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The Hookup Culture at Bowdoin is not Ruled by just Men, by Laura Anna

If Skye Aresty’s article had been written instead by Wonder Woman, it might have elevated the characteristics of strength that women possess at Bowdoin. It could have showcased examples of what women should do to ensure they are alpha females at the top of their game among men who ostensibly make concerted efforts to thwart such pedestals. But the men who might try and usurp women’s territory – whether territory of the mind or physical – are not the men I’ve seen who are successful, regardless of age, and regardless of whether they attended Ivy League colleges.

In life you see various types of people. My personal experience is all men who I’ve known that are financially successful or who seem in a constant state of optimism, are those who are respectful of women. The female spouses of these men, however, are magnanimously confident, and I cannot imagine any male at Bowdoin that would be capable of confounding them in any part of a relationship. If arrogance is the vehicle men use to establish their hierarchy in the hookup culture, women are the fuel to make it run.

Perhaps if the author had befriended Judit Polgar – the Queen (men call her) of a board game traditionally dominated by males (chess), she would find a different perspective on male entitlement and realize that it shouldn’t be obliterated, but that women should instead establish their own sense of entitlement that creates competition between gentleman and cad. If Bowdoin truly has an epidemic of male entitlement in the hookup culture, the panacea is not asking men to stop being arrogant, it is for women to stop giving them attention for that characteristic. For Polgar, she takes pride in excelling at a sport where today, more females are entering the sport. She doesn’t say men should be responsible for getting more women to play; she says women should just play more chess. The tone in an article written by Polgar might have extolled the female role at Bowdoin. Nothing in Aresty’s article does this. Her article does not provide women with a roadmap to dismantling the indomitable hierarchy produced by men. Aresty frustratingly beseeches arrogant men to be more respectful instead of requesting that women exhibit social acumen when being wooed. (Perhaps she cannot teach what she herself doesn’t know.) Instead, Aresty’s article focuses on rude males (the minority) who ostensibly have magical powers to manipulate females’ social radar.

Despite living in a digital age, the females at Bowdoin are portrayed as helpless in maintaining their judicious radar for spotting men who are not gentlemen. Apparently it takes a quick hook up for those assessment skills to kick in. The men in the article seem to be perfect James Bond-like actors prior to their engagement of convincing females to sleep with them and, having that perfect façade, wooing even the most intelligent of girls into a sleepover. If this is the case, should the article be more insulting to us females?

The article was not written from the perspective of a woman who looks for men of virtue, and yet those men do exist at Bowdoin. It was written from the perspective of a woman who simply focuses on the worst attributes of certain men – and even the examples given are stretched with little substance. The author chastises men for what could simply be bad social skills.

A guy and girl meet at a party. They hook up. They then sleep together. In the morning, perhaps the guy is embarrassed. Perhaps the girl is. Whatever discourse takes place between the two parties, don’t believe for a second that Aresty’s article gives you all of it. It gives you the perspective of a friend who gave her perspective to Aresty. Instead of being defined as bad social etiquette or social awkwardness, the author paints the guy’s behavior as arrogant and entitled. There is no room for another assessment

What about weeks after the initial hook up? Does the guy ever become vindicated in this article? Is it definite that he will not be calling after the hook up – ever? The article’s tone certainly doesn’t seem open to this, already condemning the guy as not only exhibiting arrogance but creating this hierarchy of male entitlement, as if the female is a restrained bystander in the game of “hook up”. All of this to prove that a man is not ready to commit into a relationship where the currency agreed upon by both parties on their hook up night was physical.

There is high importance in making sure the reader of this post doesn’t get the wrong idea. For example, if a woman wants to hook up and agree to a sleep over, her assessment skills should not come into question so long as she doesn’t place the onus of responsibility on the man to carry the relationship forward. Both parties are responsible only for what they’ve allowed for themselves, and if a hook up and sleepover is admissible – and no physical force is involved – a pleasant goodbye in the morning is fine. We need to make sure men don’t become accused of arrogance just because they fail at being romantic. Improper labeling of attributes does not help either party in eliminating any hierarchy of entitlement. The men in this article are portrayed as stoic, vapid, rude and awful conversationalists. None of these characteristics should remove a woman’s ability of dismantle a man’s entitlement whenever she wishes. I cannot be the only female that wishes the article told us that.

For men in any social ecosystem – whether Bowdoin or any other college – you should find both types; either cad or gentleman. The forest is full of either creature, and the article was simply a story about certain men who perhaps do, in fact, represent the hierarchy of male entitlement. But even this is stretching it. The article was not about “male entitlement” as a whole; it was about “certain male entitlement” within Bowdoin.

This distinction is incredibly important, for it not only helps readers visualize the dichotomy between chivalrous gentlemen and seedy vultures, it also fairly proportions the responsibility women have in measuring the social conduct of males. The healthiest goal for either gender is to boost confidence, since this attribute is an infinite resource for life. To focus on limiting either gender’s behavior does nothing to promote healthy relationships. Healthy relationships are built on trust and respect.  Any investment into attempting to limit the negative behavior of negative men results in time lost for women who could spend time searching for positive behavior – and rewarding it –  from good men. Aresty’s article makes the men in the story seem like jerks who are out to hurt women emotionally, when in reality, little evidence is given to support this claim.

The one example she gives of a girl who brought a guy home after they hooked up for the first time, and then in the morning attempts to insert himself in her, is the most alarming. But it is alarming more for what is not told to us than what is, and for how it motivates us to pass judgement too quick. In the morning, were they in bed completely naked? If so, did they have sex the night before? Did they sleep naked? Did he remove her clothes so furtively that she didn’t wake up until he was inside her? The story sounds bogus to me and I have no problem saying so, but this doesn’t mean it is fallacious, but rather there is more to it (not to mention his version is missing entirely). Those of us who are quick to judge, however, have enough kindling to make coincidental judgements.

When I said earlier that women should reward good men, these ‘rewards” are not invitations to sleepover. There are plenty of females on Bowdoin campus who would never allow a man to sleepover – in the same bed – until they were married. OKay, that standard, for many women, is extremely high. Other females have a different standard, which, though I would not pejoratively call them “lower” standards, have different results. For example, some females at Bowdoin would allow a sleepover to represent only cuddling together after the first date. Each person’s timeline of how they date and what physical displays of affection they allow during each stage of it is subjective and I don’t wish to arbitrate on which allowance works best. I can only say the article gives examples of a male and female who slept together but gave no indication of how long they knew each other prior.

Though I have not associated myself with men who were anything but gentlemanlike, I found Aresty’s article quite disingenuous. This was not so much because her facts were incorrect (they were mostly true and I’ll explain the “mostly” later on), but that they were a magnifying glass on both parties which kept tilting on only the males’ behavior. Before I give an example let me first say that I will not be quoting her article, not because I wish to omit her writing in mine, but because I want you to read it in its entirety.

Second, I wish to call the reader’s attention to the first example Aresty gives regarding the hookup culture in Bowdoin. In the first example to prove that men show arrogance in the privilege with which they court a woman, she tells of a scenario that should have been alarming in the first sentence of that paragraph. The first sentence tells the reader only that a female and a male slept together. In other words, by the volition of both, the two stayed the night with each other (and I’m assuming, in the same bed). We should freeze the movie right here.

In a satirical fashion, I would like to know the brilliant technique this male used to obliterate the conduct, confidence, courage, tenacity, fortitude, intelligence, or social mores of the female who relinquished such attributes for an overnight stay with this guy. Does the author wish to give us any indication of what cultural values the female utilized when, on her own volition, she allowed the male to sleepover after a party hook up? (Admittedly, I make the assumption their first hook up was that night). Perhaps the author wishes to make the argument that all of those attributes were in session during the decision making process of bringing this guy home. The author might not have known the duration of time they knew each other, but this matters.

These scenarios showcase the plateau of Aresty’s point, which proves that hook ups can sometimes be pathways, albeit enigmatic ones, to long-term relationships, and this expectation causes quick judgement if the man doesn’t take that direction. I am not saying Aresty is incorrect that certain males are arrogant and focus their attention on the seedy portion of courtship, but this doesn’t mean all men are like this, and it doesn’t mean the women have no control in the process. Furthermore, what expectations should men or women be allowed to make after sleeping with someone? For many, sleeping together happens only when a solid foundation of commitment has already been established.

There are plenty of good men at Bowdoin. They should be given a voice, but I fear an article like this actually intimidates men from speaking up, fearing that women all think like the author. Chivalrous characteristics exist in the male segment of Bowdoin’s students, but the tone of this article has with it such dogmatic assurance that might encourage gentlemen to become incognito on campus. The right women will find them, no doubt, but articles like this are accusatory, based on subjective evidence, and filled with short anecdotes that do nothing more than confound good men. The right female will hold a man’s virtue in front of his face, almost demanding it, and  keeping him virtuous not simply because he is so, but because she doesn’t – on the first night of meeting him- decide he’s socially “close enough”  to sleep with. Her assessment skills are a bit more demanding, more sharp than the victim-like portrayal of women in Aresty’s article. Whatever connection people make on their first hookup, deciding to sleep with them is a representation of the values of both sexes and a communication of what standard will be set for both going forward. The results of those decisions are not based upon male entitlement or arrogance. There is no male entitlement hierarchy at Bowdoin that is more powerful than smart, 21st century women capable of dismantling it. If such a hierarchy exists, that is the message women need to hear

FYI – To the men at Bowdoin who respect women, kudos to you. Intelligent and value oriented women will recognize you. Arrogance and entitlement doesn’t work on them, and they don’t need protection from it. Their dating acumen is pretty darn good.

2 thoughts on “The Hookup Culture at Bowdoin is not Ruled by just Men, by Laura Anna

  1. Anonymous says:

    So basically what you’re saying is … this is the woman’s fault?

  2. Tom Sherter says:

    I don’t think that is what he’s saying. The point here is that many girls don’t actually sleep with a guy on the first night.

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