My mom was born in 1963, a time when people still believed a woman’s place was in the kitchen, so it is no surprise that she was raised to believe that finding a boyfriend should be one of her primary goals in college. My grandmother even suggested she hang out around nearby Williams College and “pretend to use the library or sit on the lawn with a picnic” in order to scout for potential suitors. While my mom did not go to those extremes, she did spend a lot of wasted energy trying to find a serious relationship. Luckily, nothing panned out, and without any emotional commitments she found herself able to focus on writing what became her first novel.
In this day and age, the pressure should be lifted off young women in college to find a boyfriend. We should be able to let go of the belief that women always want “something more,” while men are only interested in casual sex. Sadly, however, this is not the case.
Everyone is familiar with the classic double standard: a man who hooks up with a lot of women is “the man,” while a woman who hooks up with a lot of men is a slut. “Player” just does not carry the same weight as “whore.” The biggest problem with this mentality is that it limits women from being active, consensual participants in college hookup culture.
“Yes, I find a woman less attractive if she hooks up with a lot of men,” one anonymous sophomore male said. “I was hesitant to acknowledge that but its true.”
A junior male shared a similar view of hookup culture on campus.
“When my friends hook up with a woman they definitely have that ‘oh shit’ moment in the morning where they feel like they need to clarify that they are not looking for anything more out of it,” he said.
Would my grandmother have been surprised? Probably not, but this is 2014. It is time to ditch the stigmas that we were raised to embrace. Growing up, women are told that men are somehow hard-wired to want sex more than us. In middle school, I was told by my teacher to put on a sweatshirt because my tank top was too provocative. Rather than asking the boys to change their behavior, it was the girls who had to make adjustments.
Even in college, the anxiety of being seen as “easy,” and therefore less attractive to men, stops some women from engaging in the kinds of sexual relationships they desire. Plenty of my girlfriends are choosing to make academics, friends and personal growth their priorities during their four years here. They, like me, see college as a time to prepare themselves for the future, to find out what they are passionate about and to experiment. We are not paying thousands of tuition dollars to grab a certain man’s attention, but that does not mean that we do not want to have sex.
This gendered double standard is not only Oxy-specific; it is pervasive in American college culture. But I have faith in Occidental students’ ability to evaluate one another on an individual basis, not on a gender-specific one.
It is safe to say that when hooking up with or dating someone at Occidental, students will have to address the aftermath, whether that be seeing their former flame in the Marketplace or coincidentally being put in the same group for a class project. That fact should hold each of us to a certain standard of maturity and responsibility in communicating with one another. But as long as connections are consensual and safe, we should be mature enough to respect one another’s choices.
Women should not be made to feel “slutty” simply because they enjoy having sex without wanting to make boyfriend-hunting a priority. And men should feel comfortable admitting to their bros that racking up conquests is not all that interests them. Let’s enjoy hooking up without feeling ashamed or limited, regardless of our gender.