What I learned in bed with Hannah Wydeven

By Hannah Wydeven

Dear Hannah,My boyfriend and I are both seniors graduating in May. We love each other a lot and have been together for a while, but the problem is that we both got great jobs in different places for next fall. We haven’t really talked yet about what’s going to happen next year though. how should I bring it up to him and when? What should I say? I don’t know if I want a long-distance relationship, but I don’t know what else to do.
-Heart Broken Grad

This is a very unfortunate situation, HBG, that a lot of seniors have to deal with as job offers come rolling in and opportunities come knocking. The smartest thing you can do for yourselves is follow the opportunities that are most important to you, even if they take you to different places. If you end up giving up your dream job just to follow your man, or vice versa, you will end up unhappy and potentially resentful. Make your decisions for yourself first, HBG, and worry about your relationship afterwards. Deciding what to do in your relationship is totally dependent on your situation, and only you know the best decision for your happiness.

Long-distance relationships can be painful, but worthwhile if you love each other and have plans to be together after a short time (one or two years). If you are going to be separated indefinitely and living on an after-college-loan-dependent budget then a long-distance relationship might not be the right choice. Breaking up or having an open relationship are some other options, but you know your relationship better than anyone and that decision will have to come down to what is best for you and your boyfriend.

I’m sure at this point the looming decision about your relationship has been on both of your minds for quite some time, and although you haven’t talked about what’s going to happen yet, likely you have both been thinking about it quite a bit. I suggest that you let some of those anxieties out by talking about the fact that you’re going to talk about it in the future. Mention to him that you know next year is on both of your minds, but suggest that you put off making any decisions until school is over.

Neither of you should decide on your relationship until the stress of the last month of senior year is out of your heads. Enjoy graduating as a couple and making out publicly and embarrassingly on the booze cruise in front of all your friends first. Once summer starts you can start the conversation. You should understand that there isn’t going to be a day when you sit down and say, “Ok, what should we do, done”, these kinds of decisions are a process, and you will both go through a lot of emotions before you come to a decision about the fate of your relationship.

If you aren’t sure about long-distance, then be honest with him about that, and don’t let yourself get caught up in something that won’t make you happy. Let him express his thoughts and emotions to you as well, in full, without judging him. Once you have both laid it all out on the table, take your time and think about your options. Hell, write a pro-con list. Just be sure throughout this painful process you are being honest and encouraging your boyfriend to do the same. If your relationship is worth its salt then you will work through this mutually and come to a thoughtful decision in the end.

A word on the word rape

Macalester students are often painfully aware of what they say, and consider their politically correct vocabularies virtuous beyond measure. Racial slang is a big no-no, derogatory language about sexuality is shunned and otherizing will land you in a Mac Weekly letter to the editor. Yet, language that degrades women, and women’s experience, is used without the blink of an eye. Not a day goes by that I walk around this campus without hearing the word “bitch,” sometimes even from my own mouth. Internalized sexism, external sexism, the glass ceiling, violence against women-these are things that we all have thought about during our time at Mac, so why don’t we take it seriously in the way we talk to one another?

If we want to consider ourselves sensitive towards others’ experiences, then rape is a word that needs to be eliminated from our casual vocabulary immediately. All too often we decontextualize the word and rob it of its meaning. Saying things like, “I raped that exam” or “we raped the other team last night” delegitimize the experience of rape. Even using it in an academic context is inappropriate and should be discouraged. Bringing it into the classroom to describe how a reading, a film, or a story affected you is offensive and thoughtless.

Using rape out of context revictimizes those around you that have experiences of rape or sexual assault in their own lives. Injecting the word rape into our colloquial language has been a tool to alleviate our own guilt about the victimization of others, but what it has actually done is reduce their power as survivors of a horrible experience. Rape is not a joke and should be taken seriously. Next time you say it, or hear someone say it, start the conversation about what the word rape really means.