Ask women around campus and you’ll hear the woes of college dating at the University. In the New York Times article “The New Math on Campus,” Alex Williams tiptoes around the edges of the truth but doesn’t get to the heart of the story because he’s not one of the girls he writes about.
I am, and I’m friends with them. I also spent last summer conducting original institutional review board-certified research about female-male relations and the disappearance of the “Prince Charming” figure in our lives.
What I found might surprise you, it might even shock you, but I know for certain that it would blow Alex Williams out of the water.
Once upon a time, fairy tales originated as oral traditions passed down from spinsters and working women about women’s strength and opportunities in the world.
However, when folk tales were written down (mostly by men), these stories were left out or changed. Heroes and princes became the ultimate saviors, and strong women became damsels in distress. Because women were described “as men see (or don’t see) them,” it has influenced the way women see themselves today.
Alex Williams searched the UNC campus and described women as he saw them: fighting for men’s attention wearing “tight-fitting tops, hair sculpted, makeup just so.” He painted a degrading and stereotypical view of our generation.
In my research, I collected information from women ages 18 to 25 at UNC and abroad that revealed just the opposite. I found a generation of smart, talented, beautiful women who study, explore and chase their dreams with or without a male partner. The vast majority of women I interviewed were single but not damsels in distress who feared that they wouldn’t get married if they didn’t meet someone in college.
They were heroines doing groundbreaking research, who had volunteered in Ghana or Peru, or were paying their way through one of the best public universities in the nation — which they had been accepted into based on their own merit.
At the same time, these women were searching for “Prince Charming” too. Ninety percent of American women I polled believed that their “Prince Charming” would marry them one day and that he would be about their age and have similar interests — no wonder we are looking for a prince in college. According to the Williams’ article, the average population of male undergraduates is even smaller when you look at it as a dating pool. But it’s a great pool, and it expands much wider than the Deep End bar where Williams so narrowly searched.
Williams’ “New Math” made a miscalculation. Yes, women are the majority. But we don’t need to “compete for men on men’s terms” because they have “the social power.” In the land of democracy, if we as the majority are not happy with the current social laws of the land, then let’s celebrate a coup d’etat and institute new laws. It’s not a detriment to have more women on campus; it’s a strength. Before “Prince Charming,” women were teaching women about their strengths and about the opportunities that lay ahead of them. Let us be creative.
Let us swim outside the pool, make our own social laws and write our own fairy tales. Let us see and be seen as our own Prince Charmings. Because if you want the heart of the truth, if you want what’s deeper than the deep end — we already are.
Kerry Anne Williams is a junior English major from New Bern studying abroad for the semester in Sevilla, Spain.
E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org
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