Yes, We can Play that Game, Too: Considering “Sex on Campus” and the “Plight” of the 20-Something Female

It’s all on us, isn’t it? The “us” being women under 35 and “it” being the fate of romantic relationships, and therefore, the modern family.

I'm so over it.
I’m so over it.

If you’re been keeping track of the New York Time’s Sunday Style section and the Atlantic Monthly of late, you’ve probably noticed a slew of pieces examining the current state of the dating world. The choices and mindsets of single women seem to garner the most attention. The verdict, it would appear, is that we’re the ones directing the dynamics of contemporary relationships based on how we decide to answer a handful of questions:

Do we engage in casual, no strings attached sex?

Do we purely practice monogamy?

Do we wed early?

Do we focus on careers first, family later?

Do we try to “have it all?”

Frankly, I’ve had enough… Leave me alone. The kids are alright, I tell you.

In this past Sunday’s NYTimes, in a piece entitled “She Can Play That Game Too,” writer Kate Taylor reported on the sex lives of college-aged woman enrolled in UPenn. Taylor seemed to give a fairly straight forward account of the mindset of the Ivy Leaguers who applied cost-benefit analysis to their romantic encounters and generally considered college a stepping-stone and vital life-directing period of resume-building. Surviving those 4 years with honors under their belts didn’t exclude also earning notches on their bedposts, but made seeking serious romantic relationships a low priority on the totem pole.

I flashed back to my own Ivy League college days.

My future was mine to mold... or make a total mess of
My future was mine to mold… or make a total mess of

I was an economics major — you bet I applied cost-benefit analysis to dating (and well, to everything else… and everything, including men, got rated in terms of its “utility.”) But more significantly, like the women Taylor interviewed, I realized the stakes were high. I had a very unique opportunity. I was a Division 1 college athlete and in 4 years, I would have a degree from one of the most lauded universities in the world. The molding clay that was future had been handed to me on a silver platter and I had all the power in the universe to turn it into a masterpiece.

I could also make a total muck of it.

And let me tell you, making a muck of it was far easier.

I’ll always remember that night during my final week as an undergraduate when one of my best male friends took my hand and said to me: “I’m so proud of you and happy for you for everything you’ve accomplished. But our relationship could have been very different if you’d been around more.”

Your first question is probably: Do I have any regrets?

My answer: Absolutely not.

I’m 19. I’ve Never Had a Job. Oh, But I’m Supposed to Know What I want in a Husband?

What irked me the most about this article was the seeming pressure it put on women to make-up their minds in their early 20s, or hell, even late teens about how their life was going to unfold.

And Susan Patton wonders why young women are cautious about getting married and pregnant young
And Susan Patton wonders why young women are cautious about getting married and pregnant young

Susan Patton, who was widely quoted as the “anti-feminist” in the article was disappointed when she asked a class of Princeton undergraduate females if they wanted kids and a family and met hesitation.

Susan Patton is absurd.

Today’s young women are the witnesses of an increasing divorce rate and pre-nups, and the beneficiaries of new job sectors. This is not the generation of my mother, who was married at 18, went through college a wife and left her country and family to follow her husband’s career.

Are you surprised a teenager or 20-something would proceed with caution when it comes to committed relationships?

What I learned in college, burning the midnight oil on papers, clocking my hours at practice, writing for the college newspaper, and making friends more important than lovers, was who I was and what was genuinely important to me.

At 21, no boyfriend was going to figure that out for me.

I wish I could say I went to Columbia to find a rich husband — of course if I did, my 6 years on campus would have been a complete and utter failure. But I went there to find me, Kathleen.

So, mission accomplished.

How do you like them apples, Susan Patton?

4 thoughts on “Yes, We can Play that Game, Too: Considering “Sex on Campus” and the “Plight” of the 20-Something Female

  1. Thank you thank you thank you! I have had to stop reading those articles all together. No, I do not have my romantic life figured out in any meaningful way, but I do have a career path and amazing friends from uni and grad school (and grad school again). And I know myself so much better than I could have.

    I don’t think I’d even want to date someone who dated me 10 years ago.

  2. Julie

    I couldn’t agree more!! I started reading that article over the weekend and after the first 2 pages I was so pissed I didn’t want to keep reading. I thought it was so judgemental and made it sound like women should go to college to find a husband and not to learn and start building a career, or as you said it, to find themselves. I’m glad you didn’t feel like that either 🙂

  3. Kathleen

    EXACTLY! Over the last year, I have some how reconnected with or actually dated a good number of the guys that caught my interest as an undergrad — who I might have been interested in dating or had a crush on when I was a freshly minted 20-something. The bottom line was they weren’t right for me then and for different reasons, they’re not right for me now.


    “The One that Got Away” from our college days actually showed up on my doorsteps a few months ago. (This is the guy that was the impetuous for They Told Me to Find a Rich Husband) I always thought he had so much potential to be someone really successful, a real standout. But, our lives had moved in completely different directions — he had more or less dead-ended and I was still on an upswing, professionally and “in life.” I thought: if we had made it as a couple, whose “level” would have won out? Would I have brought out the best in him? Or would I have settled for a less ambitious path?

  4. Pingback: Giving Up the Gun, Or What the Psychic Said | They Told Me to Find a Rich Husband

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