I spoke with her on the phone about why hookup culture is the only option on college campus and why the biggest losers are, surprisingly, young men.
Students are limited to this one form of sexual intimacy.Even that phrase "free love" implies freedom and choice. I have to remind myself that when I talk to students, I see something that makes my feminist sensibilities cringe.The '60s was a response to restrictive sexual norms. It's not so much they're exercising liberation or responding to something restrictive. One of my pet peeves is when people ask how feminism is "at fault" for hookup culture. It's not empowerment and freedom—it's coercion and conformity and despair. What other factors affect the way today's college generation relate to each other?What about off-campus students, or young people who aren't in school? It can happen anywhere, but at college it seems to have a certain potency.Hookup culture at a small liberal arts campus is especially strong—even worse if that campus is in the middle of nowhere.Two: it's brief—anything from ten minutes to a whole night. There's a social contract to the hookup—students know they're supposed to walk away not caring.
What tends to be difficult is the walking away and not caring. In theory, the hookup is a liberating sexual encounter with no strings attached.
And some students experience it as liberating, or like having it as an option.
But this is where talking about a culture of hooking up is important.
You weren't supposed to be having sex, so you choose not to be a part of that way of thinking. Now, all these super-empowered, smart young people talk about hookup culture as if it's coercive. The Internet is one of the things that really feeds hookup culture.
It's all go-go-go, do-do-do, and that frenzy of always being on—and always being available—doesn't lend itself to much reflecting away from the social sphere. Hookup culture is about being sexually intimate without thinking. A lot of it is about proving yourself socially, and I one thing I hear from students is that they're not necessarily hooking up because they want sexual satisfaction.
If you don't want to live in that world, you have to opt out. Some students felt they needed to move off-campus because they didn't want to be part of it. You should be able to live on campus and not have to worry about it.