October 10, 2002

Mmmm Good

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The New York Times recently printed an article in which college newspaper sex columnists were profiled. Most notably, the article focused on my foil at Yale, Ms. Natalie Krinsky. It even had her picture next to the text! This all made me question my decision to remain somewhat anonymous. According to the article, Ms. Krinsky was hired because she can write, is funny, and is not easily embarrassed. I fit that description, I thought, maybe I should request my real name as a byline. And then I got to the end of the article. When asked if she’s ever had sex, Ms. Krinsky replies, “I can’t answer that.” I’m not saying she hasn’t, but you can draw your own conclusions. I’ve read her columns, and they’re funny, they get the job done — her sex life isn’t an issue. There was a line in Sister Act 2, spoken by Kathy Nijimy, playing a nun whose authority to teach sex education was questioned by one of her students. “You don’t have to taste the donut to know that it is sweet!” she retorts.

Well then, I’ve eaten a Krispy Kreme franchise’s worth of donuts, and that’s precisely why I initially didn’t want to write under my real name. I’m not ashamed of anything (or anyone) I’ve done, but I’m not the only one eating the donuts, so to speak. There are other people involved. I wanted to respect my partners’ anonymity by remaining anonymous myself. However, in the interest of journalistic integrity, I’ve decided to use my name, but refrain from using anyone else’s. So guys, if all your buddies see this column and recognize you in it, that isn’t my fault. Keep your damn mouth shut next time.

One winter night last year, my friend J. was talking to me about his roommates, and how their socialization styles varied wildly. “Roommate One goes to bed at like 10 every night so he gets his 11 hours,” said J., “Two is always with his girlfriend, and Three never comes home on the weekend until 5:30 in the morning.” I know for a fact Three is what we’d call a player. Why? Eh, the grapevine. He plays a lot. We’ve played together (until way later than 5:30 in the morning, thank you very much). But this does not make me a player too. According to his buddies, it makes me a lot of things, but it certainly does not make me a player.

So what makes Three a player, a title that conveys a certain amount of respect, and perhaps awe, while I (or any girl who hooks up more than rarely) cannot attain that status? I think it’s a combination of things. For one, lay-biology holds that women are supposed to be motherly and nurturing by nature, looking for that special someone to be a father for their child. We’re supposed to be the ninnies who worry about things like love and commitment. We’re the ones who apparently mistake sexual attention for genuine emotional affection. I’m no biology major, but I think, (ladies you’ll agree) that the special feeling you get when you see a fine male specimen at a fraternity’s after hours is not your body telling you that you want a long lasting emotional commitment. It’s your body’s way of telling you, “Ooh yeah, I want that one!”

Nonetheless, guys are players, girls are sluts. Can you think of a male equivalent of slut? Or a female equivalent of player? Sure, you can cross label people, for example, call someone a “male slut” (ya catch how I had to specify that the slut was male?), but somehow, it doesn’t quite ring true. When I tell people why I reject the label “slut,” I always have to qualify it: “I’m a party girl, sure. But I’m picky, and I have respect for myself. And I’m not expecting any sort of commitment.” I don’t pretend that the person with whom I hook up is going to be saying to his buddies the next morning, “Oh yeah, that Kate. What a great personality. She’s really cool. I’m so glad I got the opportunity to spend the night with such a great person.” If I hook up with someone, I’m just in it for the night.

Do I think there is such a thing as a slut? Yes. When I think of a slut, I think of someone who needs sex to make themselves feel better about who they are, and I feel sorry for them. Sluts are people who don’t care what the package looks like, as long as they get to unwrap it. A slut to me is someone who needs to somehow downplay what they’ve done (you know, the girl half a frat has seen naked, but who still titters “I don’t usually do this” as her bra is unhooked for the 3,407th time). A slut thinks she has to be pretend friends with every guy she’s hooked up with. This to me is silly. Why be nice? Be friendly if you want to past hookups, but honey, they’re not talking to you because of your great personality, so don’t fool yourself. And if you’re maintaining good relations in hopes of future, uh, business, trust me, they’ll come back if they dig your style.

This brings me to what my boy had to say when I whined to him about the double standard that prevents women from achieving player status. He says, “you have to give guys more props than girls when it comes to ‘playing,’ because for guys it requires some level of, I guess, talent to get a girl into bed. The guy has to employ some kind of salesmanship to seal the deal whereas a girl just has to be attractive and say, ‘Hey, you.’ If she wants to get laid she needs only to show up and sit back and let him do all the work. If he wants to get laid he has to have the looks then prove his worth through his wit. See, girls get to deal with horny idiots. A girl on a scam is like door-to-door elevator shoe salesman in munchkin land — it’s hardly a challenge.” Now, my boy is, I’d say, pretty average in his representation of male thought, and this is also a sentiment echoed by many of my guy friends. As my friend S. said, “Did a guy say hello to you today? Then you were offered sex.”

Basically, I guess it all comes down to that: it’s no challenge to bed your average guy, so why should the ladies get any respect for doing so? Granted, there are those of us who choose not to participate in this scene, and that’s fine. Congrats for not choosing the path of least resistance. But for those of us who do, why should we suffer? If we’re being safe and respecting our bodies, why are we labeled sluts and ho’s? Can we help it if guys are easy? Let the women play too!

Archived article by Kate McDowell