Yes means yes. That’s the shorthand for the new legislation poised to become law in California. For California college students today and in the future, “yes” is an erotic word, a turn on, and an invitation to a lifetime of healthy sex.
Relationships are too important NOT to invest in. And whether you’re with the person you’re going to marry now, or you’ll marry the next person you’re with, or the next one, now is the time to invest in your personal life as well as your career.
More often than not, and particularly when it comes to things that really matter like love and career, we have mixed feelings about what we want. When you acknowledge the full range of your desires, instead of feeling guilty about them or not recognizing them, you’re much more likely to get what you want.
20-something women should care about relationships since the most important career choice a young woman makes is who she marries, says Sheryl Sandberg and other successful women. The way that you handle your desires— for a successful career, for a relationship—will make a big difference in how you go about choosing your future partner.
Female president? Check. Liberal values? Check. Focus on social justice? Check. Feminist student body? Check. When Swarthmore College, a bastion of progressive and feminist values among elite liberal arts colleges, fails to respond appropriately to charges of sexual assault and sexual harassment on campus, what hope can we have?
Susan Patton, author of an inflammatory letter to the editor of the Daily Princetonion last week, has been called a snob, a eugenecist, an anti-feminist, and clueless. I don’t deny that she got many things wrong in her letter. But the experience that she cites at a breakout session of the Women and Leadership conference held on the Princeton campus in February rings true.
What’s a good girl to do? The one form of assertion open to a good girl in relation to men is to say no. But what happens when she starts wanting to say yes? And what if she wants to say yes some of the time and no some of the time?
Leadership training for young women in how to get ahead in their careers? Check. Advocacy for changes in public policy and workplace culture that would support women’s (and men’s) desires for career success and family life? Check. Training in how to develop a relationship that will support young women’s (and men’s) career success? Not so much.
It’s high time for a truce between Sheryl Sandberg and Anne-Marie Slaughter. The argument between these two, and their stand-ins, doesn’t serve young women grappling with their historically unprecedented freedoms. What the young women I’ve spoken with yearn for is guidance in how to build satisfying relationships at the same time that they advance their careers.
One of the apparent advantages of being a bad girl is that it’s supposed to be fun. There can be pleasure in defying others’ expectations, breaking the rules, and upsetting tradition. And there can be pleasure in having no messy emotional consequences, no attachments, no settling down, and no guilt about sex. But is it really so much fun?
Too many of the messages twenty-something women hear about their development have to do with being in control and grabbing the reins. While I’m in favor of being the masters of our own destinies as women, I also want to advocate taking risks that render us a little out of control. Risks that may result in missteps and mistakes, but from which we learn more about ourselves.
Something is amiss in the promise of sexual freedom for women. If twenty-something women are the most liberated women in history, then a troubling bit of data casts light on the fact that more sex does not necessarily equal good, satisfying sex. Through my own research, I hear young women echoing the same sentiment again and again: “Why is good sex so hard to get?"
If we are to believe popular portrayals of twenty-somethings, they’re checking hookup apps rather than their mailboxes for Valentine cards. If so, my research suggests that the turn to casual sex, for young women at least, is not because they’re masters of their own destiny but because they face a new taboo. It’s not about sex or money or power. It's about relationships.
Today’s 20-something women have more freedom than their grandmothers could have imagined – educational, professional, and personal. But while this freedom has engendered a great deal of opportunity, it hasn’t necessarily resulted in women having good sex and satisfying relationships in their twenties.