By Jenise Jackson
Blog Content Contributor
Hookup culture: a culture that accepts and encourages casual sexual encounters without including emotional attachment and long-term commitment.
Hooking up has become seemingly more common and more accepted in today’s society, especially on college campuses. With this, the question of whether or not hooking up is sexist can be brought up. In my philosophy class, we read an article by Conor Kelly where he argued that the culture is in fact sexist and consistently disadvantages women. I have to say that I agree with him.
In Kelly’s article, “Sexism in Practice: Feminist Ethics Evaluating the Hookup Culture,” he argues that hookup culture is a prominent sexist movement among U.S. college students that hurts women by presenting an illusion of freedom. Kelly defines the hookup culture using four main characteristics: “a lack of commitment, an acceptance of ambiguity, a role for alcohol, and a social pressure to conform.” He argues that each of these characteristics contribute to a sense of independence, but they are also harmful. Kelly explains this idea by first stating that the primary thing young men and women try to avoid when hooking up in college is having a devoted relationship. Because of the lack of commitment, Kelly believes that women ignore their desire to have stable relationships while supporting men’s desire for easy sex.
Next, Kelly states that the acceptance of ambiguity seemingly offers flexibility when it actually just creates a misinterpretation that the hookup culture may be a lot more prevalent than it actually is. When using the term “hooking up,” it could mean anything from making out to full-blown sex. Kelly says the ambiguity of the term can be perceived as a benefit because women don’t have to reveal any details about the encounter that might damage their reputation, and men can exaggerate the encounter if they want to sustain or improve their reputation, which can sometimes lead to negative outcomes.
Thirdly, Kelly says that since hookup culture is closely linked to the party scene, alcohol is considered the key component of most hookups in college. Many women would say that the use of alcohol helps them feel more comfortable and willing to have casual sex– sex that they later regret.
Finally, Kelly makes the point that the social pressure for women to conform to the hookup culture has created this falsified definition of a feminist act when it is actually a sexist double standard. As hooking up becomes more of a norm, college women who do not want to have casual sex often feel like outcasts or weirdos. This leads these women to conform to the norm. Because there are women who willingly engaging in hooking up, it is made to seem as if they are only owning their sexuality just as men do, but in all actuality the contradiction still remains. Women will still get a negative status if they are “too easy” or go too far while hooking up, whereas men will be praised.
Personally, I believe that the hookup culture is just one big double standard. Throughout time, it has been known that society has over-sexualized women. The problem is when women act upon that sexualization, they are then belittled. Men want women to willingly participate in hooking up but when women do, they are labelled with derogatory terms while most men are admired. There are certain “guidelines” that both men and women are expected to follow. Men are expected to be leaders and aggressive. Women are expected to act nice and bow down to men. If either men or women don’t
abide by these expectations, it is like they are breaking social codes. This allows a system of patriarchy, where males hold primary power, in our society. Because of these patriarchal ideals, “normal sexual behavior” for women would be that they are submissive to men. These ideals promote the objectification of women as sexual objects. If a man hooks up with a woman with the intention of just using her for his sexual desires, but has no motive to exchange pleasure, the objectification of that woman would make the entire hook up unfair for the female. With all of this being said, I can contently argue in favor of the hookup culture being considered sexist.
As long as it is done the safe and right way, I see nothing wrong with hooking up. However, if we are going to let hookup culture be a norm, the least we could do is allow women the benefit of not feeling disadvantaged or shamed by participating in it. It is 2017, people. Don’t you think it is time to let women own their sexuality just like men do?
Featured image by Jessica Calderon.