How We (Shouldn’t) Approach People at Midd

By Guest Contributor

To honor Valentine’s Day, what better to discuss than relationships and sex? Middlebury is probably not unique in its messed up idea of courtship.

Think about how you usually meet the people you sleep with. It’s at a party full of grimy, sweaty students that you weave your way through. As a woman, it’s common to have someone grab your butt and push it into his or her crotch, as you wait for a sign of approval from your friends. The music is loud, and it’s pretty much dark anyways, so do you even really know what they look like? It’s sad that that’s all the courtship we need to exchange saliva with someone and, maybe later on in the night, perform the most intimate act you can with someone.

The classic booty text has the same function. We’ve all sent them and gotten them — that post 10 p.m. “hey what are you up to tonight?” or if you’re feeling really courageous, a “we should meet up later.” I even know someone who was told she was being taken to the Grille to talk, and then went straight to Painter to a guy’s room because she was so drunk.

Alcohol is no excuse for disrespect, but we have set our standards so low that even a gracious ‘hello’ from last night’s hookup the next day seems like a gift from God.  Yet we all, myself included, complain that nobody here dates, hook-up culture sucks and nobody treats anybody well. I’ve heard several girls say, “I can’t text him because I don’t want him to think I’m crazy” or “I have to give it a few days because I don’t want him to think I’m already attached” or “I’ll just wait for him to text me or I’ll text him next weekend”.

Why should we have to wait to text? Why is it always that the women are often stereotyped as being clingy, emotional and attached after the first hookup? If this stereotype didn’t exist, I think that the hookup scene would be less emotionally draining. I have had experiences and have seen my friends have experiences where a guy will ask a girl to hang out and watch a movie or prophesize his desire to take her on a date. A few weekends of casual sex, and then they never talk again. Expectations build if you set them. Casual sex is absolutely fine, but not when it’s peppered with sweet things that give someone hope for more. Even a text the next day saying “I had so much fun last night, hope to see you soon” can be interpreted as “he is totally into me,” because why else would someone be bothered to text you the next day?

Hookup culture exists because we are attractive people around the same age who are stressed out, want to have fun and we have a lot of choices. But what about people who aren’t conventionally attractive? What about exoticizing? I have heard so many minorities say that they feel like white people don’t think they are attractive or they feel like nobody wants to hook up with them except to “experiment”. It could just be that people are attracted to those similar to them, so for students that have grown up in a homogenous environment, only people who look like them fit the mold. But attractive people are attractive people, so why is there a stark lack of bi-racial couples on campus? Shouldn’t we move out of our comfort zone and be open to new possibilities?

As someone who is colored, I have had my ethnicity referenced in every sexual interaction I have had on this campus. I’ve hooked up with guys who have told me that they’ve never hooked up with someone of my ethnicity before, that their parents would think this is cool since they’ve traveled to my country of origin, or that they really like the food from my country. I know Africans here who have had several comments on their penis size — how many of us have heard “once you go Black, you can never go back”? I’ve heard girls describe guys by saying “he has a thing for Asians” or “he lost his virginity to an Indian girl, so maybe he likes them.” People of color are often sexualized and experimented with, and through this are othered.

I think that I am really pretty. Just not here because here the image of beauty and what’s acceptable in a partner is so skewed. I feel like people don’t see me as attractive and am surprised when someone approaches me, all because I am not white and don’t fit the mold. I know other minorities feel this way too — you either feel like you stick out and everyone is looking at you, or that nobody sees you. It’s never blending in.

We slap a racial label on minorities the second we see them and then define them by it forever. Think about it, have you ever heard of someone having “White Fever”? We have to remember that whether you’re making out with someone or having sex, it’s with a person, not a race. You connect with people, not their ethnicity. We aren’t foreign. We’re just a few hues darker! There seems to be a sort of fear of more than a one-night stand with someone who looks different or speaks differently because it’s the unknown.

We are in a liberal arts school and are supposed to learn, change and grow. We can’t do this unless we get rid the blinders with which we entered college. So the next time you’re at Atwater, try talking to the girl you hope to dance with. Or ask your Proctor crush on a date! Don’t let race be a boundary or a reason for you to make your move and defy the rules of hookup culture.

Artwork by NOLAN ELLSWORTH

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