Some aspects of sex at Yale aren’t that complicated. Looking for a hookup?
“All you have to do is go to Toad’s on a Saturday night,” said Kasdin Miller ’07, president of the Kappa Alpha Theta sorority. “It’s easy.”
Despite this tried-and-true formula for a late-night rendezvous, other facets of sex at Yale need further explanation. A recently conducted Yale Daily News poll of over 250 undergraduates on their sexual habits, attitudes and opinions may shed some light on issues not covered in William Summers’ “Biology of Gender and Sexuality.” While some of the poll’s more serious results — documenting students’ sexual experience, sexual orientation and feelings about premarital sex — were published in Thursday’s paper, the questionnaire also covered several topics concerning the lighthearted side of sexual activity.
The results show that Eli men and women are equally attractive: Both males and females were rated a 6 on a scale from 1 to 10 in sexual attractiveness from their peers. But despite the campus’ above-average attractiveness, the perception of sexual frustration at Yale is widespread. The average Eli thought most Yalies rate a 7 out of 10 in sexual frustration, even though this same Eli rated him or herself a 4 on the same continuum. Thirty-six percent of these sexually-frustrated students are paired in relationships, according to the poll.
While these results surprised some, in general students thought the poll accurately reflected the libidos — however deflated — of male and female Elis.
“Yes, No … Maybe So”
Though the poll offered only two options for relationship status, several students opted for write-in responses such as “I’m not sure,” “maybe,” or simply “?”. It seems that at Yale “Are you currently in a relationship?” is not a yes-or-no question. Perhaps facebook.com, which recently added an intriguing new category for relationship status, has it right: When it comes to relationships, “It’s Complicated.”
Maybe the problem for Yalies lies in our overscheduled, overcaffeinated and undersexed lives, as many students complain they don’t have time to maintain a steady relationship.
Dain Lewis ’07, director of next week’s Sex Week at Yale, said that for Yale students, dating seems like a major commitment many choose to forego.
“Yale students just aren’t in one- or two-year relationships,” Lewis said. “Dating is like an extracurricular activity here.”
According to some Yalies, students who do choose to enter into relationships often go too far. This being college, a relationship that starts out uncertainly can often get really serious really quickly. Students in these cases can find themselves attending every class with, eating every meal with and sleeping every night with their significant other.
The prevalence of such “married couples,” however, is an unappealing option for many “Type A” Yalies.
“Some people spend every waking minute with their significant other,” Mark Dunn ’07 said. “I think a lot of Yalies don’t want to commit to someone like that. We’re an individualistic group.”
Whitney Seibel ’06, who has modeled as the Sex Week at Yale magazine’s cover girl and in a photo spread in Maxim Magazine, said Yalies have a hard time striking a balance between strings of sexual encounters and full-fledged coupledom.
“A lot of people at Yale are either married or do random hookups,” Seibel said. “It’s hard to find something in the middle here.”
Natalie Krinksy ’04, who wrote a column titled “Sex in the Elm City” for the News during her undergraduate years, recently published a book, “Chloe Does Yale,” that centered on the sexual exploits of her female Eli protagonist.
When she was at Yale, Krinsky wrote one of her columns about the lack of clarity in Yale relationships.
“It is definitely the case that ambiguity is standard in relationships at Yale,” she said. “College is just a hard place to maintain solid relationships.”
Mina Kimes ’07, Yale’s reigning “Hottest Girl” according to Rumpus’ 2004 “50 Most Beautiful” issue, agreed that relationships at Yale are hard to define. On facebook.com, while over 500 Yalies list themselves as “In a Relationship,” nearly half as many (223) list their relationship status as “It’s Complicated,” a designation which may or may not be adopted in seriousness.
“It is complicated,” Kimes said. “There are a lot of pseudo-relationships that escalate into real relationships.”
But even if Yale relationships start out in a variety of ways, many end in the same dark place.
“There’s nothing funnier than watching how they take each other off their facebook profiles when they break up,” Kimes said.
Slightly above average
Most students agreed that a 6 was an appropriate rating for the sex appeal of Yale guys and gals. But several students argued the number was a bit on the low side, at least for Yale men.
Men polled were more likely than women to inflate their own evaluations, rating other guys well above the average of 6. Outlier 11, 20, 50 or “100 to the 100th power” ratings given guys by some male students had to be excluded from the average calculated in the poll.
“I would bump up the guys’ number,” Rumpus Editor-in-Chief Sam Heller ’08 said. “For girls, it seems about right.”
Peter Pacelli ’07, president of the Delta Kappa Epsilon fraternity, said Yalies are just too damn modest.
“We don’t give ourselves enough credit,” Pacelli said. “We’re a humble group of students. Instead of outward, it’s time to start looking inward. I would boost that number up for guys and girls.”
Maybe Yalies’ outward insecurity can be attributed to geography. All 10 schools listed on Playboy Magazine’s most recent ranking of colleges with the hottest girls were in the South or the West. Girls at Southern schools are well-known among college students for their blonde hair, tan skin, mini skirts, stilettos and perpetually made-up faces. But Miller, who is from Alabama, said she believes Yale girls compare favorably to those she has seen at Southern schools.
“Any of the girls here could compete,” she said. “At Yale, we just don’t prioritize appearance as much.”
But other students said they think a 6 might be a bit high for the female population at Yale.
“I don’t think Yale girls get a 6,” Dunn said. “It’s a little lower in my mind. I think a lot of girls here feel like they don’t have to care about doing their hair, makeup, etc.”
Seibel said she has heard complaints from Yale males about the strength of the dating pool. Guys at Yale, she said, often complain about having to put on “Yale goggles” when they come to campus, implying that the only way to be attracted to women at Yale is to live in a hazy world where the standards of hotness are just taken down a few notches.
Krinsky, however, said she does not believe the myth to hold true.
“Everyone says that women at Yale are less attractive,” she said. “Just wait until you get to Myrtle Beach and the guys take off their shirts and are all pasty and the girls are all fit.”
Whatever Yalies rate themselves, beauty is truly in the eye — goggled or not — of the beholder.
“If the standard for a 10 is skinny, pale, dark hair and glasses, then everyone here is a perfect 10,” Kimes said.
Can’t get no satisfaction
As many Yalies yearn for that special someone month after month without closing the deal, sexual frustration has become a reality many students have come to terms with.
“Yalies are sexually frustrated,” Dunn said. “People just don’t want to admit it.”
Though today’s Yalies may be working to downplay their sexual frustrations, the situation on campus has not always been this way. Five years ago, a group of Yalies decided not only to accept their sexual frustration, but to do so
mething about it. In a story that has since been canonized as a Comedy Central movie, members of the undergraduate organization Porn ‘N Chicken — a club, as described in a 2001 News article, that “hosts periodic gatherings featuring pornographic movies and copious amounts of fried chicken” — decided to make a pornographic movie of their own. Though “The Staxxx” was never finished, Andi Young ’02 gave an interview to the News detailing her involvement in a female-female sex scene, and a trailer for the movie featuring students apparently having sex in Sterling Memorial Library was shown on campus in April 2001.
Whatever the reasons for the sexual dissatisfaction among the student body, Lewis said he thinks the level of sexual frustration is definitely “high.”
Perhaps male Elis just suffer from a deficit of dating skills.
“Guys are more sexually frustrated here I think,” Kimes said. “Most of them just don’t have game. But if a girl wants it, she can get it, assuming she doesn’t have standards.”
Krinsky argued that Yalies may, in fact, not give themselves enough credit. In general, Yale men and women might compare favorably to those at other schools in terms of sexual activity, she said.
“Yalies just have this self-deprecating image,” she said. “We like to say people aren’t good looking here or that we don’t have sex. But I think, if you really looked at it, we’re not that different than anyone else.”