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Love on the Hill: Casual Commitment

 

“Do I need to be a ‘prude’ for him to ask me on a real date?”

 

This question comes up all the time and is honestly really depressing. I’ve been sitting here being mopey for two weeks trying to write this article. So many college women wonder if they need to be a “prude,” or, not hookup with a guy first, in order for him to respect her enough to go on a date with her (the synonymy of dating and respecting is another contentious topic, for another time).

There’s an attitude held as a social norm by both college men and women that if you can get someone into bed, they’re “that type of person.” Why bother wasting the money on pampering them when you can just shoot them a text and get it on for free; if you don’t get to know someone, you’re less liable to get hurt.

This attitude runs parallel to the rise in feminism starting in the 60s and most recently a new wave in the past decade or so. There has been a rejection of the idea of the overemotional, dependent woman. We don’t need to be pampered and wined and dined. We can have casual sex too! So let’s only ever have casual sex and get used for our bodies because we like it like that (because ALL men like it like that too right and we can do whatever men do??) and GeNdEr Is A sOcIaL cOnStRuCt and dinner and a movie is for future housewives!

This black and white view of how a woman should be and whom she should give her body to is partially what was so damaging to women’s freedom in the first place. If we force ourselves to only, or most predominantly, participate in casual hookups from a place of rejecting the “traditional woman” and traditional dating, then we are still letting the structures of what a woman “should be” or “should not be” dictate our behavior. This is therefore true regardless of whether our behavior comes from a place of compliance with or rejection of the norm.

One Kenyon woman offers the advice that “if you want to date someone at Kenyon, and go on ‘the elusive Kenyon date’, don’t hook up with them until after coffee. A study date/hanging out in the dorm doesn’t count. Set the precedence that you want to date and have the type of relationships most people experience outside Kenyon. You won’t be here forever, don’t expect less from guys just because you’re on a small campus.”

Another Kenyon woman says, “The only dating experience I’ve had at Kenyon was after I went to this party, I went home with this guy I’d been dancing with all night. We made out for a while but I wasn’t really feeling it so I told him I wanted to go home. I think he thought I was being coy, because he asked me out to lunch the next day, and after that we watched a few movies. Like the first night, I never really felt a click with him so in the end nothing much came of it. Still, I honestly don’t think he’d ever have asked to take me on any of those dates if I’d presented myself more as the ‘hookup girl’ or slept with him that first night.”

Us college women have it in our heads that if we actually want to date a guy (not as in Facebook official, but as in go to dinner, or coffee, or make plans in person and follow through with them in person when the sun is out and the alcohol is away), we have to withhold our most valuable asset, our bodies. But who decided our bodies are our most valuable assets? The current dating culture is a kind of rewards-based system. Just like the white rat gets a bit of cheese each time it completes the maze, so the guy gets one more garment off you each time he buys you dinner.

But how does this make any sense? Yes, from a purely scientific operant conditioning perspective it makes total sense, but since when are human beings (especially in the area of love and lust) purely scientific beings? Why don’t we celebrate each other for revealing ourselves? Why do we see someone spending the night with us without weeks of persuading as a fatal flaw?

I’m not arguing for the hookup culture, and I’m not arguing for dating. I’m not arguing for hooking up first and later dating. And I’m not arguing for staying a “prude” until he takes you on three dates (or some other prescribed number) and you are magically transformed into “marriage material”. I’m just sick of girls looking to dating advice articles and finding in them, as well as in the entire culture that surrounds them, this idea that if you really want a guy to respect you (date you) then you need to be completely chaste.

Every woman is inordinately different, and there are so many factors that come into play (religion, if she’s on her period, if she just got out of a relationship, how her day went, the last book she read or movie she watched, what she had for breakfast, if she washed her sheets) that it’s impossible to prescribe rules for “what kind of woman does what” when it comes to dating and hooking up.

 

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