There are coping mechanisms you invariably adopt during a dry spell. You rationalize it: Has it really been that long? Have there really been any eligible candidates? You download Tinder, delete Tinder, redownload Tinder, change your settings, swipe through and realize that your hometown Tinder is not what you had remembered it to be when you were swiping through the slim pickings of Ithaca Tinder. When an interaction with a member of the preferred sex doesn’t end in the wondrous, distant land of Hookup, you wonder, like Cher from Clueless when she was rejected by, as it turns out, a gay man did my hair get flat? Did I stumble into some bad lighting? What’s wrong with me?
The one break in the dry spell was my second hookup with a guy I had met in early May, and it was unsatisfactory, to put it mildly. Sometimes, you end up Ubering home, listening to Billie Eilish on the radio, wondering how you ended up giving an unreciprocated blowjob, something you had previously managed to avoid in all of your slutty Cornell days. Worse, you gave said blowjob to a guy who doesn’t own glasses or mugs, a shower curtain or a charger, in exchange for a glass of $100 champagne, drunk out of a Solo cup, and a couple of hits from a bong. Despite that, you still end up high and dry.
The dryness resumed. I rebranded. It’s not a dry spell; it’s a Boy-cott. This is Hot Girl Summer.
Hot Girl Summer, coined by Megan Thee Stallion, is “women and men being unapologetically them, hyping up their friends, just having a good-ass time.” Move over Western Beauty Standards, step aside Kim Kardashian: Being confident in who you are and what you do is the new Hot. Living my best life, sans boys, would make my summer.
Hot Girl Summer isn’t about the male gaze, not explicitly, but Hot, practically synonymous with fuckable, implies its presence. Being confident and having a good-ass time is the means to an end- fuckability. It’s so easy to believe that who you are is fundamentally related to your appearance, especially because hook-ups are often based on snap judgments and rejection is frustratingly opaque and likely impersonal.
The longer I lived without hooking up, the more I realized how toxic the microcosm of Cornell Hook Up Culture, exacerbated by my participation in Greek Life, make my life. Thinking and talking about hooking up as often as I did at Cornell made me always conscious of how I presented to boys, whether or not I was attractive or cool enough.
The dry spell reminded me that my face and my body aren’t for the judgment and consumption of others. I don’t care if I am ugly or if I gain weight. There’s no reason to care about these things when you stop treating your appearance as a performance for potential hookups. As more time separated me from Cornell, I realized that the itch to hook up every so often was an effect of hook-up culture, in which we always talk about the sex and the boys. Everyone is some kind of potential sex object, placed somewhere on the spectrum of fuckability. How much did I truly want to hook up with those boys, how much did I enjoy it? Uncomfortable questions to ask, especially since college boys notoriously hardly know what they’re doing. If you think that isn’t about you, it probably is.
Hot Girl Summer shouldn’t be seeking beauty, hotness, fuckability, which are inevitably and irrevocably defined by someone else, someone with more power. Instead, let’s call a spade a spade. Let’s have an Ugly Girl Summer and have a good-ass time. Or, as my friend put it, Girl With Unique Features Summer. Girl Who Doesn’t Give a Shit About Whether Or Not She’s Hot Because She Has Better Things To Do (Have You Seen Her Google Calendar?) Summer.
This summer — this hot, humid, yet dry summer — demonstrated to me that not only is hooking up not an integral part of my life, but that I am better off without its influence. As the dry spell inevitably ends and the regularly scheduled random hookups begin, I hope that I’ll remember that whether I am hot or fuckable in no way determines the sum of who I am.
The Hoeletariat is a student at Cornell University. Afterthots runs monthly this semester. Sex on Thursday appears every other Thursday.