"Whenever I go into a restaurant, I order both a chicken and an egg to see which comes first"

Saturday, March 9, 2024

Sex At Yale - A Social History Of Getting Laid

In the old days when Yale was true blue - New England aristocratic pedigree, universal talent, shared culture, and an all male camaraderie - sex was hard to come by, or at least a few hours ride away.  Men from Davenport, Trumbull, and Jonathan Edwards made the trek to Boston, Poughkeepsie, and Northampton to meet the right sort of girl, invite her to New Haven and with any luck spend a night at the Taft hotel. 

The Class of '64 was on the cusp of the Old Yale and the new.  Women were yet to be admitted, a few Italians and Jews were trickling in, drugs and rock 'n' roll a few years away, and yet there was a restiveness.  Fence Club and Skull and Bones - august Yale redoubts of privilege and breeding - seemed somehow anachronistic, old-fashioned, and a bit stuffy and antiquated.  Still, all in all, Yale was much as it had always been, a place of academic honor and social prestige. 

There were of course 'townies', Italian girls from Wooster Square who gave it up in hope of some future other than pasta fazool, mothballs, and coal oil, but Yalies were interested in the carriage trade, the girls from Wellesley and Smith who could be seduced and still talk Kant and dance with the best of them.  The Palumbos and Pozzis from across the tracks were neat little diversions, hardly worth the effort, but easily had. These dark, mustachioed Angelas put out, went back to Olive Street and came back for more. 

Every Yalie had sex, or so the story went.  Tall, blonde, blue-eyed, patrician Bostonians descended from the Northumberlands and Plantagenets were sure to be bedding the debutantes of Park Avenue, Rittenhouse Square, and Shawnee Mission with a little Sicilian nookie on the side.  This was one university myth that was true and a confirmation of historical truth - looks, family, and education are guarantors of breeding rights.  It was the Jewish nerds from Brooklyn college who had to scratch and scrap; and no matter how much they may have wanted the silky, flaxen-haired beauties of Vassar, they were stuck with frizzy-haired socialist labor activists. 


Of course even at Yale there were inconsistencies - oddities who even after four years were still consulting advice for the lovelorn and having their horoscopes cast by Madame Zora on Whitney Avenue. Choate, let alone Loomis, was simply not St. Paul's, St. Mark's, or Groton and the second-raters who went there felt the social bite.  Rumor had it that Jonathan Edwards, one of Yale's residential colleges, was the gay one, but out front, above board homosexuality was still many years off.  

So on weekends half the college headed north for dates at the Seven Sisters, and the other half entertained them in New Haven. 

The Class of '74 was of a different era.  Ten years made all the difference in the world.  Women were admitted, although not in one fell swoop, and male students for the first time had to adjust to lingerie hanging in the bathroom.  In one submission to the Class Book Of Nineteen Seventy-Four, a woman wrote that she felt like a bitch in a cage while wolf packs of sexually aggressive men circled hungrily. This was not representative, however, for most women in those early co-ed classes were quite happy with the sex ratio. One woman wrote:

I was quite happy with the bitch-in-heat role, and made the best of it.  I was Rosalind, Viola, and Portia with my pick of the lot.  I could be choosy and horny at the same time.  Boys from Marblehead to Charleston came sniffing around, wanting a taste. After triage, I entertained the best - the best schooled, the best pedigreed, and the best hung.  It was a cornucopia of sexual delights. 

There was a self-triage among the men as well.  There were those who were happy with Old Guard courtship, treks to Holyoke and Smith or to schools of looser sexuality and lesser intelligence like Briarcliff; those who enjoyed the challenge of tough odds and joined the wolfpack at home; and those few who were flummoxed by the proximity of women and demurred if not retreated from the chase.  

By the time the Class of '84 rolled around, the sexual revolution had changed the campus forever.  Yale was admitting all ethnic comers, and family, legacy, and upbringing went out the window. Women now made up half the student body so demand for Seven Sisters' sex dropped precipitously.  '84 was the best of times, a time of sexual collegiality before the era of race-gender-ethnicity rolled in. Although sex was more 'diverse' on campus - everyone it seemed was giving cunnilingus top billing - the beginning of a more cloistered era of sexual identity was at hand.  You were something or you were not and were expected to behave accordingly. 

The class books of each decade's reunion are markers of the way sex at Yale has evolved.  There are no more The Hooker Of Davenport chronicles of sexual abandon and adventure, and many more about identity and all that goes with it - No Means No, male predation and boorish pursuit, and the magnificence of gender transformation. 

The question less and less answered is the perennial one - Are you getting laid, how often, and with whom?  But of course even posing the question these days is tantamount to misogynist abuse at best and prejudicial profiling at worst.  The very question is dismissive and abusive of asexual Yale students; so no one will ever know who's doing what to whom, whether rooms at the Marriott are fully booked, and whether or not I-95 is still a sexual highway. 

A classmate of mine remarked that if everyone was having sex at Yale all the time, the famed collegiality, ethos, and traditions of the university would begin to crack. Sex has never been a love-the-one-you're-with affair.  Lovers bitch, fight, and exact their pounds of flesh all to the detriment of the old college try. Better some measure of circumspection than letting all hell break loose. 

Actually there is no danger of that.  Progressivism has provided a natural brake to sexual behavior. In today's censorious, neo-Puritanism it is better to avoid sex than to be caught in a string of lawsuits, censure, and the stocks. 


The good old days are long gone, and those of us who enjoyed delightful sex up and down the Eastern Seaboard are bits of archival material, nothing more. 

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.