Too Much Pain, Not Enough Pleasure.
So in my Varieties of Feminist Theory class — I am SO not a theory gal, but I’ll be damned if I don’t take as many collegiate-sounding classes as possible in my last semester — we talked about what pleasure means in feminist and race studies. I’m an undergrad at a university I consider future-heavy (3 stars for internship help, 2 stars for professors who care more about research money than mentoring students). Walking on campus, you wouldn’t see it as a college: it looks just a few blocks the rest of the city. Students don’t even wear sweatpants for Saturday morning deli runs (deli: 5 stars) — we are on display to ourselves, and to each other, at all times. The myth of the perfect student — wears professional dress all day from internship in the morning to class at night, only talks about jobs and politics, runs five student organizations, and volunteers on the weekends — is what we all buy into, even when we roundly denounce it.
So in fem theory class, we talked about what pleasure has to do with not just sexuality, but our lives as a whole — and how does our university conceptualize pleasure? We came to the conclusion that our university and the culture that surrounds it prioritizes future pleasure over current pain. Hard work now, good job later. Pull the all-nighter and pay that random guy in your Lit class for Adderall so your GPA gets you into a top-tier law school. Take an unpaid internship (1 star for long-term socioeconomic impact on industries) that burrows you further in debt than you already are, for the minute prospect of getting an entry-level job. Work harder than you’ve ever worked in your life, have several nervous breakdowns, but don’t forget you have a job interview tomorrow morning so make sure you’re fully prepared for it!
Four stars because I buy into the myth. Four stars because I’ve done most of the above — minus the Adderall, I promise — and now I do have a job interview tomorrow morning. Four stars because the culture persists, and I’m on track to do some high-level power-suit-wearing work. Four stars because there’s pain now — so much pain, more than my high school which I thought I wouldn’t even survive — and yet the pleasure that I was promised in exchange for the proverbial BST (blood-sweat-n-tears) is within reach.
Why not five stars, then? Because the myth is not a myth. Because the myth is culture, and it’s terrible, and it’s unfair, and it’s draining, and it’s the rest of our lives.