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Love, Lillith: Why Becoming a Victim of the Duke Hookup Culture is Each of Our Faults, and How We Can Fix It

Though we don’t like to admit it, Dukies get a tinge of guilty pride when it comes to our school’s hookup culture. We all boast of the Rolling Stone article detailing the voracious sexual appetites of our classmates (never us, of course), while simultaneously bemoaning the fact that we haven’t been on a real date since high school. Because no: meeting up at your crush’s dorm to “study” until one of you makes the first move does not count as a date.

The innate nature of college in general is conducive to a thriving hookup culture. The place is just infested with young, robust, mostly unmarried individuals, all living together and partying together, and experiencing their peak lifetime sex drive. Though this last part may be a biological truth for all of us, there are still some of us who, having gone home one too many times with a rando disappointment from Shooters, or having never been into casual hookups at all, would now like to have a sexual relationship with someone they can also have an emotional relationship with.

Therein lies the problem. We have so convinced ourselves at this point that Duke is just a very intellectual, preppy, classy playground for recreational sex where, in the words of the Rolling Stone article, “traditional intercourse is common, and oral sex nearly ubiquitous, regarded as sort of a form of elaborate kissing that doesn’t really mean very much,” that we have already proclaimed the game lost before even giving ourselves a chance to step up to the plate and swing.

Multiple Duke students to whom I’ve imparted my desire to get a boyfriend have advised me to give up; it ain’t happenin’ at this school. They say, among other things, “People at Duke are just too busy focusing on academics to date.” It is a common argument, but if you stop and think about it, it’s bull sh*t. If a guy whom I had a major crush on and whom I had spent hours daydreaming about finally asked me out, I highly doubt I’d turn him down with the reason that I might have a particularly high volume of calculus homework this semester.

Consider: There is almost always at least one couple every weekend getting married either in Duke Chapel or in the gardens, and I’d be willing to bet that a good number of them were former undergrads who met each other while in school. Therefore, love must be capable of blossoming on Duke’s campus, even if we haven’t seen it or allowed ourselves to experience it.

One of my first big crushes at Duke was also my first one night stand. It was a drunken mistake. Whatever. You live; you learn. The lesson I learned: During our pillow talk, he told me he was too busy with academics to date. He said it in a general sense, not really assigning the weightiness of the statement to me, but I still felt it. I nodded and said I understood what he meant. But it didn’t make sense. I should have run. But I didn’t. I knew he was hooking up with other people, and so each time I saw him I made more and more of a desperate fool of myself trying to attract him. And I did attract him, because we did continue to hookup. But that’s all he, or any man who has ever experienced a girl throwing herself at him, for that matter, has done. He had no incentive to date me, because he didn’t have to date me to get what he wanted as a man, while simultaneously getting it with however many other girls he could squeeze in-between his hookups with me.

Lesson to be learned: people respond accordingly to what you project. If you project an aura of “I- know-all-you-want-is-sex-but-this-is-the-best-I-can-do-at-this-school-so-I-might-as-well-settle-for-what-I-can-get-so-please-still-kind-of-like-me-or-at least-pretend-to-and-call-me-pretty,” the logical, capitalistic thing for a man to do is to take the most he can get while giving the least possible back. Bluntly speaking, it is entirely your fault if you offer it all to a guy. So, don’t be surprised when he actually accepts your offer. If you didn’t want him to have it in that manner, you shouldn’t have held it out to him and told him to take it.

If you are currently both loving and thriving in Duke’s oft –glorified hookup culture, then more power to you. However, if you’re like me, you want a change from the status quo. If you want to be a part of something a bit more serious, know that it can be possible- but only if you let it be. Don’t hook up with your crush so easily. Let him know subtly that you’re a hot commodity who can get anyone else in the room. It doesn’t matter if that’s not true; as long as you act like you’re confident in yourself and truly believe it, a guy will believe it. Think how much a guy’s confidence and the knowledge that other girls want him make him seem that much hotter. Those are powerful things, and they work both ways on both genders. So let him know that if wants something as valuable as you truly are, he’s gonna have to work for it. And suddenly, even if he can get sex from 10 other girls throwing themselves at his feet, he’s going to want you, because you’re a hot commodity, and a challenge. You value yourself, so he will in turn value you.

And for God’s sake, RUN from the player who says he’s too “busy” to date you. You can’t change his mind, you shouldn’t want to change it. Oh yeah, if he’s busy banging 20 other girls, you don’t want his STD’s either.

So, you go girl. Go show up everyone who says that you can’t: you can defy the Duke hookup culture stereotype. Because, after all, you’re beautiful, intelligent, confident, and VALUABLE. Get that hot man candy you deserve exclusively for yourself. And I don’t know about you, but I can’t hold out on my sweet tooth for that long ;)

<3 Lilith

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