Today marks Day One of wild wantonness, lascivious lechery and salacious sensuality. Toads a-hopping, breasts a-jiggling, drunkards a-fiddling — this is the inauguration of Sex Week at Yale. But sadly, many will still have papers, midterms, and lots and lots of classes to go to. Fear not, O hapless souls! I think you’ll find that sex and relationships at Yale have a lot in common with our curricular activities.
Now, some of you will recall that I’ve recently written on a similar theme: similar, yes, but not quite exact. My opinion last semester was that love and life at Yale have succumbed to the fate of our extra-curricular activities — the stuff we do outside of the classroom. But I’ve come to a recent epiphany that, on the contrary, sex and relationships here actually bear a stunning resemblance to what we do during class. Beyond the obvious similarities of intellectual masturbation and ruthlessly penetrating impenetrable seminars, sex life at Yale can resemble such little things as taking a class Credit/D, gut classes and most of all, the infamous process for applying to those coveted summer internships.
Most people take a class Credit/D so that they can enjoy all the benefits of a class without having to worry about legitimate commitment. Much like a “low-key” relationship. So there’s the inevitable trade-off: You keep your partner, or, in this case, your TA (or sometimes both) sufficiently satisfied until he or she keeps your reputation, or grade, above a fail. The problem arises when people don’t know quite how much to commit. We’re all searching for those Elysian middle fields of just enough bang for just enough buck. That’s why we take things Credit/D in the first place; we don’t want to risk a grade that might affect our academic or sexual reputation.
Now, most people take gut classes (one-night stands), because, let’s face it, sometimes we just want an easy A (an easy lay). We search through evaluations, talk to our friends or even just read a forwarded e-mail to see what the effort required will likely be, and probably take it to fulfill a requirement: QR, Sc, post-Toad’s virginity loss, etc.
And it seems to me that nothing better expresses sex life at Yale than the tortuous application process for summer internships. We have preconceived ideas in our head of what (and whom) we wish to do. We act on it and, for all intents and purposes, apply. We then wait to hear back, except we hear back from different choices at different times, have tiny windows within which to choose and have to take a chance on waiting for our top choice. Who knows if we’ll get lucky.
This tricky combination of factors makes obtaining your top choice very rare, unless you are bold enough to apply to only one, deeming your credentials so high as to merit instant acceptance. Let us consider the case of a recent statement of purpose I stumbled across in Bass Library mistakenly not delivered to URS (University Relationship Services):
“Dear strong, single, independent female,
My name is Eli McBulldog and I am a recent graduate of Yale College. Your company seemed so wonderful when you and I met to get down to business last semester in the Lanman Center at Payne Whitney Gym.
I was very much impressed by your firm body of enterprise. I have a lot of experience: I have tried out many positions in a company as intimate as yours. I’m a real team player and can readily work with many people at the same time should that fulfill your needs. I have even learned to adapt under pressured circumstances and lie to people that I’ve successfully finished, when there’s a lot more to be done that I will later finish alone with greater efficiency.
I graduated “somuch cum laude” with a GPA (Graduating Promiscuity Average) of 3.97, and I believe I would be a strong, firm insertion into the goings-on at the core of your representative body.
All joking aside, we shouldn’t fall into the typical Yale trap of over-intellectualizing that which we should all just have a lot more of. Yes, Sex Week is great. But all these talks anesthetize us from the stark conclusion that not nearly enough people are focused on relationships and sex because of classes, or sorting out their summers. The two are by no means mutually exclusive.
Preparing for sex, or for class, or for summer, or for relationships is in fact all part of one great, big, enormous package.
Gabriel Perlman is a sophomore in Jonathan Edwards College.