Partying is "built into the rhythm and architecture of higher education.
Arman was 7, miles from his family, one of the roughly million international students who were enrolled in U. Dropped into the raucous first week of freshman year, he discovered a way of life that seemed intensely foreign, frightening, and enticing. The behavior of some of his fellow students unnerved him.
He watched them drink to excess, tell explicit sexual stories, flirt on the quad and grind on the dance floor. He received assertive sexual signals from women. He was deeply torn as to whether to participate in this new social scene. Ceding to or resisting that culture becomes part of their everyday lives. One night, he succumbed to temptation. He went to a party, drank, and kissed a girl on the dance floor.
When the alcohol wore off, he was appalled at his behavior. A few months later, he would lose his virginity to a girl he barely knew. His feelings about it were deeply ambivalent. For my book, American Hookup: The New Culture of Sex on CampusI followed college students through a semester of their first Definition of hookup culture. They submitted weekly journal entries, writing about sex and dating on campus however they wished.
In total, the students wrote over 1, single-spaced pages and a million words. I dovetailed their stories with 21 follow-up interviews, quantitative data from the Online College Social Life Survey, academic literature, hundreds of essays written by students for college Definition of hookup culture, and 24 visits to campuses around the country.
Arman was an outlier. Thirty-six of the students I studied reported being simultaneously attracted to and repelled by hookup culture upon arrival at college, compared to thirty-four who opted out entirely, twenty-three who opted in with enthusiasm, and eight who sustained monogamous relationships.
For students like Arman, who are unsure of whether they want to participate, hookup culture has a way of tipping the scales. Its logic makes both abstaining from sex and a preference for sex in committed relationships difficult to justify, and its integration into the workings of higher education makes hooking up hard to Hooking up is immanently defensible in hookup culture.
All of these ideas are widely circulated on campus—and all make reasonable sense—validating the choice to engage in casual sex while invalidating both monogamous relationships and the choice to have no sex at all.
For the students in my study who were enthusiastic about casual sex, this worked out well, but students who found casual sex unappealing often had difficulty explaining why, both to themselves or others. Many simply concluded that they were overly sensitive or insufficiently brave.
Faced with these options, many students who are ambivalent decide to give it a try. In the colonial era, colleges were downright stodgy. Student activities were rigidly controlled, curricula were dry, and harsh punishments were meted out for misbehavior. The fraternity boys of the early s can be credited with introducing the idea that college should be fun.
Their lifestyle was then glamorized by the media of the s and democratized Definition of hookup culture the alcohol industry in the s after Animal House. Today, the reputation of higher education as a place for an outlandish good time is second only to its reputation as a place of learning.
Not just any good time, though. A particular kind of party dominates the social scene: Such parties are built into the rhythm and architecture of higher education.
Almost all of the students in American Hookup were living in residence halls.
On weekend nights, dorms buzzed with pre-partying, primping, and planning. Eventually residence halls would empty out, leaving eerie quiet; revelers Definition of hookup culture drunker, louder. Being immersed in hookup culture means being surrounded by anticipation, innuendo, and braggadocio.
The morning after, there would be a ritual retelling of the night before. And the morning after that, anticipation for the next weekend of partying began. Being immersed in hookup culture meant being surrounded by anticipation, innuendo, and braggadocio. As one of the African-American men in my study wrote: For young people still learning how to manage sexual desire, college parties combining sex with sensory overload and mind-altering substances Definition of hookup culture be overwhelming.
Accordingly, anyone who regularly participates in the routine partying built into the rhythm of higher education will likely find themselves opting in to hooking up. Ceding to or resisting that culture then becomes part of their everyday lives. And because hookup culture is totally institutionalized, when students move into a dorm room on a college campus, they become a part of it—whether they like it or not. Students wish they had more options. Some pine for the going-steady lifestyle of the s.
Many mourn the utopia that the sexual revolution promised but never fully delivered. Quite a few would like things to be a lot more queer and gender fluid. Some want a hookup culture that is kinder—warm as well as hot.