As the subtitle to the book puts it: “How Hookup Culture Is Leaving a Generation Unhappy, Sexually Unfulfilled and Confused About Intimacy.”
Powerful stuff when concepts like virginity and “waiting until marriage” before losing it are, at best, ridiculed and at worst considered to be destructive of character and culture. As Emily Esfahani Smith put it in a Wall Street Journal book review:
For decades now, young women have been taught by popular culture that casual sex is supposed to be liberating. Shows like “Sex and the City” sent the message that promiscuity was at worst no big deal and at best empowering. But stories like those on “Girls,” and those in Donna Freitas’s
illuminating new book, “The End of Sex,” suggest that for many young women it proves instead to be dehumanizing. Using extensive survey research and dozens of interviews with young men and women on college campuses across the country, Ms. Freitas explodes the myth of the “harmless hookup.”
Maybe it’s time to consider the hookup to be the social norm that’s destructive of character and culture. Smith again:
In other words, many college students, who in philosophy class would surely recognize the ethical imperative not to use other people as means to an end, do so every night in their dorms. This selfishness is why, as Ms. Freitas argues, the hookup culture is intimately related to sexual assault. In both, one person uses another to satisfy a sexual or social desire without any regard for what that other person wants, needs or feels. Once alcohol is added to the mix, and there is plenty of it in the hookup culture, consent becomes a murky issue.
Jenifer B. McKim, in a Boston Globe review notes that hookups may not be as popular as presumed:
Freitas argues that young men and women may publicly praise the hookup — defined as “quick, ostensibly meaningless sexual intimacy” — but in private they share their ambivalence. Indeed, citing results of a national study of 2,500 college students, Freitas said a large portion of youths — 41 percent of those surveyed — were not only ambivalent but expressed “sadness” and “despair” about such brief intimate connections.
I wouldn’t bet that Freitas’ book will shut down the hook-up culture, as courageous as it was of her to write it. But it sounds like a good beginning to a discussion that for too long has been missing in our civic discourse.
For all that’s been written about “hook-up culture” on university campuses, it’s not clear that college students are in fact embracing promiscuity in lieu of traditional relationships. While many young people think that all their peers are getting laid constantly, the reality is that the vast majority of college students “hook up” – which can mean anything from making out to intercourse – twice a year or less. Sex with a relationship partner is twice as common as sex from a casual hook up. That’s hardly the “promiscuity emergency” that authors like Donna Freitas, author of The End of Sex: How Hookup Culture Is Leaving a Generation Unhappy, Sexually Unfulfilled, and Confused About Intimacy, make it out to be.
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