Andino: Preaching the immoral

Dean of Student Affairs Marichal Gentry overstepped some bounds in his campuswide e-mail Wednesday afternoon. The message urges students to “keep safe” and avoid situations that could lead to bad decisions, especially on Halloween weekend, which is always an active time on campus. That is fair enough. But that is not what we think about as we finish reading the e-mail. What we do hear is Dean Gentry preaching his philosophy of sexuality to the whole student body as dogma and as mature, sensible wisdom.

Nobody disagrees that sex ought to be consensual. But I am not alone in disagreeing with the affirmative attitude toward hookup culture and casual sex that a message like this promotes. It is nothing less than an ode sung to “glorious consensual sex.”

But not everybody believes that casual, or even premarital, sex is at all “glorious.” Nor should we need to have our opinions about it informed by the Yale administration. It is enough for them to remind us to keep safe and stay out of harmful situations. On the other hand, I would encourage a stronger and sterner stance against rape or unsolicited sexual advances, and I wish that the e-mail had made it clear that such behavior will not be tolerated. It would deliver the messages of keeping safe and promoting respect, and it would do so without indoctrinating the student body. But instead we are left with the reassurance that it is “our wish to … strengthen the resolve of those who are dedicated to finding just the right words that would lead to glorious, consensual sex.” So much for discouraging uncomfortable situations and unsolicited, persistent sexual advances.

The word “glorious” is used several times in the e-mail, and it betrays a forced and childish attempt to attribute transcendence, dignity and a sense of approbation to the message. We never say that we did “gloriously” on a midterm without the intention of being funny through exaggerated language. Why, then, would we have to try so hard in this case? We have a tendency to attribute a false transcendence to things that we feel uneasy about. We describe our Saturday nights as “epic,” and always have to reassure each other when relationships are strained: “No, we’re actually really good friends.” Of course, the look on our faces always shows that we know that we are kidding ourselves. There would be no need to decorate the message with such language if there were not something troubling at its core.

It is already difficult enough for students with chaste convictions to stand firmly against sexual indifference and the hookup culture at Yale. An e-mail like this only makes it harder for those of us who are easily discouraged in our convictions by showing that the administration, too, encourages promiscuity and an indifference towards sexual restraint.

As a final note, I would like to point out that Yale (or whomever “we” refers to in the second paragraph of the e-mail) has not, in fact, “introduced the idea that consensual sex could be glorious.” Humans have recognized the glory of sexual union for quite a long time. The reason “it seems that was a surprise to many” is that some people still recognize that sexual union has a proper place in which it is glorious, and it comes as a shock to them to see a Yale administrator taking an affirmative stance toward relativistic moral standards. Perhaps it will come as a surprise to many to see that Dean Gentry’s ideas about the giving, shared and joyful nature of sexual union can be found almost verbatim in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. It is true that we do often pick and choose which aspects of a moral law we wish to open our ears to. Of course, it was with words from Scripture that Satan tempted Jesus in the desert.

Eduardo Andino is a sophomore in Trumbull College.

Comments

  • River Tam

    I *love* this piece. My problem with Dean Gentry’s email was more its tone than its message, but that’s only because at this point I’ve become inured to Yale administrators stumbling over one another to be the “cool parents”.

  • The Anti-Yale

    The world turns inside out. My generation thought adults were stodgy. Now they’re libertine!
    Alice in Wonderland world. Adults will never satisfy kids. It’s Nature’s plan to emancipate the young and get them out of the all too cozy nest.

  • waldo

    Whoa… hahahaha. Can’t please everyone… but hey, knitting sweaters and hanging out with your cats can be fun. Look, whatever your stance on the “hook-up” culture is or whatever the halloween weekend brings you, we should be able to talk openly about sex… and sex is glorious, even if you haven’t experienced that part of it yet. Be happy to have an administration that isn’t afraid to bring the subject up and talks to us like adults capable of interpreting information for ourselves according to how we live our lives!! Now that’s what is truly glorious.

  • River Tam

    > My generation thought adults were stodgy.

    No, *you* thought adults were stodgy. Not everyone in your generation slept around.

  • Hieronymus’ Bosh

    Not to mention, “adults” are in short supply these days.

  • RexMottram08

    cringe-worthy email by Gentry

  • Leah

    Great piece, Eduardo! Yale should remind students that sex, if it occurs, should be safe and consensual, but promoting and celebrating casual sexual activity is inappropriate and out of place.

  • rm13

    This piece demonstrates a gross misunderstanding of the Dean’s email. Where does he promote hook-up culture? He seems to be actively promoting sex that ALL PARTIES are in favor of–in a lot of cases, that’s the complete opposite of what Yale sexual culture is. You, and a lot of the commenters, keep bringing up “casual sex.” Did Dean Gentry ever say that? The administration isn’t promoting sex for everyone, it’s promoting safe and positive sexual encounters for those who want them; I don’t see how anyone can be opposed to that.

  • River Tam

    > He seems to be actively promoting sex that ALL PARTIES are in favor of–in a lot of cases, that’s the complete opposite of what Yale sexual culture is.

    It’s true – 4 in 1 women get raped at Yale every year.

    > promoting safe and positive sexual encounters for those who want them; I don’t see how anyone can be opposed to that.

    No one has indicated opposition to this. You yourself said that he was “ACTIVELY PROMOTING” sex. I agree that “ACTIVELY PROMOTING” consensual sex is better than this mythological counter-factual where Dean Gentry would otherwise be “ACTIVELY PROMOTING” rape, but I’d prefer that he didn’t promote sex at all. He’s a dean, not my hippie aunt Ruth.

  • The Anti-Yale

    “No, you thought adults were stodgy. Not everyone in your generation slept around.”

    Don’t put words in my mouth or cast aspersions on my ‘glorious’ Puritan inhibitions:
    I wasn’t talking about sleeping around. I was talking about adults talking or in our generation’s case, NOT TALKING] about sex.

  • River Tam

    > Don’t put words in my mouth or cast aspersions on my ‘glorious’ Puritan inhibitions: I wasn’t talking about sleeping around. I was talking about adults talking or in our generation’s case, NOT TALKING] about sex.

    My point stands. *You* thought adults were stodgy, and those in your camp were simply more noisy. What do you think the “Silent Majority” was?

  • The Anti-Yale

    The Silent Majority were my parents: watching lawrence Welk and paying their mortgage and buying season tickets to the New Haven Symphony.

  • River Tam

    The Silent Majority didn’t have an obsession with endless discussion of sex. Unfortunately, the vocal minority grew up to be professors and administrators.

  • penny_lane

    The author seems to have missed the point entirely. I am an alum, so I missed most of the email except for what the News has published elsewhere, but it seems to me that Dean Gentry is doing the opposite of promoting casual sex. “Glorious, consensual sex” as he describes it is sex you took and take seriously. (Note: serious is the *opposite* of casual.) Unlike Mr. Andino, Gentry leaves it up to the individual reader to decide what that means for himself.

    Also this article was stylistically atrocious. Yale really needs to start taking teaching writing seriously.

  • River Tam

    > “Glorious, consensual sex” as he describes it is sex you took and take seriously.

    Doesn’t really line up with what Gentry actually says: “Glorious consensual sex is something given, not taken, something shared not endured: something that makes you smile the next day, not something that hurts psychologically, emotionally or physically.”

  • The Anti-Yale

    “obsession with ENDLESS [my empasis] discussion of sex”

    WHO? Maybe the CURRENT generation, but not MY generation..

  • penny_lane

    River Tam- That’s the part where he’s asking people to take sex (and its potential consequences) seriously. If you see otherwise, I suspect it’s because a sex-negative bias is affecting your reading comprehension abilities. However, feel free to explain yourself.

  • SY

    If DKE had chanted we’ll have glorious consensual sex that puts a smile on our faces, I would support the frat’s probation or suspension. That a Yale Dean does it by email is worse.

    Do Yale students need a reminder that rape is illegal? Then say so. That only consensual sex is legal. That drunk sex may be regretted or worse Then remind them.

    What makes sex glorious is beyond a Yale Dean. The Yale Chaplain probably won’t touch it. Consensual sex might or might not be glorious, mature, respectful, reverent of the partners. The Dean tells us that sex
    should be consensual and put a smile on your face the next day. Yale women have a new wave of work to do after 40 years (and what hurts one sex eventually hurts the other). Porn and prostitution are consensual sex and put smiles on some faces. I guess they’re glorious consensual sex. Isn’t glorious consensual sex at Yale maybe sort of like that?

  • pablum

    Well, I *do* declare! How vulgar!

  • River Tam

    > River Tam- That’s the part where he’s asking people to take sex (and its potential consequences) seriously. If you see otherwise, I suspect it’s because a sex-negative bias is affecting your reading comprehension abilities. However, feel free to explain yourself.

    No, that’s the part where he asks people not to engage in unsafe or unconsenting sexual practices. That is part – but noticeably not the whole – of what “taking sex seriously” actually entails.

    > What makes sex glorious is beyond a Yale Dean.

    Well said.

  • The Anti-Yale

    If the posters who are so gleefully picking the flesh off the dean’s prose carcass can do better, then write and submit here for our attention the letter which you would e-mail to Yale students.

  • 2011

    @ SY What the heck is wrong with porn? Jesus, we do live in a Puritan society. Yes, some people enjoy watching porn. It’s none of your business to judge them. Some people enjoy having sex, even (GASP!) casual sex; it’s none of your business to judge them either. The point of the email was to make sure that when college students are having sex (which they do) it happens in a consensual and mutually beneficial manner. This is important because rape IS a problem on our campus and in our culture. The email was NOT written to make you feel bad if you make the very valid choice not to have sex before marriage, but thanks to the author of this piece for getting all bent out of shape, going on the defensive and calling those of us who make the equally valid decision not to wait for marriage “immoral.”

  • RexMottram08

    @2011,

    What’s wrong with porn?

    -the objectification of the actors/actresses
    -it’s coziness with prostitution, coerced sex, disease
    -the damage it does to healthy sexuality/marriages/relationships
    -it’s isolated/impersonal use
    -it’s habit-forming, addictive properties

    It is our business, the business of all society, especially in a university, to JUDGE the worth of actions and values.

  • The Anti-Yale

    Far be it from me to go crazy over an its/it’s confusion. But three in a row IS impressive!

    Its not outrageous to hyothesize that Rex must have been raised in the same era I was, with it’s casual attitudes toward punctuation and its’ indifference to editorial ridicule.

  • RexMottram08

    Yes, I do apologize for the hasty posting. I was in a rush to my monthly Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy meeting. Much like pornography, sloppy punctuation is unacceptable.

  • The Anti-Yale

    Sloppy punctuation makes you think its an editorial conspiracy to sharpen intellects.

  • gzuckier

    Glorious consensual sex? Oh no! Sex should be furtive and shameful. Preferably done in private.

  • RexMottram08

    gzuckier…are you saying sex should be public???