This morning the New York Times had an interesting piece in its style section about the dynamics of hookups on college campuses, “Sex on Campus: She Can Play That Game, Too.”
Extra, extra, women have sex drives too!
Ok, ok, so the story has a point (that has already been beaten to death), in that it identifies a long-standing stereotype that men are the begrudging half in hetero-hookups that don’t quite graduate to Facebook official. It just isn’t necessarily true. Men can just as easily become the ol’ ball-and-chain. I would even argue that the propensity has shifted in many ways — or maybe I just surround myself with rad ladies.
In any case, this story bothered me.
Not because it isn’t an accurate dialectic on the sexual landscape of our nation’s fine institutions of higher learning — there was a lot of truth to it.
Not because the article sort of lumps feminism into one category of sexual behavior. (Ok, I’m a bit tiffed over that).
Not even because the story hinges on the novelty of a woman being in a position of power rather than assuming the role of reluctant participant on the merry-go-round of casual relations. (Though, I don’t think the article is necessarily a compelling challenge to the nonsense that has been circulating: Women throw up their hands in despair as men celebrate the end of any expectation of traditional courtship).
Still, I’m not even that angry about those shortcomings. I’ve come to expect that.
What bothered me most, I think, is that the story lacked the in-betweener’s perspective. The article gives voice to women who engage in casual hookups, who argue that they are more focused on their schoolwork and career ambitions. There’s also: the studious who are more calculated about their entanglements, the girl who is continuously heartbroken by string-less hookups and those who view the drunken booty calls as immature.
Right, ok. But these really just cover the extremes.
For instance, what about the person that can’t comfortably sport any of these approaches as products of personal ambition but doesn’t necessarily want a full-fledged relationship?
The article quotes women involved with guys they actually can’t have a conversation with outside of drunken late-night texts. In all reality, they probably hate this person. But they are hopefully attractive and they hopefully have a mutual understanding. Alright, so that works for some people. That’s fine. Amen, sister.
But, say you’re an extremely busy person, your time is precious and that being able to at least talk to a person civilly is a loose prerequisite for letting them see you naked.
Say you need the person you sleep with to at least have a working knowledge of proper sentence structure. Say the person doesn’t even think you’re funny, when, come on, you are hilarious. Say you aren’t a fan of wasting any sort of time on people that you fundamentally can’t stand. What then?
The phenomenon discussed in the article seems to discount ego-stroking as foreplay. I would argue that that is a mistake.
I understand that it’s a matter of separating the physical from emotional and that the article’s point is: Hey, fellas, ladies can do that too!
But I just don’t think it’s that simple, for some people at least. Or so I’ve heard.
I’m not asking for a manual on navigating boy-girl expectations. That would be ridiculous. It’s fucked up, and any sort of exploration on the topic is just further supporting evidence. But some sort of commentary that goes beyond the staple “discoveries” and that doesn’t insult women in the process of pointing out their “newfound” elevation, coupled with older women lamenting the death of family, would be nice.
Though, thankfully, we have several iterations of the “friends with benefits” model, which is revived every few years with the same sort of cautionary communism-on-paper conclusion that it doesn’t actually work. Thanks, television.