The Sextant: The shook-up hookup
Hooking up: the vaguest, most hated phrase of all those who live vicariously through the sexual exploits of others. Does it mean making out, running the bases, or full-on shacking up? The only thing everyone seems to agree on is that a hook up is commitment-free.
The best thing about “hooking up” is how very vague it is—people can spin it however they want. It can be an ego-inflator or armor against those who drink the hater-ade. Another benefit? Its incredible convenience.
However, there are some who seem concerned that women get the short end of the stick. Stereotypes would have us all believe that all men want sex and all women want relationships, and never the twain shall (willingly) meet. Not only is that a narrow idea of what people want from intimacy, it’s also untrue, damaging and not inclusive of non-hetero sexualities.
Commitments, relationships and dating take time and energy, and not every unattached John Smith or Jane Doe is rolling in free time. A lot of college students, including young women, are focusing on their education and career, not their hypothetical future-family.
On one hand, it should be said that some people—regardless of sex or gender—do have successful relationships in college. They manage marriage, children, multiple jobs and/or dating and at the end of the day they are okay.
On the other hand, family formation is being put off until the late 20s and early 30s for many as people try to establish their careers before settling down, and research—yes, actual research on hooking up—from two Indiana University and University of Michigan scholars suggests that hookups are being viewed more and more as positive rather than negative, providing sexual satisfaction without having to juggle priorities.
So while it isn’t for everyone, hooking up doesn’t have to be a dirty little secret, though it’s best to keep the juicier details under the sheets.
Does this mean all is well on the hookup scene? Not necessarily. One problem people face is slut-shaming, or shaming someone for how much they hook up or how many partners they’ve had. This tends to affect straight women more than straight men, but little, if any, research has been done on non-heterosexual slut-shaming. Another issue is that a lot of hookups start with binge-drinking, which can spell disaster both medically and legally.
The bottom line is good news: hooking up is a solution, not a problem. The binge-drinking and shaming that often accompanies it, not so much.
Hookup culture definitely leaves room for improvement but as long as the deed is done safely and with enthusiastic consent—because what other kind would you want?—everybody wins.