College

“In Sex, College & Social Media, Cindy Pierce provides the essential facts high school and college-age kids need in order to have happier, healthier sexual lives. Her approach is exactly right: educating kids about what they’re really seeing in the media so they can be more discerning in their consumption, while encouraging involvement in healthy social relationships that are not technology-dependent.” – Peggy Orenstein, author of Girls and Sex: Navigating the New Landscape

Speaking at Colleges

Topics

Consent, the Role of a Bystander, and Social Courage – Safe, healthy and satisfying sexual experiences depend on our willingness to communicate openly with a partner. The ability to read social cues is crucial in both giving and understanding consent and helping peers make healthy choices.

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Relying on social media to facilitate communication can interfere in developing these important social skills. In this talk, Cindy uses examples and humor to help students understand how and when to consent, and to act as an engaged bystander. With directness and humor, she explains the concept of social courage, and why we need to practice it day to day if we ever hope to intervene when a peer is in danger of committing sexual assault or being targeted by a perpetrator.

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The Myth of Hookup Culture and the Party Scene – When asked what advice incoming college students most need, the first and most common answer from older students is to address the unspoken social contract of drinking and a normalized hookup culture. Other common issues include academic pressure, mental health and isolation. Alcohol and drugs are the accepted and encouraged social lubricants as well as a means of temporarily escaping stress and anxiety.

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Cindy inspires students to reconsider their perceived expectations about sex, particularly in the hook-up realm. Whether students have been sexually engaged for years or are taking their time, Cindy’s perspective will inform and encourage them to make healthier choices moving forward. She also asks them to think beyond the hookups and parties, explaining that so many college students report feeling isolated and lonely, despite being surrounded by people most of each day, having huge contact lists, and maintaining many followers on social media. Cindy encourages students to examine their relationships and to foster more face-to-face relationships.

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Healthy Relationships in a Porn-Saturated Environment – Internet porn has become the most common source of sexual (mis) information and attitudes for teens and college students. Sexual expectations are increasingly skewed under the influence of the most viewed and therefore most accessible porn, which is often violent.

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Cindy has shaped her presentations to address students’ widespread confusion and unwillingness to seek guidance from reliable resources by answering the most common questions college students ask about sexuality. By talking about these issues in an open, frank, and funny discussion, Cindy helps students realize the gaps in their knowledge, and brings issues of consent, bystanders and hookups into greater focus.

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Finding Balance With Social Media – Many college students crave intimate connection but lack the time, social skills or courage required to make that happen with a partner. Students commonly report being too busy. As a result they are sometimes more willing to endure surface relationships through the ease and efficiency of social media, which enables people to avoid awkwardness and mask social anxiety in the short term.

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Cindy’s presentation combines research and storytelling to help students reflect on how the avoidance of shame, rejection and face-to-face conversation actually delays our social comfort and connections. Ideally, we hope to inspire teens to self-regulate their use of devices. More than ever teens are at the mercy of their Smartphones, and Cindy encourages them to consider the benefits of being device-free for stretches of time each day.

Young people with more face-to-face connections experience less loneliness, depression and anxiety. The research makes it clear that we all need to be more mindful of how we use phones and more selective about when to engage with our phones. Studies confirm that our brain activity calms down significantly when our phones are off and out of sight. Even when a phone is off but in sight, our brains remain active and distracted by the potential interactions and notifications. There is always an app that calls users to engage or check for reactions to posts. Young people have become dependent on frequent feedback and validation. The need to feel relevant is at the core of social media’s hold on people of all ages.

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Life After College – Making the transition out of the comfortable, supportive environment of college life can be challenging for many young adults. Navigating a job, a new living situation, loneliness and online dating can be overwhelming.

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Cindy shares tips and strategies on how to maintain a healthy and open mindset while staying true to self. Unresolved or newly developed issues with mental health and addiction tend to magnify for young people after college without access to supportive friends, family and advisors. Awareness of the common setbacks people experience in their mid-twenties, often referred to as the Quarter Century Crisis, can help young people equip themselves with the resources they need to navigate uncertainty and anxiety.

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Cindy speaks in White River Junction, Vt., in May 2019.

In the Media

Cindy speaks with Peter O’Dowd about the date-gone-wrong allegations against comedian Aziz Ansari on the WBUR program Here & Now:

Cindy spoke with Vermont Public Radio about her work with college students on campuses across the country:

Cindy is interviewed on Here and Now about porn, consent and communication with college freshmen:

Follow this link to read the article Hookup culture: Educator and author speaks to young adults on sensitive subject in The Mining Journal in Marquette, Mich.

Recent Speaking Engagements

Bryant University
Champlain College
Coe College
Dartmouth College
Lambda Chi Alpha Stead Leadership Conference
Middlebury College
Northern Michigan University
University of Vermont
Williams College

Testimonials

“Thank you for such an amazing and enlightening experience. Not only did you have everyone laughing the entire time, you addressed some extremely important points and social norms that college students rarely question. I truly feel any college student, regardless of their sexual experience or self-confidence, could relate to many aspects of your presentation.” – Female college student, age 21, 2018

“Cindy Pierce delivered perhaps the most hilarious, informative and resonant performance I have seen since coming to Dartmouth. Her approach of addressing gender dynamics was neither self-conscious nor combative. She fully engaged everyone in the audience, both male and female.” – Keshav Poddar, Dartmouth College, Class of 2014

“Cindy has an uncanny gift of bringing closet subjects about sex and relationships into the open. She educates in a humorous manner. Cindy’s presentation is thought provoking and inspires discussion with a message that is not only beneficial to college students, but desperately needed.” – Josh Dooley, Dartmouth College, Class of 2006

Resources

Resources for all topics:

Sex, etc. – Each year, five million young people visit Sexetc.org, and over 45,000 read their magazine to get honest and accurate sexual health information.

Go Ask Alice! –  The Go Ask Alice! site is supported by a team of Columbia University health promotion specialists, health care providers, and other health professionals, along with a staff of information and research specialists and writers.

Relationships:

Mental Health:

Gender Identity:

Gender Nonconforming and Transgender young people

Cisgender men and those who identify as male

Cisgender women and those who identify as female

Internet Porn:

Female Pleasure:

Book

“In Sex, College, & Social Media, Cindy Pierce provides the essential facts high school and college-age kids need in order to have happier, healthier sexual lives. Her approach is exactly right: educating kids about what they’re really seeing in the media so they can be more discerning in their consumption, while encouraging involvement in healthy social relationships that are not technology-dependent.” — Peggy Orenstein, author of Girls and Sex: Navigating the New Landscape

sex-college-social-media-cindy-pierce

 

Sex, College and Social Media: A Commonsense Guide to Navigating the Hookup Culture

 

Order Sex, College and Social Media Online

Norwich Bookstore indiebound.org amazon.com bn.com 800ceoread

Sex in college has never been simple. And with modern technology, rising rates of sexual assault and STIs, and an ambiguous hookup culture, it is now ever more complex. Sex, College and Social Media: A Commonsense Guide to Navigating the Hookup Culture is a compassionate, funny, and well-researched primer for the modern college student. You’ll find information about: how communication makes sex better; ways that porn and the media warp sexual expectations; healthy relationships; STIs and contraception; alcohol and drugs; respectful terminology for all things LGBTQ; expectations for consent; and sexual assault on campus. Sex, College and Social Media provides trustworthy answers for pressing questions about the college social scene, preparing entering freshmen for their new environment and offering supportive guidance through senior year and beyond.