Boys, Sex and Drugs (and that's okay)

Forgive me, Father, for I have sinned. I have made Duke friends. One of said Duke friends made a comment the other day about a group of four of us girls. He said,

“All you guys ever talk about is boys, sex and drugs.”

Indignantly, I huffed and said, “Hey! We don’t talk about drugs!”

However, I went on thinking about this passing comment. It irked me, but why? I felt like a bad feminist. Wasn’t I supposed to embrace my brilliance and have intellectual conversations? I felt inferior to my Duke friend with all his supposed “smart people” discussions. Mostly, however, I felt something was off. Sure, we talk about boys, sex and (not) drugs, but why was that framed as something bad?

Now, to dissuade the notion that “all [we] ever talk about is boys, sex and drugs.” We do, in fact, talk about other things: weather, religion, dining halls, sororities, economics, social justice, fashion and the list goes on. However, working under my friend’s misconception, what if all we talked about - or what if most of what we talked about - was boys, sex and drugs? What is so wrong with that?

This made me think of a scene in Sex and the City in which one of the characters - Miranda - gets upset that all her friend group ever talks about is men and sex. Well, Miranda, for one, Sex and the City wouldn’t be much of a show without those things. I went back to watch the episode to see how they reconciled the topic (oh no, I had to watch TV to research). Miranda had been projecting her insecurities about her relationship status onto the comment. [Sidenote: what does that say about my Duke friend? Hehe.] However, I don’t think that is quite fair. She had a point, right? A group of brilliant, funny, gorgeous women should have better things to talk about, right?

No, not really. 

Relationships are part of our lives - a large part. Sure, we can talk about the polarization of politics, the nuances of activism as students, environmental issues and solutions and all those important things. But are they more important? Objectively, yes. Subjectively, no. And I find subjectivity shapes my reality more than objectivity. Women can do it all; I believe that. Relationships are included in that “all”. And that goes for small talk in general. I think a lot of us have this cute little daydream about going to college and having conversations about deep, intellectual topics at three in the morning in the study lounge. And those dialogues are important, yes, but so are dialogues about boys and sex. They have just as significant an impact on our daily, subjective lives as all those other objectively important conversations - maybe even more so. 

If you have ever seen the movie Mona Lisa Smile, it has a concept similar to this one. I don’t remember most of it from when my sister made me watch it when I was 12, but this one scene stuck in my mind. Surrounded by ambitious women who want to go on to professional careers, one graduate of the college decides to become a housewife. The woman in question says, “I know exactly what I'm doing, and it doesn't make me any less smart. You stand in class and tell us to look beyond the image, but you don’t. To you, a housewife is someone who sold her soul for a center hall colonial. She has no depth, no intellect, no interests. You’re the one who said I could do anything I wanted. This is what I want.” Now every rhetorical analysis teacher I have ever had is cringing, but I am just gonna leave that quote where it is. Take from it what you will.

Boys, sex, but not really drugs hold a presence in a lot of our lives - especially on a college campus. Talking about these things can not only act as a fun bonding activity, but talking about boys and sex can also normalize things that can be scary and confusing for many of us.