“Yale men” do not exist. Men at Yale are queer and straight, short and tall, foreign and domestic, loud and quiet. As such, there is no way to describe the full populace of the Yale male, straight or otherwise, and such generalizations are unbecoming of those who make them.
David Lilienfeld (“Stuck in the frosh pit,” Feb. 2), who has made many such references, commits a bit of hypocrisy, though certainly not the first in the recent media storm on sexual culture. Lilienfeld claims Maria Yagoda (“Just say no (to awful sex),” Jan. 20) has both unfairly condemned the worth and sexual prowess of Yale men and failed to inspect this set carefully enough, and then he proposes that Yale men are in fact “bright, well-adjusted, liked young men.” But two sweeping generalizations do not make it right.
Yagoda has generalized to the point of no return, Lilienfeld has aggrandized to the point of no return, and Yale’s sexual culture is on the brink of defining itself into the ground.
Why can’t we each define ourselves? Why does the huge specter of Yale’s hookup culture overshadow the infamous Pierson College couple in the throes of passion, the subject of much criticism on the Rumpus blog? Why is it the job of one sexually frustrated freshman to inform Yale’s females that their male counterparts are imminently datable? We’ll believe it — on a case-by-case basis — when we see it.
And many of us have seen it, often silently, and even perhaps in men like Lilienfeld. Many of my straight female friends have found fulfillment in hookups and relationships at Yale. Those who remain single today — including me — ought to recognize that the problems stem from within as much as they do from others. We must fix ourselves before we try to fix Yale men, Yale women or some supposed sexual culture, which could not possibly be uniform among over 5,000 undergraduates.
The generous availability of free therapy at Yale Health seems like one great starting point for the self-betterment or sex-betterment quest. Therapy is an opportunity for us to reflect on what we want, how we aim to achieve it and how we feel along the way. Anyone who’s been to Toad’s in the last five years has felt the emotional weight of collective neuroses inside; many of those drinking at the bar are drowning their insecurities, and many of those snatching at random dance partners are anxiously seeking validation. Nobody goes to Toad’s with the sincere intent of finding a long-term partner. We go to Toad’s to remind ourselves that we’ve still got it, to see and to be seen, to have a good time, which is never really so simple.
Lilienfeld, I implore you to stop approaching Yale women and their “complaints about the lack of quality men at Yale” as the problem. Speaking only for myself, I counter that the problem is in fact the lack of quality interactions with men at Yale. Asking a girl out to lunch, rather than grinding on her at Toad’s, might be a step in the right direction if it’s hand-holding you’re after. As for a casual hookup, which is not at all an undignified thing to want, grind away.
And if some careful reflection does not afford enough answers, perhaps a hefty swig of the truth (and I don’t mean Dubra) will: sometimes, the attraction is just not there. We all have a few men and women in our friend zone who we realize would make the perfect partner; they are charming, supportive, intelligent and yes, even “not-evil.” Sexual and emotional chemistry are nothing like real chemistry, where the right quantity of the right ingredients produces a desired result. Attraction is indescribable. Perhaps if we spent less time trying to describe it and more time actively seeking it, going for a desired result while accepting that rejection is the worst of our first world problems, we might actually contribute to healthier attitudes towards sex at Yale.
Alison Greenberg is a sophomore in Branford College and a former staff reporter at the News. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.