Sex and the University: Quick, Act Cool?

 While the university exam season has begun and our blood pressure rises astronomically at the sight of exam rooms, we all have one thing in common: the strive to make ourselves have that little edge that says “we’ve got this” to our tutors. This led me to wonder, why is it others succeed to get noticed more than others – not just at university but in everyday life? We each fight with the disco ball for a little stardom and spotlight during a Saturday night boogie. A statement designer top which one couldn’t simply purchase from Urban Outfitters can prove to catch the eyes of a few, and while some use clothing, others use vibrant hair dyes, statement piercings, or twist-and-shout dance moves.

 When we’re wrapped in our fluffy dressing gowns, face smothered with chocolate and sweets while watching Sex and the City on repeat, we couldn’t possibly imagine anyone fancying us. So, therefore, when we hit the town we put, maybe not our best shoes forward, but that little fake persona we all create in social situations. We needn’t be in a band performing with tingling vocals, or an actor on stage demonstrating his voice with a co-star, or even a life model oozing with the self-confidence of a figure that could only make everyone in the room jealous. But isn’t that what all performers do: they create an effect in you, and whether its love or hate it can rattle some admiration in our hearts. When someone performs well in bed it is hard for us to not want it again and again, but that might not mean that they necessarily want the same from you.

We all hide behind screens, and not just Tinder’s. We’re all capable of sending off messages like we’re reading off the script for those imagined and well-rehearsed conversations when we don’t have that two-minute pause for taught, and the answers to questions on a date must be met within seconds. 

So with text messages, Facebook messenger, Instagram, apps galore in mind, when did we forget to stop acting and start being? And when did we find it so difficult to improvise and just go with it?

When I was younger my mother used to say I had to have a mask to hide behind if I was angry or upset with her whilst being in social situation where she wouldn’t want either of us to be embarrassed. With the plastered façade, I would not only be lying to everyone, but it would transform me into a happier mood. Science is on my side with this one, as research does show that if you smile for twenty-seconds it convinces you that you are, in fact, happy. But why do we have to lie to ourselves to appease others?

If you like someone and you make those feelings obvious, their answer is usually to run away, and not because your performance in bed was bad, your pub-date conversation subpar, but because you showed too much of your true self – and I don’t mean just skin.  So, really, why is being ‘cool’ the way you can have to ‘perform’ to be liked? Our performances are improving, but this can only mean that we are losing a bit of our individuality along the way. While we all strive to have distinctive styles and posts across our various social media pages, we forget that we should all have one thing in common: a heart.

Although women fear to be either emotionally or sexually slutty, we all find ourselves falling for a particular type of guy. Our attraction towards them doesn’t necessarily arise from their facial features, hairstyles, or height, but more from the aura which one gives off. If a guy isn’t necessarily as tall, do they have to charm and bounce more to be noticed and distinguish themselves from a crowd while the athletic and muscly guys walk with more certainty and power? Could it be said that bearded lumberjack types are more caring and enjoy pints at Ben Nevis? Or that skater boys use Instagram as a diary and know their way around film cameras? Assorting people into groups and personality types isn’t necessarily fair, but when it’s all that a person familiarises themselves with and their vision of what is ‘cool’, it is hard to look past their acting.

Taller men with facial hair might have the old-fashioned appearance of what a man is expected to look like, but it doesn’t necessarily equate to what it really means to be man. You can be; macho, sporty, musical, arty or philosophical but the definition of ‘manly’ can really be constructed by any one of us. In terms of the actual definition of the term, the Online Dictionary had some interesting insights:

 

“having or denoting those good qualities traditionally associated

with men, such as courage, strength, and spirit.”

“a manly torso of perfect proportions”

Synonyms:

brave, courageous, bold, valiant, valorous, fearless, plucky, macho,

manful, intrepid, daring, lionhearted, heroic, gallant, chivalrous,

swashbuckling, adventurous, stout-hearted

 

If we continue to think men and women are mere opposites of each other, then what kind of list of credentials is needed for someone to be womanly in order for a ‘man’ to fancy us? The Online Dictionary seems to only describe ‘womanly’ as something as just being ‘feminine’ or having a ‘curvaceous’ figure.

 

“relating to or having the characteristics of a woman or women.”

“her smooth, womanly skin”

 Synonyms:

 feminine, female; archaic feminal

“her womanly virtues”

of a girl’s or woman’s body) fully developed and curvaceous.

“I’ve got a womanly figure”

Synonyms: voluptuous, curvaceous, shapely, ample, opulent, full-figured…

 

Shouldn’t both sexes share these manly virtues, and is the question for women – have we become too feminine for mankind? Percy Sledge never defined what kind of woman he was referring to in his song When a Man Loves a Woman but you would hope he meant more than a body with curves. I will not carry out a feminist debate in my column but the idea that a man would have to possess all of these attributes in order to be manly is as frustrating as it is for women to have such a limited scope, all of which have very little to do with actual personality.

While I’m trying to face growing up, the only masks I try to use nowadays are the ones required in salvaging my skin rather than ones used for performing. After all, one day you might meet someone truly marvellous and yet they only believed that you suited them because of the aura you pretended to give off. People, however, do change, every day is different, and we shouldn’t judge or categorise ourselves too much. The world is evolving and so are we, so we shouldn’t find harm in mixing it up with the type of guy we fall for either. 

Being honest about your feelings and troubles might not make you that ‘cool’ one in the crowd or be what gets you noticed, but it can help you find someone that grooves on a similar wave to you and makes for a high Saturday night. Everyone is entitled to their own type, and with that in mind, we should stop acting, start living, and leave the performance side of life to the bedroom.

Written by Charlotte Dean. 

 

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