Recently, some new advertisements have cropped up on bulletin boards across campus, inviting us all to Friday night parties at various sports bars and dance clubs. One poster asks us to dress up as traffic workers with our sexual status color coded like traffic lights: red for “taken,” green for “single,” and yellow for “taken but looking.” Another invites us to show up dressed as either “naughty school girls” or “dirty professors.”
The color photographs leave little doubt of the target market. The pictures show smiling college girls dressed like prostitutes on a shoestring budget. The intended audience consists of young, sexually desperate, heterosexual males. The message being sent is that if you come to the right place at the right time, you’ll find a bar full of equally desperate young women.
I wasn’t surprised that local nightclubs are trying to manipulate people’s desires in order to make some fast cash—heck, that kind of crass commercialism is considered a civic duty in today’s America. But I do wonder if there are actually people out there who believe the implicit message: that as long as you attend the right bar on the right night, stepping over the threshold into the smoky air and neon light, you’ll find girls fawning all over you and finally become the smooth sexual predator that the movies tell you it’s your dream to be.
I remember when I was just a young fellow myself and still thought of sex as something that brings people together. The sad truth is more often than not it keeps us apart. Those who want to be with members of their own sex are banished to the fringes of society, less from religious prejudice than for the fact that high school bullies find homophobia an easy tool for manipulating victims willing to do anything to avoid having the wrong label affixed to them. If a young woman wants to show off her body, she must spend half of her income calibrating her wardrobe choices to those of a handful of Manhattan magazine editors or risk being thought of as cheap, tawdry or worse.
The barbed wire of mutual animosity between the sexes is so dense and sharp that we often have to flood our bloodstream with alcohol before we’re even comfortable making eye contact.
We’re all used to dividing up the world of attraction between male and female, good and straight, wholesome and daring, but the real divide seems to be the one between those who are stunning to look at and those of us who are plain. My feet are firmly planted in the latter category. Women think of me as a teddy bear, a cuddly big brother, but seldom in “that way.” My girlfriends invariably start cheating on me the night after I say “I love you,” and they’re surprised when I’m upset. And why shouldn’t they be—the unattractive have no right to feelings, it seems. Anyone who’s been to the movies knows it’s always the good-looking ones who save the world and that romance is their just reward. The rest of us are just there for comic relief.
Maybe my problem is just that I haven’t been going to the right sports bar on Friday nights, but to tell the truth, I don’t think the fantasy they’re selling is the one I’m interested in. So far I have yet to see an advertisement for a Friday night party spent putting aside all the games and labels, a Friday night when the naughty school girls stay home and leave the playing field to grown women capable of recognizing life’s hardships and sharing the joy of its successes. But I’m keeping my eye out, because that’s the party for me.