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Ellen Meyers Headshot

No, We Can't Play the Game

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The New York Times article "Sex on Campus: She Can Play That Game, Too" by Kate Taylor and the responses from journalists, college students and specialists left me confused, frustrated and scared. What are my friends and I supposed to think about hooking up and relationships as we enter our freshman year of college this fall?

The article contains priceless accounts from University of Pennsylvania women, who either only used their first name or just one initial. None of these women wanted to use their actual names "because they believed that talking publicly about sex could come back to haunt them -- by damaging their reputations at Penn, their families' opinions of them or their professional future." Though understandable, it's sad. It proves that we may be able to play the game, but we're always at a disadvantage.

The rules contradict each other and the playing field is clearly unleveled. Worst of all, this game promotes slut-shaming, and Taylor highlights the problem without actually addressing it through the women's contrasting stories. One student, A., admits she couldn't be sober and hang out with her hook up while another girl, Mercedes, didn't have her first kiss until her junior year. It sets both up for judgment and ridicule. The article's comment section will show that it does as the world has the right to comment on how these women should pursue lust or love.

All that the article teaches me is that in this game, no matter what female college students do, we lose. Do you want a relationship? You don't care about your studies or career. You could miss out on life-changing opportunities, all for the sake of one guy who may stick around or not. You're only here for your Mrs. Degree. Do you want to hook up? You're a slut. You're selfish, not wanting to take time out of your busy life to focus on someone else. You party all the time and don't realize how all that drinking is going to screw up your liver.

Is this mindset dumb? Yes, it is. But if you reflected on what you and your peers think of someone else's sexual activity and how much you gossip about it, you might realize how much we actually judge. This is something we've been wired to do.

We can't win. We will always be judged by how much or how little we play the game. The double standard prevails. Pretending that college women, or women of all ages, have equal footing in this game only worsens the problem.

So what should we do? Easy: don't play the game. It is a stupid concept people use to make you feel forced to give into someone else's sexual desires while allowing others to humiliate you. Let's all use common sense, be safe and screw what others have to say. We're all better than the slut-shaming, ridicule and gossip and we deserve better.