Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus, and Harvardians are Hitchhikers in the GalaxyPosted: October 14, 2011
To the layman, or the freshman, descriptions of the Harvard romantic scene must read like charges in the Khodorkovsky trials – completely contradictory. Here are some of the things that have been written about our other set of extracurricular activities:
1) Recreational sex is like women giving out free samples.
2) Our school plays porn to students.
3) You’re single, or you’re married.
4) Harvard is indeed a barren waste-land of sexual destitution.
5) Everyone needs stories to tell at Sunday brunch.
To some extent, these comments are all true. The school does play porn. It also holds orgasm seminars, and is home to one of the Ivy League’s most virulent abstinence societies.
But the problem with editorials that have been published about sex at Harvard is that they tend to engage the topic from political angles and thus become whiny and sanctimonious. A conservative’s Harvard is an LGBT bastion; a liberal’s, the birthplace of True Love Revolution.
But for all the complaining that goes on, Harvard is a pretty solid place to be young and lonely. You start out freshman year having just cast off your long-time significant other headed for state school back home, determined to slay scores of biddies, experiment with lesbianism, and generally live like Jack Nicholson (while acing the LSATs). This determination lasts from First Chance Dance to Mather Lather, where you acquire two things: a girlfriend, and your first STD. The STD isn’t even from the girlfriend.
If you weren’t lucky enough to score at Camp Harvard, you will probably join the undressed hordes Saturday night at one of our frat-like establishments, where non-final club guys will try to pass themselves off as final club guys and final club guys will try to finger you in full view of your giggling girlfriends. You recap these stories at Sunday brunch.
Freshman year is exciting because you can do the stupidest things and still be cool. In fact, stupid, infantile acts are what make you cool. When people meet you, you want to be that kid, the one that people already know about, because you did XYZ and nearly got shanked on the wrong side of Cambridge Commons.
With sophomore year comes some understanding of our social landscape. Technically, we all live in the same dorms and eat in the same dining halls and take the same classes, so have thousands of potential mates to choose from. But this is not actually the case. Upperclassman girls generally don’t date freshman guys. The recruited athletes date amongst themselves. Chinese girls date Chinese guys, except the ones who date brothers in AEPi. And Korean girls — well, I think they’re tough for just about everyone.
So at the junior year mark, you will find yourself in one of two states – desperate and single, or desperate and in a relationship. The single ones are those who, due to high standards, academic drive, or obliviousness, eschewed offers from freshman fall. The ones in a relationship are those who started cohabiting with their freshman hook-ups and now find themselves at 21 with half a Harvard degree and tampons in their boxers drawer. You will proceed to have a panic attack and dump your girlfriend on your second anniversary, leading to extreme awkwardness at junior parents weekend when the respective moms and dads carry on as though they don’t know the two of you have broken up.
And finally, senior year! You’re magna cum laude, phi beta kappa, with plans to start your own hedge fund and have Aaron Sorkin write you into a film featuring Michael Douglas and Brooklyn Decker as your third wife. On the other hand, your Cabot single is starting to feel pretty empty; you remember why you put up with your ex’s mustache shadow and passive-aggressiveness: the consistent sex. For others, the perpetually single ones, there is another spectre haunting, the spectre of virginity. You feel like you could pull off a Ponzi scheme and still not be exciting enough for girls to take their clothes off. But fear not! You will likely lose it on the drunken march to graduation. Because after you have handed in your senior thesis on pre-colonial crime rates in French Polynesia, there will be nothing left to do but sit back, relax, and get naked. I mean, that’s the beauty of Harvard — at worst, Primal Scream is only a couple of midterms away.