Discrepancies within the Hook Up Culture on College Campuses

For my most recent Sociology class on Gender identities, interactions and relationships, I was required to read the article, “Hooking up on College Campuses,” by: Paula England, Emily Fitzgibbons, and Alison C.K. Forgarty. These three students studying at Stanford University conducted a study through qualitative interviews asking students questions about their behaviors and attitudes about today’s hook up culture. This study includes the colleges of University of Arizona, Indiana University, University of California at Santa Barbara, Stanford University and University of New York at Stony Brook.

Background:

Throughout the years, sexual activity between genders has undergone a revolution where levels of equality have somewhat shifted. As more women attend college and move into male-based professions, there are different behaviors and expectations among them as they are choosing to delay marriage.  Men, on the other hand, are engaging in casual relationships with women excluding commitment, and sometimes even monogamy.

There were four main topics this research study touched on:

Gender within hookups, the sexual double standard, the exclusive relationship, and the casual partner.

Quote from article: Page 4

 Gendered Initiation

“In the ‘old days,’ men asked women on dates and initiated most sexual behavior. One might have thought that the gender revolution would de-gender scripts of initiation on dates or in sexual behavior. But this transformation hasn’t happened; initiation is nowhere near equal.”

Today, men are still initiating contact more than the women they are pursuing, whether casually or exclusively. Generally, while women do have the choice to make these first moves, they still expect men to take initiatives and typically look down on them when they don’t. This further shows how even in a generation today where men and women’s sexual behaviors are converging, there are still traditional values that we struggle to let go of. This may be a sign that traditional dating and love still exists and is being hidden underneath the idea of women submitting to casual standards.

Sexual Double Standard

“in focus groups, students said that men would sometimes decide that a woman was relationship material because she wouldn’t hook up with them the first time they were together”

“This presents women who want relationships with a real dilemma: the main path into relationships today is through hook ups, but through hooking up they also risk men’s thinking they aren’t relationship material.”

When is the right time for a woman to hook up with a man? It is unfair to impose this standard because there then is no way for women to successfully have a dating partner. No matter what way a woman chooses to go she is viewed in a certain way, which puts her at a disadvantage when going after what she wants. This is also demonstrated by the example of the stereotype that makes it acceptable and appropriate for men to engage in risqué sexual behavior but not for a woman. There is never a time when a double standard is acceptable. Many men, on college campuses, treat their “hook-up partner” as if they are merely a body to enjoy during their own convenience. Many men have the mentality of “to have your cake and eat it too,” while attempting to get with other women and simultaneously becoming possessive and jealous when their partner does the same thing. This is a sexual double standard that is held a lot in casual relationships in college. This typically occurs when men wish to hold power over their partner. Unfortunately where there is power there cannot be closeness, and when one struggles to control the other the two lose that intimacy that made them interested in one another in the first place. Today’s college men and women must choose between having an intimate partner where there is mutual respect or to refrain from having one at all.

Exclusive relationship

“Thus, at least in the cases where a relationship ensued, it was typically not the woman initiating the talk. Of course, this is not inconsistent with the possibility that women initiate more talks overall, but get shut down by men who don’t want relationships.”

Women tend to feel anxious to bring up a DTR (define the relationship) conversation and are often willing to risk losing the intimacy in exchange for a possibly respectful, monogamous relationship. Men, on the other hand, tend to not directly bring up this talk, which perpetuates the stereotype of women being more expressive with their emotions. Women are more expressive and should be encouraged to use it to their advantage. If women express to their partner exactly what they need and desire they will be strong and demanding boosting their self-respect along with their partner respecting them more in return.

“Friends with Benefits” or “Steady Hook-up Partner”

“If the higher rates of orgasm in a relationship come mainly from communication and ‘practice’ with this particular partner, then we might expect this advantage to be present in ‘friends with benefits’ or regular hook up’ situations as well, even where there is not a professed romantic relationship.”

The intensity of orgasm more often than not comes from the security of a healthy and loving monogamous relationship. Today, men and women may choose casual encounters to satisfy their sexual needs, but some research has found that the more consistent, emotionally close and secure a couple is, the more intense an orgasm may be. This is especially true for women, who unfortunately report having fewer orgasms than men. This further proves that while a casual partner may be satisfying for a moment, it severely lacks the substance and fulfillment of both physical and emotional pleasure that comes from a real relationship.

Have opinions about this topic? You may review the article and share and post your thoughts below.

England, Paula. Emily Fitzgibbons Shafer and Alison C. K. Fogarty. 2007. “Hooking Up and Forming Romantic Relationships on Today’s College Campuses.” Pp. 531-47 in The Gendered Society Reader, edited by Michael S. Kimmel. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

13 comments

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