Wednesday, February 27, 2008
William F. Buckley, Jr. is dead at 82. To say that he was a great "Yale Man" (back when that term meant something) or conservative or American seems to miss the point entirely with its simplicity. The best tribute to Chairman Bill's passing is the growing list of stories about his friendship, wit, and passion for life.
This newspaper and its staff would not exist if it were not for him. He made our conservative movement, not just at Yale but in the United States, a possibility. We owe him a great deal.
[Edit: I get the YFP headline now. My apologies.]
My personal blog, The West at Yale, is entered in a contest for college political bloggers. I am one of the top three finalists, and the grand prize is a $2,000 scholarship. I am competing against a Democrat and an Independent (read: Obama-supporting). I was the Republican finalist. The winner will be determined by online voting, so go here and vote for me! I appreciate the help.
Tuesday, February 26, 2008
Andrew Sullivan, the most enthusiastic Obama cheerleader on the right, mistakenly writes "Osama" instead of Obama--not once, but TWICE--on his blog. (In case this gets thrown down the memory hole and I doubt Mr. Sullivan would sink to that level, the screenshot is here.)
It just goes to show that, even if entirely by accident, Senator Obama has some tough cultural issues to overcome in his campaign if Sullivan makes the mistake. Combine those associations with the turban photos that are going around, and you've got yourself a closet Mohammedan running for President.
From Michelle Malkin:
President Hugo Chavez’s government is taking its battle against U.S. “imperialism” into Venezuelans’ vocabulary, urging state phone company workers to eschew English-language business and tech terms that have crept into the local vernacular. ... Stickers and banners printed up by the company exhort Venezuelans to “Say it in Spanish. Say it with pride.”...because Spanish was never an imperial language.
Monday, February 25, 2008
The YDN had an article today, but it was buried on the inside.
Peter Salovey, Dean of Yale College, sent the following e-mail to students this afternoon:
Dear Yale College Students:
Over the weekend students and others forwarded to the Yale College Dean's Office photographs of trees on the Old Campus on which a swastika and other Nazi symbols appeared. This disturbing incident is not the first aimed at specific groups of students on our campus this academic year. As you are well aware, in recent months students have discovered racist and homophobic graffiti spray-painted on University walls, and a group of individuals held a sign containing a sexist slogan in front of the Women's Center.
Another incident of blatant bigotry has come to Yale, following on the heels of last November's "N****R SCHOOL" graffiti. It is either an awful joke or a chilling message, but I hope administrators, campus press, and students are slow to assign blame. This incident apparently happened inside locked gates. And while that lends strong circumstantial evidence for a Yale student being behind it, I would remind our readers that we open gates or allow strangers to follow us into locked gates on a daily basis. On Old Campus there are many entrances and a constant flow of traffic.
This could easily be someone from outside the community, and we ought to keep that in mind when tomorrow brings the inevitable charges of a bigoted student body, especially given the bigotries of New Haven residents, both white and black.
Sunday, February 24, 2008
The New York Times reports:
You might think that all Kenyans would be vigorously supporting Mr. Obama. But Kenya has been fractured along ethnic lines in the last two months, so now Mr. Obama draws frenzied support from the Luo ethnic group of his ancestors, while many members of the rival Kikuyu group fervently support Hillary Rodham Clinton.
She'll fight to have their delegation seated at the convention, I bet.
Saturday, February 23, 2008
Senator Clinton lashes out at Barack Obama for apparently using campaign literature which strawmans her position on universal health care and NAFTA. Whether or not it's true, there were some fun quotes in this one:
"Sen. Obama knows it is not true that my plan forces people to buy insurance even if they can't afford it."
Doesn't someone working in communications her campaign realize that saying something in that way actually reinforces the lie? Somebody should know that tomorrow Tim Russert will quote this as "... my plan forces people to buy insurance even if they can't afford it."
Also interesting is Clinton's faux-outrage:
"Enough with the speeches and the big rallies and then using tactics right out of Karl Rove's playbook. This is wrong, and every Democrat should be outraged."
Outrageous tactics right out of Karl Rove's playbook? Like, uh, not withdrawing from the Michigan primary like all the other Democratic candidates, then demanding that the DNC seat their stripped delegates at the national convention? Like, uh, campaigning in Florida and demanding that their delegates be seated?
Say what you want about Senator Obama--and we're not fans--but Senator Clinton has run a dirty campaign and she'll put the interests of her and Bill above the Democratic Party, not to mention the United States.
Friday, February 22, 2008
Tonight the Yale Political Union debated, "Resolved: Keep your hands off my gun" with past NRA president Sandra Froman. During the debate it was brought to our attention that there's a Yale Pistol Club--although not sanctioned by the University--which meets at the shooting range at the Yale Armory (near the Yale Bowl) on Tuesdays at 7 p.m. Anyone interested in attending can meet up at the Broadway parking lot where shooters meet around 6:30 p.m. before heading out.
Yale's gun culture has been much-maligned this year.
Sunday, February 17, 2008
I hate the Huffington Post because it rotates bloggers enough to avoid stupidity like this ruining its intellectual credibility. As Tom Palmer so eloquently put it at the Yale Political Union in January, "Protectionism is the policy of stupid people, pure and simple." Dave Johnson didn't get the memo that while our wages may not have grown quickly in the last thirty years, reducing barriers to trade has caused a huge drop in the price of consumer goods. We're far wealthier than we were under protectionist policies.
Fuck you, Dave.
Bloomberg apparently had a reporter here this week, one who not only missed the opposition to Sex Week but also clearly had no idea who Yale's alumni are:
Yale, founded in 1701, is America's third-oldest college. It's also the second-richest behind Harvard University, with a $22.5 billion endowment. Alumni include actress Meryl Streep, New York Senator Hillary Clinton and the past three U.S. presidents. [Italics mine]
Meryl Streep? Seriously? You could have picked Jodie Foster, Paul Giamatti, David Alan Grier, Paul Newman, Ed Norton, Sam Waterston, Sigourney Weaver, Anderson Cooper, David Duchovny, Ben Stein, or Henry Winkler! Just think... the Fonz! And instead they picked the pretentious man's Glenn Close?
The line for the porn screening in the Law School (left) was at least two hundred feet long and four to five students wide. There were a surprisingly large number of empty seats when the presentation began, but they had filled to capacity within twenty minutes.
The line for Toad's "dress like a porn star contest" (right) was twenty-two people long at 11 pm. Eight of those in-queue were women. Three were in skirts, the rest were in jeans. None were visibly dressing to enter the contest. Three male party-goers smoking outside estimated the crowd to be a 70-30 guy-to-girl percentage. ("And that's being kinda generous," one guy told me.) They were so pressed for female attendance that Toad's was carding men and not admitting guys without state or federal ID, which is unheard of any other time at Toad's. When I passed Toad's at midnight there was no line, whereas usually midnight is the peak in attendance at Toad's.
If I had listened to my inner economist instead of my inner-worried-parent, I would have realized why this plan failed. Women endure a very high social cost to participate in this contest (namely, being called a slut by other women) and are rewarded with very low incentives (namely, getting ground up on by guidos). This should lead one to the conclusion that only a few women can profitably enter the contest: a woman who endures low costs from being called a slut or one who receives large benefits from being ground up on by guidos.
These intuitions ended up being true. The dress-like-a-porn-star contest was cancelled because of lack of participation, and the replacement "fake orgasm" contest attracted 3-4 contestants and was punctuated by loud men cat-calling and being begged by the porn star judges "Guys, shut up! Shut the fuck up!"
VERDICT: SAUSAGE FEST
I was able to attend the first 45 minutes of the porn film screening in the Law School auditorium last night. The director, Paul Thomas, chose to screen a series of six trailers and extended scenes which had been edited down to a softcore format that could have been run on Cinemax late at night. (And to his credit he admitted "showing a hardcore porno flick in here would just be weird. I know you think it wouldn't be, but trust me. You're sitting next to a couple of dudes... it'd just be weird." That was one of my main problems with the screening, so it was immediately confronted.)
The audience was, unsurprisingly, largely male and embarrassingly immature. All women in the audience that I saw were there with male friends. Two parents were also sitting in front of me and were interviewed for the Sex Week documentary. The 500-seat auditorium was filled to capacity only by about 7:50 pm as more students trickled in.
The director began with some remarks about pornography and where he saw his work taking it. He felt that they began from the point of "sex is an okay thing" and then went from there. At one point during his speech a student in the back yelled "Live show!" Thomas replied with, "Live show? Stand up!" The student was quickly hissed down.
The first clip was from Debbie Does Dallas... Again, a comedic remake of the 1978 classic but with a plot unrecognizable from the original save for its cheerleader theme. (The film also featured both of the porn actresses present, Savanna Samson and Monique Alexander.) Next up was Layout, a BDSM film featuring a scene with a tied-up topless woman having burning candle wax dripped onto her by another woman.
During this segment the sound cut out, causing the event organizers to run for the sound equipment while the audience cat-called. The same student in the back again yelled "Live show!" which was greeted with more jeers to shut up. Paul Thomas stood up and said, "It doesn't matter what they're saying!" After about five minutes they had fixed the sound, but around twenty students had already left.
Next was Flasher, starring Savanna Samson, about exhibitionism. The film, by the director's admission, was shot in public and that "the trick is to not get caught." Halfway through this clip a girl in front of me exclaimed, "This is just awkward... I can't believe we're doing this!"
This was the last clip I could see before I had to leave to meet other people that evening. The other films were The Devil in Miss Jones, a remake of the 1974 classic; The Masseuse, starring Jenna Jameson and Savanna Samson; and Cry Wolf, a film focused on rape and starring Monique Alexander. (Thomas stressed that "we must be careful and respectful" in doing that sort of film, more so than mainstream films often deal with the subject of rape.)
A YFP contributor who stayed behind at the event said that the Q&A session was very well-handled by the actresses and the director. Samson and Thomas stressed that they have children and believe in shielding young people from pornography, even at high costs. (This was a line reiterated by Vivid CEO Steven Hirsch in the NY Times, and of course makes sense for Vivid... as one of the last remaining feature-film producers they keep a tight lock on their content, and anything which helps to shut down their competition from internet pornographers is a huge boon for their business.)
At one point a man in the balcony stood up and began to rail on the three for their immorality, saying he could not believe how "sick" they were. It only inspired sympathy for its recipients, especially when the questioner was shouted down by the audience for continuing to interject when the panelists answered, but Thomas begged the audience to let the questioner speak because everyone has a right to be heard. The Yale Free Press can call a spade a spade on this one: the porn industry does a lot to protect our rights to freedom of speech, ESPECIALLY for those they don't agree with. It ought to be applauded, and it was.
Our correspondent said that the rest of the questions were either "tool-ish" ones from Women's and Gender Studies majors ("I'm in a seminar right now about the labor of sexuality. Is your sexuality a labor?") or from the School of Management. (Who should have all had their questions answered by Hirsch when he spoke there this week.) There was also one guy from the football team who just wanted to tell Samson and Alexander how attractive they were, which was met with a flirty "Oooh, I love football players..." from Ms. Samson.
Overall, the panelists handled everything in a much more mature way than the audience did. Thomas made a clear point that pornography is something meant for privacy, not a public screening, and his clips reflected that. He also stressed that his work builds up the eroticism surrounding sex, and that Thomas actually leaves the set when sex scenes are being filmed--the actors and cameraman work out the details of the scene. These things seem to contribute more to a healthy uses of pornography rather than the "wham, bam, thank you ma'am" (in his words) of the en vogue gonzo style of pornography. (Think BangBros.)
Saturday, February 16, 2008
Under the subject line "Day 'o Porn" Sex Week advertisers gleefully promote this evening's activities:
4:30 pm, WLH 119
Steven Hirsch, co-founder and co-chairman of Vivid Entertainment
The Business of Pornography: How Vivid made it mainstream
7:30 pm, Law School Auditorium
SCREENING followed by panel discussion and Q&A with Vivid Girls Monique Alexander & Savanna Samson, and acclaimed director Paul Thomas
FREE Vivid DVDs. Porn screening. In the Law School. Enough said.
*40 Lucky Yalies will be selected to join us for the Skull & Boned pre-game with the Vivid Girls
11:30 pm, Toad's Place
Sex Week at Yale dance party: Skull and Boned with Vivid Girls Monique Alexander & Savanna Samson
Dress as a pornstar, party like a pornstar, with the porn stars. FREE Vivid DVDs given out at the door.
**Check out our upcoming events for Sunday and Monday—Sex & Spirituality, Trojan executive David Johnson, and Trojan giveaways—at www.sexweekatyale.com
I got this flyer in my Yale e-mail inbox this afternoon, attached to a mass-email advertising tonight's "Skull and Boned" party at Toad's.
(In case you can't make it out, those are Yale undergraduates in latex costumes.)
The flyer is advertising this evening's "dress like your favorite porn star" costume contest, which has been greeted at Yale with every reaction from "It's slutty when girls do it, but funny when guys do it" to "Wait... what? Awesome!"
Sex Week at Yale will be running through Monday but this will be the uncontested pinnacle of the week's activities. We'll have more coverage for our readers later tonight.
Friday, February 15, 2008
After a bit of a gap day in activities yesterday (read: lectures about sexual biology) Sex Week activities are gearing up for the weekend.
Yale University Health Services will be doing STI screening... and giving out a free gift bag with a vibrator, vibrating rings, and condoms.
The Sex Week Fashion Show this evening will feature at least two dozen Yale undergraduates modeling student-designed lingerie for women and men. (Although the men's fashion looked more like lip-service to equality, not fashion.)
Ron Jeremy, porn megastar, will be debating with Vivid Girl Monique Alexander against pastors and anti-pornography activists Craig Gross and Donny Pauling about pornography and its influence on American society. The debate will be televised on next Friday's Nightline. Due to a crunch for tickets, the YFP will sadly not be able to report live. We'll have something posted when it airs next week, however. (Just for the record though, Mr. Jeremy is an excellent speaker, well-educated, and fighting the good fight for freedom of expression in this country. I speak only for myself in approving, however.)
Steven Hirsch, CEO of Vivid Entertainment, will be talking in the afternoon about the porn business. It's an interesting topic, and the stunningly large amount of money generated by a relatively underground industry has long fascinated me.
In the evening the week culminates with a pornographic film screening in the Yale Law School auditorium, followed by a Q&A with two Vivid actresses and a director, who will then go to Toad's to judge the "dress-like-your-favorite-porn-star" costume contest for their "Skull and Boned" party. (Although, as one alumnus from the class of 1968 brought to our attention, pornographic film screenings are not new to the Law School auditorium.)
Thursday, February 14, 2008
Will's already posted (twice, actually) about last night's "seduction seminar" with reality TV star Matador. Having gone myself (solely for YFP research purposes, of course - I'll write up an article for next week's print issue), I want to expand a bit on what he said (and disagree with some of it).
So let's start off with the basics. This was an hour and a half lecture with nothing resembling practice, no interactivity, no focus on self-improvement besides simply absorbing ideas. Anyone who came to this expecting to leave any better at finding a mate was probably delusional. There is no magic formula, and what you need to improve your love life you can hardly learn in an hour and a half anyway.
So should we be disgusted by "Matador"'s speech, indifferent, or even applaud the guy? Honestly, I'm not quite sure. To his credit, the night wasn't just an hour and a half of tips, tricks, and lines (do people still think pickup lines do anything but show that you don't know what you're doing?). Sure, there was some discussion of body language, "stages" of seduction (as Will pointed out), and the like, but the majority of what he had to say had to deal with simply being a better man. I had to leave after an hour or so to go to a Yale College Libertarians' event, so maybe he started laying down the real moves after I left, but I'm doubtful.
Will already mentioned this key point of Matador's speech - the focus on manliness - but threw it away as being a cheapened version of manliness that "takes a few shortcuts". Perhaps I was looking at what this guy was saying through the lens of my own thoughts on the subject (you can guess at them from reading the rest of this post!), but the impression I got was that he was, at its base, telling men to be men, and to act like it, even when no one is watching (yes, he did say that, and gave an example or two).
In the end it seemed like most of his "tips" were directed at giving off the impression of the confident, primal man. Stand a certain way, use the right body language, don't appear too forward, so the girl doesn't feel invaded, so that she can see (or at least be under the delusion) that you're "not invested in the outcome." You can't give someone self-confidence and social skills in an hour and a half, but you can at least teach them how to (for a while, anyway) create that façade. Is it healthy? Only if it's presented in the right way - as a way to easen the transition into manliness, rather than as a set of magical tips that somehow get the ball going. One sets a man on the path to actual self-improvement, the other inspires only the kind of bettering that you find in learning "more advanced" techniques. One teaches a man to seek honest interactions and simply become more adept at them, the other teaches him to view attraction as a game and women as "targets" that can be won by saying and doing the right things, and acting the right way, simply because they get a guy laid.
The problem is, I don't know what Matador was going for. Maybe I'd need to read his books to find out (I don't think I'll be putting down Nisbet to pick up Matador anytime soon, though). On the one hand he's telling men to be chivalrous when no one is watching, on the other he's talking about seduction as a game, and actually calling women "targets" (congratulations, Matador! You have won the Yale Free Press's "Caricature of Yourself" Award. You will be sharing the award with Tom Cruise). Does it matter? Probably not - even if the guy's a walking contradiction (or just a con man), he at least gets some of the right ideas across.
After all, I do think there was some value to this seminar. The ultimate answer to success in
One more quality of a man (perhaps the most important one): Be self-confident. It's something we all know but so few of us put into practice because so many of us simply don't have self-confidence. What actually matters in dealings with other people, however, is exuding self-confidence. This will never last someone too long if they don't have real confidence to back it up, and certainly won't make anyone happier, but to put on the mask of confidence, and of leadership, and manliness, may just be a way to start.
Will takes issue with this. But then, how do we build up those important characteristics? How do people become confident leaders if they are "otherwise unremarkable men"? Without some sort success as an outside impetus to build confidence (which is usually only passing, anyway), we have to start off by feigning self-esteem to ourselves. Sword-fighting, Mr. Wilson, is a physical skill that takes actual physical practice to acquire. Leadership, confidence, and the rest need to be built up but are built up on a far deeper, psychological level that we really can control much more than we ever can our sword mastery.
As Will points out, "becoming an actual leader is, like, difficult, man." I agree with him completely, which is why we have little to expect out of an hour and a half seminar besides getting people thinking about things in the right terms, and yes, helping to build that façade. I don't think anyone who wanted to get anything out of it should have looked at it as an answer, but as a much-needed wake-up call.
If you aren't good enough at convincing her that you're impressive, why not just convince her that you have good intentions?
After the “attraction” stage, Matador moved on to the “comfort” stage. As the most time-intensive part of the Mystery Method, this step involves developing a rapport with the “target” in order to gain her trust, - Yale Daily News, 2/14/08The silence of the Yale Women's Center is horrifying but not terribly surprising. Trapped between their support for female wellbeing and their support for a culture that glorifies liberation, self-indulgence, and autonomy; the YWC have become victims of their own postmodernity.
Not content to let us play with our new anal beads at home, the charitable folks over at SW@Y have been kind enough to offer us lessons on picking up chicks at nightclubs.
Outlining how to work a “cold approach,” in which men seek out women in nightclub environments, Matador emphasized a man’s need to assert himself as a leader and protector. - Yale Daily News, 2/14/08Because, of course, real leaders don't need formulaic tips from washed-up stage magicians in order to have the confidence to approach girls and real protectors don't delight in talking women into urgent, anonymous sex.
Now, it just happens that leadership and the virtues associated with chivalry are things that can and very often have been inculcated into otherwise unremarkable men. In fact, Yale has made a name for itself over the last 300 or so years in large part due to its excellent record of churning out leaders of one sort or another. But hey, becoming an actual leader is, like, difficult, man... and besides, why should I waste my time with that when I can get almost as much booty by taking a few shortcuts?
Time and again, members of the "seduction community" -- yes, they actually call it a 'community' -- stress that mastering the 'Art' makes them more confident and leaderly in general; that the mask, worn long enough, begins to sink into the skin. I'll leave our readers to ponder this possibility for themselves, but suffice it to say that all the stage-fights in the various plays I've acted in put together haven't made me a single bit better at actual sword fights.
Then again, it's unsurprising that in our media and celebrity-obsessed nation, simulated leadership and simulated virtue are considered to be just about as valuable as the real thing. Men like 'Matador' teach us that we should bring acting out of the theater and into every other part of our lives.
Sex with ironic distance doesn't sound like a lot of fun.
YDN: Pick-up artist Matador shares formulaic process for seducing women into having sex with you
YDN: The Women's Center gets criticized for still suing Zeta Psi, and once again they respond by flooding the editorials page. (There were more in today's print issue, but apparently they're not on the website.) Take this quote:
"'Fraternity parties with sexist themes are a fixture of undergraduate life,' they add, and dress codes at the events 'exclusively encourage women [particularly freshmen] to dress in a sexualized way.'"
Where's your Sex Week opposition, Women's Center?
Wednesday, February 13, 2008
Call me a curmudgeon, but I find that my daily ritual of waking up with a cup of coffee, a cigarette, and a copy of the YD"N" is a little less pleasant when a smiling freshman holding a string of anal beads is staring back at me from the front page.
Unfortunately for the non-Yalies in the audience, the News at least had the decency not to post the picture online. I'd scan a copy, were it not for the chance that I'd get whacked.
That said, I won't leave the photo-starved hurting. Feast your eyes on this... if you dare.
The occasion was a demonstration by one Patty Brisben, founder and CEO of 'Pure Romance', of the latest lineup of 'intimacy-enhancing products' sold by her company. While I have no doubt that sex toys are a great boon to many a couple, titillation rather than information seemed to be the order of the day.
Ian Marpuri '11 participated in a demonstration of Dreamsicle arousal lubricants that are for both men and women. "I really enjoy my new versatile toy," said Marpuri with a grin. "I think this was a good demonstration... and it was really fun." - Yale Daily News, 2/13/08Once again, the point made by the excellent editorial linked to by Jake below is right on the mark. The reality of Sex Week is far from its stated purpose of raising student awareness of sexual issues and engendering debate on the topic. Why bother with something so... difficult when we could try out arousal creams and watch porn in the law school instead? The message imparted by nearly every event so far has been simple: Sex is about gratification, life is about having as much fun as possible, and "personal fulfillment" trumps anything containing the words "sacrifice" or "duty." Leaders of tomorrow, here we come!
EDIT: Looks like Nikki got there before me.
YDN: Virginia Calkins '10 and Callie Lowenstein '10 fire the first shot in the Sex Week opposition:
"The coordinators seem to be so obsessed by the goal of getting attention that they ignore their own professed goals and dumb down an incredibly rich and multi-faceted topic."
YDN: Women's Center continues its pursuit of the Zeta Psi fraternity while Toad's has a dress-like-your-favorite-porn-star contest. Hypocrisy?
New Haven Register: Sex Week is a fun way for students to learn about dildos.
The YDN also has a summary of yesterday's debate with Mike Gravel.
The Yale Political Union held a debate tonight with Democratic presidential candidate Mike Gravel on the topic, "Resolved: Power to the people." (The video which inspired the resolution is here.) He seemed like your typical, run-of-the-mill curmudgeon.
His arguments for national initiatives didn't hold water and ought to be examined in light of the failures of initiative-driven states like mine, Colorado, where voters approved a petitioned constitutional amendment that banned government employees from getting gifts valued at $50 or more. The problem was that the law was written with an ambiguity such that postal workers were worrying about their kids not being able to get scholarships.
Senator Gravel also admitted to getting high on pot brownies courtesy of his son-in-law, as well as using cocaine. This was a shocking admission at the time, but upon further inspection apparently old news.
I had read about Gravel's unorthodox campaign--flying in the middle seat of airlines, hitchhiking with supporters once on the ground--and campaign debt in the Los Angeles Times a few months ago. True to form, that style continued: he was staying with his niece who lived in the area. He had to leave early for a fundraiser in New York, so he couldn't stay long.
Before he gave his speech, however, a YFP staffer heard him have the following exchange with his niece:
Niece: "Here, do you want your pen?"
Gravel: "Yeah, I need my pen."
N: "Ok, now do you want your knife?"
G: "Yeah, I might need my knife."
Whatever you have to say about his politics, he was a pretty down-to-earth guy.
Tuesday, February 12, 2008
David Zincavage '74 hits the nail on the head with his criticism of Sex Week: been there, done that, yawn. The usual reaction to this kind of debauchery is a "raised eyebrow."
But if the YDN truly feels that Sex Week is "about debate," and that the dissenters need to voice their opposition, then by God we're going to give 'em hell. I'm not going to lose any sleep about Sex Week--and while it's likely troubling someone at Yale more than me, it's not like Sex Week was sprung on us. Every undergraduate knows about this event before applications for admission are even mailed. (And in some cases, it may even be a deciding factor.)
The big complaint should be that the whole thing is childish and an immature excuse for self indulgence in the Yale Bubble. Grow up, Sex Week.
I just got back from lunch with four friends in Pierson College who shared with me their perspectives on Sex Week. (All names are pseudonyms, derived from the "Porn Star Name" meme: first name is your first pet, second name is the street you grew up on.)
Whopper Linwood is a sophomore, varsity athlete, and self-identified independent. (He's undecided between Obama and McCain.) Another sophomore at the table was Shadow Pleasant, a varsity athlete and moderate.
When I asked if Sex Week offended them in anyway WL said, "No, no it doesn't," but added that he didn't think sex experts or public forums were needed for college students to talk about sex. "[Sex Week publicity] makes it seem like the entire campus is having a giant orgy," WL said, and it makes it seem more widespread than it actually is. SP said that he was not offended because Sex Week is not mandatory, and it will not be changing his schedule because he has practice and lots of homework.
Both with ambivalent about the University's implicit sponsorship by allowing Yale property to be used for the events. SP felt that if any students were getting some benefit that the University should not stop Sex Week, "as long as it's not being shoved in anyone's face."
They were in agreement, however, that Sex Week is at the very least somewhat childish and immature in its focus. WL said, "I don't see the point besides getting all giddy," with SP adding, "Sex Week would be cool if you were 14 years old." WL agreed. "Yeah, it's pretty juvenile."
Nighttime Judith, a male sophomore and "liberal Democrat," joined me as Whopper and Shadow were leaving. To the question of whether he was offended at all he said, "I can see why it's perverse and why others would be against it," and that "it encourages in kind of an implicit way revelry and not sex education, it encourages students to rebel against the Ivy League status quo." He still likes the concept, however. "It's a way to enjoy the week and not worry about focusing on our sex lives.... I think it's a funny, cool social activity. I will get no sexual education from it."
He was not put off by Toad's tactics in hosting a dress-like-your-favorite-porn-star contest, arguing that college dance clubs and bars will always have these kinds of contests to draw businesses. When asked if he felt the Women's Center was hypocritical for using such strong rhetoric against the Zeta Psi fraternity for last month's prank while remaining silent on Sex Week, he said, "I think it says more about the Women's Center than Sex Week." We agree.
Acadia Delaware, a sophomore and the only girl interviewed today, thought that Sex Week is "somewhat entertaining." She thought it was good to have a forum, although there are already lots of classes dealing with sex and sexuality. When asked to respond to yesterday's post about the necessity of giving college students more opportunities to talk about sex, she said, "People feel perfectly comfortable joking about sex, but actual discussions are not very common."
Because of her unique position of being the only woman among our interview subjects, she was asked about whether the porn star costume contest was exploitative. After a long pause she admitted that there was a double standard because, "it will be funny when guys do it, slutty when girls do it," and that it only entrenches those standards. When asked if the Women's Center also had a double standard for its treatment of Yale's frat culture as exploitative but refusing to come out against Sex Week publicly, she agreed but felt that the Women's Center was out of line. "Women choose, they make choices" to attend the party at Toad's or a frat party, so the argument for exploitation was not very clear to her.
Keep checking back for more student reactions and conservative coverage of Sex Week at Yale.
"The important thing in Sex Week is to break down the barriers and allow people to discuss what they know but keep hidden." - Govind Rangrass, Yale Daily News 2/12/08
"All the pleasing illusions which made power gentle and obedience liberal, which harmonized the different shades of life, and which, by a bland assimilation, incorporated into politics the sentiments which beautify and soften private society, are to be dissolved by this new conquering empire of light and reason. All the decent drapery of life is to be rudely torn off. All the super-added ideas, furnished from the wardrobe of a moral imagination, which the heart owns and the understanding ratifies as necessary to cover the defects of our naked, shivering nature, and to raise it to dignity in our own estimation, are to be exploded as a ridiculous, absurd, and antiquated fashion." -Edmund Burke, Reflections on the Revolution in FranceHas anybody on the Sex Week staff even considered the possibility that 'breaking down barriers' isn't always a good thing?
YDN: Sex Week "about debate" (and the YFP is fulfilling its duties, apparently)
YDN: SWAY kicks off, substance was not "terribly profound"
The Yale Daily News doesn't seem too interested in Sex Week, however. The front-page story with a giant photo is "Sustainable food confronts its elitist past." How about its elitist creation in 2003, and its elitism even today? ("I cannot POSSIBLY eat hamburgers... where's the sustainably-farmed garbanzo bean casserole and curried chutney tofu?")
Also, Bob Nelb apparently has had oral sex. Uh-huh.
Monday, February 11, 2008
First, thanks to Michelle Malkin readers for visiting us today via her post this morning. We appreciate your interest and hope you enjoy our coverage. What bothered me were the comments below the post, which devolved immediately into Ivy League bashing.
Before our week's coverage goes any further, I should just come out and admit it: I love Yale. I love the educational mission, the academic philosophy, the rich traditions. I do not regret for one moment coming to Yale, and I hope that our reporting does not give readers the impression that I am unhappy here. Quite the contrary.
Yale's mission is to create leaders. It's not a single-minded focus on academic achievement and diversity, as with Harvard or Princeton or any other top-25 school. Yale brings together smart people who have the exceptional capacity to lead others and influence society. Frequently we lose track of that focus, that we're here not only for ourselves but also to prepare to dedicate our lives to public service.
Sex Week is so frustrating because it apologies for self-centered excess. It's like Carnival without Lent. And while its original goals of discussing sex in an academic context are interesting, it has clearly reduced to the lowest common denominator. It makes immaturity and selfishness just that much easier.
What should be kept in perspective is how little the average Yalie actually resembles the examples put forth during Sex Week. Today in Spanish class we watched a movie which includes a handful of instances of couples being kissy before sex. The freshman next to me exclaimed, rather loudly, "Geeze, what's it with everybody screwing in this movie!" My first thought was "Wow, way to show some maturity." But in a lot of ways the whole situation had the feeling of a middle school sex-ed class. The nervous giggling following each encounter certainly didn't indicate a group who can deal with sex as nonchalantly as brushing one's teeth.
The reality is that the average Yale woman is very driven, and is either too busy to date or would like to be dating but for the lack of eligible men. (Sororities at Yale frequently have mixers between undergraduate women and near-graduates in the schools of Law and Medicine.) The average Yale guy is either put off by how driven the Yale women are and tries to date girls from Quinnipiack, or he has a serious Yale girlfriend. The popular anecdote is that Yalies are either constantly dating someone new or in a very serious relationship. By own experiences at Yale have mostly confirmed this to be true.
It's certainly not the case that Yalies are getting hookup sex on a regular basis; I have dated my girlfriend the entire time I've been at Yale and consequently have had an unrepresentative college experience, so it struck me as a surprise that my friends' definition of "hookup" had meant making out or heavy petting. There will be outliers of course on both ends, but I think sex trends on campus skew towards inactivity. (Of course, I have no empirical knowledge to back that up... I base my assertions on my anecdotal experience. I remember leaving Yale at 4 am last semester and being struck at how many students were in the libraries studying as I walked by. It was early November, another three weeks until Thanksgiving break and the week after midterms, so there was no pressing need for irregular numbers of students to be studying that late.)
Why do we need a week of school-sanctioned events devoted to talking about sex? It's not like college students need some impetus to make them feel comfortable. My friends and I are more likely to talk candidly about sex when there isn't an institutional focus on it. I've been comparing it this week to the same buzz-kill as when someone takes a joke too seriously. Some of these things just stop being cool when there's openness about it. Who wanted to have sex after last year's "STOP" presentations to freshmen about preventing date rape? Not me.
YALIES: Put the focus back on our duties: for God, for Country, for Yale. There's no "me" in that motto. The ranks of the world's future leaders would be immeasurably bolstered by a little less immature escapism and more sober reflection on how we can help others.
MALKIN COMMENTERS: Chill out, guys. This event is an outlier (outrageous as it is) and not indicative of a broad, sweeping decay of college students. The focus should be on why Yale permits such juvenile excesses, instead of labeling Yale a bastion of liberalism and forgetting about the significant number of students here who feel uneasy about Sex Week.
Some Googling this morning turned up a great article by Ron Rosenbaum about Sex Week that appeared in The Atlantic in 2003. It seems like SW@Y has become less intellectual and more pop-oriented in the last five years. (That is, if postmodern babble about gender as a social construct is "intellectual.") Given the apparent turnouts in 2003, reducing the academic presence at Sex Week is probably a good move for undergraduate participation.
The first noticeable signs of Sex Week's return were the stacks of magazines available outside every dining hall in Yale College on Saturday morning. The cover is an innocuous image of two pairs of legs intertwined; the inside doesn't push many more boundaries. You can get a PDF copy here. The table of contents:
Classes You Wish You Were Taking
We explore the sexiest ways to get college credit
One Girl's Guide to the Non-Erogenous Zones
Where to touch, pinch, nibble - or not
How Do You Define "Hook Up"?
Investigating how college students across America define "hook up"
A Thorough Education in "Sex"
Reflecting on the sex "education" experience
Make Your Dorm a College Love Pad
10 easy ways to turn your living space into your loving space
QT with PT
An interview with top porn director Paul Thomas
Standing Out by Holding Out
SWAY Mag talks to Sarah Kinsella, the founder of an abstinence group at Harvard
To Love or to... Orgasm?
One take on the age-old question
Demystifying the Female Orgasm
(Ian) Kerner navigates through the ins and outs of the orgasm
Debunking the Top Ten Modern Sex Myths
(Pepper) Schwartz dispels popular sex misconceptions
Making a Case for Mating IQ
There is more to mating than meets the eye
Step-By-Step: A College Hook Up
One night's journey captured in photographs
We take a closer look at the storied college sex party
College Sex Diaries
Four anonymous Yale students track their sexual and romantic lives
The issues facing transgendered collegians range from institutional policy to finding bathrooms
A photographic exploration: who's playing whom?
Making the Grade as Student... and Parent
Meet college students who are juggling papers and parties... with pacifiers and Pampers
College Love Is Like That Sometimes
We search for answers the only way we know how...
I listed the table of contents simply because of the difficulty in summarizing its contents. Those quick to criticize Sex Week should stop to appreciate that two of eighteen articles are about abstinence and pro-life motherhood. And while I won't pretend to be a darling of the abstinence or rigidly pro-life movements, the remainder of the publication either dramatizes Yale sex or deals with what exists in a manner that is discomfortingly nonchalant, even to me.
The "Sex Diaries" are largely fictionalized - one follows a "single, 21-year-old male" in his week's sexual activities, which features a comically repetitive cycle of masturbation and texting hookups for sex. It might be plausible for someone with absolutely no game whatsoever... if it weren't for the three events of, ahem, onanism on a Wednesday during the day. Any single 21-year-old guy at Yale is taking classes during the day on Wednesday so he can get an investment banking job after graduation and not be so lame.
"Stripped Down" features several disturbing accounts of public sex at Brown's Sex Power God party. Yale's Exotic Erotic ("the less you wear, the less you pay") doesn't touch it, but hey... it's Brown, not Yale.
Then there's the prerequisite attempts at "art," which amount to puerile collages of co-eds in various states of undress and tangling. It's not art, not pornography, but rather straddles the line between teenage rebellion and smut. That's probably not a bad summary of Sex Week, actually.
Sunday, February 10, 2008
It's here, and we're going to be blogging it as the insanity unfolds. Keep checking back for updates, pictures, and interviews. If you would like more information please contact alfonso (dot) espinosa (at) yale (dot) edu.