The atmosphere inside a St. Olaf residence hall before a group of girls heads out to a bar, party or club is often frenzied. Outfits are changed multiple times. The question, Does this look okay? is repeated over and over again as each woman joins the chorus of feminine insecurity. Glittery eye shadow and tight, low-cut tops transform daytime students into nighttime sirens. Often, drinks are poured in preparation for the night ahead inhibitions must be lowered just a little bit before diving into the dog-eat-dog world of twenty-something socialization.
It is a scary world out there, especially at large St. Olaf parties. Sadly enough, many women consider a stiff drink a necessary predecessor to a party. It washes away any lingering insecurities and prepares them for the battle ahead the battle for the admiration of men. Women know the odds: for every guy here, there are at least two women. The competition between women is sometimes cutthroat. Parties often devolve into cannibalistic jungles in which women are out to devour each other in the process of snagging men.
Now, it isnt that these women are desperate for sex and are competing with each other for the opportunity to have a one-night stand; by my estimation, most St. Olaf women would not have sex without first establishing some level of commitment. Rather, they are in competition for sexual validation. They need to know that they are hotter, sexier and more desirable than other women. Women are not going to parties to meet new, interesting people or to extend their same-sex social circle. Often, they are congregating in clusters of well-established girlfriends and sending off small envoys to flirt with men.
If an unfamiliar group of women shows up to the party, there is little to no concerted effort on the part of other women to welcome them. Other women are simply unwanted competition, not interesting human beings. Even an old friend can become an enemy at a party. If a guy dances with an outside partner, jealousy and anger can result. Thus, nights spent at parties often end without women feeling validated sexually by men and instead feeling resentful toward each other.
So women abandon campus bars for clubs in the Cities, still in search of sexual validation. Oh, how very attractive a woman feels when an unknown male grinds his pelvis against hers. And isnt it nice to feel a strange man grind against ones back while dancing? Nights spent off campus are a way for women to affirm that they are, in fact, desirable to men. However, a night out on the town often ends with disappointment, too. The music is too loud for a dancing couple to talk and appreciate one another in more than a physical sense. Women want their physical desirability affirmed, but they also want much more than that. Man-meeting missions typically do not result in opportunities to reveal ones intelligence and character, making such endeavors unsatisfactory.
Neither the bar scene nor the party scene is fruitful ground for receiving sexual validation. Healthy sexual affirmation is hard to come by on this campus, since casual dating is rare. Women should build one another up instead of looking for men as the source of self-esteem. Women: Try to make a new girlfriend at the next party you attend. If you recognize a woman from class or you see a girl who looks lonely, strike up a conversation instead of racing off to hang onto the next available guy who walks through the door. If women stick together, maybe they will no longer have to come home on weekend evenings exhausted and dissatisfied. Maybe they will no longer have to rely on attention from men as the source for their own self-esteem boosts, and, as a result, they may come home feeling energized and beautiful.
However, as it stands, the scene inside a residence hall room after a group of girls returns from a night out is often one of palpable disappointment. The whirlwind of activity that began the night gives way to stagnant disarray. Unworn halter-tops lie discarded on the floor. Makeup cakes the counter around the sink. Curling irons, bobby pins, belts and rhinestone-barrettes are scattered across every surface reminders of yet another night they failed to work their magic.
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