April 26 2013
Sunday Reflection: Yes, there are gentlemen on campus
Susan Patton's controversial letter to the Daily Princetonian advising Princeton women to search for husbands while on campus may encourage more college women to focus on dating and finding a man.
But what happens to the college woman who hasn't found someone by senior year? Some such women are embracing the term SWUG -- "Senior Washed-Up Girls."
One senior at Yale interviewed for a New York Magazine article on SWUGs complained that "she's kind of tired of the free-wheeling frat hookup culture that's so compelling to younger students. The guys know this about women her age, she says, and so they don't generally hit on senior girls."
To be a SWUG is to join a group of women who have "given up on boys because they don't so much empower as frustrate, satisfy as agitate." Their self-description is pretty depressing.
SWUGs "don't bother dressing up for class, or even for fancy parties (though they might still attend them), don't seek out meaningful (or just sexual) relationships, spend weekends at their shared homes drinking in the company of other self-identified SWUGs, and feel utter apathy about their personal lives -- all at the age of 21."
The swugdiaries.com blog, which includes anonymous posts about SWUGlife, claims that "being washed up has never been so much fun." Yet the interviews and blog posts convey sadness, frustration and discontent with college men, suggesting that these women aren't really actively choosing SWUGlife, but are describing the sad state of affairs fostered by campus culture.
SWUGs, keep reading.
Rather than reject college men entirely for sweatpants, wine and friends, SWUGs should look around their campus at the men who aren't a part of the dysfunctional hookup culture. They'll likely find that some gentlemen do exist among their peers.
The Network of enlightened Women, an organization for conservative university women, holds an annual contest on Facebook, the Gentlemen's Showcase, to identify such men.
By honoring college gentlemen, the Gentlemen's Showcase seeks to promote mutual respect between men and women, and in turn, better relations between the sexes and healthy relationships.
Alfonse Muglia, a junior at Cornell University, was just named the 2013 Gentleman of the Year. Muglia is a leader on campus, serving as the editor-in-chief of the Cornell Review, treasurer of his fraternity, captain of the intramural flag-football team and a founder of the Campus Liberty Project. He is the type of guy that Patton likely means when she advises the women at Princeton to be on the lookout for a life partner.
Where did Muglia learn gentlemanly behavior? From his father, who "really exemplifies the precious things that a gentleman does to make other people's lives easier. Like the way he will drop my Grandma off at the front door of church, not because she has any trouble walking from across the parking lot but because 'hey, she doesn't have to,' as he says."
Muglia is following in that tradition. He explains, "The best way I think I have exemplified a gentlemen is through the little, daily things I have tried to do in order to make other people's lives easier and show them that they are important to me."
While Muglia is exemplary, the young men identified during this contest are an impressive group. As Muglia said, there are many other gentlemen on campus today:
"Gentlemen absolutely still exist today. I think this contest demonstrated just that. My peers, representing schools across America, displayed the traits of respect, generosity and honor that should be expected of all men, and there are plenty of my classmates at Cornell that are just as qualified for this recognition.
"At the same time, as a society, we should remember to hold these characteristics in high esteem and actually make a conscience effort to encourage gentlemanly behavior."
Muglia doesn't seem like someone who will dismiss all senior women, but instead someone who will respect them. Rather than giving up on men, SWUGs should make sure they are looking for the right kind of men and encouraging the right kind of behavior.
NeW's Gentlemen's Showcase demonstrates that there are some gentlemen out there, so these women might want to take Patton's advice and keep looking
Karin Agness is a senior fellow at the Independent Women's Forum and founder and president of the Network of Enlightened Women.
Karin Agness is a senior fellow at the Independent Women's Forum and founder and president of the Network of enlightened Women.