“I am eighteen years old. I am a female college freshman. I am naive, energetic, and absolutely obsessed with boys.
When I moved to college, I understood the stigmas everyone warned me about: binge drinking, the freshman fifteen, failing class, never calling home. But one aspect in which I felt utterly unprepared for was the hookup culture, the casual sex that permeates my campus and, now, my life. No alcohol awareness course, gym schedule, monogrammed agenda, or homesickness remedy could ready me for what sex means in college in 2017. I started having “just because” sex, meaningless and unattached hookups, in my first week of classes and now, on the airplane home for fall break, I feel such a need to reflect on my newfound sex life that I’m typing on the notes app of my iPhone, which is at a meager 20%. My laptop, my preferred utensil, is dead, and I don’t have my other preferred utensil, paper.
I am torn on how I feel about my newfound sexuality. On one hand, I feel free. My ability and choice to sleep with attractive boys and men is a slap in the face to the friend who called me “eternally alone” or the boys who joked that I was too prude in high school. It’s interesting to me that this is perhaps what makes me the most satisfied of all of my encounters, yet the people back home who teased me about my lack of sexual experience have no idea where I sleep or who with. Casual sex makes me feel more desirable. A boy finds me hot and normal enough to have sex with for release and fun. I like being that quick fix. Beyond that, though, sex is another layer of independence. Just like I can drink, smoke, or wear anything I’d like to now, I can hook up with anyone I want, at virtually any time I want, as long as he’s interested and consented. Such an instantaneous connection, which, unsurprisingly, fits my generation’s need for urgency and availability, to the most intimate connection, fills me with a sense of power that I never had before move-in. And power is a factor too. The longstanding argument that sex is power and power is sex comes to mind. There is a thrill in having so much control over a boy just because we’re having sex or have had it already. I have learned how to master men, even if just for a minute or two of pure bliss, when, four months ago, their flippant comments and idiotic actions mastered me.
Of course, boys still can rule my emotions and my actions. I just know how to take my mind off those feelings for a quick hookup or night away from my own bed. Now that I know how much they’ll sacrifice for sex, though, I feel even more convinced that boys of my generation are never going to be the men I want them to grow up to be. I don’t need to be even more disheartened about finding a soulmate in s country where the divorce rate hovers around 50%. I swell with the pride and satisfaction of having such power over a man while or after we have sex, but I also often feel powerless. All a boy might want me for is sex, and I can give that to him, but I can’t give him a desire to date me or spend time with me outside the bedroom. There’s also the backwards concept of having sex partially just to spite the people, male and female, who once mocked me for not doing it. I should be having sex for me, not for anyone else, and I am, but I’m thinking about those naysayers a little bit every time I collect my things from the latest dorm tile or fraternity house carpet. And I do feel sexy and wanted because guys want to have sex with me, but, at the same time, being the girl they depend on for a no strings attached lay and not the one they bring home on breaks with them tanks my self-esteem. It can be frustrating to only see someone I find hot or otherwise attractive in some way when they’re drunk, lonely, or simply bored.
Yet I have a roster of guys I find myself texting to hang out with when I’m drunk, lonely, or simply bored. I am used, and I use them.
This is sex in college today, and it is full of contradictions; fulfillment and emptiness, power and helplessness, brightness and bleakness, independence and entrapment. It is a sizable part of my life on campus, and it is what keeps me up at night… in more ways than one.”