Disrupting And Transforming Norms: Sexual Scoring

Sexual scoring–a practice that ties masculinity to having lots of sex with women–contributes to a culture that promotes gender-based violence in college life, and we can do something about it. How can you disrupt sexual scoring and create a less harmful and violent culture on campus? This will get you started!

(If you need a refresher on sexual scoring, you can start here.)

Call it out

Sexual scoring exists mostly on an individual and peer level. You might feel internal pressure to have more sex, and those around you might be pressuring you as well. Or you might be pressuring others (cut it out, please!). Most attempts to address sexual scoring exist on the individual and peer level, too.

But not here. The goal here is to make everyone aware of how much of a norm sexual scoring is on your campus, and to end it as a practice. Here’s how you can start thinking about sexual scoring as a systemic problem and work to change the system.

Questions to ask: how does sexual scoring work on your campus?

  • Is it explicit or implied? Are people openly talking about how much sex they have, and shaming those who have less or none? Is homophobia a part of it? Understanding the nuanced (and not so nuanced) ways sexual scoring plays out on your campus will help you craft a much more effective action to disrupt it on campus. And the pressure to have more sex can be powerful regardless of how explicit it is.
  • Who drives it on campus? Who is talking about it? How are they talking about it? If every single student on campus is concerned with how much sex they “should” be having on your campus, that is a very different situation than if it is one specific group creating this culture.
  • How much bragging on campus about sexual scoring is (let’s be honest here) pure bullshit? Even when not true, sexual scoring plays a very harmful role in pressuring folks to have more sex – whether they and often their partners want to or not.

Steps to take: start new practices

  • Consent scoring. Who can come up with the best ways of getting consent? Who has the best record, asking for consent each and every time they have sex?
  • Keep score on your call-outs. Get competitive about calling out actions that pressure people to have sex. Keep score and invite more people into the fold. Share strategies and tips on calling it out, and get everyone doing it.
  • Collect examples of what it looks like in practice. Collect and share concrete examples of how people use sexual scoring to pressure others and themselves into sex. Let everyone know how much it happens, how it creates a culture which is anti-consent, and how gender norms like what it “means to be a man” on campus are a part of the issue.
  • Competitive storytelling. A lot of sexual scoring is replicated through storytelling – sharing “conquests” with your circle, always trying to one-up each other. Change the story. Come up with healthier things to compete over, and share those stories instead.

Have other brilliant ideas on how to disrupt sexual scoring? Or having trouble putting your plan into action? Send us an email at campus@breakthrough.tv.