Hook Up Culture

9 Feb

by Anonymous

In a September 2012 Atlantic article, Hanna Rosin argues that hookup culture on college campuses has historically been viewed as “socially corrosive and ultimately toxic to women.”  However, after interviewing women at a prestigious business school, she comes to conclude that hookup culture is actually an “engine of female progress – one being harnessed and driven by women themselves.”

For some reason, this article intrigued me. In the past six months, I’ve had seven hookups (defined as making out).   After six of them, I felt exactly how the article suggested I should feel – empowered and liberated.  I felt like I should feel guilty and maybe reel it in a bit, but, hey, I was having fun!  Not only was I having fun while it was happening, but I felt GREAT about myself afterwards.  I found myself dancing around alone in my room to the Pussy Cat Dolls and investing in sexy lingerie that made me feel coquettish.  I found that I began to genuinely believe that I was desirable and adopt a “his loss” attitude when my come-on smirk didn’t have quite the effect I desired.  The guys I chose were attractive and ambitious, and I have since become good friends with all but two.  My hookups helped to develop my confidence, which in turn opened me up to even more hookup opportunities.

This seemed like a golden scenario.  The Atlantic was totally right!  I got to alleviate sexual frustration, develop sincere relationships without the baggage, and do whatever the hell I wanted with my time, without anyone holding me back.   Then there was the seventh guy – we’ll call him Jake.  He has been one of my good friends for years.  I should have been honest with myself that he was never going to be just another hook up, as I had been in love with him in the past.  But I was drunk off of Captain Jack and the intoxicating power that my sexuality brought me.  For the first time in years, I felt like I was in control – that it was Jake who wanted ME. This is why I liked hooking up – it put me in a place of power.  A place where vulnerability and sacrifice don’t – and shouldn’t – come into the equation.

I went home with him around 12:30 am.  Around 2:30 am, he walked me home because I would not have sex with him.  I woke up the next morning on top of the world.  Not only had he so desperately wanted me, but I had also denied him something that he wanted – sex – turning the tables on him denying me what I had wanted from him for years – love.  Yes, the power dynamics had definitely shifted in my favor.  I had it all – stellar grades, a high-paying/powered job, amazing friends, and any guy – even JAKE – in the palm of my hand.

I had lunch scheduled with three of my best friends the next afternoon.   I met them and rambled on, quasi-delusional, about how lucky we were to be young, educated, rich, and beautiful (PS – I am definitely not all of these things).  At one point, one of them whipped out her phone, and flippantly said, “OMG – you will not BELIEVE these texts Jake was sending me last night.”  My other friend, who had seen me leave with him, grabbed it and started reading out incredibly crude texts (along the lines of “Come over. Get naked.  She pussed out.”)  The texts were dated 2:47 am.

I felt like someone was forcing my head underwater.  “Stop it,” I begged.  In that moment, I sure as hell didn’t feel smart or sexy or empowered.  I felt so, so stupid and used and weak.  And I HATED him for flipping the power dynamics again in his favor – a million times over.  When I called him out on booty calling one of my best friends after dropping me off, he gave a pathetic “I’m sorry” text message reply.  When I expressed my anger to my friends, several replied with a “Oh, that’s Jake,” or referenced that we weren’t actually in a relationship.

So what did this teach me about hookup culture and its influence on women?  Hookups can be incredibly fulfilling and empowering and are not inherently shameful.  However, they must be rooted in mutual expectations and understandings.  And they don’t give men (or women) the license to be knowingly hurtful.  Respect should be integral in every relationship, and the absence of commitment or exclusivity does not give anyone license to act like a grade-A prick.

4 Responses to “Hook Up Culture”

  1. Kurlykat February 10, 2013 at 10:25 pm #

    I think that one of the problems our society has, or as you might say our “hookup culture,” is the failure to acknowledge on a basal level what each party involved is trying to get out of it. What’s especially important is acknowledging what you want to get out of it. If you can be honest with yourself about that it makes going out to parties and stuff a lot easier. Honestly, you may feel kind of used by him, but have you thought about how all those other hookups feel or what they’ve wanted? From your own article your using the hookups to make yourself feel better, and that’s fine. When it starts to get selfish is when you fail to acknowledge and understand what the other party wants. Now, I am not saying that because he wanted to sleep with you you should have. What I am saying is, don’t get pissed off that you got what he wanted and he tried to get he wanted somewhere else. From what you said he never pressured you or forced you in any way. Feel proud in yourself as woman to have walked away and have been happy about. Don’t let it get to you that you got him hard, and he had to find someone else to finish the job.

  2. Anonymous February 11, 2013 at 7:31 pm #

    In reading the above blogpost, there’s just one thing I’m confused about. You say (if I’m interpreting this correctly) that you felt beautiful, desirable and empowered after hooking up with guys. I guess I’m just a bit baffled as to what is empowering about having to have male validation in order to feel (or in your words, genuinely believe) beautiful, desirable etc. Wouldn’t it be more empowering to be able to be fully confident because you reached that conclusion on your own, not by having a bunch of men tell/show you?

  3. Anonymous February 11, 2013 at 7:59 pm #

    I argue that the hook-up culture should be defined not by mutual expectations, but no expectations. When you’ve had a little bit to drink and are about to hook-up with someone do we ask “Hey, I want this to just be a one time thing . . .etc. etc. etc.” Not normally. I do believe that the hook-up culture can be empowering for both men and women. But before we engage in it, I think we need to ask ourselves if we are an independent and confident person that can handle/enjoy emotional detachment. With no expectations.

  4. Guy Jones February 14, 2013 at 3:39 am #

    As the first commenter on here mentioned, I think your conclusion is rather hypocritical. You state that hookups “don’t give men (or women) the license to be knowingly hurtful” or “to act like a grade-A prick”. However, consider your actions and “Jake’s” in this instance. You noted that you felt wonderful and were pleased not just because “he so desperately wanted me, but I had also denied him something that he wanted – sex”. The pleasure you got from this hookup was not in the physicality of the action or the intimacy of the moment, it was (in your own terms) about power dynamics and the intentional withholding of something he wanted. In this way, how were you not “knowingly hurtful” or acting like a “prick” by gaining some sadistic pleasure purely from denying someone what they want?

    You also stated that hookups allow for a lack of “commitment or exclusivity”, so why should he feel obligated to not pursue other sexual partners when you two were finished? Consider for a moment that not everyone is concerned about power dynamics (an almost sick corruption of what a hookup really should mean), and that his actions after your hookup were in no way related to any desire of his to undermine your feeling of power. Besides, it’s a bit of a revolting idea that hookups should be used to feel more powerful than the partner; it sounds like something men in a true patriarchy would do. So to act this way, knowingly gaining pleasure from the mere fact that you are denying someone what they want, and then to chastise them for seeking what they want elsewhere, is disingenuous, hypocritical, and exposes yet another double standard that allows women’s manipulation of men to be more acceptable than the reverse.

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