College girls have been assigned a daunting task: Change the hook-up culture.
From Susan Patton, who suggests that we start looking for a husband in college, to Senior Washed Up Girls, who seek to reject that — and guys in general — in favor of wine whining, the consensus is young women must adjust their attitude one way or the other.
At the risk of sounding trite, it takes two to tango, so why do women have to be the variable?
If the snarky online reaction to the popularization of SWUG is any indication, the prevailing message is that women should stop feeling sorry for themselves and just lower their standards. Because unless you settle, you’ll be alone.
A quick primer on SWUG: The acronym started as a sort of inside joke among a group of Yale senior girls a few years ago. It was supposed to be a funny, positive, “I’ve stopped caring” philosophy.
But somewhere along the line, it became more about self-pity and sweatpants than sisterhood, and it received media attention. Now, SWUG is the object of almost-universal eye-rolling, being written off as an Ivy League brand of senioritis reserved for sexually frustrated girls.
I understand how pretentious the SWUG idea sounds, but it’s really just an annoyingly elitist variation of whatshouldwecallme, Liz Lemon and female friendship.
So what if girls want to have fun without going to a frat party or a bar? Why should girls feel guilty about hanging out with friends and choosing not to engage in a social scene that, by senior year, has lost its novelty?
Maybe the tone of the SWUG idea has become a little jumbled as it’s transitioned through the news, but at the core of it is female friendship. There’s something to be said for fostering friendships in college, not just potential marriages. And since when is friendship a joke?
Sure, SWUGs promote an extreme and somewhat petulant response to a problem showing little signs of changing. But the media’s response has been equally extreme insomuch as it has been applied to all college women — not just SWUGs — who are frustrated with the hook-up culture, a concern which in and of itself is substantial. It feels unfair to discredit the dissatisfaction of some girls by saying that they’re the problem.
The implication is that women are doing something wrong in not being on a constant search for a boyfriend. It’s our fault that the current state of dating is so screwed up.
I don’t understand why it’s laughable that girls want to hang out with a bunch of other girls and drink and not get dressed up and just chill. That sounds a lot like bro culture to me, but no one writes articles blaming bros for declining marriage rates.
My point is not to put all the blame on men, but I do find it troublesome that women are so unevenly the subject of criticism in the media. If the SWUG backlash is any indication, the ringing message seems to be that girls aren’t allowed be apathetic when it comes to dating.
Maybe we’re hesitant to turn a critical eye towards the behavior of guys because it conjures up the idea of bra-burning radicals. Maybe the whiny tone of certain Tumblrs and shows like HBO’s “Girls” make young women easy targets.
But by prescribing and categorizing the lifestyles within the female sex exclusively, we create divisions. Girl power isn’t the solution, but maybe it’s a start. We’re being too hard on ourselves — either blaming women for being too promiscuous or too highly strung — and letting guys off the hook.
I don’t see why young women need to accept this. The message seems to be, “Boys will be boys, but girls should start acting more like ladies.” It’s ironic how much Susan Patton and media outlets that make fun of SWUGs actually have in common.
The early twenties are an exciting, interesting part of life in which you meet a lot of people and experience new things. But without friends with whom you can commiserate and wear sweatpants, what’s the point?
Rachel del Valle is a College junior from Newark, N.J. Her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her @rachelsdelvalle. “Duly Noted” appears every Tuesday.Comments powered by Disqus
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