Sunday, July 14, 2013

The Smoking Gun of College Hook-up Culture

It's always dangerous for old married guys like me to opine on college culture and relationships.  It's kind of like retired athletes arguing that the darn kids today don't have any respect for the game.  But hey, that's never stopped me before.

The New York Times just ran an extensive article about college women and the so-called hook-up culture:

The narrative (about which I have some skepticism--more about that later) is that college women today are avoiding long-term relationships because they don't want a man weighing them down as they pursue their education and career.  Those women that still want physical intimacy seek out casual sex or "hook-up buddies" who provide sex but no emotional attachment.

My skepticism comes from the fact that every generation of parents has always criticized the morals of their kids (while desperately trying to hide their own personal histories from those same kids).  Already in recent years, we've seen the debunking of memes such as "rainbow parties" as media creations with no basis in fact.

Yet assuming that this actually is a trend, I find it hard to swallow the narrative that this represents a new feminist freedom for women.  To me, the smoking gun can be found halfway through the article:
"Women said universally that hookups could not exist without alcohol, because they were for the most part too uncomfortable to pair off with men they did not know well without being drunk. One girl, explaining why her encounters freshman and sophomore year often ended with fellatio, said that usually by the time she got back to a guy’s room, she was starting to sober up and didn’t want to be there anymore, and giving the guy oral sex was an easy way to wrap things up and leave."
Getting drunk to overcome one's discomfort with one's actions, and performing oral sex to get out a man's room because it's "an easy way to wrap things up and leave" does not strike me as empowerment.  Rather, it seems like these women are buying into old-fashioned patriarchal assumptions ("good girls" don't have casual sex; women shouldn't "lead men on") even as they loudly proclaim their freedom from those same assumptions.

True freedom is choosing casual sexual partners while stone cold sober, and being willing to tell a guy, "You know what?  I don't actually want to have sex with you.  Sorry.  I'll be going now."

Scratch that--true freedom is being able to choose how to express your sexuality, whether with anonymous sex in a bathroom or by waiting until your wedding night.  All of these are legitimate choices (though goodness knows I know which choice I'd prefer to make for my daughter), provided they are chosen freely, rationally, without intoxication or social pressure.

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