As the new school year dawns, I find myself inundated by the increased amount of strange faces around IV. These are undoubtedly our new and deeply respected incoming freshmen, and so allow me to welcome any new freshmen readers (or am I supposed to refer to you as ‘first years’? Someone told me the term ‘freshmen’ was considered offensive. If this is the case, I will be continuing to offend you, freshmen) to the Wednesday Hump. This is where those without focus in class or without friends in the dining commons receive a weekly dose of some stranger’s sexual ponderings. It is a pleasure to have you added to the pool of potential mates — assuming of course you choose to assimilate into the dominant culture of this place — and I hope that you enjoy your sojourn in the twisted wonderland of Isla Vista.
But let’s talk business before pleasure. There is a choice before those new to the sociological experiment number 93117; this choice is whether to become one of the many substance-fueled hookup machines or to attempt to be normal in the conventional sense and not succumb to the pheromone-dominated atmosphere that is typical of college culture. The choice here, on a deeper level, is the classic one between security and freedom. Those who pick the former gain sexual security, comfort and a place to spend the night should they lock themselves out of their house. Those who prefer the latter gain experimental license, a fun game to play on boring nights and multiple places to spend the night should they lock themselves out of their house.
So let us examine this, the fundamental conflict that differentiates the two primary breeds in Isla Vista, and why we might choose the side we do.
Biologically, it is argued that men of the college age should prefer sexual freedom to security and women vice versa. Unfortunately, these conclusions were drawn by men and women who had been quite effectively indoctrinated by Western cultural norms, and, in truth, I could bury one in biological arguments as to why women should be promiscuous and men monogamous. The point, of course, being that sociobiology is a poorly understood field at best, and should be regarded with the same vague boredom that most restrictively simplistic social theories deserve. If you would like further evidence that the biological arguments can be disproven, I present you with two common subspecies of human: the raging female sex addict and the annoying, clingy boyfriend.
So what does drive us to be borderline hookers or cripplingly boring? Well, as borderline hookers, we get to explore aspects of human nature that are not only intellectually fascinating (because I know every single student at UCSB seeks intellectual ascension above all else), but also animalistically enthralling. The borderline hookers get to go out with the thrill of knowing that they might be getting lucky tonight — it’s a challenge, a game of skill and seduction. To anyone even vaguely familiar with the concept of ennui, this chance to play is a more powerful aphrodisiac than Spanish fly- infused chocolate dipped in oyster sauce (incidentally, delicious). And putting aside the allure of the challenge, the borderline hookers also benefit from the ability to experiment with impunity. Think you might be a chubby chaser? Go for it! Bright magenta hair? No problem. A threesome that involves exorbitant amounts of marshmallows? Hell yes, why not?
But what of the other option? Security. Well, there is the obvious: emotional and physical comfort given on relative demand. You also don’t need to worry about accidentally contributing to the evolution of a new plethora of bacteria and fungi in your nether regions. And, finally, these repeated encounters with the same person are typically considered to hold more meaning. Commitment is a show of feelings and a symbol that you are willing to surrender massive amounts of fun simply because of how much you love someone.
Now, my various grumpy, polyamorous readers, I’ll mention for you that this whole commitment thing is likely a result of cultural indoctrination. If you wish to reprogram the culture go right ahead. But, for the time being, most people view commitment, in the form of agreeing only to touch genitals with one other person, as the ultimate act of love. So there’s the allure of the second option: love, most people’s ultimate goal.
I cannot tell you, freshmen, which path to walk, but I can observe this: college is a time for experimentation and casting the net, but the goal of such a cast is often to reel in something real. My advice, then, is this: don’t settle, but don’t be afraid to settle down.
Welcome to IV.