Every time I turn on the TV, some Victoria’s Secret model in a black satin push-up bra is standing on a windblown marble platform demanding to know:


Apparently half-nude women making pouty faces against the harsh breeze of industrial-strength fans are a good source of philosophical questions, because I found myself wondering how to answer their huskily-whispered inquiry.

The first stop on my search for an answer was — where else? — that glossy, $3.50, self-proclaimed Bible of Sex, Cosmopolitan magazine and its “Sex Survey.” It seems that kinkiness is way more important than confidence, and men would prefer a slow and painful death to a serious conversation with a woman.

I took a bit of time to reflect on my data thus far. Pop culture had provided me with answers to the question of what is sexy — D-cups in padded underwires and chicks who are more familiar with S&M than MSN — but it seemed to me that if these types of things were the universal requirements for sexiness, there would be about three people at Yale who ever got any action.

Take one look around at any of last weekend’s frat parties and you’ll see that this just isn’t true.

So what is different about sexiness at Yale?

WHAT is SEXY here?

(Please feel free to imagine me in lingerie on some cliff with crashing waves behind me as I ask you this question).

One important difference is Geek Appeal. We like smart people. Granted, most of the outside world isn’t seeking morons, but — according to many Yalies — intellect and intelligence are outright turn-ons.

One of my best friends knew that it would never last with a potential boyfriend because the spelling and grammar were so bad in his e-mails. More than once, I’ve heard guys here talking about how disappointing it is to hear a hot girl in their discussion section open her mouth and have no idea what she’s talking about. A heated political debate can precipitate a hot hookup, and I personally have a thing for guys in glasses.

Consider this example of Geek Appeal at work: One of my (ridiculously good-looking, by the way) suitemates was wholly unimpressed by our guy friend’s recounting of his grueling crew practices and subsequently aching eight-pack abs. However, as soon as he mentioned that practice had cut into studying for his Physics 260 midterm, she was intrigued. It’s not that she doesn’t appreciate a great body; it’s just that Geek Appeal is often so strong at Yale that muscles are no match for the sexiness one gains by enrolling in an advanced laboratory course.

Nerds and sex are linked here, sometimes in surprising ways. Beta, the frat notorious for its skeeziness — for lack of a better term — is teeming with techies. Apparently, seven out of the 32 brothers could not only get a freshman girl plastered and hook up with her under the first-floor pong table, but they could also fix her brand new laptop because they are, after all, CAs.

“Yale Scale” or real-world standards, there are undeniably physically attractive people here. However, I think that there are alternative criteria: Intellect is hot here. it’s often the reason why we get on each other.

So now I feel that I could tell the underwear model what’s up: smart is sexy — but I’m left wondering why.

A friend of mine explains it like this: “We’re Yalies. Not to be elitist — I shouldn’t say more lest I sound snobby — but we value intellect because we’re smart, right?”

To elaborate, perhaps Geek Appeal exists here because it is a reflection of the values of the Yale environment. In pop culture — where looks are of the utmost importance — sex appeal is mostly based on external appearances, except in the case of people like Snoop Dogg.

Another friend points out that he is attracted to people who are good at what they do, as I think a lot of us are. Since what we do here is often intellectual, the people who are good at that ­– brainy people — are therefore attractive.

And finally, my explanation of Geek Appeal is simply that we are eager to recognize smart as sexy since we’re hoping those around us will do the same.

And judging from those frat parties, it looks like they will.

Sarah Minkus likes to make passes at boys who wear glasses.