As someone who has had little to no success in her dating life in college, what I find most frustrating, and most obvious, is that men are setting all the rules.
I began my college career in a long-term relationship that started in high school. When that fizzled, I found myself in a bit of a culture shock when re-entering the dating pool. It became clear quickly that I didn’t have a clue what I was doing.
The hookup and dating culture on college campuses has shifted in recent years in some ways, but in others it’s largely stayed the same throughout generations.
What I hadn’t realized is that it’s no longer the norm to have romantic feelings for a sexual partner. In fact, people actually go out of their way to disprove any emotional attachments to their partners. According to Lisa Wade, a sociologist at Occidental College, people will often compete to prove that they care even less then the person they are having sex with.
Not only is it no longer a part of sexual normalcy to maintain romantic feelings for a partner, but it is often the case that it can be one of the biggest violations of social standards. The University of Minnesota isn’t immune to these cultural shifts; in fact, we have in some ways epitomized them. The constant athletic scandals, from the football players who allegedly had sex with just one woman to the numerous charges that have piled up against Reggie Lynch, prove a general lack of respect for sexual partners. This has been broadly accepted by many students. It’s expected.
The University has been making strides to address issues like sexual misconduct, such as with the President’s Initiative to Prevent Sexual Misconduct, announced in February, which will require all staff and faculty to take mandatory sexual misconduct training. While these efforts are noble and certainly address relevant issues, they do not address the larger cultural problems surrounding sex on college campuses.
While this lack of emotion is an obvious shift from previous attitudes towards sex, there are some ways in which sexual cultures have largely stayed the same. Students continue to buy into the archaic double standard which condemns women but uplifts men for engaging in the same sexual behaviors. In many cases, men who accept this double standard feel justified in disrespecting their partners, according to Heather Kettrey at Vanderbilt University. I think I speak for a lot of women when I say that we are tired of being judged and disparaged for partaking in the same sexual conduct that men do.
This is an inherently gendered societal custom which continues to enhance the reputation of men for racking up another sexual conquest and at the same time belittles the worth of women. The outdated notion of the sex-having harlot isn’t one we should continue to tolerate with such complacency. I refuse to feel guilty just because I’m a woman.
While this issue may be as old as time, it continues to be important because of its relevance on college campuses specifically. Universities are the institutions which prepare us to be productive members of society, foster our belief systems, and show us how we should view the world. If the culture on our campuses continues to further these outmoded notions, we will never get past them as a society.