Yes Means Yes

Molly Binenfeld

How many times have you heard the phrase “hook-up culture?” I can officially say that I have lost count – the number of times that phrase has either been uttered or illuminated on a sign or poster has re­duced the phrase to a set of meaningless words, a concept lacking a clear definition or purpose.

Ironically, the overuse of the phrase is not perpetuated by conversations in my daily life (think about it, how many times have you said to your roommate recently “I really enjoy Colgate’s hook-up cul­ture?”), but rather by Colgate’s administra­tion, which seems adamant in clinging to a mantra that they refuse to define.

I was tired of Colgate telling me what I was doing was wrong, and I was tired of hearing other students bemoan the same thing. So, I signed up for “Yes Means Yes” this fall, hoping to find a venue to voice my frustration. Not only did I find a group of people I could voice my opinions to, I found out that I really wasn’t alone in thinking the way I felt.

Humor me for a minute. What do you think would happen if the administration wrote, “Hang up the casual-drunken-sex and return to the extremely sexist and gen­der-stereotypical ways of behaving where men and women only have sex in long term relationships?” Okay. Obviously, it doesn’t have quite the same ring as “Hang up the Hook-Up and Bring Back the Date.” But isn’t that really what they mean? First of all, by telling students what they are doing, the administration is essentially classifying all Colgate students as animals that go out, drink, hook up with someone and never speak to them again. While some Colgate students do engage in that behavior, cer­tainly not all of them do. The Jug can’t even physically hold that many people to make all those hook-ups happen.

But second and more importantly, what if students want to do that? If a man or woman partakes in what Colgate calls the hook-up culture, but owns what he or she does because she enjoys it, why should that person be told what to do? As long as both partners are on the same page about what they are doing, who are we to tell them to conform to a choice that doesn’t adhere to their lifestyle?

These types of questions are what “Yes Means Yes” is really about. It’s not just about generic terms like “consent,” “gray rape” or “positive sexuality.” It’s about dis­cussing how these concepts (and others) really work at Colgate.

What if, for example, American chil­dren grew up in a culture that discussed sex not in terms of STDs, pregnancy and HIV, but in one that was focused on sex as something that is enjoyable or fun? Ob­viously, the thought of having that talk with your parents might make you liter­ally convulse in fear, but isn’t that exactly the point?

It has been ingrained in us to think about sex as something bad with negative consequences, but just amuse me for a mo­ment and think about how cool it would be if sex was portrayed as something positive.You get the point. This is the core of “Yes Means Yes.”

While the confidentiality of the group prohibits me from giving you specific de­tails of exactly the subject matter that “Yes Means Yes” covers, I’m hoping you get the general point. But if we are going to hon­estly and critically address any of the issues that either we as students or Colgate as an administration have about the “hook-up culture,” we have to start somewhere.