It’s a scene repeated in the dark basements of frat houses across the country. The floors are covered with thick layers of congealed fruit juices and alcohol, the stickiness of which will tug at a girl’s stilletos and often pull them right off their feet. Somewhere in the room there’s a makeshift bar, usually a folding table, where the “sober” frat boys in bright orange vests serve jungle juice and Dixie cup shots – equivalent to about three regularly sized shots, but who’s counting? There’s a big open area and, quite likely, a stage of some type. All fraternities believe the best way to attract sorority girls is to have a raised surface for them to dance on once the buzz sets in. The girls are happy to oblige.
Club music blasts through the sound system. It’s not the frat boy’s preferred style, believing it’s only for girls and gays, but these parties are designed to appeal to women anyway so the guys can tolerate one or two nights a week without their manly grungy alt rock. Of course, there’s a game of beer pong going on, too.
The roles are so defined they almost seem rehearsed.
The basement is empty until it’s not. No self-respecting girl would show up alone, and more often than not the girls come in groups of fifteen or twenty, with cleavage bearing tank tops and mini skirts, despite the cold temperatures outside. To alleviate the awkwardness that inevitably comes with a near-empty frat house, the girls beeline to the bar and take two or three Dixie cup shots, too impatient to wait for the effects to hit them before taking another one. Then they hit the dance floor.
The boys outnumber the girls. Always. A sorority has about fifty girls per pledge class, whereas there are only about eighteen in a fraternity. It would be unfair to say that everyone has the same motive at these parties, but many of the guys, especially freshmen guys, have only one goal – to get laid. It doesn’t quite matter who it is, as long as she’s hot. And with the beer goggles and the dark lights, they’re all hot enough.
We are living in an era of instant gratification. That isn’t a bad thing but it does complicate the politics of sex. With apps like Tinder and this skewed male-to-female ratio at frat parties, college girls are well aware that the guy she’s talking to can easily move on to the next girl if she poses a slight challenge for him. Does she mention she doesn’t do hook ups? Does she push him away when he tries to make out with her on the dance floor? Does she have a boyfriend? He turns around and walks away without a second thought.
The “hook up culture” has posed many debates over whether this is a moral decline in society or sexual liberation. It certainly is sexually liberating – women have needs too, and now at least we don’t have to suppress them. Exploration is encouraged. However, women simply do not have the upper hand in the hook up culture and that’s partially our fault. We have what the guys want yet we allow them to dictate it’s worth. Double standards of “he’s a stud, she’s a slut,” still very much exist. Even if a woman decides on her own terms that she wants to have several one night stands, her reputation is affected in ways that a man acting in the same way would not have to deal with. They’re both looking for instant gratification but only she pays a price for it and ironically, it’s women themselves who have played a large role in the slut-shaming that exists. By labeling your sisters as ‘sluts’ if they’ve embraced their sexuality, you’ve suppressed yours.
The lines are blurry. Dating is confusing. In fact, it can hardly be called dating. Every morning, conversations between girlfriends are always the same: “Did you hook up with him? Do you think I should text him? I should wait for him to text me, right?” It’s the catch-22. We have to act aloof, pretend we don’t care, in order to convince him that he shouldn’t move on. As a result, no one gets what they want because no one is saying what they want. The people who genuinely don’t want a relationship are having sex with those who do, because no one is being honest about their intentions. There may be debate about whether the hook up culture is a good thing or not, but ultimately it’s detrimental if the consenting participants aren’t on the same page. I’m not going to advocate for “the good old days,” because there’s freedom now that didn’t exist in the past. But the sexual liberation needs to be tempered with honesty and girls need to shake free of any underlying guilt for doing what’s natural.
Women should be able to hook up as often and with as many guys (or girls) they choose without being tarnished with perjorative labels. They should also be able to hold out for the perfect guy and fairy tale relationship without being labled a prude. Women have the power to make this happen. Defend your sisters no matter what path they’ve chosen in the sexual arena of the hookup culture. We’ve earned that right.
In the 1980s teen classic The Breakfast Club, the character Allison says, “If you haven’t, you’re a prude. If you have, you’re a slut. It’s a trap.” Ultimately, no woman (or man) should ever feel shamed for what they want. Games are for kids, not college students.