Let's End Things with Hookup Culture
I sat down with a high school student, who shall remain nameless, to discuss how hookup culture has affected her life. She said, "My God, do I hate hookup culture. I mean, yeah, I've had a few good hookups, but it's all so pathetic. Like, seriously? You'd rather hook up once instead of learning more about them and be in a great relationship? Which, by the way, would get you way further sexually if that’s all you’re in it for. I mean honestly, it doesn't make any sense." It reallydoesn't make any sense. We are taught to believe in some fairy tale love story where both partners are incredibly happy and yet now, almost all of a sudden, majority of young people don't want that at all?
I decided to ask someone of the opposite sex, a boy I used to hook up with. He argued, "Hookup culture's not that big of a deal. I mean, I'm not tryna be tied down right now; I'll save that for college or my twenties. I don't know, maybe it's just a guy thing, maybe it's just me, I'm just enjoying hooking up whenever I want with whoever I want." Interesting. I would say it's definitely not just a guy thing. I've been there, not wanting to just make out with the same guy, keeping your options open. But if I found the right guy, I would give up that playing field in a heartbeat.
I’ve been involved in hookup culture since ninth grade, but it has certainly not been by choice. No one really has a choice; it’s just how it works. Hooking up is just one big game, a cat and mouse chase where I’m left feeling confused and dissatisfied. CNN claims, “Of the 557 male and female students who responded to a question asking how they felt the morning after a hook up, 41% of those expressed sadness, regret and ambivalence.” If about half of the group expressed sadness, why do they continue to engage in this behavior?
There are two aspects of hookup culture that make it so pervasive. First, it's the accessibility and the casualness that make it easy for people to participate. Second, it's the possibility of a meaningful relationship that hookup culture offers. People continue to participate in a system that is bad for them because it is readily available, even if it offers an extremely unlikely chance at success.
Hookup culture is not just the act of hooking up with a bunch of people—it’s closing off the possibility to let a relationship happen. Now, with apps like Tinder, people are thought of as stupid if they’re looking for something more than a one-night stand. While this may be the direction society is headed, it definitely shouldn't be. The APA says, “sexual hookups provide the allure of sex without strings attached. Despite their increasing social acceptability, however, developing research suggests that sexual hookups may leave more strings attached than many participants might first assume.” Sometimes it’s not just an easy, quick arrangement. There’s always a chance of “strings” like STDs, future relationship issues, and future friendship problems when someone you've hooked up with hooks up with a friend and you're not supposed to care.
Relationships can be just as difficult, of course. But the solution here is not casually hooking up with people you meet at parties. Hookup culture is like the lottery: The cost of participating seems small, but the potential benefits are huge. But just like the lottery, the more you play, the more you lose, and your chance of winning remains the same.
By Lily Rosenthal, 18