Sex And The City of Cambridge

Erica B. Zidel ’04 is not to be mistaken for any “Sex and the City” character except Carrie Bradshaw, reporter extraordinaire. She is no masturbating Miranda, nor is she sex-crazed Samantha. “One of my friends calls me Samantha, but I’m definitely more like Carrie,” Zidel insists.

This summer, Erica B. Zidel ’04 will follow in her hero’s footsteps with her own manual of love and loving, this one directed at American college women.

Zidel is one of seven Harvard juniors who will intern this summer for Rabbit’s Foot Press, a small publishing division of SPS Studios, the company that brings you those reliably tacky online greeting cards, BlueMountain.com. Rabbit’s Foot Press offers college juniors a chance at a book deal; if the fruits of their summer’s labor are promising enough, the company publishes the students’ work.

Other projects by Harvard students proposed for this summer include “Stepmother Stories: A Celebration of Wickedly Wonderful Stepmothers,” which Ellenor J. Honig ’04 envisions as a gift for a much-loved stepmother, and “Can You Think Like a Harvard Student?” written by Abraham R. Kinkopf ’04. Kinkopf’s book will be a compilation of the results of a Harvard-wide survey he plans to distribute to House lists this reading period.

Joshua N. Lambert ’01 is in charge of the internship program, having published “The (Reluctant, Nervous, Lazy, Broke, Busy, Confused) College Student’s Cookbook” under Rabbit’s Foot Press. He notes the success of many Harvard students in the program, such as Cort K. Cass ’03. Cass spent last summer writing The Redhead’s Handbook, which includes such proud pieces of history as the fact that 20 percent of U.S. presidents have been redheads.

Zidel’s model is less presidential and more prime-time—she takes her lead from HBO’s “Sex and the City.” Zidel describes her project as a book-length, college-style sex column. As for her expertise in the areas of sex and dating, Zidel is all modesty. Her boyfriend, Richard T. Tieken ’05, testifies to what Zidel is too humble to proclaim. “She is an awesome girlfriend,” he writes in an e-mail. “Great at both.”

Zidel, a petite brunette who wears a tiny silver choker that displays a sparkling letter ‘E,’ says that in her circle of friends, it is she who tends to dish out the advice. She says she and her friends used to hold mock “Sex and the City”-style advice sessions in Grays Common Room her freshman year.

And in the fashion-fabulous tradition of “Sex and the City,” Zidel says, her book will also contain style advice. “It is important. Different outfits and different looks send different signals, ”says the Lowell junior, whose plain white cotton shirt and simple earrings send no clear message to FM.

Harvard’s own Carrie Bradshaw answers FM’s burning questions.

Let’s say I’m really into my TF. He always knows how to prove my theorems, and he’s always dressed for the occasion. What should I do? I tried talking to him after class, and he seems sort of receptive, but I just don’t know how to make the first move.

Zidel: Do NOT get involved with your TF or professor. It is a bad idea for many reasons and a great conflict of interest. Also, what if it doesn’t work out? Keep in mind this person is grading your work and section could become a very uncomfortable place. If you absolutely cannot live without him, at the very least wait until you are no longer his student. You will save yourself some stress and he will save his job.

Okay so I’m only a freshman, but I already have sort of a reputation for spreading my love freely. What can I do to make guys (and girls) start taking me seriously?

Zidel: Change your behavior immediately, since a good reputation is easy to lose and hard to get back! If you want your peers to respect you, you need to show them that you really respect yourself. If you are interested in someone, hang out with him and get to know him but do not immediately hook up with him. This will show him that you are worth much more than a meaningless hook-up, since he’ll realize that you have way more to offer than just your body.

I really want time alone with my boyfriend, but both of us have doubles, and neither of our roommates ever seem to leave us time alone. We tried our JCR, but that was a bad move. How do I confront my roommate?

Zidel: Just be honest with her. Explain how you feel and ask her if she wouldn’t mind letting you have the room to yourself every once in a while. Make it clear that you would be willing to do the same for her (and make sure you are!). As long as your demands are reasonable, she will most likely be completely understanding.

My roommates say I dress too conservatively when we go out. I want to spice up my wardrobe, but I m not sure what to do. I don t want to look like a total slut, but I also want more attention from guys. Advice?

Zidel: Many girls think that in order to look hot and get attention from guys, they need to show more skin—so not true! Well, let me modify that, since it’s partially true. By dressing skimpily you will attract attention, but it won’t be the type of attention you want. To look great without seeming like you should be working the corner of Mt. Auburn Street, invest in clothes that really fit well. Nothing is sexier or classier than simple pieces that really show off your figure. If you’re going out and want to have fun with your outfit, consider dressing it up with some interesting jewelry and a hot pair of shoes.

When I hook up, I’m definitely more into receiving oral gifts of pleasure than returning them. Is that okay? Can I accept the gifts without reciprocation? I say that this is an expression of my female independence, but my friends tell me I m being stingy. What should I do?

Zidel: In any healthy relationship, sexual or not, it is important that both people keep each other’s needs and desires in mind in addition to their own. That said, however, you should never do anything that you don’t want to do or that makes you uncomfortable in any way. Also, choosing to partake in one activity does not mean you must partake in another. If he chooses to give such “gifts,” that is his decision and he should be doing so without expectation. Whether or not to reciprocate is completely your call. Unless you are making false promises beforehand, you have nothing to feel guilty about.