Apathy & Success at Dartmouth

What is the Dartmouth ideal of success, I asked you. Effortless excellence. Of course, excellence is seldom effortless. Then, maybe, it is only the appearance of effortlessness. We never deny that the game that matters so very much to us is about anything but winning and, yet, winning now precludes the appearance of the very material investment that makes success possible.

I chronically understate the work I put into anything in which I succeed. So do you. When asked what classes you’re taking five weeks into the term, you pretend you can’t remember one of them. My friend says you’ve yet to miss a single class. There’s more to it, and you, than that, obviously. We’re really quite good at caring a lot while pretending not to.

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The Female Orgasm

M: Okay this is it. After four weeks of making eye contact, six weeks of making small talk, and 3 hours of making believe I enjoy Les Miserables, you are finally allowed to touch boobs. Big night. Don’t blow it. Show your worth. Show her you know what you’re doing.

…​

F: Ten seconds ago, I was writhing uncontrollably in bed, completely on fire, in it, amongst it. It completely devoured me. That orgasm was everything I intended it to be and more, because I had made it happen. Regardless of whether I'm playing alone or with someone, there is no doubt that reaching the apex of my sexual pleasure fundamentally depends on me. While a partner's skills can aid in the hunt, my treasure box, my sex, can only be opened when I've willingly released my inhibitions and let myself go.

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The Male Orgasm

F: In a recent chat with a girl friend, she was describing her intimate night with a boy she was interested in. She used the elusive phrase, wehooked up, which I took as having sex. So you had sex? –No. So you gave him a blow job? –No. So what exactly did you do?

…​

Freshman year, my friends and I called it squirrelling. When a Wednesday, Friday or Saturday night came around we would ask the same question, “Are you squirreling tonight?” It’s, perhaps, not too clever a pun, yet still, all squirrels have to get their nut.

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S & M

For a while now, I’ve been tempted to write off my closet S & M fetish to some kind of academic interest in power relations. After all, my brief foray into the comparative literature major provided me with all of the intellectual resources required for the defense of such a position. Following contemporary academia’s lead, I could foist everything onto the Foucauldian legacy and an attendant series of obscure but ultimately meaningless terms of art—I’m just problematizing hegemony (?), queering binaries (?), and rejecting complicity with negative biopolitics via the specific intellectual exploration of handcuffs and gagballs (??). Such a move would eliminate, if not resolve, most of the ideological conflicts that plague me as I lie awake each night, thirsting for unspeakable humiliations that I, a professed feminist, cannot in good and unembarrassed conscience bring myself to explicitly enumerate.

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Down the Rabbit Hole

I remember the first time I made myself throw up. It was a Friday. I was fourteen, a freshman at a new high school and horribly self-conscious. My mother, even at this point in my life, had an uncanny way of projecting her insecurities on me—the youngest of three daughters and therefore, her last chance to do it right—and it became her personal crusade to chisel my body to her ideal form. I had the intrinsic drive to excel academically and athletically on my own, so even though SAT vocabulary lessons have been her favorite car game since I was in grade school, her focus turned to the girth of my hips. My mother raised us with the philosophy that if something is not to your liking, don’t praise it just to be polite. It helps no one, she always said. Thus, in that militant spirit, Saturday mornings became weigh-in days. At age six, I was bribed with new clothes if I lost five pounds. I remember posing for a picture before a swim meet around that time in my obnoxiously bright, purple swimsuit that I had been so proud of days before, being very aware of how my thighs touched and counting down the seconds until I could wrap myself in the safety of my towel. I still have that picture, tucked into the corner of my dorm room mirror, and I am constantly struck by how vulnerable that small child looks.

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