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Dorm Brothel

The new debauchery, and the colleges that let it happen.
2005This article is part of CT's digital archives. Subscribers have access to all current and past issues, dating back to 1956.
"The so-called sexual revolution is not, as advertised, a liberation of sexual behavior but rather its reversal. In former days, even under Victoria, sexual intercourse was the natural end and culmination of heterosexual relations. Now one begins with genital overtures instead of a handshake, then waits to see what will turn up (e.g., might become friends later). Like dogs greeting each other nose to tail and tail to nose."

Nineteen sixty-six, the year in which Walker Percy's The Last Gentleman was published, is also the year I entered as a first-yearman at the University of Virginia. We did not stoop to the State U level of referring to ourselves as freshmen, sophomores, and such—not at "The University." We were all men at U.Va.—"gentlemen," we were told. Young women visited on weekends from Sweet Briar and Randolph-Macon, Mary Washington, and Hollins College. But they did not stay in the dormitory or the fraternity house. They stayed in college-approved housing, more often than not the home of a widow who had a few rooms to let and happily accepted a delegation from the colleges to assume the responsibilities of in loco parentis.

Parietal rules were enforced even in the fraternity houses—self-enforced by those of us who lived in them. Young women were not permitted in the bedrooms and had to be out of the house by a certain hour. We dated, blind-dated often. We did not know what "hooking up" was. We had never heard of date rape either, though some of us may have committed it. It could happen in the back seat of a car, a cheap motel, a cow pasture, or a Civil War battlefield, but not in a college dormitory or fraternity house bedroom, not yet at least; it was not until the end of the decade that all the rules ...

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