The hookup culture on college campuses

It privileges immediate pleasure-seeking and heightens risks that students will become either perpetrators or victims of sexual crimes. Understanding that the forces shaping sexual relationships on campuses are cultural — that problems lie not so much in particular encounters as in hookup culture overall — is the first step toward clarifying what needs to change. Because culture is a type of shared consciousness, many people need to work together to make changes happen. Especially because of the strong ties in student bodies, campuses can transform themselves faster than one might suspect.

They are well-positioned to usher in the next new sexual culture.

Hookup Culture: The Unspoken Rules Of Sex On College Campuses

But colleges as institutions must change, too. Institutions of higher education need to put substantial resources and time into shifting cultural norms in two ways: Colleges also need to change the institutional arrangements that give too much power to subsets of students who are most enthusiastic about hookup culture and who benefit from it at the expense of their peers.

Understanding Hookup Culture with Paula England

Doing this may mean disbanding fraternities and sororities as they have existed, because as long as these organizations and their ethics remain power bastions on U. Share pdf twitter facebook. The Origins of Campus Hookup Culture Hookup culture is simply the newest stage in the evolution of sexual norms and behavior in America.

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And it depends a lot kind of on what particular intersection we're looking at. So some racial minorities are embraced by white students more than others. So African-American men and Asian women are usually considered hot and exotic, whereas Asian men and African-American women are considered less so. So it very much depends kind of on what intersection of race and gender and class, too, that students are sitting in.

But overall, we see lower rates of hooking up among racial minorities for both push and pull reasons. So part of it is they're pushed out because of racism and an erotic hierarchy that privileges whiteness. But they also tend to get pulled out because racial minorities are more likely to be religious. They drink less alcohol. They maybe had to be more squeaky clean to get into college to begin with.

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So racial minorities aren't as welcome in hookup culture. And they also don't find it as attractive. For students who don't identify as heterosexual, and we actually still need to do more research on this, but what it seems to - what seems to be happening is that on small campuses or campuses where people aren't very out, there's not an alternative hookup scene for students who don't identify as heterosexual or bisexual.

And the hookup scene that does exist is hyper-heterosexualized. And in those cases, students participate at their own risk, risking homophobia in either behavior or attitude, or they go off campus. And that is why Grindr hit college campuses way earlier than Tinder did because a lot of students who identified as non-heterosexual were using it to find hookups off campus. When we come back, I'm going to ask Lisa about the effects of hookup culture on the emotional lives of young people.

This is Hidden Brain. One argument that some make, and this includes feminists on the left and libertarians on the right, is that hookups can be liberating. People have a chance to experiment, try new things. They're empowered to discover their preferences. But one of the students we spoke with, Lisa, said that what sometimes starts out sounding like empowerment often becomes something else.

I did have experiences where the expectations once the hookup had already started would start to come out, and they wouldn't come out kindly. You know, it's not a - it wasn't a conversation of, hey, are you willing to try this? Or, hey, you know, I really like it when my partner does this to me. It would be a little bit more of you're going to do this now. So, Lisa, does hookup culture have anything to do with what some people would call rape culture?


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Yes, I would argue that hookup culture is a rape culture in that it facilitates and excuses behaviors that translate into sexual assault. Can you expand on that? I mean, there are enthusiasts who would basically say, you know, we're just exercising, you know, our free choice, we're not constrained by the norms that might have hindered a prior generation. What's wrong with people experimenting, trying new things, figuring out who they really are? So part of the reason we see hookup culture on college campuses can be traced back to the sexual revolution and the women's movement.

And the women's movement wanted two things for women, both sexually and otherwise. They wanted women to have the opportunity to do the things that men do and to embody masculine traits and interests. And they wanted everyone to sit up and notice that the things women had been doing all along and the traits and interests that they were believed to have were also valuable. And we really only got half of that. So the feminists succeeded in convincing America, for the most part, that women should be allowed to do what men do and even have masculine traits.

But we never really got around to valuing the things that we define as feminine. So a young woman who's growing up in America today is going to - she's going to be told by most - not all parents are like this. But most parents are going to encourage their daughters to mix in masculine traits and interests into her personality. And they're even going to encourage her to do so and perhaps reward her more so when she does that than when she incorporates feminine personality traits.

So we're excited when she likes to play with engineering toys when she's a kid. And we're excited when she chooses sports over cheerleading. And we're excited that she decides to major in physics instead of education. And so women have been getting this message. If they're paying any attention at all it's very clear that, as they say, well-behaved women rarely make history. We reward you, we think it's great when you act like we think a stereotypical man does. So then when they get to campus, that's what they try to do.

The Rise of Hookup Sexual Culture on American College Campuses

And it should surprise none of us that many women on campus decide to approach sexuality the same way they've been rewarded for approaching everything else in their lives, with this idea of the thing to do, the way to be liberated is to act in the way I think a stereotypical man might. So, you know, while there are lots of people who do say that hookups can be liberating, one of the young women we spoke with said she actually feels a little trapped.

I think girls know when they're being used. And I think it feels bad to be used.

Hookup Culture: The Unspoken Rules Of Sex On College Campuses | New Hampshire Public Radio

And that means that you're not hooking up with anybody. So there's something heartbreaking about that question, Lisa, because it sounds like what this young woman is saying is that she recognizes that she feels she is being used, but she feels she doesn't have a choice but to be used. There are not a lot of good options for women in hookup culture that don't truly enjoy casual sex.

And there are some that do. But for the rest of them, they're kind of faced with two options. One is that they don't participate in any sexual activity at all, which also means never getting into any sort of romantic relationship with someone. And the other is passing through this period with a person, the hookup period, with the hopes of coming out the other end as that person's girlfriend.

And there's something different about the double standard on college campuses. It used to be - right? And if women just, quote, unquote, "behaved herself," she could probably stay in the good girl camp, although there's no guarantee. But today, men still have this power to put women into one of these groups. But they put basically all women into the bad girl group, all women they're hooking up with anyway, and then have the power at some point to decide, oh, I've been hooking up with you for a while, now I'm going to decide that I like you.

And now I'm going to treat you with respect and as an equal. If a woman wants a relationship where at some point she'll be treated with respect and as an equal, then she has to go through this period where she's not those things. So women's options are either opt out of hookup culture altogether or expose herself to this period where she's treated disrespectfully in the hopes that it translates into something better on the other end. One of the women we talked with actually describes a situation very much like this but also describes a dilemma which she faced, which is even when she likes someone that she's hooked up with, the rules of hookup culture prevent her from telling the other person what she actually wants.

Or like, oh, that kind of guy that hooks up with a girl and doesn't let go. Like, that's not really a thing people talk about versus the, like, the girl who hooks up once and just - and falls in love with you and never leaves you alone. Few topics send the media into a panic like the idea of hookup culture on college campuses. But are college students actually having more sex than their parents did a generation ago? Research suggests the answer is no. Lisa Wade, a sociologist at Occidental College, says something has changed, though: In today's hookup culture, developing an emotional attachment to a casual sex partner is one of the biggest breaches of social norms.

For her new book, American Hookup:


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