Monday, August 24, 2009

Alma Mater? I Don't Even Know Her! or, Adventures at Naked U

A funny thing about this blog is that my friends have started to throw things my way as potential post subjects. They ask if something is "blog-worthy" the way Elaine wondered if men were "sponge-worthy" on Seinfeld. Since I often blog about things like how my Diet Coke smells or the fact that summer is hot, I'm not sure why my friends think I have any kind of standards. Bless their hearts.

Anyway, my friend Matt sent me a link recently about my alma mater, Wesleyan, starting a sex magazine (hilariously, the Hartford Courant's title for the article is "College Sex Magazine Includes Nudity, Erotic Poetry". Um, duh).

I think it's telling that, if you went to Wesleyan, this is not remotely surprising. In fact, I'm kind of disappointed that Harvard managed to do it five years earlier. See, Wesleyan is nothing if not obsessed with sex and nudity. I saw more bare breasts than hacky sacks during my four years there, which is saying a lot.

In 1998, when I first set foot on campus, Wesleyan not only had co-ed dorms but also co-ed bathrooms, which I thought was cool but which almost gave my grandmother a heart attack when she came to visit and walked in unsuspectingly to see a towel-clad football player using the urinal. The chances of seeing someone naked were high, especially for the tall boys, who could look down over the wall into the next shower stall. There was an unofficial "naked dorm," WestCo, in which there were clothing-optional dorm meetings, but all in all none of the Wesleyan dorms were chaste. There were nights of topless dancing in the hallway, and I remember coming home one day to find packets of lube taped to my door.

There were also Naked Parties, which were held from time to time at Earth House, which, as the name implies, celebrated anything and everything au naturel. The Naked Parties were held every semester, although I never attended (while I may be a literary exhibitionist, I am not a physical one... last week's pool party notwithstanding) mostly because a dancing penis is not something I want to see in my lifetime. A friend of mine went once, and reported back that after having used the bathroom she had a piece of toilet paper stuck to her bare ass for twenty minutes before anyone told her.

Of course, all of that warm, fuzzy, mostly non-sexual nakedness seems benign when compared to the infamous pornography class that was taught in the spring of my freshman year. Students' final projects included video, photography, and fiction, all of which were explicit. An alternative, frat-like society called Eclectic hosted a yearly XXX party, at which porn was projected on the walls, as well as a "frottage" party (even though it sounds like something you might find in the dairy aisle, it means dry-humping). I remember, during my senior year, seeing fliers posted near the campus grocery store looking for participants to appear in a Wesleyan porn film.

With all this in mind, it seems (forgive the pun) anti-climactic for a Wesleyan sex magazine to come out now, and downright insulting that it includes no actual pornography. I've heard rumors that the school has changed since I was there, that large-scale house parties—let alone Naked Parties—are no more, and that the administration has cracked down on the hippie-dippy, laissez-faire vibe that the university was once known for. This makes me sad. Could the Wesleyan I knew have buttoned up so much that now a soft-core magazine with "erotic poetry" is considered scandalous? I would watch a dancing penis just to make that not be true.


  1. I remember being on Spring Break and some large, pasty, American business-turd-man was going on and on about this article he'd read in the NY Times about this school in New England with a Naked Dorm and how it was such an abomination,etc... I piped up "I live in that dorm."

    He shut up. He looked disgusted, but he shut up.

  2. Anonymous5:08 PM

    I always thought the NYT made too big a deal out of the Westco thing. I mean, Wesleyan is in freaking CONNECTICUT--it was too cold most of the year to be naked, anyway! Granted, I lived in Hewitt at the time, but still, even the people I knew who lived in Westco were only naked at the times when you'd expect people to be naked (sleeping, showering, sex, etc.)


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