-Shannon Sullivan | Columnist
We're at a point in our lives now where we are considered to be "adults." At the age of 18 we are awarded our independence and the responsibility to do as we please.
Many of us here at Geneseo have decided to embark on the true college experience, leaving home and entering an environment where we can truly be masters of our lives. We are permitted to pick the classes we want and stay out as late as we wish. We have the liberty to spend the night with whomever we want and decide if it's going to be something steady or a one-night fling.
The next morning, however, might not always be our shining moment. Many of us gawk at the girl standing in line for breakfast the next morning who is still clad in last night's outfit. Although we are now a generation who is exposed to sex at an early age, seeing a girl standing there holding her heels from last night is telling us more information than we need to know.
The walk of shame is something we all laugh about. For the person who's doing the walking though, it's not always so funny. It feels like everyone is staring at you. Hear someone laugh behind you? They're obviously making jokes about you to their friends. See someone whisper into a friend's ear? They're obviously commenting on how you're still in your clothes from the night before.
For the entire walk home, you're psychologically beating yourself up because you're fearful that everyone you walk past is judging you. All stares are directed at you and you find yourself practically sprinting back to your room.
Once you get home, it's no better. Many of us retreat to our rooms in an attempt to find sanctuary, only to be confronted by roommates who insist on making jokes. Although meant to be light-hearted and fun, it hurts even more because now it feels as if the people who pushed you to get with this kid in the first place are the ones judging you.
The feeling doesn't subside until you've showered and cleaned yourself up. Even then, the feeling that everyone is looking at you still doesn't leave. So you wind up spending most of your day inside, pretending to do homework while piecing together your previous night so that you won't repeat your actions the next time you go out.
The worst part is that these jokes never end. For the next week or two, your friends will repeat their joke, laugh at how uncomfortable you are and then proceed to poke fun at you for that. The event that you most wish to forget is brought up on repeat for the next few weeks until someone new in your crowd makes a similar mistake.
So, ladies and gentlemen, as happy as we are for you that you had a fantastic night somewhere, please, before you go to breakfast the next morning, remember to change your clothes. If you have time to stop for food, you probably have enough time to change beforehand.
-Darla Stabler | Columnist
Let's picture the classic walk of shame: Girl in a too-tight, too-short dress, hair a mess, smudged makeup, pair of heels dangling from one hand and her purse from the other, passing the dining hall as the girls who slept in their own dorms walk to brunch in their pajama pants. No one thinks she's classy. But what about the other, ignored people around them, like the girl walking back to campus with her boyfriend from his apartment, where she keeps a change of clothes? Or the guy who got lucky, coming back in the rumpled jeans and T-shirt he wore out? Using the same logic, they would have to share the same shame, because those who see them in public can all easily assume that they had sex the night before.
Yet they are not, in actuality, subjected to the same shame. Aside from those for whom religion has chosen to define all premarital sex as a source of disgrace, a large majority of college students think sex is an OK thing to do, and many have done it themselves. Some choose only to have sex within a committed relationship, but even most of those don't condemn it in their single friends' lives, as long as they're not putting themselves in danger by doing so, or if it's not with too many different people. So then sex itself isn't really the shameful thing about the walk of shame.
Those last stipulations for peer-sanctioned sex are in part because, with the level of sexual education in most modern American school systems, by the time they get to college, students have almost universally accepted and understood the importance of preventing pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections. It's less clear, however, what the problem is with sex with multiple or unknown partners. A little clearer is what people who engage in this type of behavior are called: sluts, tramps, whores, skanks, ladies' men and studs. The gender double standard is glaring and unfair, and everyone is familiar with it.
But let's return to the girl from the first image, the classic walker-of-shame. Let's say she's painfully insecure, and uses frequent sex with strangers as an attempt at self-validation that only leads to worse self-worth, creating a vicious cycle. While clearly a self-destructive behavior, the sex is not the problem at all, but a symptom of larger problems with her own self-image, perception of men and reaction to how she experiences the pressures of our culture.
What if, however, she's not that girl at all? What if she knows she looks good in dresses like the one she's wearing, knows how to use her femininity to attract a partner and has sex because she enjoys it? What if she always does it safely because she values her body, and doesn't always do it with people she knows because sometimes strangers are more attractive? What if she never sees the guy again because she decides she's not that into him? There's no shame in that.