Sex Panther: Crush Lists


So you want to make a crush list? Great! But before you do, maybe take a second to read through these pointers:

@ senior boys who put first-year girls you have never spoken to but thought were hot at an Atwater party on your list: maybe DON’T DO THAT.

Phew. Now that that’s off my chest, we can talk about Crush List Season. For those of you who have never experienced this phenomenon, buckle in kittens. It is one of the best and worst times of the year. The sun is out (I saw it once I swear), exams are coming up, graduation is on the horizon, and the Adirondack chairs are still nowhere to be found (seriously. Where the f*** are the Adirondack chairs??). That means a lot of people are very stressed and also very horny, if history tells us anything. And that means the crush lists are upon us.

Crush lists as a concept are cute; like a post-adolescent Valentine’s card with more publicity and less free candy. It’s a fun tradition where seniors embrace the devil-may-care ethos of college hookups for what they should be, with a tongue-in-cheek open invitation to a brief fling. Midd kids talk a big game about hookup culture, but we can be really shame-y and toxic about it at the same time. Crush lists are on the lighter, more lighthearted side of this culture, or at least are meant to be. They’re a public expression of desire in a way that is pretty benign and puts the ball in the other person’s court. Which, you know, would ideally be how one approaches one’s crushes in the first place but we can’t all be experts in communication, so we make do.

No one expects to start long term relationships with anyone on their crush lists. They’re crushes in a ‘10/10 would bone’ kind of way, and that’s generally how they’re received. Of course, some people make crush lists and just include their friends, some mix-and-match, and some crush lists are honest-to-goodness shouts into the hookup void. I have enjoyed looking at and helping compose friends’ crush lists over the years, and many of them put a lot of time and energy into making them creative and fun.

However, in practice they can be (as one anonymous source says) “public and terrifying,” and the power dynamics involved can get pretty sticky. The very fact that crush lists are a senior tradition means that the power dynamics involved are automatically in favor of the one who posts the list, especially if the people on your list are juniors or underclassfolx. Power dynamics are suuuuper important to consider, yet are often ignored. While as a first year it might feel gratifying to be noticed and put on a crush list by a senior, it can be a really, REALLY big red flag, especially if that person has never had any meaningful interactions with you. While what you do with that information is up to you, make sure that any choices you make are fully informed by the power dynamics at play. And if you’re the piece of trash that does put first year girls you think are hot on your list hoping that they swoon into your arms, would your mother be proud of that decision? I don’t think so.

Another thing to consider is the fact that crush lists are immensely public things; you may be fine baring your soul to the world and putting it all out there, but think about the people on your list. Would they feel uncomfortable being named in so public a way? By posting a list publically you may be making some of the people on that list very uncomfortable, which is the opposite of the intended use for a crush list.

I know I love looking at all the creative crush lists that get put up (and taken down) and put up (and taken down) ad nauseum this time of the year. I shouldn’t have to spell out how to not be a creepy dick, but as long as you’re not a creepy dick, go forth into Crush List Season and prosper, kittens.