Sunday, July 14, 2013

Sex on Campus: She Can Play That Game, Too. From the NYTimes.

by Kate Taylor

At 11 on a weeknight earlier this year, her work finished, a slim, pretty junior at the University of Pennsylvania did what she often does when she has a little free time. She texted her regular hookup — the guy she is sleeping with but not dating. What was he up to? He texted back: Come over. So she did. They watched a little TV, had sex and went to sleep.

Their relationship, she noted, is not about the meeting of two souls.

“We don’t really like each other in person, sober,” she said, adding that “we literally can’t sit down and have coffee.”

Ask her why she hasn’t had a relationship at Penn, and she won’t complain about the death of courtship or men who won’t commit. Instead, she’ll talk about “cost-benefit” analyses and the “low risk and low investment costs” of hooking up.

The rest.


  1. Is this any of our business? Are our students' private lives really any of our concern? They'd better not be, since in loco parentis was abandoned in the '60s. By the '70s, when I was an undergraduate, everything in this article was in full bloom, including the caveat that only a minority of students were as promiscuous as the press likes them.

  2. Buried lede: Women said universally that hookups could not exist without alcohol, because they were for the most part too uncomfortable to pair off with men they did not know well without being drunk.

    To me, because of the consent issue, this should have been in bold flashing red at the top of the article.

    All in all I don't think the causal sex is so much of a problem for college students as the time spent drinking. A lot of our students would do better if they spent less time at that.

    But as Froderick points out, they're adults--which never sinks in with my senior faculty no matter how many times I point it out, that college is not grades 13 - 18.

  3. Some of this is old news, some of this I understood. What I don't get is the "having sex with someone I don't like." Really? "Friends with benefits" I understand. I saw it in college way back when. But "people I can't stand to be with with benefits"? That one bewilders me.

    Oh, and the graphic with the coke bottle reminded me of the old urban legend I heard in school about the use of Coke as a birth control douche.

    1. Hey, some people find it hard to make new friends. They need to get laid too.

  4. I want to think my students are going to make it, but I read things like this and think, "No, everyone is too stupid for words." I'm really not an old crank about this generation. I have moments, of course, and individual students baffle me, but this article just made me sad.

  5. What really gets me about this article is that none of this sounds at all like fun. They seem to work like mad (which I did in college, with great relish), then engage in their 'social' activities as if they are work (can't just belong to a society, got to have a leadership role, c.v. points etc.), then see drinking - not DRINKING, getting DRUNK - and sex as their 'relaxation'. I see a bit of the same thing among my students in the UK, and more anecdotally at more elite places than mine. I'm really, really sorry for these kids. And if they are going to be a future elite and run the country, I'm sorry for the country,

    I will now sound like my Grandmother. But REALLY. Where are their VALUES, their SELF-RESPECT, their respect for OTHERS? Because engaging in this sort of behaviour seems likely to be pretty bad for women, sure, especially with the drunk/coercion aspects, but it's hardly healthy for the boys involved either (boys, not men. The majority of them are still boys emotionally/intellectually until their early twenties, growing and learning, regardless of what they are like physically or what "society" thinks).

    And I am very grateful to have been to an elite university, but as a member of the relatively non-elite, not from a top private school or backed by family money. Relationships interested us, but for (most) of us, sexual activity was something that came after you liked a person - none of this 'hot but don't like them' - you can't have a COFFEE with a person because you don't like them (not find them boring, actually dislike them) but you can let them inside your BODY because they LOOK PRETTY??? That's.... just. GAH! The cost-benefit analysis of these activities against a purchase from an adult store (hell, at that age, who needed toys?), relaxing sober with friends or alone, and learning to drink for pleasure or with a meal not to get drunk seems so blatently obviously tilted towards the latter that I worry about the standard of the education these kids are getting.

    Maybe it IS none of our business. However, I DO feel that students are young adults and that university is about the education of the whole person - at the very least, helping them understand and think critically about the health, social, environmental, political and personal consequences of their choices and actions is the point of the liberal arts and (less directly, perhaps) STEM education. Also, going into a tough economiuc environment? Wouldn't being able to look after your own health, advocate for yourself and centre your self-esteem on something other than fleeting hotness and the bottle seem like useful tools?

    /end stuffy brit fit.

  6. Maybe it's because I'm gay, came out in college, and had my obligatory (at that time) slutty phase, but -- I don't see why I would care that girls get laid, or even have regular arrangements to get laid?

    What troubles me a bit about this is the emphasis on alcohol, which inhibits decision making abilities. Sex is physically dangerous and I'm not sure that college aged students really understand that very well. And since they have little to no sex education left in public schools, and they have no tolerance or concept of how to drink alcohol, this seems like a patient zero waiting to happen. But they're legally adults. I ain't their daddy. Thank God.

    So I guess I've talked myself into seeing why this is alarming, but -- I still can't bring myself to be too alarmed. Hell, a regular teapartybuddy is better than a string of drunken fratboy football player rapists with petri dishes for pubes.

  7. I was at Penn to get a graduate degree from 1980-82.

    Somehow I missed this entire scene. . . .