The internet’s annual challenge, “No Nut November,” is back this year and is hi-jacking the entire internet once again. The monthlong test of willpower, jokingly based off of the No-Shave November movement, encourages abstinence from masturbation until midnight of Dec. 1. The idea, often abbreviated as NNN, was submitted to Urban Dictionary in 2011, but the movement didn’t gain traction until Nov. 1, 2017, when the first tweet that used No Nut November specifically was shared. From there, NNN has grown rapidly to its climax on the internet today.
We can easily reflect on the social influence that NNN has had on the younger generation, specifically those in college. Yet in comparison, NC State’s Student Health has in no way matched the influence of this challenge on campus, and No Nut November has created more conversations, for better and for worse, than Student Health, and that is not okay. Student health needs to do more educational outreach for sexual health.
One of the very basic benefits of NNN is that it talks about masturbation, a topic that is often shunned and deemed too taboo to talk about. Moreover, many pornography websites and organizations have taken the opportunity to use the meme to raise awareness about the benefits of masturbation and help create a safe environment to talk about sexuality. Some websites, such as NoFap, have taken advantage of the month to encourage decreasing porn consumption, based on the World Psychiatric Association classification of compulsive sexual behavior disorder in the International Classification of Diseases 11th Revision.
But like anything on the internet, who you follow or what your algorithm is will determine the content you receive. Some content produced during the month is blatantly incorrect, and, in a nation where less than half of the states require sex education in high school, this misinformation can continue to hurt people.
Movements, websites and organizations such as Awakened Intent argue that semen retention is beneficial when no valid research has concluded any significant benefits. Additionally, some hate groups have utilized NNN to push morally corrupt and misogynistic ideologies as well as create anti-pornography movements, threatening performers underneath their videos. These groups promote inner conflicts for some people by coercing others into repressing their sexuality rather than embracing it.
With that being said, it’s clear No Nut November has a lot more controversy and deeper conversation going around than on an initial glance. But all of this conversation is more than Student Health has done in the past three years. During my year and a half at NC State, I have yet to see Student Health do anything more than free STI/HIV testing, which is a phenomenal service and should be encouraged, but it needs to be publicized to all Wolfpack communities even more than it currently is.
There is very little educational outreach that encourages furthered sex education for students at NC State. The last piece of outreach material that I was able to find scouring the internet was “The Sex Issue: Print Edition” in 2016, created by Technician. Nevertheless, the issue featured news articles that mainly discussed resources offered on campus such as the STI/HIV testing and other services by the Women’s Center and GLBT Center, but neither shared much about actual sex education nor discussed educational opportunities to learn from faculty.
NC State has aligned itself with the ACHA Healthy Campus 2020 Goals, where eight of the 54 student objectives regard sexual health and family planning and encourage quantitative outcomes such as decreased STI reporting. Yet, how is that going to happen without more outreach? Why does our community praise wellness outreach and presentations focusing on aspects of wellness such as fitness or time management, but vilify conversations about sexual health? Turning a naive eye to sex on campus is only hurting the student population.
I don’t think we can write No Nut November off as just another internet craze. I’ve seen the benefits from conversations and memes created, but it’s important to recognize some content can misinform. Student Health should capitalize on this month to bust myths and misinformation, as well as do more year-round to help promote and destigmatize sex and make the conversations about sexual activity less taboo. We have said, in writing, that we want to reach goals improving sexual health on campus by 2020, so we need educational outreach to pop the cherry of sexual ignorance.