When thinking about life in college, people might imagine the freedom that comes along with being a student. This autonomy gives students the ability to make independent decisions and do as they please. With a newfound sense of liberation, students may find themselves partying, drinking, and having casual sex. Having gone to a strict boarding high school, Ainsley, a junior, quickly integrated herself into the hookup culture at Brown.
Ainsley: “I felt like I had the freedom to explore my sexuality with guys… When I got here I was on a sports team and I think I was immediately introduced to this very toxic microcosm”
Ainsley is a former member of the women’s crew team. She came to Brown and found herself instantly immersed in the sports and hookup culture, which she says are largely intertwined, yet she regarded both with familiarity.
She came from a high school where male classmates kept tallies on their dorm room doors of how many women they had “scored with.”
Ainsley: “I didn’t feel like I was worth a lot in terms of guys. I felt like my social status was determined by the amount of guys I hooked up with and who I hooked up with; it wasn’t determined by my confidence or my accomplishments…. Guys didn’t really see you as a friend, they saw you as an object.”
She had grown accustomed to female objectification and considering it normal, she continued to run in the same circles at Brown, ones composed of athletes and East Coast boarding school graduates.
Ainsley: “It was like, ‘this is easy, this is comfortable, this is the kind of scene that I can thrive in.’ but I took it to a whole other degree and thought that hooking up with every single one of them was the way to go about it. I hooked up with seven people on the lacrosse team…Trying to find that one person I was going to go home with used to be my intention for the night”
A striking statistic states that one in 5 women are sexually assaulted in college. Last Fall, Ainsley was sexually assaulted by a man on the lacrosse team. She didn’t immediately recognize what had happened to her for what it was.
Ainsley: “I definitely showed all the signs of assault, and I hadn’t really come to terms with it later on so that’s why I continued to hook up with people on that team…I was just trying to brush off what had occurred.”
After months of this, one of her closest friends sat her down and urged her to consider her actions and the way they were affecting her and her friends.
“I definitely took that to heart. Since last semester, I definitely have been focusing on my personal abilities and my confidence level with everything I do and not trying to think too much about guys.”
Ainsley discovered that even she had been viewing herself and her body as an object. Aided by these recent revelations, Ainsley’s working to change her mindset surrounding men and what she is looking to gain out of casual sexual encounters.
Ainsley: “I felt like I could be used almost, and I didn’t realize that I felt like I could be used. I think I continued to feel like an object until very recently…Nowadays, what I’m trying to think more about is how much somebody can treat me well in a hookup and how much, mutually, we can care about each other as human beings, because that’s what we’re supposed to be on this planet for. We’re not supposed to just be sexual beings because there’s more to us than just that.”