Four years ago, when I was a freshman here at UCSB, a girl across the hallway in my dorm, who I desperately hope is reading this now, drew a picture of what she called a penis and showed it to me. I am not kidding when I say that this penis looked like a small “U” with two tiny “Os” above it, not even touching each other. As the laughter ensued and we passed the paper around the hallway for all the other girls to giggle at, I realized the novelty of sexual naivete.

When I came here I thought I had limited knowledge about sex. As I grew more accustomed to the other students I met, I realized that many people were as clueless about sexual matters as most of the population is about astrophysics.

A good friend of mine once came to me to inquire, “So when a girl has a dildo, does she just stick it in there and leave it for the day?” I could not help but laugh while attempting to explain to her that the inventor of such a device most likely did not intend for it to act simply as a place holder. I have been asked things like, “Will I die if I lick too much lube off of someone?” and “Should I still use a condom even for anal sex?” Somewhere between amusement and disappointment in the sexual savvy of our student body, I wondered if these students had just slept through high school sex-ed or didn’t have it at all.

Some folks claimed that their questions arose from sheer curiosity, but I knew still others were speaking from the point of view of actually having sex and just not enjoying it to its full potential. It became a common occurrence to hear statements like, “Wait, where is the clit again?” and, “Guys like a lot of teeth, right?” I questioned whether some of the people inquiring knew the definition of orgasm is nothing along the lines of “a living creature.”

You don’t have to be having sex to know about it. I don’t propose that you absolutely must use a sex toy ever in your life. But for God’s sake, it would be great to be somewhat knowledgeable on the subject by the time we reach this age where we are supposed to be budding adults on the cusp of venturing into the real world.

If you already consider yourself to be a “sexpert,” that’s wonderful, but I bet you can think of someone you know who isn’t even close. So why not give them a little enlightenment the next time they sound like they don’t know the distinction between spooning and a 69. The likelihood that you will both be able to laugh about it and have a helpful discussion is greater than the probability of them enjoying some stranger breaking the truth to them later in life. If you were the one making the blunder you would appreciate a little guidance from a friend, right?

While it is fun to laugh with a person at their lack of extensive knowledge on the subject, make sure it isn’t at them. None of us will ever be perfect sexual masters, but we’ve all got to start somewhere. Friends should be able to speak openly about sex because it is a normal part of life, despite the taboos that surround the subject in this society.

If you fall into the category of a person who believes sex should stay taboo but you still want to know a lot more information about it, the resources for such knowledge are endless. Rent a porn, read a book, go on the internet, watch “Real Sex” on HBO or take the Sociology 152A class about human sexuality offered here at UCSB. Clearly some of those sources are more credible, but they are all readily available for any of us college students to utilize. Even sexual health statistics globally reflect that the more people know about sex, the less risky their behavior and the better off the population is as a whole.

G.I. JOE used to say, “Knowing is half the battle.” If your friends don’t know the difference between a lawn gnome and a butt plug, there may be cause for concern, or at least for some clarification. Give them the heads up. If they tell you they would rather use a lawn gnome in place of a butt plug, that’s their business.

Daily Nexus sex columnist Kate Rice learned the lawn gnome/butt plug lesson the fun way.