Skip to comments.Book on Women's Sex 'Hookups' Draws Fire
Posted on 03/09/2007 2:30:28 PM PST by Responsibility2nd
During a class discussion on adolescence, a high school teacher recently asked her students whether they go on dates. We don't "date," the 12th graders reported. We "hook up."
If you're in your 40s, "hooking up" might mean catching a friend downtown for lunch. But to people in their teens or 20s, the phrase often means a casual sexual encounter _ anything from kissing onwards _ with no strings attached.
Now a new book on this not-so-new subject is drawing fire in some quarters for its conclusion: That hookups can be damaging to young women, denying their emotional needs, putting them at risk of depression and even sexually transmitted disease, and making them ill-equipped for real relationships later on.
For that, Laura Sessions Stepp, author of "Unhooked" and a writer for The Washington Post, has been criticized as a throwback to an earlier, restrictive moral climate, an anti-feminist and a tut-tutting mother telling girls not to give the milk away when nobody's bought the cow.
The author "imagines the female body as a thing that can be tarnished by too much use," wrote reviewer Kathy Dobie in Stepp's own paper, and suggested that Stepp was, in one part, trying to "instill sexual shame." For Meghan O'Rourke, literary editor at Slate.com, Stepp is "buying into alarmism about women," and making sex "a bigger, scarier, and more dangerous thing than it already is."
Stepp argues these critics have misconstrued her ideas.
True, she regrets that "dating has gone completely by the boards," replaced by group outings that lead to casual encounters. True, she regrets that oral sex "isn't even considered sex anymore." But she isn't saying girls should not have sex; just that they should have it in the context of a meaningful connection: "I am saying that girls should have choices."
Too often, Stepp argues, girls and young women say proudly that they like the control "hookups" give them _ control over their emotions, their schedules, and freedom to focus on things like schoolwork and career (the students she profiles in her book are high achievers).
But she says they frequently mistake that freedom for empowerment. "I often hear girls say things like, 'We can be as bad as guys now,'" she says. "But I don't think that's what liberation is all about."
Stepp says her book stems from an experience she had almost 10 years ago. She and other parents were summoned to her son's middle school. The principal informed them that all year long, a dozen girls _ ages 13 or 14 _ had been performing oral sex on several boys in the class. (Her own son was not involved.) Stepp wrote about the sex ring in a front-page article for the Post, which led to further research.
She's had her share of positive feedback, including from educators and from young women like those in her book.
One 18-year-old student, who calls herself a feminist, e-mailed her to say she had approached the book warily, but came to believe it "will change the way my generation views sex."
Contacted later by telephone, the student, Liz Funk, said she agreed with Stepp's contention that "real relationships among college students don't really exist anymore."
"If I or my friends had the opportunity for real relationships, we'd take it," says Funk, who attends school in New York City. "But my generation hasn't really been conditioned for it." Hookups, she adds, which she rejected for herself long ago but some of her friends still embrace, "are like Thanksgiving for guys. They don't have to do anything to get sex!" And she bemoans the amount of time fellow students can spend on hookups: "It can be like a full-time job."
Another student, at a small women's college in South Carolina, says the "hookup culture" is not all that pervasive, in her experience.
"I'm aware of it," said Grace Bagwell, 22, a senior at Converse College in Spartansburg, S.C.. "But it's untrue to say women aren't having meaningful relationships at this point. I've been in one for three years, and I have a lot of friends who are getting married or are engaged."
Sociologist Kathleen Bogle has also studied hooking up, which she says dates back to the '80s. She has a book, "Hooking Up," coming out this fall.
"I argue that we shouldn't look at this from a moralistic viewpoint _ as in, our youth is in decline _ and we shouldn't celebrate it either, in a 'Sex in the City' light," says Bogle, who hasn't read Stepp's book. She also believes that it's wrong to assume women aren't hoping for something more from their hookups.
"It's a system for finding relationships _ and there isn't really an alternate system," says Bogle. "It feels like it's the only game in town, and if you don't do it, you're left out." She did find that after college, there was a transition back to traditional dating.
The debate over hooking up _ how prevalent, how harmful _ was neatly displayed not long ago in a high school classroom in Maclean, Va. Nancy Schnog, who teaches a course in adolescence to 12th-graders, was discussing Stepp's findings.
"She hit the nail on the head," one girl said, according to Schnog. "She perfectly described our social climate." Many agreed, but an equally vocal faction argued the opposite. "This is totally overblown," said another girl. "Why do adults always stereotype our generation so negatively?"
At the University of Maryland, Robin Sawyer, who teaches a course on sexuality, finds Stepp's book pretty much on target.
"Men have always hooked up," says Sawyer. "What you are seeing now is a desire of women to act in a masculine way, without being judged a whore." He also finds that the "hookup" vocabulary softens the impact of the behavior. "'I hooked up with someone' sounds a lot better than 'I had oral sex with someone whose name I don't even know,'" says Sawyer, who is mentioned in Stepp's book.
"Can you generalize from a few women? If you can find a criticism, it is probably that," Sawyer said. "But her thesis is pretty accurate. This is not your grandparents' generation."
Sorry. But a whore is a whore is a whore.
Using the term "Hookup" does not take away from what's really going on.
Yes, both the male and female taking part in the hook-up are whores.
Well, a whore gets paid.
A hookup just goes away.
It isn't the same.
My guys think women's lib was the greatest invention for mankind.
Free sex, no guilt, no marriage, and no responsibility.
(And yes....they behave better than that.)
| Sounds like it's the same
as "free love" in the 60s,
only in our world
it's Russian roulette
with things like AIDS so common.
Sex with a death wish . . .
The result of the sexual "revolution" promoted by radical feminazis.
"too much use"? I find that euphemism a little disturbing -- she's not talking about exhaustion from the pure physical exertion of baling hay or the mental stress of agonizing about next quarter's commission check.
Thank you, BJ Clinton.
What's the point really?
I guess you're right.
A whore has better sense.
There's already high school girls who look like they've been, to bring out the old saying, "rode hard and put up wet". It's such a disgusting shame.
So...that makes her automatically wrong?
Sorry. But I gotta say that meeting a young lady who has her head screwed on right and is emotionally stable and hasn't been screwing everything in pants is a very attractive thing to a young man who is imbued with the same characteristics.
Ahh, news flash for eggheads who aren't getting any..... "hooking up" dates back a lot further than the 80's, even if it wasn't called that. Cave men and cave women had one-nighters.
These "sexual revolution" threads always depress me, because it results in calling the girls names as you just did.
But men refuse to see their part in decimating our culture. They want free sex, but women who act like men are whores or b*tches when they act as selfishly as men often do.
Chivalry is dead, dead, dead. Our culture is swirling the drain. Not because women are whores, but because men are whore-mongers and pimps.
See post 13. I agreed that men can be whores too.
You paint men with a mighty broad brush when you say... men are whore-mongers and pimps.
Don't do that.
Wonder if the boys like paying for abortions and if the child is born--a child or more then one child. STDs are no joyride either.
What has gone so very, very wrong? The sixties and the boomers, just plain liberal evil over time caused rot, rot, rot. Sad.
Women and men BOTH should behave better. Period.
You know, I was reading through this thread and was really getting super depressed.
I am so glad you wrote your post.
For once upon a time I was a woman's libber of the highest order and no I'm not proud of it.
But THIS kind of talk by the males of our species (and I really don't know which poster is male or female but one can kind of tell by the content) is exactly WHY I spent so much of my life really bitter about men.
Because no matter what the damn hell a woman does, she is ALWAYS, but ALWAYS, the bad one.
I mean, men got a zipper on their pants. It's depressing to me that men can't assume SOME responsibility for decent sexual behavior. They always get a damn pass and the woman is the bad guy.
Makes me want to go back to my man-hating, women's libbing days. Some of the comments on this thread make me remember just why so many woman got bitter.
Chivalry is not dead nor ever will be as long as there is a believing and confessing Church...
I know, I am raising three young men to be knights.
Just like dogs in the street who will hump anything that will let them.
If women's lib has done anything, it has cheapened women, or convinced them that acting cheap is liberating.
And don't tell me that one night stands are viewed the same by the sexes. Men may feel like they "got some", but women feel like a discarded kleenex the next day.
The thing that was wrong about Women's liberation was buying into women are just like men including their needs, desires and behaviors. I will get flamed here, but women's liberation in terms of the original goals of female emancipation was needed. When it turned to Marxism, that is when it went wrong. Remember the original feminist were Christians tied very closely to the abolition movement, both related to and tied the birth of the Republican party.
Keep the faith sister, some of us rise above pig status :)
It didn't die. It was murdered.
Venereal disease, marriage breakdown and the sheer number of psychological disorders have all exploded since then.
Reminds me of the old joke about the texan and the Miss America winner:
Texan walks up to the new miss america winner and tells her he has never made love to a beautiful woman ever in his life and for the honor of her companionship he would pay her five million dollars.
The new miss america thinks about it and says ok.
The texan then says would you do it for twenty bucks?
The Miss america winner is shocked and says "what kind of girl do you think I am!?"
The Texan replies, "we have established what kind of girl you are, we are just dickering over the price."
These girls are now selling themselves for a moment of gratification, or at least attempted gratification. They must be so desperate for companionship that they can't find it any other way.
It seems the last "value" to society for girls left behind in the wasteland feminism is just their contribution to recreational sex.
The Summer Of Love was 1967. I was there......
a hookup is the same thing.
The woman is trading sex for companionship.
Bartering vs cash.
semantics and dickering over the price.
> The woman is trading sex for companionship.
What makes you think the woman doesn't want the sex for itself?
Not all men stink **that** much in the sack.
Obviously you been talking to Mrs. Ez...
Chivalry is not dead.
Not by a long shot.
It just attracts they type of woman who does not participate in such hook ups.
When a gentleman opens a door for a lady, rarely will the woman react negativly.
I think the fact is those women who participate in such hook ups are basically the walking wounded feminists left behind.
We have to stand for what is right one door opening at a time.
sheesh. Sure they get better at it...but...well...they do collect a lot of baggage on the way...
Your description is right on.
Wanna bet? I darn near quit doing it, as the typical reaction was an 'if looks could kill' hostile glare with occasional snide comments or outright screaming.
Although, truth be told, recently I've gotten a couple prim little smiles, and even once a barely audible mumbled thank you
I was attempting to be a little dignified.
so ok, the woman is trading sex for sex.
no strings sex for her physical amusement.
I would be very curious at to the political leanings of the hook up crowd.
Interestingly it seems these women are immitating the homosexual random sex partner deathstyle far more than acting like heterosexual men.
Yet another reason to home school your kids.
remember behaving like a gentleman and opening the door is the right thing for you to do. The fact a female is too low to accept the civilized behavior is irrelevant.
We don't open the door because she is a woman, we open the door because we are gentlemen.
This is very true, and I want to add that a man should never apologize for being a man and being masculine. If a woman along the way doesn't like it, too bad for her. In fact, often the women who roll their eyes and protest the much in the face of polite, but unambiguous and unapologetic, masculinity just can't stand there isn't a more powerful example of that in her personal life.
If you hold a door and a woman responds in a hostile way, laugh it off. It speaks volumes for her. HINT: It's not flattering!
I'm 39, lived most of my life either in very liberal nyc, or on liberal colleges, and not only have I never encountered this myself, but I have never even seen it.
53, California. 'nuff said?
Thank you Drugs & Alcohol. Add birth control including all of it's forms and hook'in up is what it is.
Being selfish with no resposiblitly.
Bill was Potus with a lesbo butt ugly wife. Monica was a media side show. Bill should have been impeached and jailed for nuclear weapons and financial corruption with the Communist Chinese.
The public understands a sex scandals and it's a better sell for the media.