Quick Hit: Are you an undergrad with something to say about love?

Modern love header with heart balloons and quotes

The New York Times is hosting their annual Modern Love college essay contest. In the spirit of Ann’s last post, you should write!

If you have a personal story that illustrates the current state of love and relationships, e-mail it to us at essaycontest@nytimes.com. The winning author will receive $1,000 and his or her essay will be published in a special “Modern Love” column on May 1, 2011, and on nytimes.com.

Full details here.

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  • jss

    I went to their website and read last year’s winner, and I have to say I was decidedly NOT impressed with the judge’s decision. The quality of the writing was good, of course, and I have nothing against the author, who has every right to express her experiences. However, her story of “modern love” perfectly fits the same old, exhausted party line that the media has been pushing on us for years now: women are trying to sell sex for commitment and failing because for some unknown reason, being sexually liberated prevents them from saying, “I want commitment” to the men they have sex with. I’m SURE that this contest received equally well written essays that expressed ideas that were genuinely new and told stories that had not been told before. But only this essay got printed, with its really questionable, anti-feminist overtones.

    The essay’s basic content was a painfully predictable, college age edition of Sex and the City: a young woman who lives in New York City, who recounts in brief form an endless and entertaining litany of flings, who desperately craves commitment and love but for some, never explained reason, she is incapable of expressing this to her dates or selecting dates who want the same.

    She says vaguely that monogamy has something (although she never explains what) to do with a desire for a permanent relationship that is so strong, “my fear or dislike or boredom [with my dates] never seems to diminish my underlying desire for a guy to stay, or at least to say he is going to stay, for a very long time.”

    Despite this, in her story, she continues seeing a man even though on their FIRST date he “explained his theory of exclusive relationships, which was that they shouldn’t exist.”

    She crystallizes the hazy subtext that women-sell-sex-for-commitment with this description of how he sleeps: “During the night he kicked and snored, grabbing greedily at me with his well-moisturized hands like a child snatching at free candy.”

    Of course! The body of a woman who sleeps with a man before getting commitment out of him is “free candy”. That’s right ladies, your bodies are candies and you’re selling them to the menz–unless you have casual sex, in which case, you’re giving them away for free! And the greedy, childish menz are happy to take it without paying you with their willingness to hang around despite the fact that you find them boring.

    Of course, the piece ends with her soul-crushing disappointment when she discovers that a man–a man who explicitly said he doesn’t believe in exclusive relationships, who she’s gone on like 3 dates with–wants to plan more dates with her after he gets back from a trip, rather than before he goes on that trip.

    Her final conclusion appears to be that the state of “modern love” is about sad, loveless women miserably trying to force themselves to like casual sex (although again, she never, ever attempts to explain why women who want relationships don’t say that early, or at the least part ways with men who say they don’t want relationships). As she puts it, “I tried to tell myself that I’m young, that this is the time to be casual, careless, lighthearted and fun; don’t ruin it.”

    This contest is definitely NOT going to result in any pro-feminist outcome.

    • http://feministing.com/members/azure156/ Jenny Gonzalez-Blitz

      Yeah, that sounds really stupid. I should enter this but I’m not an undergrad.