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  1. Astrid
    Astrid August 24, 2010 at 12:17 pm |

    I happen to be a person who couldn’t imagine herself hooking up. However, I still agree with this post. As long as the sex was consensual, of course there are still risks, but hooking up is not per se bad – there are risks to any sexual activyt, after all. I’m glad science found hooking up not necessarily emotionally harmful, although it is sad that the study focused on heterosexuals and on the development of “meaningful” relationships.

  2. Sarah
    Sarah August 24, 2010 at 12:35 pm |

    I don’t disagree with what you’re saying, but I’m so very tired of most everyone who wants to stand up for the “hooking up culture” dogging those of us who don’t think that’s the way it should be done.

    If you (or anyone) wants to go out and hook up with several people over the course of however long, fine. That’s your right. But don’t try to tell me that because I waited (not because of religion, not because of being taught anything. . .because I just wasn’t interested in having random sex) until I was 24 that I missed something, or that I did it wrong. It’s all a personal choice.

  3. karak
    karak August 24, 2010 at 12:37 pm |

    I’ve had relationships that started out as intense physical passion and attraction and grew into love and companionship (and intense physical attraction!). I say, do whatever floats your boat as long as you keep yourself and your partner(s) safe. You never know who you’ll meet, and knowing that a stranger finds you beautiful and attractive and desirable and worthy of pleasure can be a damn good thing sometimes.

  4. Laughingrat
    Laughingrat August 24, 2010 at 12:49 pm |

    It’s great that feminists are returning their attention to sexual double-standards and puritanical attitudes, but it’s bitterly ironic to me that in the attempt to seem cutting-edge and “pro-sex”–after all, where would we be if we didn’t waste time fighting over straw-feminist beliefs?–we’ve ignored the fact that sexual violence is, you know, real. In a world where women and men really did have equal social power, equal respect accorded them, and equal prospects of physical and mental safety, allowing yourself to become incredibly physically vulnerable with someone you barely know would not, for a woman, constitute any particular threat. Too bad we don’t live in that world!

    Endorsing a kind of patriarchally-approved feminine behavior–yeah, that’s right, the “slut” is a very old, boring role invented by men for their own amusement, and hardly for our “liberation”–rather than real freedom, safety, and social equality for women isn’t feminist, no matter how very much some women (and a lot of men) want it to be. Denouncing that or any other kind of damaging role for women isn’t “anti-sex,” although really, that phrase is not only meaningless, but describes something that is no-one’s business one’s own.

    Women should have the freedom and safety to conduct their sex lives as they wish. Willfully pretending that’s currently without considerable risk, and that sex itself is not frequently the site of incredible violence for women, seems less about freedom and more about trying to claim feminism while still not alienating the cute boys.

  5. Denice Ann Evans
    Denice Ann Evans August 24, 2010 at 12:54 pm |

    It is a fact that *most* hook ups in college happen under the influence of alcohol or other drugs. And while I believe women do have agency to make their own sexual choices within the college hook up culture, as soon as you add alcohol or other drugs into the picture, then all agency is lost. Lets not fool ourselves here and say that college students are having SOBER sexual encounters with open communication about it…come on..get real. And while I truly would like women to have their own *AGENCY* to have sex with who ever they want, when they want, and how ever many times they want, the fact remains that within the college hook up culture the threat of a bad reputation (however sexist that may be), sexual assault and/or RAPE is very, very real. The hook up culture on college campuses promotes a rape culture and there is no denying that, although I am sure some people will try. Dr. David Lisak is in my film speaking about the “Undetected Rapist’s” on college campuses. So dont’ take my word for it, listen to the experts. http://www.collegehookupculture.com

  6. Cat
    Cat August 24, 2010 at 1:05 pm |

    “Instead maybe we should start to realize that people’s sexual experiences are diverse and that sometimes hooking up is included in that.”

    That of course is the key, and the central problem. Culturally, socially, maybe even psychologically, some people can’t seem to accept that choices are choices and that there is more than one valid, healthy, happy way to live a life. Some seem threatened, as if the existence of other acceptable paths invalidates their choices, others are like den mothers on meth who just believe that choices other than the ones they made are inherently bad for you.

    These are pressures that are universal, as well. I think men suffer from them as much as women, though, obviously, their pressures are different – a pressure to exert power in stereotypical ways as opposed to pressures to preserve a stereotypical idea of purity.

    The hooking up model has worked for me (and probably will continue to work for me, as the monogamy-marriage-children model definitely doesn’t work for me), but that doesn’t mean I feel the slightest bit threatened by women who live their lives differently. I admire people who live their lives through their own freely made choices, whatever those choices might be.

    The only choice someone can make that bothers me is the choice to try and impose their choices and beliefs on me or others.

  7. Sheelzebub
    Sheelzebub August 24, 2010 at 1:23 pm |

    Sarah, where did Kay tell you that you’ve missed out or that you’re doing it wrong? Honestly, there’s far more shaming coming from the “why buy the cow” folks than there is from the people who don’t think hooking up is a bad thing.

  8. melancholia
    melancholia August 24, 2010 at 1:45 pm |

    The problem with hooking up, that I see, are the STDs. I know so many people – mostly women, unfortunately – who picked up genital herpes or HPV during their college hookup days, even some who used condoms (herpes is especially easy to spread even with a condom). The fact is that hooking up is extremely risky and if you are going to do it, you should realize you are taking a huge risk of getting something that cannot be cured by a pill. And herpes is not just an annoyance – it can be severely painful and very disruptive for some people, especially if you have a suppressed immune system. And HPV causes cervical cancer, chlaymidia can rob you of the ability to bear kids, etc.

    The fact is, sex these days is risky enough that there is a level of trust that should be present before you go at it. It has nothing to do with morality, but self-interest. If you want a friends with benefits, fine, but you should be monogamous and agree to both be tested beforehand.

  9. Hot Tramp
    Hot Tramp August 24, 2010 at 1:48 pm |

    It’s true that women are pressured to “hold out” sexually — but we’re also pressured to have casual sex at the drop of a hat. That’s what makes our culture so tricky right now. Women are being pushed in opposite directions, virgin and sexpot, with equal force.

  10. Comrade Kevin
    Comrade Kevin August 24, 2010 at 1:57 pm |

    I am cautious of a kind of hook-up hedonism that doesn’t take into account emotional involvement, but not in a way that lectures or shames. I myself am in a relationship that began with a casual hookup and this isn’t the only one which has started out in such a fashion. I’m not against hook-ups at all.

    My caution comes with a bit of wisdom I learned through making lots of mistakes and feeling like an idiot: know thyself first. Hookups can be awful if even one partner isn’t emotionally in the proper state to handle them.

    This doesn’t apply to everyone, of course, but I’ve had hook-ups terminate abruptly as huge unnecessary drama events, and I think knowing oneself and being self-reflective is the best way to prevent this sort of behavior. And picking up (not ignoring) red flags in the process of selecting a sexual partner is also essential. Sex is wonderful, but being discerning is pretty crucial, I think.

  11. PrettyAmiable
    PrettyAmiable August 24, 2010 at 2:14 pm |

    melancholia: but you should be monogamous and agree to both be tested beforehand.  

    Well, no. YOU should be monogamous and have your partner test him- or herself prior to engaging in these actions. I am aware of the risks and if I still want to fuck someone, I should go ahead and fuck him. As Sarah pointed out, it’s a personal decision. Everything you do has ridiculous risks, but sex is the biggest where I’ve seen people tell me what I should or should not do with full knowledge of the risks involved. If I want to smoke cigarettes despite knowing it increases the likelihood I’ll develop cancer? It’s my prerogative. If I want to forgo veggies and increase the likelihood I’ll get heart disease or whatever? My prerogative. Apparently, however, I’m expected to judge the risks presented by heart disease and cancer better than HPV and herpes. Thus, I need others to tell me what I should be doing.

    [/morality derail]

    Kay, I feel like I’ve heard this before – or maybe it’s just that it’s in line with the way I lead my life already. Do you think it’s likely to shift paradigms that paint women as fragile creatures who can’t handle the emotions behind sex outside of relationships? I’m a little nervous about the Official Scientific Finding (TM) that random hook-ups can lead to LTRs. There’s a chance this will get turned into “Girls have sex to trap partners in relationships! And they’re winning!”

  12. Jennifer
    Jennifer August 24, 2010 at 2:51 pm |

    @melancholia–As someone who is personally quite conservative when it comes to sex for the reasons you mention (plus pregnancy with male partners), I don’t agree with the “shoulds” in your second paragraph. I do believe that it is best if people understand the risks of engaging in sex, but if they choose to be nonmonogamous despite the risks I won’t say they shouldn’t (though I might choose not to have sex with them). Sex “these days” is not more dangerous than it has been in the past–syphilis used to kill and disable people. Most STDs, while surely undesirable, are treatable, and driving or riding in cars is probably riskier in terms of death/disability than casual sex.

    In my own case, the fear of STDs is not so much a fear of the physical symptoms of the disease but a fear of the stigma of having it (I’m also conservative about activities where I could be injured–there purely because of the physical effects). I think those stigmas should change.

  13. ben
    ben August 24, 2010 at 3:20 pm |

    I don’t necessarily think that it’s a bad thing that the study didn’t include non-heterosexual relationships. I don’t think you can say that people with a non-heterosexual identity face the same relationship challenges as people in hetronormal relationships. Including them in the study would have introduced an exogenous variable that would be hard to control for

  14. Sarah
    Sarah August 24, 2010 at 3:34 pm |

    Sheelzebub, sorry, wasn’t clear in what I was saying. Kay did not personally tell me anything of the sort. I was (attempting at) commenting that in this whole, big debate, which has been going on for. . .a while now, the people who embrace the ‘hooking up’ thing tend to get really defensive and tell those of us who don’t think it’s a good thing that we’re wrong.

    Eh, I had a whole comment written out, but then decided I was talking too much. But that’s what I mean.

    1. Jill
      Jill August 24, 2010 at 3:50 pm | *

      I was (attempting at) commenting that in this whole, big debate, which has been going on for. . .a while now, the people who embrace the ‘hooking up’ thing tend to get really defensive and tell those of us who don’t think it’s a good thing that we’re wrong.

      I think the problem though, Sarah, is that I’ve never heard anyone say “Hooking up is great for everyone, and if you don’t do it then you’re wrong.” What I have heard people say is “The view that hooking up is universally bad is wrong.” There’s a world of difference between those two things. On the other hand, I have heard — many times over — that “Hooking up is bad” or “hook-up culture is dangerous” or “women really want boyfriends” or “hook-up culture hurts girls,” etc etc. Universalizing statements that do not apply to many peoples’ lives and experiences.

      I don’t think it’s defensive for people to object when they hear comments like “I don’t think hooking up is a good thing.” Because that statement is not about a personal choice — that’s about a general view that hooking up is not good, for you or for most people. Of course people are going to take issue with that. It’s like me saying “I don’t think hormonal birth control is a good thing” — that statement implies that I’m talking about hormonal birth control generally, and its use by everyone, instead of just saying “I personally do not use hormonal birth control because it has bad side-effects for me.”

      My point is, if you really think it’s a personal choice, then actually talk about it that way. Statements like “those of us who don’t think that’s the way it should be done” and “those of us who don’t think it’s a good thing” don’t achieve that goal. The logical conclusion from those statements is that you think “hook-up culture” itself, and/or people who hook up with each other, are bad or wrong or less than ideal as a general rule. The implication is not, simply, that you have made certain choices.

  15. Sarah
    Sarah August 24, 2010 at 3:41 pm |

    Also, and sorry for the second post right after the one I just made but I just noticed this, I don’t think that “There are two countervailing schools of thought here: That you should wait for the person you love and that you should enjoy sex.”

    I don’t think that they’re countervailing at all. Who’s to say that people who have sex with lots of different partners have a more or less fulfilling sex life than those who wait and have the one? Maybe someone who waits does so because they worry about pregnancy, disease, etc., and those potential factors would take away from their enjoyment of the act.

  16. Andrea
    Andrea August 24, 2010 at 4:15 pm |

    Sarah,

    You wrote: “but I’m so very tired of most everyone who wants to stand up for the “hooking up culture” dogging those of us who don’t think that’s the way it should be done.” And: “the people who embrace the ‘hooking up’ thing tend to get really defensive and tell those of us who don’t think it’s a good thing that we’re wrong.”

    In both of these quotes you universalize the value of not hooking up when you write things like “[we] don’t think that’s the way it SHOULD be done” and “[we] don’t think it’s a good thing” etc. What you perhaps mean is that you don’t think it’s the way it SHOULD be done BY YOU, or that it’s not a good thing FOR YOU, but that’s not what you write. In the end, you’re the only one making sweeping value judgments about hooking up or not.

  17. Sheelzebub
    Sheelzebub August 24, 2010 at 4:17 pm |

    Sarah, thanks. I agree with you.

    It’s weird, because we’re expected to get all emotionally involved, and when we don’t we’re weird (because it’s part of our biological destiny!!!!1!). If we hook up, we’re slutty and have no self-respect. If we decide to refrain from hooking up or dressing sexy, we’re prudes.

  18. Anemone
    Anemone August 24, 2010 at 6:07 pm |

    I’m old (generation X) and I’m still recovering from the sexual revolution of the 1960s in which women lost the right to say “no” to sex, so every time someone talks about hookups I hear it through that filter and remember how I humiliated myself in my 20s because not only did no one tell me that sex comes from inside and I should only do it if it came from inside, they told me I was supposed to do it (in other words, my sexuality was determined by society, not me). So I did it and it felt wrong (and hurt), which made me “defective”.

    I think everyone hears these things through filters like this. It’s such a loaded subject, because it’s so personal. It would be interesting to see research on what can make hookups good versus what can make them bad, instead of generalizing. After all, it’s going to vary from situation to situation as well as from person to person. And young people would probably benefit from a good road map. I know I needed one.

  19. eight line poetry
    eight line poetry August 24, 2010 at 10:47 pm |

    I am so goddamn sick of people talking about STDs as an “undesirable” consequence. Can we cut the bullshit? Contracting an STD was the shittiest and most shameful experience of my life. I mean, it’s “undesirable” in the same way that being run over by an eighteen-wheeler is “undesirable”.

    Sex-positive feminist and queer communities have yet to address these issues and, I believe, never will, because to do so would force them to challenge this ridiculous assertion that all choices are equal and worthy of equal respect. I am tired of the lies that are perpetuated around ‘safe’ sex (NO SEX IS SAFE), the idea that condoms are a magic bullet, the constant justification that it’s okay for YOU to fuck around because you’re “safe” and “responsible” and “clean”. Except that barriers break or don’t work and then you’re shit out of luck with both the “mainstream” who believes that women shouldn’t fuck around in the first place, AND with the self-righteous feminist/queer communities who wouldn’t touch you with a ten-foot pole now that your body is contagious.

    I just wish I had understood the extent to which I should have refused to believe these absurd and delusional lies before I had contracted an incurable disease. Life lessons, I guess.

  20. prothy
    prothy August 25, 2010 at 2:20 am |

    Personal anecdote:
    When my husband and I first got together, we both made it explicitly clear that we were not looking for a relationship and that this was just going to be sex.

    We now have two children and are coming up on our tenth wedding anniversary next year. It’s still a bit baffling.

  21. Sharon
    Sharon August 25, 2010 at 3:03 am |

    To quote Sarah: “I don’t disagree with what you’re saying, but I’m so very tired of most everyone who wants to stand up for the “hooking up culture” dogging those of us who don’t think that’s the way it should be done.” [emphasis mine]

    This has been pointed out as a prescriptive remark, one that expresses an attitude about what other people should do, which is seen as inherently bad.

    My opinions shape not just my choices but how I interact with others’ choices. In my experience, (which is neither more or less valid than anyone else’s) hookups can lead to heartbreak and horrible, horrible fucked-uppedness. Yes, there were also hookups that happened around me that went forward without incident, and probably some that led to reasonably happy longterm relationships. But, from my point of view, the risks far outweigh the benefits.

    Which is to say this: If a friend asks me for advice on the spur of the moment — say, “I met this hot guy, I’m going to try to get his name and then sleep with him tonight, what do you think?” I don’t think it’s honest for me or her to expect me to lie and say that I think that is (according to my experience) a good or safe thing. When/if I have children, I am not going to teach them that I think hookups are a good idea, because I don’t — in terms of the risks of STIs, pregnancy, emotional complications, assault, and other really bad shit that I will refer them to my brother to talk about, as one who had two years of his life basically ruined by a hookup. I’m probably going to end up with a modified version of my mother’s approach on that one — “I love you no matter what! this is probably a bad idea. I don’t want you to be hurt. Did I mention I love you no matter what? Be careful!”

    What I am not saying — I am not saying it okay to slut shame. I am not saying it is okay to comment on someone’s sex life (unless commentary is requested, and then, proceed with mega caution.) I am not saying that I am not going to make information about sexuality, sexual health, and birth control available to my children. If people I care about choose to hook up/have casual sex, that isn’t going to change how I feel about them (but I may refer them to Jaclyn’s article, because she took important safety precautions and had realistic expectations.) But if I am asked (because friends and relatives do occasionally use each other for sounding boards), I think I have the right to say, “In my experience, hookups are not a great idea.”

  22. Adamantine
    Adamantine August 25, 2010 at 4:55 am |

    I’ve never been to America. In fact, I’ve never been anywhere outside of Western Europe. And while I think there’s much more interesting things happening with feminism in the US than in my home country (France), every time I read posts such as this one (and the ensuing debates), my first reaction is always “wow”. It just seems a very, very long way from what I’ve always known. I’ve spent most of my life in France, I also lived in the UK for a while, and in neither country have I ever heard people make such a fuss about hooking up. This is not to say that the topic is an unimportant one, only to point out that in my own experience and in that of my French and English friends, hooking up or not hooking up has always been a private matter. Which I think it should always be.

    Also, my boyfriend and I met on the Internet and first planned to see each other for sex only. We’ve been together for more than three years now. I never saw anything strange in that.

  23. Sarah
    Sarah August 25, 2010 at 7:28 am |

    @Kay: Thank you for clarifying! Thought maybe the way I took it wasn’t what you actually meant.

    @Jill: “I don’t think it’s defensive for people to object when they hear comments like “I don’t think hooking up is a good thing.” Because that statement is not about a personal choice — that’s about a general view that hooking up is not good, for you or for most people.”

    The thing is, though, I DON’T think it’s a good thing. That’s not to say that I’m going to tell you not to do it, but it IS a personal choice for me not to do it, because I don’t think it’s a good thing. It’s kind of like. . .for a completely trivial comparison, mushrooms. I think mushrooms are the devil, and if my food has any in them, I will send it back. That doesn’t mean, though, that I think everyone agrees with me. I know not everyone does. But that doesn’t change the fact that, in my opinion, they’re vile.

    “It’s like me saying “I don’t think hormonal birth control is a good thing” — that statement implies that I’m talking about hormonal birth control generally, and its use by everyone, instead of just saying “I personally do not use hormonal birth control because it has bad side-effects for me.””

    I don’t think that this example is the same thing, when it comes to the subject at hand. If that birth control has bad side-effects for you, personally, then no, you wouldn’t use it as other people might. I’ve never had multiple sexual partners, so I don’t know first-hand whether it’s “good” or “bad.” My OPINION, though, is that it’s not great, but I’m not going to tell you that you can’t (or shouldn’t, even) do it, because I realize it’s my own opinion, and not something that causes actual physical harm to my person.

    “Statements like “those of us who don’t think that’s the way it should be done” and “those of us who don’t think it’s a good thing” don’t achieve that goal.”
    But I’m in a specific group. There are a group of people who don’t think it’s a good idea, and I am in that group of people. I guess I don’t understand what the problem with that is.

    @Andrea: “In the end, you’re the only one making sweeping value judgments about hooking up or not. “

    I guess I may be generalizing. But I’m not actively judging anyone. It’s (for another example) someone saying, “I’m an atheist, so I think Catholicism is wrong.” They’re not judging people for being Catholic. They just feel like that sect of Christianity is incorrect. They’re not going to say, “Hey, don’t be Catholic,” they’re saying, “Hey, I don’t think that this is the way to go.”

  24. PrettyAmiable
    PrettyAmiable August 25, 2010 at 9:27 am |

    Sarah, there’s a difference between an atheist saying, “I’m an atheist and that works for me” and “Orthodox Judaism is wrong.” (This recently came up for me when a new convert refused to shake my hand because I have a vagina). When I say the former, it’s completely focused on me and assumes that everyone else’s choice works for them. The latter case is an explicit judgment against adherents to Orthodox Jewish principles. It makes the assumption that he is wrong and I am right.

    When you talk about mushrooms, you’re using hyperbole. You don’t actually think mushrooms are the devil, you just don’t like the way they taste to you. The focus is always on you. To make that example like what you’re actually saying in the hook up question or in the religion question, you have to employ hyperbole – because that’s the only way it can become comparable.

    One way to talk about this in your case is to say, “I feel erased when these hook up conversations happen because hooking up doesn’t work for me.” (Incidentally, that’s something Sharon might consider saying to her kids, because the whole “I love you anyway” thing is a little condescending). Regarding the erasing issue, you’re not alone! People who identify as asexual? Completely erased in these questions. Saying “those of us who don’t think that’s the way it should be done” implies that there’s an overarching right and wrong way to approach hooking up – not one for each individual.

    @Adamantine, I had the best random (and frequent) sex of my life when I visited France this year. It was ten days surrounded by people who didn’t care. In the US, it’s complete gossip fodder, and enjoying your sexuality here requires that you either whisper about it or have others whisper about it behind your back. It’s ridiculous.

  25. Jill
    Jill August 25, 2010 at 10:31 am | *

    I guess I may be generalizing. But I’m not actively judging anyone. It’s (for another example) someone saying, “I’m an atheist, so I think Catholicism is wrong.” They’re not judging people for being Catholic. They just feel like that sect of Christianity is incorrect. They’re not going to say, “Hey, don’t be Catholic,” they’re saying, “Hey, I don’t think that this is the way to go.”

    Well, no, they aren’t just saying “I don’t think that this is the way to go.” By saying Catholicism (or hooking up or whatever) is wrong, they’re saying that it’s a bad way to go generally. Like if someone says “I’m straight, so I think being gay is wrong.” They aren’t just talking about it being wrong for them, they’re talking about it being wrong generally.

    If I heard someone say “I’m an atheist, so I think Catholicism is wrong” I would have the same reaction I’m having to your comments. I would say that there’s a difference between expressing a personal choice or belief — “I’m an atheist” — and deeming the beliefs/practices of other people to be bad — “I think Catholicism is wrong.” If you really think that other beliefs/practices are bad as a general rule (and not just bad for you) then that’s fine, but own that. And don’t put it on other people when they point out that the things you’re demonizing actually work just fine for them.

  26. Kaz
    Kaz August 25, 2010 at 11:17 am |

    Regarding the erasing issue, you’re not alone! People who identify as asexual? Completely erased in these questions.

    Thanks for pointing this out; I often don’t even bother reading these threads – in fact, I don’t bother reading most Feministe threads and even posts about sex and sexuality – because even if they’re not erasing they’re usually so different from my life experience as to be completely irrelevant. (The whole “choice between waiting for the one whom you love and enjoying sex” thing really makes me roll my eyes, I admit. As if there aren’t other reasons than ~saving yourself~ for your ~true love~.)

    Usually I’d be one of the first people to chime in when it comes to “hooking up is not for everyone”, but I’m not liking the generalisation going on here. I mean, in my experience the idea of having sex is unpleasant and I personally do not ever want to have sex with anyone. However, it is extremely clear to me that this is a minority point of view and that just because things are this way for me does NOT mean I should let that influence what I think of other people’s choices. Going from “I, personally, feel I shouldn’t have sex” and even “I, personally, feel I shouldn’t have sex and I think it has benefits in terms of things like not needing to worry about pregnancy or STDs” to “people shouldn’t have sex” is wrong. (Am hoping using the same sort of generalisation is a pretty extreme example like having/not having sex at all ever will make clear why it’s not okay in the hooking up/not hooking up case.)

    But then again, my deciding not to have sex is purely based on personal preference and not any sort of moral belief, so given that I know my personal preference is, in fact, personal, generalising would be utterly nonsensical. Reading some of the other comments I’m not sure that can be said for everyone.

  27. Kaz
    Kaz August 25, 2010 at 11:20 am |

    Quick apology – in my previous post I wanted to make fun of the people who think it’s a dichotomy, or even spectrum, in between saving yourself for someone you love and hooking up, but rereading it came out making fun of the people who do wait to have sex until they’re in love with someone instead. I want to apologise for that because that wasn’t my intention and I do respect that some people feel that that’s the right thing for them.

  28. Sarah
    Sarah August 25, 2010 at 1:01 pm |

    @Kaz: “As if there aren’t other reasons than ~saving yourself~ for your ~true love~.” Just made me laugh. Thank you for that.

    I’m not going to try to debate and further, because what I feel people are missing here is that I don’t have to agree with you, and you don’t have to agree with me. I’m not trying to convince anyone to agree with me, but I’m being told that, flat out, I’m wrong.

    There are many things in life that people can think are bad or wrong or whatever. And I don’t think anyone has to right to say, “Well, OK, but you need to qualify that that’s not good FOR YOU.” Because that’s not what they’re saying. I’m not saying I think casual sex, hooking up, whatever is bad For Me. I think it’s bad, period. Doesn’t mean I think that I’m better than people who do it. Doesn’t mean that I’m going to try to convince anyone otherwise. It means that I think, intrinsically, it’s a bad idea.

    So no. Don’t tell me to clarify that I feel that’s wrong “for me,” because then that’s changing the very essence of what I’m saying. That’s my opinion. You don’t have to share it.

    1. Jill
      Jill August 25, 2010 at 1:09 pm | *

      Sarah, that’s fine that it’s your opinion — and it’s my opinion that you’re wrong and that you’re being kind of unpleasant! It’s like people who say “I think being gay is wrong, but that doesn’t mean that I think I’m better than gay people or that they’re bad people.” Um, ok, if that’s just, like, your opinion man… that’s fine, but we’re entitled to our opinions too, and to push back when your opinion is part of a system of beliefs and actions that has been harmful to us.

      Your initial objection to this post was that you’re tired of people dogging people like you, who object to the “hook-up culture.” So basically, you want the right to voice your distaste of other peoples’ beliefs and actions (hooking up), but you object when other people say that your statements (that hooking up is wrong and bad) offend them? You want to be able to say “hooking up is BAD” without people turning around and saying “Hey wait a minute, no it’s not!”

      In fact, no one on this thread has said that people who wait are doing something wrong, or that not having sex is bad. But I have seen you say that you think hooking up is bad, in general, and just not for you — even though you won’t try to convince anyone else otherwise. And now you’re salty because people object to that. Seems silly to me, and like the defensiveness is perhaps on your side.

  29. Kate
    Kate August 25, 2010 at 1:34 pm |

    Jill:
    I think the problem though, Sarah, is that I’ve never heard anyone say “Hooking up is great for everyone, and if you don’t do it then you’re wrong.”

    I have. Maybe not in those exact words, but essentially. I’ve had a couple of people discuss someone else’s virginity with me as if it were a mental illness (the first time shaming me into keeping my own virginity a secret). I’ve also been told that I would be less stressed out or uptight if I were to “just get laid” (and even after getting laid, I did not find this to be true). And finally, my favorite, “I could never sleep with her because she’s a virgin, and that’s just too much pressure.” Because apparently all virgins expect a similar musical number to the one at the end of the 40-year-old Virgin with Age of Aquarius playing in the background. So, shaming of those who don’t participate in hook-up culture does occurs even if you’ve never heard it.

    I think Sheelzebub hit the nail on the head with:

    Sheelzebub: If we hook up, we’re slutty and have no self-respect.If we decide to refrain from hooking up or dressing sexy, we’re prudes.  

    I do agree that the news media does A LOT more slut shaming, and the crappy teen dramas that are unfortunately my unfeminist guilty pleasure do the prude shaming (maybe not so much shaming as just perpetuating a stereotype that all teenagers do it, so if you’re not, you’re weird). So I think it’s great that an article like this (even though flawed) finally comes out to say, “Oh wait, all people can’t be generalized into one way of thinking.” I have been grappling with this issue lately as a new friend of mine keeps asking me for relationship advice, and I know that I am not the best person to offer it because we value very different aspects of a relationship. So my final piece of advice to her was just, “Figure out what you want in this relationship, find out what he wants in the relationship, and if the two coincide, then give it a go.” And I think maybe that’s the important thing to take away from a study like this. Relationships are about what you and your partner want, not what everybody else thinks. *And to clarify, “relationship” as I refer to it is to mean any sort of encounter, and not just a committed long-term relationship*

    1. Jill
      Jill August 25, 2010 at 1:41 pm | *

      I have. Maybe not in those exact words, but essentially. I’ve had a couple of people discuss someone else’s virginity with me as if it were a mental illness (the first time shaming me into keeping my own virginity a secret). I’ve also been told that I would be less stressed out or uptight if I were to “just get laid” (and even after getting laid, I did not find this to be true). And finally, my favorite, “I could never sleep with her because she’s a virgin, and that’s just too much pressure.” Because apparently all virgins expect a similar musical number to the one at the end of the 40-year-old Virgin with Age of Aquarius playing in the background. So, shaming of those who don’t participate in hook-up culture does occurs even if you’ve never heard it.

      Kate, good point — the shaming certainly does exist. I have just not seen it framed in the same way as the freak-outs about “hook-up culture.” There aren’t government-funded initiatives to get people to end “abstinence culture;” there aren’t large-scale websites and books and lecturing articles in women’s magazines about all the dangers of not hooking up with people.

      I think part of the reason is that there’s still a lot of value tied to being monogamous, or holding off on sex, especially if you’re female — so even though people are certainly shamed for it, “you’re a prude” doesn’t have quite the same sting as “you’re a slut.”

  30. Sarah
    Sarah August 25, 2010 at 1:51 pm |

    Jill, you are more than welcome to your opinion. And to further, I honestly don’t care how you think I’m being. It’s MY opinion that personal attacks can probably be left out of such a conversation. But obviously, it’s not an opinion you agree with.

    As far as your gay example. . .I’m not sure what you find wrong with that. I myself don’t have any issue with being gay, but some people do. If someone wants to say, “I think it’s wrong to be gay!” then fine. Why do I need to fight them and try to convince them otherwise? And sure, everyone has their own opinion, but “pushing back” and telling me to reword what I’m saying because you don’t agree with it are two different things entirely. You can say, “I don’t really agree with you. . .here’s why. The end.” Rather than, “You need to say that it’s not right FOR YOU,” (in the case of this discussion). Because rather than just telling me your side of it, you’re telling me that since what I believe and you believe don’t match up, I need to change what I’m saying.
    If you’ll go back and look at my initial comment, that wasn’t actually an objection I had to the post. I said I didn’t disagree with the post, and then followed it up with something that has been a recurring theme in a lot of similar discussions. It was an example of something else having to do with what was being discussed.

    People can say all they want that anything I’ve said has offended them. What I have an issue with is people trying to tell me that I’ve offended them, so I must have meant something else. And I have no problem with people saying, “Hey, wait a minute! No, it’s not!” if that’s their opinion. I’m not asking them to reword what they’ve said because I don’t agree.

    The only thing I’m getting defensive about, which I’ve said several times, is the idea that people think because I disagree, that I need to change what I said. No one on this thread, no, has said anything to that effect. Again, like in my first comment, I’m bringing into the conversation things that have been said on the subject.

    And finally, no. I’m not going to try to convince people to believe the same thing I do, and I don’t really understand why that would be a problem. It’s not my place to tell people what they should or should not believe. What I AM doing is saying, hey, this is my opinion, how I feel about it.

    1. Jill
      Jill August 25, 2010 at 1:57 pm | *

      As far as your gay example. . .I’m not sure what you find wrong with that. I myself don’t have any issue with being gay, but some people do. If someone wants to say, “I think it’s wrong to be gay!” then fine. Why do I need to fight them and try to convince them otherwise?

      Because that “opinion” has resulted in the discrimination against a whole class of people? Because it’s gotten people killed? Because it does actual physical, emotional and spiritual harm to people?

      People can say all they want that anything I’ve said has offended them. What I have an issue with is people trying to tell me that I’ve offended them, so I must have meant something else.

      Well, I think because you were commenting on a feminist blog, people were actually trying to give you the benefit of the doubt in assuming that you were not actually saying that hooking up is bad as a general rule — because we’ve all heard that before, and it comes pretty much exclusively from people who are misogynist slut-shamers. Our bad, I guess, for hoping for the best!

  31. Sarah
    Sarah August 25, 2010 at 2:11 pm |

    Sarcasm. How quaint.

    I was under the impression that “feminism” was defined as something resembling women being equal to men, so everyone has the same rights. I guess it was MY bad for assuming that being equal means that everyone has the right to their own opinion.

    And if there was any place where I said, “The people hooking up are bad people” rather than, “This is something I think is wrong,” please point that out to me. If you’re going to accuse me of being a “misogynist slut-shamer” (or if you’re going to allude to me being something of the sort) I’d like to see where I’m shaming the aforementioned sluts. If said sluts are going to be ashamed because of MY opinion, maybe they should rethink what they’re doing.

    1. Jill
      Jill August 25, 2010 at 2:15 pm | *

      I was under the impression that “feminism” was defined as something resembling women being equal to men, so everyone has the same rights. I guess it was MY bad for assuming that being equal means that everyone has the right to their own opinion.

      You do have a right to your opinion. So do men who think that women should be in the kitchen making them sandwiches. But just because something is your opinion doesn’t mean that other people can’t call it out as bigoted and really, really problematic and harmful.

  32. Tracey
    Tracey August 25, 2010 at 3:11 pm |

    Sarah,
    What I find off-putting about your stance is this:
    If you feel that saying “I think it is wrong period” is a-okay, why did you find it necessary to comment about how upsetting it is when people say that they thing hooking up is always right (which wasn’t even done in the OP or the first couple of comments)? By refusing to qualify it as your opinion, you come across as doing the exact thing you complained about. You think that it is wrong to have hook-ups but complain about people who say that it is wrong to not have hook-ups. How is one okay but the other not?

  33. Total
    Total August 25, 2010 at 3:13 pm |

    don’t put it on other people when they point out that the things you’re demonizing actually work just fine for them.

    “And,” I said, “he doesn’t admit true speech or let it pass into the guardhouse, if someone says thta there are some pleasures belonging to fine and good desires and some belonging to bad desires, and that the ones must be practiced and honored and the others checked and enslaved. Rather, eh shakes his head at all this and says that all are alike and must be honored on an equal basis.”

    “That’s exactly,” he said, “what a man in this condition does”

    (Plato, Republic, 561b-c).

  34. Tracey
    Tracey August 25, 2010 at 3:16 pm |

    And I think the reason people were telling you to qualify your statements is that it didn’t cross their minds that someone who complained about assigning generalizations about good and bad sexual behavior to individual people’s actions, would want to deliberately assign generalizations about good and bad sexual behavior to individual people’s actions. They were giving you the benefit of the doubt.

  35. PrettyAmiable
    PrettyAmiable August 25, 2010 at 3:50 pm |

    Uh, as someone who actually said on this thread, “Hey, maybe you meant to word it this way ‘…etc etc for me,'” I can state pretty definitively that I was giving you the benefit of the doubt by assuming that you weren’t suggesting that you had the ultimate answer for the Morality of Hooking Up. Had I realized that you were painting hooking up as black and white for everyone in terms of right and wrong, I would have ignored you because I agree with Jill – it’s a bigoted perspective.

    Also, not here but maybe on your own blog and on your own time where these views would be welcome, but I would love to know how you think you can tell me that my hooking up with random boys is Wrong (TM). That’s pretty hilarious to me.

  36. Kristen J.
    Kristen J. August 25, 2010 at 5:54 pm |

    Sarah: If said sluts are going to be ashamed because of MY opinion, maybe they should rethink what they’re doing. Sarah

    Shame is socially constructed. Your opinion helps to define what is shameful. If your opinion is that people who casually hook up are engaged in shameful behavior and you express that opinion you are “slut-shaming.” Welcome to the universe. You’re actions (including speech) have consequences.

  37. Andrea
    Andrea August 25, 2010 at 6:00 pm |

    What PrettyAmiable said. Sarah, you don’t get to tell me that hooking up is per se bad, but that you don’t want people judging you for abstaining.

    Hypocrisy. How quaint.

  38. Pepper
    Pepper August 26, 2010 at 3:24 am |

    It is unfortunate that this study is so hetero-focused, because it neatly side steps the whole definitional issue we have about what actually constitutes sex and thus a hookup. I mean, hey P-in-V makes the science simple, for sure. But I don’t think it plays out that simply for lots of people, even het, cis, people. Given our inability to scratch a clear line in the sand about what is and isn’t sex, I find the histrionics about the evils of hookup culture kind of hilarious really. Well, in a grim way, unfortunately. But still. I find it useful, when talking about sex, to remember that morals are personal, but ethics are public. By which I mean that we have a duty, if we choose to be sexual, to have a standard for ethical sex, emphasizing safety and enthusiastic consent, because that stuff is good for all of us as a community. I think Jaclyn did a beautiful job of discussing that, as did the OP. But moral judgments are just plain subjective. It’s not a fair standard– who gets to decide? Why? Based on what criteria? I think that the pushback from sex-positive feminists, including myself, against the omg-casual-sex-will-RUIN.YOUR.LIFE crowd, is a reclamation of our right to a private, personal morality, not a castigation of the sexuality of others.

  39. Does Hooking Up Lead to Relationships? | Hooking Up Smart

    [...] Another Defense of Hooking Up – This Time With Science! [...]

  40. Susan Walsh
    Susan Walsh August 27, 2010 at 9:45 am |

    I confess I’m amazed – I count at least nine dissenters in this thread. I didn’t believe that was really permitted here. We’ll see if this comment gets through moderation.
    For anyone who’s interested, I’ve analyzed the study and written about it. I’ve also evaluated four articles in the press that covered it. This article was by far the worst – I had to give it an F.
    http://www.hookingupsmart.com/2010/08/26/relationshipstrategies/does-hooking-up-lead-to-relationships/

  41. Jill
    Jill August 27, 2010 at 10:38 am | *

    Susan, dissent is permitted. Rudeness, personal attacks and arguments in bad faith are not. You are welcome to check out our comment policy: http://www.feministe.us/blog/comments/

    We are also stricter with attacks on guest-bloggers, since they are guests in our space. You have treated previous guest-bloggers poorly (in your own space, not in ours), so while you are welcome to comment here, please be aware that we are not going to be particularly tolerant of bad-faith interactions from you.

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