The SWUG Life: Are You Living It?

Maybe you’ve tested the waters of your college’s hook-up scene and now find yourself absolutely tired of it; in fact, you just don’t care anymore! The good news? You aren’t alone in your feelings. Hundreds of college women are coming together to publicly proclaim their distaste for the college hook-up culture. Welcome to the SWUG life!

You Know You’re a SWUG When…

The idea of the “SWUG,” or Senior Washed Up Girl, became popular after an article was published in The Cut in April that discussed Yale’s self-proclaimed SWUGs: collegiettes who were no longer naïve about the college hook-up scene. SWUGs are typically described as “veterans” of the college hook-up culture and are now tired of getting dolled up to party and sick of dealing with college guys who just want to hook up. They don’t follow party norms like squeezing into bodycon dresses—instead, they’ll show up to a cocktail party wearing running shorts and sneakers.

Chloe Drimal, a recent graduate of Yale University and one of the original commentators on the SWUG movement (as well as one of the students profiled in The Cut’s piece), says that the definition of a Senior Washed Up Girl is a lot more relaxed than most people think. “The SWUG’s problem and its beauty is the fact that there is no true definition of ‘SWUG,’” she says. “Everyone can morph it into whatever meaning she wants or needs. Because of this, it can be self-deprecating and satirical to some (like me), and to others, it is a feminist and psychoanalyzed issue.”

The big takeaway from SWUG life? The awesome “IDGAF” motto. SWUGs do what they want, whenever they want. “A SWUG to me is a girl who stopped caring about what guys thought, because they became her best friends and were able to forget their bodies were a little different,” Chloe explains. “Her biggest priorities are her friends and the quest for creating memories, because life is too short. So sometimes she gets a little crazy, wears clothes that don't match, but the more ridiculous she is, the better. She lives in the moment, because yesterday is gone.”

The Rise of the SWUG Movement

It turns out that the movement is far more complex and important than just a frustrated response to hook-up culture; the SWUG lifestyle illustrates how young, educated women are taking a stand for their wants and needs. Rock on, ladies!

Holly Wood, a doctoral student in sociology who is studying relationships, says that women are beginning to think more intelligently and realistically about their relationships and what they want for themselves over what guys want. “The SWUG movement is clever because it's senior women recognizing that their male peers don't value what they have to offer,” she says.

“These women assumed that they'd grow up in a world where men would value them as equals, especially if they attend the same college and major in the same things and pursue the same professions,” Wood notes. “But they get to college and realize that while guys have mostly accepted women as their peers in the classroom and in the workplace, they don't necessarily want to date their peers. That's when the red flags go up for today's educated women. This is a crushing realization.” Thus, women proclaim to be SWUGs, officially checking themselves out of the complicated hook-up culture equation.

However, Wood is quick to point out that SWUGs aren’t taking this seemingly “crushing realization” badly. “SWUGs recognize that college men their age won't seek out relationships with women their own age but pursue casual sex with younger women, [but] [SWUGs] aren't sitting around feeling sorry about it,” she says. “Instead, they are using humor to identify the problem and laughing about it. They are forming bonds with each other over a shared problem.” It’s a more unconventional way to go about women empowerment!

How Are SWUGs Helping Younger Collegiettes?

SWUGs are paving the way for younger collegiettes who are tired of the college hook-up scenes. Women are taking charge of their bodies and their lives.

Melissa*, a sophomore at Wesleyan University, says she has started taking more control of her sex life as well as her relationships, especially after watching the SWUG movement unfold. “I just try to be honest and respectful to people I hook up with and make it clear upfront that I expect the same in return,” she says. “I think guys don't act so upfront because they are afraid of leading a girl on by acting like a decent human being, so they're distant and inconsistent and sometimes plain rude or mean to ensure that girls won't get clingy. But that's really immature and irrational.”

Katherine*, a senior at the University of Miami, agrees with Melissa’s straightforward approach as well as the SWUG mentality of setting your own rules. “My last two relationships started as hook-ups and so did my current one. The current and previous ones were long and fairly serious relationships,” she says. “When I started hooking up I made the rules and I chose my partners sober. The boys were the ones who typically had to take the ‘walk of shame.’ I was confident in my sexuality and skill, and because of that, I never stepped out of my comfort zone and always was comfortable asking for what I wanted.”

Though to some it may seem like a bizarre joke, the SWUG movement is so much more. Younger collegiettes are watching these women as they make fun of their own situations and the entire world of college hook-ups, and they’re following suit. Collegiettes have also started sharing their stories of SWUG life through social media. The website SWUG Diaries has become a hit sharing such stories, as has the “Spinstagran” on the site.