Unpacking the Hookup Culture


By Delia Grizzard
Fordham’s Graduate School of Religious Studies recently hosted author and lecturer, Donna Freitas, to talk about hookup culture on college campuses and the role of Catholic tradition in helping students navigate these experiences. While I’m not totally in agreement with the speaker’s viewpoints, I am excited to get the Fordham community talking about the reality of sex on campus.
The fact of the matter is that college students and the media misrepresent sexual behavior on college campuses. Roughly 30 percent of students graduate college without ever having sexual intercourse. One survey of 14,000 college students from different schools shows that while 72 percent of both men and women had reported at least one hook up by the end of senior year, 80 percent report hooking up less than once a semester in college. Additionally, by their senior year of college, 69 percent of students report being in a relationship of at least six months during their undergraduate career.
Dating is not dead, and while sex on college campuses is an established fact (as much as some institutions attempt to ignore it), it does not exist to the wild extent that many would suggest. Students are misinformed about what is “normal” behavior. Students conform their attitudes to this “norm,” creating the idea of a “hookup culture” that simply does not exist the way that we are made to believe.
DELIAMany people are more concerned about how a culture that condones casual sex is especially harmful to women. But, if we teach young women that their only sexual worth is as an object of male desire, what can we expect when they feel disproportionately self-conscious after a commitment-free hookup, while the male generally walks away scot-free? And even if young women learn to love and respect their own sexuality and value themselves as more than objects to be desired, if we do not teach young men to value these things in women as well, who is surprised when young men continue to dominate the sexual arena?
Casual sex is not bad for women; the vicious cycle between misperception, normative behavior and the sexual double standard are the causes of negative emotional consequences experienced by young college women.
There is so much more to be unpacked here, including looking at the heteronormativity of hookup culture. My aim in writing this is that, in the future, you will look for opportunities around campus to become educated about the reality of dating and relationships on campus — don’t limit yourself to online news sources or religious campaigns. The opportunities exist, through classes, programs, club events — all you have to do is attend and listen.

Delia Grizzard is a columnist for The Fordham Ram.