Thursday, April 14, 2011

Hookup Culture (by anon)

I was watching Joy Behar a while back (there was nothing else on TV…I swear), and there was an interesting segment:

Let me start off by saying I’m pro-feminism (for the most part). I believe it falls into the humanism category, which is a good thing. However, I do seem to be very anti-feminist. What I mean is that I support the struggle and general ideology, but I don’t support people who think every viewpoint a woman has is a feminist viewpoint and therefore sacred. (I’m worried that feminism has become an untouchable ideology. The very questioning of it and its adherents has become taboo. I believe all ideologies should be up for debate, but when a person comes out against policies that feminists [feminists are not necessarily those people who follow the most logical and egalitarian aspects of feminism] support, that person is automatically branded a misogynist or a backwards conservative. I am neither of those.) I’ll also say I’m not a Tucker Max fan. I don’t really like him at all, but he is interesting, and he did win the argument. I spent 4.5 years on the UW-Whitewater campus from 2006-2010, so I consider myself somewhat qualified to clear up a few things about this debate. (Also, I realize this blog is very heteronormative, but that’s what everyone is talking about, and that’s what I know about. I’d welcome a blog from a different point-of-view, but I just haven’t experienced a different point-of-view, so I’m not going to pretend I know what I’m talking about when I don’t.)

I think a big part of the argument over hookup culture is the definition of culture. Culture used to move very slowly and was defined by tradition. Traditional foods of a certain culture. Traditional religious aspects of a certain culture. Traditional roles played by people in a certain culture. But culture today isn’t the same thing. Culture today is whatever sells. Look at our culture. It’s McDonald’s and Justin Bieber and Facebook and Real Housewives of Idontfuckingcare. If I start a fast food chain and it gets popular enough, I can be a part of culture. If I write a piece-of-shit pop song today and it sells, I can be a part of culture tomorrow. Culture is whatever we want. If we get a big enough group of people to say we all love vegemite, we might steal it from Aussie culture and make it ours. Vegemite would start popping up all around us. Parents packing it in their kids’ lunches. Stupid commercials on TV. You get the idea. So, hookup culture is just giving people what sells: sex. It’s not part of the patriarchy. It’s not some systematic plot to get women into bed. It’s not misogynistic. It’s what people want, both men and women.

Bloom openly admits that people have been taking part in sexually risky behavior for a long time. It seems the only difference now is that society doesn’t place a lot of pressure on men to have relationships with these women when they have sex with them. She states that women are looking for the relationships, but they’re stuck because men only want to hookup. That reminds me of this video:

What’s really happening is that women only want to be with certain men. Most men are attracted to most women, but most women are not attracted to most men. So, women don’t want a relationship with a man if he’s not one of those few she finds attractive. The problem is all women find those men attractive, and the man who is in demand isn’t going to give up all other women for one woman, not in college anyway. I’m not blaming women for wanting what they want, but they need to take responsibility for expecting to get what they want. There are plenty of men out there who would love to be in a relationship with a woman, but women don’t want those men. That’s just how it is. I could easily tell young women to go into the library and flirt with a guy who is studying rather than getting drunk, but let’s be honest, you young women aren’t going to do that, are you?

Bloom says women are upset because men can get whatever they want. I don’t think women are upset because men can get whatever they want; it’s that women are upset that they CAN’T get whatever they want. In my opinion, it seems very logical to think that women would be upset with this because women want to control the sex of men. It gives power to the woman, and if she can control the sex of very desirable men, then her children (the original purpose of sex was to produce offspring…in case you didn’t know) will have those genes. A man who owns a Fleshlight is seen as disgusting and perverted, but a woman who has nine vibrators in her sock drawer is empowered and sexually liberated. A man with a poster of some naked chick on his dorm wall is seen as immature, but a woman with a Twilight poster, Twilight computer desktop background, Twilight calendar, and a cat named Edward Cullen is normal because she just has a little crush. A man looking at porn while in a relationship is supposedly cheating. It’s all about controlling the sexual release of men. I don’t believe it’s planned or sinister. I believe it’s just part of nature. It’s about having control over your own reproduction, which is understandable.

It seems that the idea that women can’t have their cake and eat it too isn’t acceptable to Bloom. She doesn’t say that young women aren’t interested in sex, and she doesn’t say they aren’t interested in having hookup sex. She says they’re more interested in having relationships, but she won’t admit that women need to stop hooking up in order to get a relationship. She doesn’t want to admit that a woman can’t have intercourse with whatever guy she wants and still have a relationship. This is what I see on the internet. I see women who want to continue to sleep with the hottest guys but also have a nice guy who’s there for emotional support and house chores. Women aren’t going to get to have it this way. I don’t know a guy who’d be willing to invest his emotions and finances (dates cost money) in a woman who seems very interested in sleeping with other men.

It makes perfect sense why these women see themselves as victims who have no way out of the hookup culture. It’s because they don’t accept responsibility for participating in it. I think the reason for this can be found earlier in the young woman’s life. You see, her parents never made her take responsibility for her sexual choices either. They allowed her to dress like a prostitute because that’s the style. These are not my words. These are the words of Jennifer Moses who has succumbed to letting her daughter wear whatever she likes. She wrote about it in a Wall Street Journal article found here:

There are so many interesting things about this article. Moses admits the clothes she lets her daughter wear are very sexual. She admits she feels a thrill from advertising the sexuality of her daughter. And, most importantly, she blames society and herself for her daughter dressing that way. She places no blame whatsoever on her daughter. Moses believes the culture has made her daughter want to dress in a very provocative way.

My question is: Who’s driving the culture? What if it’s the adolescent girls who are driving the provocative clothing culture? I don’t actually believe teenage girls are creating these clothing lines, but they’re the target audience, and aren’t the clothing companies just trying to cater to the wishes of their audience? If an adolescent boy is caught with a Playboy or is trying to get with a girl, nobody assumes he’s just doing it because all the other boys are doing it and he’s just trying to keep up. They KNOW why he’s doing it. So, why do we hold girls to different standards? Are these young girls not doing exactly what these young boys are? They’re trying to be the most desirable they can be in order to attract the opposite sex. It’s extremely natural. Girls have sexual desires as well, so why do we not make them accept responsibility for their choices? Why can’t we admit to ourselves that our precious little girls are going where their tingling vaginas are leading them? We’re told that women have just as much sexual desire as men do, but the same people who tell us that are also telling us the reason why young women are having more sex at a younger age is because they’re being bombarded by culture; they say young women are victims.

Possibly the most interesting part of the Joy Behar Show debate was when Bloom said males are maturing more slowly than women, which is what leads to fewer relationships and more hookups. Many women online have commented on a phenomenon among post-college-age men known as man-child syndrome. There’s some debate as to what exactly the traits of a man-child are, but, loosely defined, a man-child is a male who is physically grown but hasn’t yet become a man and seems to be prolonging the process by continuing to behave in an “immature” way. (I have many personal problems with this. For instance, there are different standards for a girl becoming a woman and a boy becoming a man. A girl simply needs to physically mature to become a woman while a man must pass a series of tests and accomplishments in order to be considered a man.) Kay Hymowitz writes about her frustration with the modern phenomenon of the man-child:

I’d like to point out that this article really makes it seem as though Hymowitz is attacking men. I don’t believe this to be the case after reading her book (I sat in Borders and read the whole thing…I need to get a life). The man-child plays too many video games, drinks too much, spends too much time on the couch in his mom’s basement, smokes too much weed, etc. when he should be getting a job, being responsible, looking to better himself, etc. I don’t feel sorry for these men. They make choices that lead to actions, and they have to live with them. If someone my age who behaves like this is complaining to me in 10 years about how shitty his life is, I’m not going to care. However, I think this is a possible side-effect from living in the hookup culture. A man who chooses to live in the hookup culture knows that a woman is going to have sex with him if she’s going to have sex with him. She just needs to like the way he looks. That’s it. When he was in college it didn’t matter if he played video games all day. He just needed to put on some fresh clothes before going out at night so he can get laid. He had no incentive to take on more responsibility. So, when he leaves college and can continue to get a steady stream of sex without having to take on responsibility, then he’s fine with it. I’m not going to dig through essays, but I believe Freud said something about society being based on a competition to be the most desirable. That’s why men got jobs that paid a lot of money and took on responsibility. However, desirability in hookup culture doesn’t factor in responsibility. If there’s no sexual incentive for a “boy” to become a “man,” then he’s not going to be in any rush to do it. And he’ll STILL reap the sexual benefits.

The very existence of Tucker Max should be enough to end the argument. Here’s a man who writes very explicit stories about having random sex with many different women and using them as objects. He’s become quite famous. Women know who he is, but they still have sex with him. They go into the Tucker Max sexual experience knowing they’re only objects/stories, but they still do it. There’s something masochistic about the idea that a man who treats women like shit is also very popular with the ladies. He blatantly tells women that he’s bad, and they shouldn’t sleep with someone like him, but they still do it. The advice for young women is very simple: If you don’t want to be treated as an object, don’t turn yourself into an object. That is fucking confusing:

Regardless of whether women are victims of hookup culture or not, I believe the most helpful thing to do for women who believe they are victims is give them responsibility. Don’t coddle them and tell them it’s not their fault. Don’t sympathize with them. Don’t tell them they’re victims and that the fault lies with men. Tell these young women it’s their own fault. If they don’t like it, they need to change it. That’s the only way it’s going to change. Feeling sorry for each other doesn’t lead to change. Take responsibility for your own actions and use them as a learning tool to create change. That’s real empowerment.


  1. I also agree. The only way you're trapped by a hook-up culture is if you're hooking-up.

    However, I would like to note that I think low self-esteem plays a bigger role for young college females than males. To put it another way, the guys are more interested in sex, and the girls (more often than the guys, anyways) are sometimes more motivated by finding approval/attention. At least, that's what I've noticed.

    That's not to say that more blame should be put on one gender or the other. I'm not sure who should be faulted for this honestly.

    I don't think that girls have any less self-esteem than previous generations. It's just that our society is now more open about premarital sex. Add to that the college drinking culture coupled with the new found parentless freedom of dorm life, and you've got the perfect storm.