Even the title of this article is a headache — Hooking up as a core requirement: Casual sex in college isn’t optional anymore, it’s an imperative. An imperative?! It gives me that yucky gut feeling. There’s no need to have casual sex, like this article argues, as if hooking up is now a prerequisite for college courses.
Of course there’s a hook up culture at MSU. But that doesn’t mean everyone is involved in it, unlike what this article claims. In my experience, this is not the case. My friend group goes out on the weekends and parties, and there may be some sort of romantic encounter, but there isn’t a lot of engagement in casual sex. About half of my friends are in relationships, and the other half don’t care to engage in hookup culture but rather want serious relationships. I don’t think any of us feel isolated because we’re not participating in hook up culture, like Lisa Wade tries to claim.
However, I have been scorned by hookup culture before. A few guys I have met at MSU have assumed that because I had shown slight interest in them, I inherently wanted to have sex with them. Uh, hard pass.
I’m not sure if this assumption of wanting sex rises from hook up culture, or just being cocky, arrogant, and immature. However, I do know that this ignorant assumption has put me in some uncomfortable situations. One night I was in a guy’s room and he wanted to have sex, to which I said no, and he said he would call another girl to hook up with him instead. Another one of those icky gut feelings. This situation could have gone another way — my refusal of sex could have led to sexual assault had this guy not respected my decision. And I think this assumption of wanting sex and entitlement of receiving sex that comes with hook up culture is a causal factor of sexual assault.
I do think Wade makes some fair points in her Salon.com interview and Hidden Brain podcast (personal opinion: I think the podcast was framed a lot better than the article, and it changed a few of my views that I had previously expressed in this post). In the podcast, Wade talks about the dichotomy of relationships and sexual encounters on college campuses — it’s either a serious relationship with love and emotions, or it’s a hook up and it’s purely meaningless. Wade explains this concept of meaningless as having sex with a person you don’t necessarily like, and acting as if there are no emotions attached to the sex. After hooking up, one has to act as if they do not care about their partner. Wade describes hook up culture as more people having sex, but fewer people holding hands. There’s something extremely sad about that lack of intimacy, but Wade is not wrong. It is more common to hear about someone’s newest hook up rather than their new boyfriend or girlfriend.
However, Wade seems to criticize students who do participate in hook up culture, and somewhat calls them out as the “other.” Why does she care if 18-22 year olds are engaging in casual sex? It doesn’t affect her. She describes hook up culture in this “holier than thou” tone that may resonate with the older crowd, but certainly does not appeal to college students.
Yes, there are problems with hook up culture. But like Wade points out early on in the article, college students have been having casual sex since campuses came to fruition. Hooking up isn’t a new problem.