It is apparent that there will be no consequences for the authors of the now infamous “Preseason Scouting Report.” If there is a silver lining to this unfortunate stunt, it is that the incident brought to light deeper issues in the Yale community, and perhaps with our generation at large.
The Women’s Center, with the support and alliance of several other groups on campus, including Yale’s Athletic Administration, Dwight Hall and the Black Women’s Coalition, hosted an event that brought together diverse members of the student body and administration to, as the title suggested, “Talk about Sex at Yale.” The talk emphasized not angry accusations but thoughtful discussion, not reactionary measures but workable solutions.
When asked to investigate issues of sexual culture at Yale, discussion members consistently agreed on one particular problem of campus life: Yalies don’t know how to date. We don’t know how to ask someone out during the day, while sober. We don’t know how to treat someone after a sexual encounter. We don’t know how to balance a hyperactive work life with a serious relationship and friends. Judging from some stories, a substantial portion of the population may not even know enough about basic anatomy to give any kind of pleasure that isn’t pure luck. We’re sure there are some dating-savvy kids out there, we just haven’t met you yet.
No wonder some people get so desperate. Hook-up culture assumes that sloppy, drunken sex every other Saturday night should satiate collegiate hormones for four years. Frankly, even if you’re just looking for the brief elation of orgasm, this isn’t the way to find it. It’s hard to tell your partner about your desires and preferences when you’re slurring your words. Would anyone prefer to wake up next to a surprise someone than a person he knows and likes? I don’t imagine that anyone performs better under the classic hook-up circumstances than in a well-lit, sober rendezvous. If good sex — pleasurable, healthy, delicious and perhaps even consistent sex — is the goal, we need to take a serious second look at how we approach the situations that get us there.
Beyond the failure of the hook-up culture to provide decent sex, it also reinforces incorrect assumptions about the fabric of our sexual culture. Even the assumption that everyone in the 18-to-24 range would like to be (or already is) sexually active prevents meaningful discussion for anyone who might feel otherwise. Many people come to Yale without receiving anything close to comprehensive sexual education, physical or emotional. There’s no shame in not knowing and asking questions.
We owe it to each other to start conversations, not to set up divisions. We have the Executive Committee to air our complaints about sexual misconduct. Why isn’t there a parallel forum for sharing positive sexual experiences and advice? Sure, the recent Gradification prank invited a little too much information, but exchanging dating advice and relationship tips to incoming freshmen might not be a bad idea.
This is an issue of sexual respect and sexual equality. Critics of feminism often claim that since the barriers to gender equality have come down, any remaining disparities result from women’s inferior efforts. But the removal of a wall does not result in full leveling of the playing field. Yes, co-education is now in its 40th year here at Yale. That still gives us a two hundred year handicap.
I am not saying that the issue of sexual culture at Yale should break down along gender lines. Beyond the negative liberty offered by hands-off inclusion policies, sexual equality could be achieved through structural changes that actively encourage collaboration and communication.
We need comprehensive sex and dating education. And not just a one-hour special during our first Camp Yale or the playful biennial sensation of Sex Week, but consistent and concrete programming available at every point of our on-campus careers. While serious issues, like STIs and sexual assault, need to be covered, we should also receive sex and relationship-positive materials. Suggestions for good date locations, sexual etiquette and basic anatomy could begin to solve the problem. We need to be as smart in our sex lives as in our academic ones.
Alice Buttrick is a senior in Jonathan Edwards College.
Update, Nov. 19: The headline of this column has been changed from “Better sex with fewer hook-ups” to “Taking sexual education seriously.”