SWUGlife on Campus

April 12, 2013 | Karin

As a result of Susan Patton’s Letter to the Editor to the Daily Princetonian, Advice for the young women of Princeton: the daughters I never had, in which she advised the women at Princeton to search for a husband, more college freshman might be paying more attention to their social lives and finding a man.  But what happens to the young woman who hasn’t found someone by senior year?  Will she become a SWUG, short for a senior washed up girl?  Here is a description of SWUGs from New York Magazine:

Yale senior Raisa Bruner was not one of said women in attendance, because she’s kind of tired of the free-wheeling frat hookup culture that’s so compelling to younger students. The guys know this about women her age, she says, and so they don’t generally hit on senior girls. If she went to Sigma Nu, she’d watch her male classmates focus on that infinitely more fun classmate, the female freshman.

Bruner is a self-identified SWUG — a senior washed up girl. As she explained in a recent feature in the Yale Daily News, to be a SWUG is to embrace “the slow, wine-filled decline of female sexual empowerment as we live out our college glory days. Welcome to the world of the ladies who have given up on boys because they don’t so much empower as frustrate, satisfy as agitate.”

She and her fellow SWUGs are women who don’t bother dressing up for class, or even for fancy parties (though they might still attend them), don’t seek out meaningful (or even just sexual) relationships, spend weekends at their shared homes drinking in the company of other self-identified SWUGs, and feel utter apathy about their personal lives — all at the age of 21. “Whatever empowerment we’re supposed to be deriving from this version of the feminist moment is looking pretty thin on the ground,” she explains.

Bruner makes a connection between campus feminism and the lack of empowerment she feels.  While some of the women seem to embrace the “SWUGlife,” their quotes in this article have a sad element to them.  There is a website,, which seems to have a similar tension.  A SWUG is defined as:

Senior. Washed. Up. Girl/Guy.
Yale University
Being washed up has never been so much fun.
Warning: Being washed up and not giving a shit can cause excessive laughter. Your legs also may get sore from dancing so much and climbing rooftops just for shits and giggles.

I wonder how many women on campus really choose to be SWUGs.  The description of SWUGs makes the case for further rethinking relationships in college.

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