Minus the City: Shakespeare on Love

Hannah Guy

Minus the City has been around for several years now. It is one of the paper’s most popular features but it’s also the one that’s caused Maroon-News editors the most headaches. Discussing sex in a college paper is difficult. Some people are always going to think this subject is inappropriate while some will want us to really push the envelope. Some want to read the column for laughs, others for real insight. Over the past few semesters this column has become a bit of a joke and there’s certainly a place for this light-hearted view of sex and relationships. But that place is not the Maroon-News. You can try the Rag or Cosmo instead. So now we’re going to try a different approach. An approach that focuses on real issues. And while we’re not trying to turn Minus the City into a sociology lecture, we do want to give the proper respect to a topic of great importance to many college students. We hope you enjoy the new and improved Minus the City column.


Katie David and Hannah Guy, Commentary Editors


Last week I was writing a paper for my Shakespeare class about the “maid’s part,” a concept that means women will pretend like they’re not interested, but eventually accept the advances of a man. (I know, I know, academic references have no place in a sex column, but the curse of a liberal arts education is that everything can be related back to class. Even sex.) Shakespeare’s leading ladies were all about saying no while meaning yes. I don’t mean this in a nonconsensual way; these women always intended to say yes, they just had to pretend that they weren’t interested in order to get assurance that the man actually is really into them.  In reading about how Juliet deals with Romeo’s advances, I had a sense of déjà vu. Juliet’s actions at the masque are not unlike those we Colgate girls are still using a few hundred years later.

I’m sure there are guys who have played this part as well, but by and large it’s a role women are expected to fulfill. I think it’s safe to say that many of us have played the maid’s part at one time or another; it’s a part of the casual college scene. We don’t want to appear overeager with a new love (or make-out) interest or we’ll be ignored and labeled easy or, worse, a clinger. Instead, we play it cool, acting like we don’t care about the boy we’re dancing with while we subtly signal to our roomies that we don’t plan on coming home tonight.

And while it’s certainly a fun game to play at a frat party or at the Jug, at what point do we choose to be honest with our partner and with ourselves? Playing coy and acting only marginally interested is how we’ve been taught to keep boys interested. So we continue to play it cool beyond the first meeting, make-out, sleepover, year, whatever. We think that these boys aren’t going to chase something that’s not running very far.

But what about when we don’t really want to run anymore? What about the times that you decide you really do like this person you’ve been sharing saliva with for the past few weeks or months? How are you supposed to smoothly transition from that oh-so-casual cool girl vibe to the potential (gasp) girlfriend routine without losing your intrigue?

I’m afraid I don’t have any concrete answers. I myself have screwed up pretty impressively in the past by withholding or declaring my true feelings at the wrong time. But shouldn’t we tell people what we mean? I think this game of pretending that you don’t actually like someone so that you can preserve some dignity when they decide your time is through is bullshit. If I’m going to go through something, I want to know that I gave it a full fighting chance and not realize later that the reason it ended is because we didn’t say what we really meant.

So that’s what I’ve decided to do lately. If it’s important enough I’m going to say what I really mean. And maybe someone will think I’m crazy or annoying. At best they’ll accept my apologies and accept me for the outspoken girl I am. At worst they’ll tell everyone in their frat/sports team/townhouse to stay away from me. But I’ve only got a few semesters left here and I’m tired of playing the maid. I’m embracing my inner Shrew (that’s Kat in 10 Things I Hate About You for you non–English majors) and I’m saying what I mean.