I Consider Alcohol Wasted If I Don't Makeout by Nellwyn Lampert
“I consider alcohol wasted if I don’t make-out with anyone”.
I said this as a joke, but I was seriously deep into my college party-girl phase and it was at least a little bit true.
People always underestimate me in that department because I read books and bake pies, but by the time I turned nineteen I was determined to finally come out as a sex goddess.
We live in a culture that inherently associates happiness and freedom with sexual liberation and a satisfying sex life. The idealized definition of sexual liberation and satisfaction that we have all internalized is drawn from the examples we see, both in the mainstream media and among our social circles.
But it isn’t just the Evil Media and Popular Mean Girls painting a strange sexualized picture of the “perfect” woman. Feminism and the sexual liberation movement of the 1960s has also told women that being in control of your sexuality is part of being independent and equal with men. The freedom to be openly sexual has become an important part of how many of us express our social and political liberation.
“I consider alcohol wasted if I don’t make-out with anyone.”
I said this during a PGA to make my friends laugh. PGA was short for “Post-Game Analysis.” Every morning after a party, my roommate and I would roll out of bed into our sweatpants and meet up with the rest of our girlfriends to hash out the events of the previous evening. Who went home with whom. Who broke the towel-rack in the bathroom. Who couldn’t remember bits of the night and needed to be caught up.
I rolled my eyes when I said it, but what was the point of getting dressed up and pouring poison down your throat if you weren’t going to get a little action?
The girls all laughed like I’d hoped. Maybe I had gotten to the bottom of why we all binge drink on a regular basis. After all, when was the last time any one of us single girls had sex sober?
Alcohol gave me confidence. It made me feel sexy. It made it easier to talk to people I didn’t know very well. It made me fun.
I believe we binge-drank for all those reasons, but we tended to sum it up with just three words: drinking is fun. Until I opened my big mouth and said what I believed we were all thinking: drinking makes it easier to hookup with guys.
We were all still laughing at my wry-but-truthful humour when one of the girls whipped out a sharpie and a piece of paper. She copied down what I said and taped it up on the wall of their kitchen with my name attached.
Sure. I thought. Let everyone know I’m funny and can take an honestly self-aware look at the realities of campus culture. I was sure that I wasn’t the only one who used alcohol to help them have sex.
When it comes to hooking-up and the pursuit of a sexually-experienced and liberated identity, our perceptions of sexual norms in our social circle play an important role.
The often cited Online College Social Life Survey, conducted between 2005 and 2011, concluded at 72% of college students had engaged in a hook-up by senior year. Another study conducted by the Institute for American Values found that hooking-up has “largely replaced traditional dating on college campuses”, and that 91% of college women believed that hookups occurred ‘very often’ or ‘fairly often’ on their campus.”
The girls in my social circle were hooking up regularly and every detail was discussed at our Post Game Analyses. Casual sex was the norm, and since I wasn’t having any sex at all, I had developed the habit of flinging myself at any guy who looked at me sideways.
Despite meticulous re-capping at our PGAs, it wasn’t long before we realized we were starting to lose track, not just of who had made out at a party, but even of who in our social circle had slept together. Being the stellar high-achieving academics that we were, we resorted to the ultimate scientific method: colour-coded charts. We wrote the names of everyone in our regular crowd in a circle and drew lines connecting us all based on our past liaisons. When we’d finished, we taped it up on the wall right next to my famous quote. I stepped back and took a look. Despite still being a virgin, I had a shocking number of lines fanning out from my name. I was a finalist in the game of make-out promiscuity and I’d never even seen an adult man without his clothes on. For some reason, I felt pleased. If I were ever concerned about my popularity, the proof of my social status was hanging right there on the wall. I was sexuality desirable and each one of those lines on that chart was proof that I was attractive enough for man to want me. At least for a little while.
The way sex is constructed in our society makes it a key factor in how we perceive ourselves and where we are placed in the social strata. As Rachel Hills says pointedly in The Sex Myth, “Sex is not just physical, but symbolic, employed as a barometer of the success of our relationships and the degree to which other people want to be intimate with us. It serves as a proxy for our physical attractiveness and how well we fit in with the people around us.” Although it may be a very flawed way of looking at the world, physical attractiveness and “fitting in” are some of our favourite indicators of popularity.
From a scientific standpoint, a study on the relation between sex and social status done by psychologists at Yale University found that students “who reported sexual activity had high levels of reputation-based popularity.”
We are post-modern feminists and we are not ashamed of our sexual liberation. We are in control of our bodies and we have no regrets.
All that was true, but the chart also made us seem cool, popular, desirable, fun and beautiful.
So we left our sex chart up on the wall for all to see.