UPenn and the Hook-Up Culture
About a week ago I came across this article from The New York Times on the hook-up culture on the campus of Penn. It is a very long article and very sad. This article epitomizes why “feminism” is horrible for women in particular and society in general.
“We don’t really like each other in person, sober. We literally can’t sit down and have coffee.”
Says a young, obviously intelligent young woman who is only known as A. You can’t sit down and have a conversation with this young man but you can take off your clothes and share the most important thing that you have, your body. There is no emotional connection whatsoever, it is just scratching an itch. It seems the reality that you are putting yourself in a position for unplanned pregnancies that likely end in abortion as well as STD’s doesn’t even enter into the equation.
One of the things that makes us human is our emotion. But it seems that in order to be part of the whole feminist movement that is something that you need to put aside in order to achieve your goals. What is the point of achieving anything if it costs you the most basic part of your humanity?
Instead, she enjoyed casual sex on her terms — often late at night, after a few drinks, and never at her place, she noted, because then she would have to wash the sheets.
Heaven forbid you have to wash the sheets. I mean, doesn’t she have to wash the sheets at some point anyway?
Increasingly, she said, many privileged young people see college as a unique life stage in which they don’t — and shouldn’t — have obligations other than their own self-development.
While it is perfectly understandable that someone would want to take some time and figure out where they fit in the world, it seems that becomes the only thing that really matters. Is that where we want to young women to head? There are many people out there that for whatever the reasons, don’t want to be married. That is fine and it is a personal choice. But the underside of this behavior is that you never learn how to bond to someone, everything becomes disposable. Doesn’t that make it that much harder to make a marriage work? Marriage is different things to different people. Each couple has to find their own way and figure out works for them. But there is no way around this, marriage is a series of compromises. You can’t have what you want when you want it 100% of the time and expect that marriage to work. Sometimes your spouse is given a great job offer that requires to you and your family to relocate. Sometimes you need to get your children into a better school system, sometimes extended family will need assistance that requires you to make some changes to your everyday lives. These things are going to happen over a period of a marriage and weighing those choices isn’t always easy, but is necessary in order to make the relationship work. It won’t always be about you. That is just how it is.
“I don’t want to go through those changes with you. I want you to have changed and become enough of your own person so that when you meet me, we can have a stable life and be very happy.”
Her youth and inexperience is showing. As you age, your ability to be flexible gets harder not easier. As I said, marriage is a series of compromises. The older you get the less likely you are to make those compromises.
“I’m a true feminist,” she added. “I’m a strong woman. I know what I want.”
At the same time, she didn’t want the number of people she had slept with printed, and she said it was important to her to keep her sexual life separate from her image as a leader at Penn.
“Ten years from now, no one will remember — I will not remember — who I have slept with,” A. said. “But I will remember, like, my transcript, because it’s still there. I will remember what I did. I will remember my accomplishments and places my name is hung on campus.”
A friend of hers, who attended a nearby college and did have a serious boyfriend, said that she felt as if she were breaking a social taboo. “Am I allowed to find the person that I want to spend the rest of my life with when I’m 19?” she said. “I don’t really know. It feels like I’m not.”
How sad is it that young women today are made to feel that they are bad people because they are choosing love?
Another young woman who arrived on campus a virgin says:
“It’s kind of like a spiral,” she said. “The girls adapt a little bit, because they stop expecting that they’re going to get a boyfriend — because if that’s all you’re trying to do, you’re going to be miserable. But at the same time, they want to, like, have contact with guys.” So they hook up and “try not to get attached.”
Now, she said, she and her best friend had changed their romantic goals, from finding boyfriends to finding “hookup buddies,” which she described as “a guy that we don’t actually really like his personality, but we think is really attractive and hot and good in bed.”
One of the points of the article is that young women are driving the hook-up culture because they are strong young women who know what they want. But do they? Or have they just accepted that this is reality and stopped looking for anything else?
The hook-up culture that seems to be fueled by alcohol also puts young women in the position to be sexually assaulted at higher rates.
“You go in, and they take you down to a dark basement,” Haley, a blond, pink-cheeked senior, recalled of her first frat parties in freshman year. “There’s girls dancing in the middle, and there’s guys lurking on the sides and then coming and basically pressing their genitals up against you and trying to dance.”
Dancing like that felt good but dirty, and like a number of girls, Haley said she had to be drunk in order to enjoy it. 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.
Well doesn’t that sound empowering? I know that is how I want my sexual experiences to be.
In November of Haley’s freshman year, a couple of months after her first tentative “Difmos,” or dance-floor makeouts, she went to a party with a boy from her floor. She had too much to drink, and she remembered telling him that she wanted to go home.
Instead, she said, he took her to his room and had sex with her while she drifted in and out of consciousness. She woke up with her head spinning. The next day, not sure what to think about what had happened, she described the night to her friends as though it were a funny story: I was so drunk, I fell asleep while I was having sex! She played up the moment in the middle of the night when the guy’s roommate poked his head in the room and asked, “Yo, did you score?”
Only later did Haley begin to think of what had happened as rape — a disturbingly common part of many women’s college experience. In a 2007 survey funded by the Justice Department of 6,800 undergraduates at two big public universities, nearly 14 percent of women said they had been victims of at least one completed sexual assault at college; more than half of the victims said they were incapacitated from drugs or alcohol at the time.
The close relationship between hooking up and drinking leads to confusion and disagreement about the line between a “bad hookup” and assault. In 2009, 2010 and 2011, 10 to 16 forcible sex offenses were reported annually to campus security as taking place on Penn’s campus or in the immediate neighborhood.
Sadly many of the young women in this study said that there were following the advice given to them by their moms. This is what moms want for their daughters? That is nothing short of tragic. I know I wouldn’t want my daughter treated that way.
Paula England, a sociologist at New York University, who led an online survey of 24,000 students at 21 universities called the Online College Social Life Survey, said that women tended to fare much better sexually in relationships than in hookups.
“Guys don’t seem to care as much about women’s pleasure in the hookup, whereas they do seem to care quite a bit in the relationships,” Dr. England said. By contrast, women “seem to have this idea they’re supposed to be pleasing in both contexts.” In hookups, women were much more likely to give men oral sex than to receive it.
Part of the reason men aren’t as focused on pleasing women in hookups, Dr. England said, is the lingering sexual double standard, which sometimes causes men to disrespect women precisely for hooking up with them.
There is judgment from other women, too — two women said they had been rejected from sororities because of their sexual reputations. And technology has made it easier to spread gossip. One woman recalled a guy showing her an e-mail he had received on his fraternity Listserv, in which another guy described having sex with a girl in the bathroom at a club.
“They’re not afraid to use names,” she said of the men, adding, “I’m sure there’s been a story about me on a Listserv. It happens to everyone.”
Just lovely huh? It happens to everyone? It has never happened to me nor will it. I don’t give young men a pass in this by any stretch of the imagination. But this also has become part of the culture today to the point that men have also been conditioned to believe that this behavior is normal and “empowering”, so hey why not. I hear from feminists all the time that we should be teaching young men to not rape. Shouldn’t we also be teaching young women not to get to drunk and put yourself in the position that when you don’t have your full capacities that these things are more likely to happen? Of course men shouldn’t sexually assault women, that is a given. But we also need to tell young women the dangers of their actions.
But there is some good news:
For all the focus on hookups, campuses are not sexual free-for-alls, at Penn or elsewhere. At colleges nationally, by senior year, 4 in 10 students are either virgins or have had intercourse with only one person, according to the Online College Social Life Survey. Nearly 3 in 10 said that they had never had a hookup in college. Meanwhile, 20 percent of women and a quarter of men said they had hooked up with 10 or more people.
According to one young woman who comes from a less privileged background has this to say:
Mercedes, a junior at Penn who is on financial aid, said that at her mostly Latino public high school in California, it was the troubled and unmotivated students who drank and hooked up, while the honors students who wanted to go to college kept away from those things.
When she went to Penn, she was surprised to see her elite classmates drinking, but even more surprised by the casual making out. She would go along with her friends to fraternity parties, but she refused to dance with strangers or to kiss anyone.
“Sharing that side of myself with a stranger just seems very strange to me,” she said in September. “I mean, if you break it down, it’s a very strange thing to do.”
Another young woman:
In Catherine’s view, her classmates tried very hard to separate sex from emotion, because they believed that getting too attached to someone would interfere with their work. They saw a woman’s marrying young as either proof of a lack of ambition or a tragic mistake that would stunt her career.
But Catherine noted that a handful of young women are starting to question that idea. In an article on Slate titled “Marry Young,” the writer Julia Shaw, who married at 23, said her generation was missing out on the support that young couples could provide each other as they faced the challenges of early adulthood.
“Marriage wasn’t something we did after we’d grown up, it was how we have grown up and grown together,” she wrote of herself and her husband.
As a teenager, Catherine had thought she would wait to get married until her late 20s or early 30s. But her college experiences had made her think that she would rather marry young than throw away a good relationship because it wasn’t the right time.
That might mean having to pass up certain career opportunities, for geographic reasons. But Catherine thought that her peers underestimated how hard it was to find the right person to be with — as hard, perhaps, as finding the right job.
“People kind of discount” how “difficult it is to find someone that you even remotely like, let alone really fall for,” she said. “And losing that can be just as impractical and harmful to yourself, if not more so, than missing out on a job or something like that. What else do you really have at the end of your life?”
If behaving like you don’t have emotion is the way to be a good “feminist”, I pass.