Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Column: Hooking up isn't hot or bothering

Religion and sexuality scholar Donna Freitas tells college students it's "time to stop hooking up." The hookup "culture" — "a lifestyle of unemotional, unattached sex" — is so pervasive and obligatory on college campuses, Freitas says, that it's become the new "conformity."

So she's urging young people to engage in a more radical sexual experiment: Ask each other on real dates, or else abstain from sex altogether.

If only young people's problems could be solved by getting a significant other (or, presumably, a masturbatory aid). First of all, students on college campuses aren't actually hooking up that much.

Sociological Images' Lisa Wade, who has researched hookup culture extensively, has found that "between two-thirds and three-quarters of students hook up at some point during college." Since the term "hookup" can include everything from just kissing (where around 32 percent of college hookups end) to intercourse (40 percent of hookups), that means only that college students are engaging in as little as one makeout every four years.

One study found that among students who did hook up in college, 40 percent did it three or fewer times total (less than one hookup a year); 40 percent did it between four and nine times (one to two hookups a year); and 20 percent did it 10 or more times. Less than 15 percent of college students are engaging in some form of physical contact more than twice a year. It's unlikely that the solution is for students to have even less casual sex.

Wade found that women on campus faced particular difficulty in locating pleasure, meaning, and empowerment in sex. These women wanted to "explore their sexuality in the context of benevolence," not relationships. They "wanted sex to be meaningful," but "they didn't mean that they only wanted to have sex in the context of love." They truly wanted "friends with benefits" — but it ended up feeling pretty antagonistic.

Unfortunately, Freitas' recommendations won't improve the situation. Students who do couple up don't necessarily fare any better than those who hook up. And again, women often fare worse. One 2008 study, which tracked the sexual experiences of a group of college women over the course of a year, found that even the women engaged in more traditional relationships were not totally satisfied, or even safe, just because they had found committed partners.

Women with boyfriends faced the risk of "stalking and emotional abuse," "anxiety or depression," and months wasted "attempting to repair or end a relationship." In a culture where "men's sexual pleasure is prioritized over women's," Wade writes, "women's negative experiences with hooking up may be less related to its casual nature than to the fact that it occurs within a system of gender inequality that makes women vulnerable to men generally." If young women can't find someone they like making out with just once, the solution is not to make out with the same person over and over again.

The environment described by these studies is not a "hookup culture." It's a culture of negativity around sex and relationships generally. Instead of taking the "radical" step of keeping it in their pants, college students should tackle the problem at the source: Make out, but respect the person you kiss. Ask them out, but respect when they doesn't want to date you anymore. Or just don't have sex, but respect the people who do.

© 2013 Slate

Column: Hooking up isn't hot or bothering 04/06/13 [Last modified: Monday, April 8, 2013 5:11pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Coquina Key Neighborhood Association to hold forum for District 6 council candidates

    Local Government

    ST. PETERSBURG — The Coquina Key Neighborhood Association is inviting residents to meet the crowded field of candidates running for St. Petersburg's City Council District 6 at a forum Monday evening.

    International People's Democratic Uhuru Movement-affiliated City Council candidate Eritha "Akile" Cainion pauses between answers during a forum at the Hilton St. Petersburg Bayfront earlier this month. The Coquina Key Neighborhood Association plans to hold another forum on Monday evening from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Coquina Key Neighborhood Association Clubhouse, 3850 Pompano Drive SE. [LARA CERRI   |   Times]
  2. Lake Tarpon bass tournament still going strong after nearly 40 years (w/video)

    Outdoors

    Matt Smith, left, and Gary Muchler, work to bring a large mouth bass into Smith's bass boat with only minutes to spare while fishing off Dolly Bay in Lake Tarpon during the Lake Tarpon Tuesday Night Bass Fishing Tournament on Tuesday (7/18/17). The fish sealed second place for the duo.
  3. Pinellas licensing board asks Sen. Jack Latvala for $500,000 loan

    Local Government

    The troubled Pinellas County agency that regulates contractors wants Sen. Jack Latvala to help it get a $500,000 lifeline from the state to stay afloat.

    State Sen . Jack Latvala, R- Clearwater, is being asked to help the Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board get $500,000 from the state so it can stay open beyond February.  [SCOTT KEELER   |   Times]
  4. Snooty the manatee's death prompts outpouring of support, petition to move Confederate monument

    Wildlife

    BRADENTON — The South Florida Museum aquarium remains closed Monday and tributes continue to pour in following the shocking death of Snooty, the beloved manatee who captured the hearts of …

    Four-year-old Katie Blair pays her respects to Snooty at a makeshift memorial in front of the museum on Sunday. Katie and her family has visited the aquarium to see Snooty four times this year. 
Snooty was the world's oldest living manatee in captivity and celebrated his 69th birthday Friday at the aquarium. Aquarium officials described Snooty's death as a tragic accident and is being investigated. [LUIS SANTANA   |   Times]

  5. Clearwater mansion that sold at record price is back on the market for $19.75 million

    Real Estate

    CLEARWATER — Less than four months after it sold for a record $11.18 million, the waterfront Century Oaks estate is back on the market — for $19.75 million.

    The historic Century Oaks estate overlooking Clearwater Harbor, which sold for $11.18 million four months ago, is back on the market.
[Courtesy: Coastal Properties Group
]