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They belonged to sororities (or would never dream of it), reported for the school newspaper, sang or danced in performance groups, played sports.Some spent almost every weekend night at a “downtown” (a fraternity party at a nightclub, where men paid for bottle service) or at a campus bar.
They spoke over the course of the academic year, often repeatedly and at length.In this context, some women, like A., seized the opportunity to have sex without relationships, preferring “hookup buddies” (regular sexual partners with little emotional commitment) to boyfriends.Others longed for boyfriends and deeper attachment. They watched a little TV, had sex and went to sleep.Instead, she’ll talk about “cost-benefit” analyses and the “low risk and low investment costs” of hooking up.They were found in a wide variety of ways, from chance encounters in coffee shops to introductions from friends.
Because they believed that talking publicly about sex could come back to haunt them — by damaging their reputations at Penn, their families’ opinions of them or their professional future — the women spoke on the condition that their full names would not be revealed.
Typical of elite universities today, Penn is filled with driven young women, many of whom aspire to be doctors, lawyers, politicians, bankers or corporate executives like Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg or Yahoo’s Marissa Mayer.
Keenly attuned to what might give them a competitive edge, especially in a time of unsure job prospects and a shaky economy, many of them approach college as a race to acquire credentials: top grades, leadership positions in student organizations, sought-after internships.
Instead, she enjoyed casual sex on her terms — often late at night, after a few drinks, and never at her place, she noted, because then she would have to wash the sheets.
Nationally, women now outnumber men in college enrollment by 4 to 3 and outperform them in graduation rates and advanced degrees.
Their time out of class is filled with club meetings, sports practice and community-service projects.