We’ve all heard people griping about the unavoidable ‘hook-up culture’ that we evidently live in these days. Whether it is your mother, an anonymous Yik Yakker, or a columnist for the New York Times, everyone’s talking about hook up culture. It’s an ambiguous term that implies a comfort shared among millennials with casually sleeping around. Hookup culture is the pervasive norm of relationships in our generation, particularly on college campuses--or so it seems.
In reality though, students are not hooking up more than they ever have, according to a study on the standards of campus hookup culture, and whether it is as widespread as it seems. People our age aren’t having more sex than they used to, they’re just more vocal about the sex that they are having. We have become more comfortable being vocal about our sexual behavior over the past couple of decades, which creates the illusion that we’re all having so much more of it.
In fact, the whole idea of hookup culture is more mythical than one might think. For one, although students may act very comfortable with the prospect of casually sleeping around, people often are not as okay with that behavior as most observers and other students think. This is not to say that students on Skidmore’s campus are embracing relationships either, though. Fear of commitment is a common concern, as is fear of attaching any type of label to a relationship. However, according to The Atlantic, 83% of college-aged women and 63% of college-aged men would prefer having a traditional relationship over being single and just hooking up.
If that is the case though, when was the last time you heard about two students going out on a real date? Never? That’s probably because nobody calls them dates anymore. We’re all too scared. Or maybe we’ve lost our touch, and our nation’s youth has never learned what a date is. Maybe we need what The Atlantic refers to as a “class on dating.” Students ‘hang out’ and ‘hook up’ and ‘go into town together,’ and the label stamped onto that relationship becomes the noncommittal “they’re hooking up.” But aren’t they really just dating, without referring to it as dating? Herein lies our obsession with quantifying relationships compounded with our fear of labels, and why it all becomes so murky and convoluted.
The Editorial Board doesn’t believe there should be a ‘campus culture’ when it comes to sex and relationships. Sex, in all its many manifestations, and relationships with all of their complications and nuances, can be extremely diverse. No one person’s wants or needs are the same. Since we’re talking about such a subjective, individual experience, it seems silly to try and generalize that behavior into terms as broad as a campus-wide culture. Trying to broaden an individual experience is impossible, and doing so also creates anxieties and pressures. It establishes an assumed norm that students feel like they either have to keep up with, or are missing out on. So, let’s all just calm down about sex.
Sex positivity is great, and an open dialogue surrounding sex can be productive, but can also lead to generalizing language, apprehensions, unrealistic expectations, and warped perceptions. The reality is, some of us are having sex, some of us aren’t. Some of us are in relationships; some of us don’t want to be. Some of us are comfortable with casual sex, some of us prefer monogamy. Some of us don’t even want to be having any sex. The only campus culture we should have regarding sex is one that is free of judgment.