In every article I read espousing the culture of the “senior washed-up girl,” I sense a distressing sadness. Someday, decades from now when the beauty of our youth has faded, I want every Yale woman to be able to say she fought for more than the freedom to hook up indiscriminately and care for nothing as she rode out her final days of college.
We have about five weeks until we graduate and are “scattered across the globe like dandelion seeds” (as a friend poetically put it). I am completely perplexed as to why anyone wouldn’t want to spend that time evolving into a creature that is the best version of herself.
I’ll make an analogy to cigarettes since I think that American culture has finally reached a point where nearly everyone understands that smoking is a shortcut to death. When I hear upperclassmen, male or female, boast about how little they plan to care about anything until after graduation when they get to “real life,” I imagine a group of chain-smokers who repeatedly tell their friends and family that they’ll quit the habit when they’re ready, while the people who love them know they’re just being lazy.
Life is not going to get any more real than right now. In fact, I would gamble more than a few penny drinks at Toad’s that life is going to become significantly less interesting and more difficult when we’re off working jobs in places where not everyone is as introspective and forward-thinking as a class of Yale seniors. It is going to be harder to take off the sweatpants and put down the wine when you’re alone in your unpacked apartment divided from the support group of friends you’ve come to rely on during the last four years.
What’s been fueling this habit of procrastination is the idea that there’s something positive to be gained from occasional indifference, but what keeps coming back in all these “SWUG” articles is an abstract dissatisfaction with the amount of attention women receive with regards to hookups and dating. I think everything in the world traces back to a universal desire for love. The current debate is no different. There’s a hilarious notion going around that we’ve lost something desirable since our freshman year in exchange for an undefined concept of “wisdom” which excuses us from being role models for the underclassmen.
I don’t believe in unconditional love. At least, not between friends and lovers. I believe it exists between parents and their children, and I believe that is the only place it should exist. I want conditional love. I want the person I’m seeing to challenge me to become something greater than I thought I could be, and I want to do the same for him. I’m not saying we can never be weak, but what good is unconditional love if it means my future husband will still care about me if I cheat on him with a dozen people or neglect our children?
I’m extrapolating, but the point I’m trying to get across is that women today need to stop excusing themselves. The vague culture of “feminism” is becoming a crutch that our generation has been leaning on for too long. Inherent in the conversation is an extremely unattractive and childish sense of entitlement. “I’m a woman, so I deserve it all: casual sex, expensive dates, eventually an adorable family and a high-profile career.”
I don’t want it all because I know the things I most deeply desire explicitly rule out certain experiences in life.
I wish I could more dramatically get across how frustrating it is to see people, not just women, fail to understand that choices become meaningful when you resolve to sacrifice one opportunity in favor of another. At the heart of it, everyone has a subconscious understanding of his or her own internal preferences, and I think the slow realization that pursuing casual sex is a very weak strategy for finding love is what has triggered this intense rationalization for superficial, attention-seeking apathy.
As a class of incredible senior women, we need to own up to our actions. The contemporary feminist is not the girl who “has it all,” she’s the woman who’s taken stock of her personal preferences and maintained a strong sense of loyalty to her identity as a feminine individual — regardless of what society has told her is “empowering.”
Ultimately, despite the distortions made by the media, I think we all understand what our time here meant together. My freshman self was a mere shade of who I am today. Now it is time for us to change again. It is time for us to grow up.
Alexandra Lin is a senior in Pierson College. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org .