for a Better Yale College. “It’s giving people the right information on how they should be pursuing relationships and sexual choices. It’s not a buffet.”
 
“And I think that’s what the whole week was about, basically,” Ms. Kim added. “Knowing what you want, knowing how to consent to what you want and allowing other people to do the same.”
In a post sexual revolution society, what's more important than whether people are having sex or not (the key thing is that they are free to) is that they eventually figure out what they want. The path to doing that inevitably involves a few mistakes, and—always, always, always—choices.