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Clutch the Pearls, Ladies! Apparently, Some College Women Aren’t in It for the M.R.S. Degree!!!!

July 19, 2013

I really wish the mainstream media would focus solely on which political party’s frontrunner is the next incarnation of the Anti-Christ and leave youth culture alone. One of the latest examples of a major media outlet’s attempts to showcase a trend, the New York Times’ Sex on Campus – She Can Play That Game, Too” informs its readers that some female Ivy League undergrads want sex without serious commitment, but others are also interested in relationships. I am shocked, shocked, I tell you!

According to the article, some of the current crop of ambitious young co-eds at the prestigious University of Pennsylvania have priorities other than landing a may-un, Why, it’s almost hard to believe, but here it is in print: “These women said they saw building their résumés, not finding boyfriends (never mind husbands), as their main job at Penn.”

Hold the fucking presses, New York Times (preferably literally, if this is the sort of story that constitutes news in your world). You mean to tell me that there are women going to college who intend to use their studies to BUILD JOB SKILLS?!?!!? To possibly NETWORK?!? To give themselves a COMPETITIVE EDGE in what is still a fairly SHITTY ECONOMY?!? Holy fuck! And here I thought the whole point of sending young ladies off to a proper finishing school was for the Sock Hops and other socials at the local men’s colleges, where suitable matches of young WASPs could be made!

Ah, how things have changed since the time I was a young lass. Kids these days have no idea, apparently. In a further sign of the changing times, “Increasingly…many privileged young people see college as a unique life stage in which they don’t — and shouldn’t — have obligations other than their own self-development.”

I could continue with the anachronistic snark, but I would like to pause for a moment to focus on the key word that is so indicative of this type of piece: “privileged.” I suppose I ought to give this particular article some credit–later on, they do take the time to focus on that anomaly, the circus freak of NYT social pieces, a non-white, non-upper-middle-class woman named Mercedes who does want to have a “real” relationship–but for the most part, articles like this pat themselves on the back for breaking the news about a truly widespread emerging trend. Never mind that the “trend” only applies to a very narrow and very fortunate segment of the population.

Now, I’m far from a flaming Marxist. I objected to increases in the capital gains tax because, like Mitt Romney, I sure as hell don’t want to pay taxes for money I haven’t earned! But I do think it is telling that the Times feels the need to publish pieces like this, to find some way to reach out and connect with the latest generation of upstarts. And what a paradox they’ve put themselves in–the reason why they can’t connect to a wider readership is precisely because they don’t see that journalism of this variety cannot relate to 99% of the population.

Perhaps the number’s more like 99.5%. After all, one has to assume that half of the magical one percent are female. The other half of that gets strangely overlooked in pieces like this, too. What do the Penn men have to say about being categorized as hookup buddies at best? Are any of them seeking more than a casual encounter?

Now, if I’m no Communist revolutionary, I’m sure as hell nobody’s idea of a Men’s Rights Activist, but damn, do guys get the short end of the stick here. Guys are alluded to in this piece without being given substance. They’re like Rochester’s attic-bound wife in Jane Eyre, hovering sinisterly and affecting the action and outcomes of the story without actually being present.

Given the heteronormativity of this article, that’s a glaringly large omission. By leaving the nameless, faceless hookups of the interview subjects out of it, the article reduces them to either brainless sex dolls, whipped into obeying the whims of the women surrounding them, or nymphomaniac sluts, so eager for any action that they’ll settle for being a drunken lover unworthy of being looked in the eye the next morning.

But perhaps the worst sin this article commits is its utter banality. It goes on for seven pages in its online iteration, telling the masses what I or any other college student/graduate from the Sexual Revolution onward could tell you: some women are kind of sort of hoping they’ll meet The One in college, others are just looking for a night or two of fun. So in the sense of being diverse in their desires, women are just like men. Gasp.

And yet, in spite of its strident declarations of the obvious, this article has gathered a smoldering shitstorm of attention. Apparently the idea that there is such diversity among (privileged) women is groundbreaking enough that it brings out the kind of gawking and opining generally reserved for alien visitors in movies. Apparently women are a rare enough species to merit this treatment, even though, last I checked, we made up roughly half of the human population.

So kindly stick to pooh-poohing Mitt Romney and Chris Christie and Rick Perry, New York Times. Your attitudes about earth-shattering new trends only make us wonder if we fell through a space-time rift somewhere that dropped us onto the set of Casablanca. 

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12 Comments
  1. Yeah I think the NYT took a lot of heat for this incredibly stupid article.

    • I have a bad feeling they’re going to take a lot of heat for the next breaking trend-type story they put out, too. Some people never learn.

  2. Jillian permalink

    I too headdesked at that article. I must also extend props that you used a clip from one of my fav movies.

  3. Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London recently made a comment about us girlies going to uni because we have to snag a hubbie – this was at an official reception for the World Islamic Economic Forum in London with the President of Malaysia (and many female academics in the audience)…. the reaction in Malaysia and the UK was incandescent, to say the least – twitter was smokin’…..I’m sure he will have learnt little from this faux pas, (he’s not known to be the brightest of bears) and stick his foot in his mouth again sometime soon but the sense of solidarity-in-outrage was great….Malaysia has something like 68% of women in their university intake.

    • Yeesh. If he opens his mouth any farther, he can probably get both feet in at once. We’ve got more female students at every level of academia than male ones here in the U.S., and yet our media outlets seem intent on treating female college and graduate students like some newly discovered species that only exists in isolation. Good on Malaysia and the UK for telling him where to shove it, though! Maybe they’ll all learn soon.

  4. I love everything you write. Sentences like this are why: And yet, in spite of its strident declarations of the obvious, this article has gathered a smoldering shitstorm of attention.

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