When college women are free to do what they want, some of them are going to want to behave like college jackasses. They're going to drink, swear, hook up sloppily and indiscriminately, barf in the streets, and generally act like boorish male characters in straight-to-DVD sex comedies. Oh, and one more thing: despite what an entire subgenre of concernmongering Little Girls Lost trend pieces on the phenomenon might have you think, they're perfectly happy.
The latest in what seems like an endless series of articles examining the lifestyle choices and vaginal occupancy rates of college women focuses on Princeton's infamous Tiger Inn, a co-ed dining club on campus that serves as a sort of Ivy League den of iniquity for the nation's future George W. Bushes. Since its court-ordered gender desegregation 22 years ago, the TI (as the cool kids call it, I guess) has become the place to go for Princeton's hardest partiers. The initiation process is exactly the sort of thing you'd expect from an eXtReMe frat-like establishment on a college campus populated by rich bored children living outside of their parents' home for the first time — goldfish swallowing, exposure to the elements, naked butt touching, etc. And once students are in, the debauchery continues. From The Atlantic,
I heard the Tiger Inn stories: competitive projectile vomiting, harmonious chanting of "tits for beer," and naked guys standing on tables while strumming their "penis guitars." I looked on—kind of horrified, but also transfixed.
What's noteworthy about the Tiger Inn is that last year, for the first time, the majority of people who tried to get in were women. But here's where the moralizing we normally see in pieces like this stops and actual analysis of the reasons women would care to join begins.
Turns out, women want to be a part of the Tiger Inn's dickstrumming pukeracing culture because the other organizations that provide mainly socialization for college women (cough *sororities* cough) suck. More from the Atlantic piece:
In every chapter of Zeta Chi, women who exhibit "unladylike behavior" (dancing on bars, being too sexual, and being too drunk are the most common offenses) are called into Standards, a court-like panel of students elected by the sorority's upperclassmen. Zeta Chi doled out punishments on a regular basis, banning women from social events or even retracting their sorority membership.
Enforced collegiate ankle-crossing femininity is outdated and suffocating. Besides, now that only BYU students go to college for their MRS degrees and there's years of of breathing room between college and family making for most women privileged enough to have access to higher education, there wouldn't be a reason to practice wifing around even if chastity and restraint were still standards to which women with degrees were expected to adhere by their peers. Is it any wonder that Princeton women are flocking toward a place like the Tiger Inn, where everyone is free to do whatever they want without worrying what the disciplinary panel will think? As one surprisingly profound source quoted in the piece puts it: "There is no pressure for a girl to be a girl."
I admit that as I read the piece — which, by the way, is one of the least stupid examinations of college women's behavior I've ever seen in a major mainstream publication and was written by a college student — I felt a sort of nagging annoyance at the students the author described. Ugh, the jackasses making loud noises at the bar at 2 am. Ugh, girls falling over their teetering heels when they try to pee in an alley. Ugh, these kids with their fun and their hookups and their Instagrams and their youth phrases I don't understand. If I had a lawn, I'd want them off it.
But that's another side of equality, right? Equal opportunity for women to succeed means equal opportunities to act like liver-shredding idiots. And as long as Tiger Inn types aren't hurting anyone or barfing on my front steps at 3 am, who am I — or anyone— to condemn them as anything besides run-of-the-mill obnoxious college kids? Who am I to dictate what must or must not make them happy? Who am I to project my own social conditioning onto them? Besides, the women of the Tiger Inn too busy licking food items off each others' bodies to give a shit about the opinion of a woman whose ideal Friday night involves tacos, Breaking Bad, and falling asleep before most of them have even hit the bars.
Illustration by Sam Woolley.