In a review for First Things, Helen Rittelmeyer has an amusing take on the sexual culture at elite universites. Students at places like Yale, she argues, are prolific in their hooking up not because they're hedonists, but because they want to be the best at sex the same way they're the best at everything else:
It would be more accurate to say that Yale students treat sex as one more arena in which to excel, an opportunity not just to connect but to impress. Every amateur sonneteer secretly believes his verse to be as good as the United States poet laureate’s, and every undergraduate programmer suspects his code rivals the best in Silicon Valley. It’s not very different for Yale students to say that, if pornography is the gold standard of sexual prowess, then that is the standard to which they must aspire.
The book Rittelmeyer is reviewing has a different take. In Sex and God at Yale, alum Nathan Harden finds his former classmates to be just plain lascivious. Rittelmeyer thinks this view misses the basic point that high-striving kids today are more about excellence than eros. This raises the question: If prudishness were in vogue, would Yalies be famously chaste?
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