[Insert witty party name here]: You MUST Get Laid Tonight

September 20, 2009 § 6 Comments

I have been a little uneasy for a while about one aspect of Grinnell (and, I assume, many other colleges across the country). For the past several weeks, every big dance party at Grinnell has had titles like “Students Get Ass” (with the acronym SGA, a clever pun on the acronym for our student government association), Red Light Green Light (where you wear a color according to your status: green for single, red for taken, yellow for neutral), Gerbil Fest and Cougar Fest (where freshmen notoriously get scammed on). What is the deal with these explicitly sexual parties? How do they influence the sexual scene on a college campus?

Here are my two thoughts on the matter:

I think it is great that we can be so open about our sexuality here. These parties are supposed to be fun and lighthearted, and not necessarily taken seriously. They can also be used as a way to build up the courage to pursue someone, with the “hey, she’s green, I should go for her” mentality. For many of us, our partying goals do involve some sort of sexual behavior. But not necessarily… which brings me to my next point.

I think that the drawbacks to these sexually explicit parties far outweigh the benefits. Basically, we have Grinnell, as an institution, saying, “you have to get laid tonight, because that is the theme of this week’s party.” This is not really acceptable. I am sure that there are several people who just want to have a good time dancing. Or, there are people who really do want to engage in sexual behavior, but can’t because no one will consent to doing it with them. They walk away from the party not thinking, “well, I had a good time and I danced, so that was a fun night,” but rather, “I couldn’t even get some at red light green light?”

I am concerned about these parties, but not sure exactly what I should do about them. I think it’s a problem that primarily affects first years, who are desperately trying to prove their coolness, sexiness, and fun-ness. Maybe after my first year I will realize that it IS all a big joke, and if I don’t want to go to such a poorly-premised party then I will stay home, or have an alternative party (which is actually how cougar fest got started, in reaction to the rather morally reprehensible gerbil fest). Over all though, I think the student body really enjoys these parties. Should I take these in the spirit of fun, or should I make a fuss about the institutional pressure to be sexually active during the first few months of college?

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§ 6 Responses to [Insert witty party name here]: You MUST Get Laid Tonight

  • factcheckme says:

    theres no rule that you *have* to go to any parties. you could check one out as a spectator and see what you think…or if you are that uncomfortable, you could decide not to go at all.

    personally, i lived in the dorm for a year so i could meet some people, and then had a smallish group of real friends that i could go places with (hardly ever to “parties”) and/or hang out. we made fun of people who went to the parties, now that i think about it. have a great time in college!

  • kb says:

    well, as a Grinnell alum, I am going to say, the only sexual parties I went to were ones that were fun to dress up for-I <3 the underwear ball (helped that I lived in Haines ). I had sex with my boyfriend if I was in a relationship after some of them, I'm sure, but not otherwise, and it wasn't a big deal. and I never got any flack for that. I don't identify with the whole "pressure to hook up" thing. but maybe that's because I knew more people who hooked up at less explicitly sexual parties, like waltz(they still do that, please tell me they do)

    • ruthelizabeth says:

      I absolutely understand the standpoint of not taking these things too seriously, I just think that as a newcomer it’s hard to know how you are supposed to act. how are we first years supposed to know how to react?

      thanks for the comments, I love that people from grinnell read this!

      • kb says:

        to be fair, you don’t always know. it was clear to me because I love dressing up, and had good social support for that. If you are more focused on hooking up, and that’s what you get encouraged to do, that’s a different issue-and I don’t have a good answer This also did take me a couple of years to work out. there was a lot more awkwardness my first year. hanging out with other geeks who liked to dress up helped. It’s not so much about not taking it serious, as realizing that you don’t ever HAVE to hook up-opportunity isn’t obligation. but there’s not good way to decide that for anyone else.
        also, I think I missed out on gerbilfest(I might be dating myself here, I’m not sure). what is it?

      • ruthelizabeth says:

        gerbil fest is a party thrown at football house (maybe, I’m not sure, I didn’t go) and the sole purpose is for upperclassmen to hook up with freshman girls. it’s really classy.

      • kb says:

        ewww. I’m so sorry.

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