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SEXIST BEATDOWN: Hot Co-Ed Sexual Mediocrity Edition

You know, you guys: it has been kind of a depressing week. What with everything being all POLANSKI! POLANSKI! POLANSKI and all, and the vast amounts of time we have all been forced to spend contemplating (a) child rape, (b) people getting away with child rape, and (c) the existence of people who fervently want someone to get away with child rape, I think that we could all use a break. A break to talk about something that is not child rape at all! A break to talk about CONSENSUAL SEXUAL RELATIONSHIPS!

Oh, no, wait, those are depressing too.

Specifically, they are depressing when viewed through the lens of College Sex Columns. The Nation says they are “radical!” Which, you know, maybe they were, in the Nineties, when the College Sex Columnists were all FETUSES, MY GOD. Right now, though, they are just some sexist heteronormative boring business dished out by privileged college students who can’t believe how many genitals they have had occasion to witness at close range since leaving Mom’s house!

Also, they all seem to be written by people with synonyms like “Buster Darkhole” and – my personal favorite – “Mr. Darcy,” who is apparently that dude that collects blow jobs from you while you have that debate about whether you are “dating” or “getting back together” or “possibly just having your emotional shit fucked around with while you are already apparently vulnerable, for evidence of which see: willingness to give jerks blowjobs” (oh, THAT dude – I went to college with him, TOO!) and will straight-up admit that shit in public like it is original thought-provoking news. (“A lady’s imagination is very rapid: it jumps from admiration to love, from love to administering various non-reciprocal oral favors to my genitals whilst I lead them on with the vague, elusive possibility of a relationship” is NOT, sadly, a line included in Darcy’s column. “You must allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love you, and wish – as I debate whether or not to commit to this relationship – to have various non-reciprocal oral favors administered to my genitals by you?” No? Oh, well. GOOD TRY, Mr. Darcy.) Anyway! College students talking about college sex, zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

Amanda Hess of The Sexist has done diligent research on the subject of College Sex Columnists, it turns out! And I will basically form a vehement opinion about anything! Join us, therefore, on this journey of knowledge.


ILLUSTRATION: “And have I mentioned that I’ve framed this as some contest between you and another lady without apparently telling you about it? Ha ha, GOD, I suck. Now, let’s get me a column and/or blowjob!” – A Line That Was Not In “Pride and Prejudice”

SADY: ah, the kids today. what are they up to? other than pretending they know enough about sex to write about it, OBVS, since the kids of many various days seem to believe the same thing.

AMANDA: also, inventing hilarious pseudonyms for themselves, like Rex Butthole or V. Gina

SADY: i know, right? or BUSTER DARKHOLE, Legitimate Writer and Giver of Mature Sexual Counsel… somehow, i just hold out the hope that Buster Darkhole is his real name and this is the only career path open to him.

AMANDA: hahaha

SADY: actually, as i read your summary, i was fondest of the work and pseudonym of MR. DARCY. i remember the third-act twist in Pride and Prejudice which mr. darcy exclaimed, “verily, miss bennet! our coffee date has involved a most unexpected oral manipulation of my genitals! yet i cannot refuse the fair lady Bingley, who is a superfreak in word and in deed!”

AMANDA: agreed, but at least mr. darcy is better than “layla,” the name of the female columnist. though i knew a lot of kids in college into eric clapton, so i guess it’s a cultural thing.

SADY: haha. but, you know, reading these things and your summary of them, i was reminded of (CURSE ME FOR UTTERING THE FORBIDDEN NAME) T*cker M*x. Somehow, it’s just not scandalous any more to note that ladies like to have sex and are having casual sex. Unless you are the Pope, in which case all sex scandalizes you to some degree or another. The Kids These Days are pro-sex, including the lady ones. but they’re also pro-ridiculously-conservative-gender-norms. and i had somehow hoped that making the point that ladies and dudes can both enjoy sex would change things. IT HAS NOT.

AMANDA: one idea i’ve seen in a couple of these stories (and from adults talking down to college-age people, too) is: yes, women like to have sex just as much as men do, but they have to not do it in order to be happy


AMANDA: because if they don’t not have sex they’ll never be in a relationship, which is what they REALLY want.

SADY: right. your vagina has to accumulate enough charge, through non-use, in order to work its Boyfriend-Entrapping powers on the dude of your choice.

AMANDA: i just read a chapter of a new book about young adult sexual experiences, ill remember the name later [ Laid: Young People’s Experiences with Sex in an Easy-Access Culture! Now you know!] and the introduction compared “hooking up” to a “microwave burrito” — you want it in the moment but eventually, you’re going to regret it. the book called casual sex “settling,” and insisted that good sex can only be had in committed relationships personally, i really like being in a relationship, but that is partly because i’m not only in the relationship so that i am ALLOWED TO HAVE SEX. i imagine this worldview just ends up with a lot of women settling into relationships with people they they don’t really like that also don’t provide great sex

SADY: yeah, and the mr. darcy column (i am sorry i keep returning to it! it fascinates me!) sets up the same good girl/bad girl paradigm. like, i COULD be with the girl who i might legitimately want a relationship with… or i could be with AWESOME SEXY TIMES lady. and, you know? it’s kind of sad to me that dudes still think this division exists. although hilarious that dude is puzzling out loud over how he wasn’t able to “settle down” as a damn college student.

AMANDA: i know. but then at the end, darcy is all, “you know what, maybe i can find a freaky girl that i love!” but you know he’s just gonna kinda keep fucking both of them. Whatever. that is the weirdest thing to me about the Concerns over the Hook-Up Culture. why should college students be encouraged to search out their Final Life-Long relationship among the first relationships they’ve ever had? that makes no sense, and neither does telling girls that hooking up will damage them. they can look for a boyfriend whenever they want to do that. or a girlfriend, which is one thing that none of these sex columns is really addressing

SADY: YEAH. it’s all boys sexing the girls, and ridiculous gender stereotypes of boys sexing girls, but these “sex” columns often seem more like the work of not terribly reflective or original straight college kids marveling over the fact that they can have sex and not worry about their moms overhearing them or showing up to offer suzy a ride home before it gets too late. but shouldn’t “sex” be a more, um, inclusive discussion than this thing about giggling over how you got SOOOO wasted and sexed up someone in your totes heterosexual manner last night?

AMANDA: of course, i would say yeah, but i can see why this happens. when you’re in college, those things are exciting to you, as a boring heterosexual person, even if its not terribly interesting to even, say, your classmates. it can be hard to look past your own experience when you’re first experiencing all these things. also, it can be hard to write when you’ve recently graduated from 5 paragraph essays.

SADY: oh, yeah. and, i mean, that’s cool and all. but it also – and i speak as someone who is ancient as the grave and yet remembers similar pressures from when i went to college – it creates this weird atmosphere on campus, where you ARE, to some degree, pressured to have enough casual sex to prove that you can do it and aren’t some clingy relationship-needing heterosexual female, yet you’re also a slut if you don’t eventually have a relationship, and you don’t exist, basically, if you’re queer.

AMANDA: yep.

SADY: like, it’s about “freedom,” and rebellion, but freedom can only ever take one pre-existing shape. by trying to make sex more public, you should be opening it up, but you end up writing a script for what sex should look like. which is not good for anyone, actually.

AMANDA: no, and it’s not particularly fun to read. which should be the main point. though i thought the American University anal sex column was getting there a little bit. at least Darkhole was all, “if you want her to put her finger in your butt, it’s cool, man.”

SADY: well, i mean, you have SEEN HIS NAME, right? he is buster darkhole! this is the column he was born to write!

AMANDA: yeah. I mean, it’s possible that Darkhole is a little too eager with the anal sex. i think i noted that the column didn’t mention the fact that like, it’s cool not to have anal sex, too.

SADY: maybe his full name is actually Buster Orhis Darkhole III.

AMANDA: i really want to score an interview with this person. but the AU column is an interesting approach because it is three people, two men and one lady, and i don’t know if there’s any gay or lesbian representation on that board, but that approach does open up the possibility of diversity, and not preaching one crazy person’s high school abstinence only education lessons to an entire campus. although god knows how they actually get together and write that thing.

SADY: yeah, i mean, i’m fond of the collaborative approach to all this. maybe if there were like FIFTEEN college sex journalists per campus (and there are probably enough candidates!) you might get one of them that is confident enough not to just say whatever they think will make them look cool and sexually experienced, middle-school style. and hey, maybe one or two that aren’t straight people! that would be fun! i mean, i am skeptical of the entire “sex expert” position. i’m a grown lady who has been thinking about this stuff for the majority of my grown lady life, and i’m still not an expert on how my OWN sexual relationships should go.

AMANDA: it’s interesting, because the Nation’s piece on student sex columns painted them as this really radical progressive movement. and i think there’s a confusion there, because people still think that “talking about sex” makes you a liberal and saying “people shouldn’t talk about sex” makes you conservative.

SADY: right! and i think it is an issue of the younger generation! battle lines have shifted a bit; now, EVERYBODY talks about sex, liberal and conservative and that’s kind of taken for granted. it’s what they say that is the issue. or, alternately, the fact that everybody who is given a platform to do so seems to say the same thing.

AMANDA: right. and i don’t know what Mr. Darcy or Ramm Bottomham’s political persuasion is, but I imagine there’s more political diversity in these columnists than there is actual sexual diversity. which is weird!

SADY: yeah. and, honestly, i think T. Otis Notavirgin or whatever are – MAYBE! JUST MAYBE! – feeling more pressure to seem in line with the most widely accepted version of College-Age Sexuality than to actually, seriously think about sex and maybe come up with some insights.

AMANDA: yeah, and seeing as whenever i happen to write about college students they all flood my comments with insights like, “gay,” or … “gay,” i can’t really blame them. college students are scrutinized over their sex lives, and college sex columnists must experience the worst of it.

SADY: Honestly! Here is what I think: I think that Buster Darkhole and Layla and Mr. Darcy and whoever are all filing these pieces that are like, “so I got totally WASTED! and had SEX! like PEOPLE MY AGE TEND TO DO!” then they are going home to make microwave popcorn and watch a movie and call their moms. and maybe ask someone out to a movie. that is what i believe. or hope?

AMANDA: i think they’re probably also silently weeping over the comments and/or getting shit from their friends.

SADY: oh, god yes. but, you know, if embarrassing college sex columns are what it takes to teach the young people about Dealing With The Terrible Mean Blog Comments That People Will Eventually Leave On Any Blog Ever, I think it’s a sacrifice worth making. sort of!


  1. Broggly wrote:

    I can’t say anything about my own uni’s (we antipodeans don’t usually refer to “college”, and really love diminunitives) supposed Sex Experts as there isn’t really a sex column in our magazine (although this might change with the newly elected editorial team), however even though I’m a first year I can see myself giving this Mr Darcy some advice like “If just having one girl is so hard, maybe you should talk to this girl you love about how she can be better in bed, or even bring up the possibility of a poly relationship? I mean it’s better than having to lie all the time”. Sure maybe I’m being naive but spending all your time juggling Julie wondering where you have to run off to with Natalie wondering where you’ve been can’t be good.

    Friday, October 2, 2009 at 12:39 pm | Permalink
  2. Samantha b. wrote:

    It strikes me that the only reason for these sex columns would be useful is if we were all interested in the norms of others. The norms of Buster Darkhole. I mean, I picked up a couple of useful tips from reading “Ask Isadora” in college, but she’s board certified as a sexologist and a psychotherapist and has something besides dreary narcissism to bring to the table. In the rerun NYO pieces I’ve seen, even Candace fucking Bushnell interrogated her own motivations instead of just narrativizing pedestrian behaviors.

    Friday, October 2, 2009 at 1:31 pm | Permalink
  3. Gnatalby wrote:

    I am definitely not trying to leave a mean blog comment, but I have concerns about your conclusion.

    SADY: Honestly! Here is what I think: I think that Buster Darkhole and Layla and Mr. Darcy and whoever are all filing these pieces that are like, “so I got totally WASTED! and had SEX! like PEOPLE MY AGE TEND TO DO!” then they are going home to make microwave popcorn and watch a movie and call their moms. and maybe ask someone out to a movie. that is what i believe. or hope?

    AMANDA: i think they’re probably also silently weeping over the comments and/or getting shit from their friends.

    It seems as if you are still reifying conservative-style sex as the awesome reward as opposed to solitary weeping about blog comments.

    I’m not sure the right approach here is to say: “Whatever sexist dude. Your column sucks and therefore you are not getting any of that awesome competitive reward sex like you would if you were more discreet.” It seems like mocking dudes for not living up to hyper-masculine scoring ideals just reinforces that those ideals are correct.

    Saturday, October 3, 2009 at 7:30 am | Permalink
  4. Sady wrote:

    @Gnatalby: Oh, goodness! That was not the point I was trying to make at all! My point is that this standard is so unilateral and so performative that I think a lot of young sex columnists – male and female – are able to crank out these narratives (whether using the “I,” as in the case of the authentically douchey-seeming Mr. Darcy, or the “you,” as in many others) by not being terribly true to their own lives or desires, and just re-iterating the stereotype of what “normal” sex is supposed to be like. And, yeah, getting shamed for it, because the point of sex is that we’re given this one script but anyone who deviates from it or embraces it too publicly is going to get slammed because sex is DIRTY.

    I, as a sex-positive feminist youngster, did much the same: like, constantly making the point that ladies can like sex, TOO, and they can have sex for THEIR OWN ends and can LIKE CASUAL SEX and never being honest about the fact that I, actually, find casual sex and/or casual sexual relationships to be roughly the seventh circle of Hell and much prefer to be in a relationship because sex is an intimate thing for me and I have Ye Olde Trust Issues that prevent me from feeling comfortable unless I know the person I am getting into this very vulnerable, judgeable situation with is fond of me and wouldn’t want to hurt me. Which is an overshare, maybe, but the point is that I made points about “women” that didn’t take my own experience into account because I was (a) embarrassed, and (b) was afraid of undermining the cause by sounding like one of those “hook-ups make girls SAD” people. Whereas they don’t, actually, always make girls sad. They made ME, specifically, sad. And they made my friends happy. And there’s nothing wrong with either of those situations. And I wasn’t really capable of making decent points about sex until I got it through my head that there’s no one right way to have (or not have!) it and that “feminist” sexual standards (sex-positive, radical, whatever) can be just as limiting as mainstream ones.

    Basically, I think these sex columnists – guys and ladies – are maybe talking about what they think sex looks like or ought to look like, and the reason they all sound the same is that they’re fundamentally about maintaining a standard rather than actually considering what sex looks like in practice, which is infinitely complex and diverse. There’s nothing wrong with going home to watch a movie and call your mom and maybe send someone an e-mail asking if they’d like a date this weekend, if that’s better for you than the other options. Unless you’re then going out and being all, “ha ha, you know that stereotype about how attractive sexually active people of my age and social circumstance have sex? TOTALLY UPHELD IT, dudes!”

    Saturday, October 3, 2009 at 8:36 am | Permalink
  5. Gnatalby wrote:

    I totally see what you mean, and that makes a lot of sense, because I can’t imagine the sex column wherein a man writes what you just wrote, which makes me sad about the world.

    Saturday, October 3, 2009 at 9:01 am | Permalink
  6. Sady wrote:

    @Gnatalby: Oh, yeah. I mean, I may worry about being used to back up a limiting stereotype about The Emotional Nature of Women by saying that sex is an intimate and emotional thing that I can’t enjoy fully in a casual context. But the consequence, for a guy, of saying the same thing, would be WAY higher. He’d basically be told that he wasn’t a real man, mocked, called a “pussy” or whatever. For acting like a stereotypical woman. And that may be why there are so many men willing to walk up to the plate and say that men all conform to X stereotype and as men THEY DO TOO. Because there’s nothing worse than being called a girl.

    Saturday, October 3, 2009 at 10:37 am | Permalink
  7. Gnatalby wrote:

    And that may be why there are so many men willing to walk up to the plate and say that men all conform to X stereotype and as men THEY DO TOO. Because there’s nothing worse than being called a girl.

    Totally, which is why, in my opinion that I am actually just forming right now, I think that it’s actually pretty brave of you to own your “girly” feelings about sex and relationships, because I don’t think anyone could be a reader and doubt your feminist cred.

    At the end of the day, both women and men should be free to have the option of no strings sex or only committed relationship sex or both at different times (as long as it’s all honest) without having either reflect on their gender as a whole or make them less of a woman or a man.

    Saturday, October 3, 2009 at 11:42 am | Permalink
  8. DBN wrote:

    What the fuck? When I was in university, the main newspaper had columns about, you know, news. Then there was the alternative paper that consisted of awesome debauchery and delightful radical politics. Its sex columns were about things like the importance of safe words and how to enjoy your enema kink in a healthy and safe manner.

    I know that old people like me who are in their thirties or beyond tend to shake their heads and ask, ‘what’s wrong with these kids today?’ in a condescending, dismissive way. But seriously, what’s wrong with these kids today?

    Saturday, October 3, 2009 at 11:53 am | Permalink
  9. Maud wrote:

    yeah, i mean, i’m fond of the collaborative approach to all this.

    I suggest that you and Buster Darkhole write a collaborative sex column to be freely syndicated to college papers, with Buster providing his usual sexual insights and you, Sady, providing enlightening commentary. Because I feel that you really “get” Buster, perhaps more than his average reader does, and all would mutually benefit, which is what sex is all about, right?

    I keep coming up with things for you to do in your spare time. I’m helpful like that.

    Sunday, October 4, 2009 at 3:26 am | Permalink
  10. Devonian wrote:

    “He’d basically be told that he wasn’t a real man, mocked, called a “pussy” or whatever.”
    He’d also be judged (extremely negatively) by a surprising number of women…

    Tuesday, October 6, 2009 at 5:59 pm | Permalink
  11. Jezebella wrote:

    Back in the 80s, when I was in college, when you ladies were OMG FETUSES, we also had casual sex and got drunk. Sometimes we got drunk and had casual sex. I think I heard something about them doing it maybe even in the 70s and the 60s, too? Anyway, what I’m wondering is, do colleges not teach creative writing classes any more? Because that’s where we over-shared about our earth-shattering new inventions, known today as sex, drugs, and rock and roll. The newspaper was for, like, sports stuff and campus politics and complaining about the cafeteria food.

    Thursday, October 8, 2009 at 7:13 pm | Permalink