Is it just me, or has the age of people breaking the sexual activity rule gotten lower? It disturbs me a whole lot that many newbies (freshmen and sophomores) very quickly fall into the pattern of regularly hooking up at cons without any respect for the rules.
When I started out going to cons my freshman year, the rules, to me, were absolute. I didn't even think about what the "no sexual activity" rule specifically meant until at least a few cons in, and it took me at least a year to realize just how much people broke it. Yes, I did go through a period of breaking it myself about a year ago. But for quite a while, the rules were The Rules, and I believed people followed them. They were presented very seriously at cons, and I took them seriously.
Perhaps they hid it well, or maybe I was just oblivious. But whatever it was, I am so grateful that I didn't break that rule early on. I was just not ready.
By the time I did end up breaking the rule a few times, I was in a different place maturity-wise than I was when I first started going to cons. Don't get me wrong--I think breaking rules is only destructive to the con community, and while it might have been what I needed to do for me, I should have kept it outside of cons.
Rules exist for two reasons, as far as I can see. One is parents--with no rules and method of enforcement, many parents would be very uncomfortable sending their kids to cons. The other is the community. We generally agree that the community-related reason for the sexual activity rule is to discourage exclusivity. But there's a second community-related reason that I'm just now realizing: youth fourteen and fifteen years old are hardly ever emotionally ready for sexual activity, and if we give them a community where it's commonly accepted that "that's just what we do", it can be detrimental to their own well-being, and therefore the well-being of the con community.
I would not have understood the above when I was younger.
So what needs to change? I'm thinking more serious presentation of the rules, in which we address not only what they are and what the consequences are, but the specific reasons behind them. Also, I think it's really important that older youth, on DYSC or off, take it seriously, because we're the ones the newbies look to for what's okay and what's not. The sexual activity rule is almost impossible to enforce, and nobody wants to enforce it. If we want to keep the con community safe, the only thing we can do is be good examples.