A recent article in The New York Times Magazine about the "hookup culture" running rampant on college campuses (and beyond) has tongues wagging, especially because, by and large, the people featured were young women. And none of these young women had the desire or inclination to "date" or be "in a relationship." They are too busy. They just want to have sex and move on. The horror!
The reality is, this is not news. The "hookup culture" has been part of college since long before I was in school, and I am sure it will remain for long after these girls leave. Still, for many years, college was also the place where women went to "earn their MRS degree." In other words, they were looking for husbands. Well, no more.
Casual sex is now the name of the game. One junior at Penn (all the girls were anonymous) said:
I positioned myself in college in such a way that I can’t have a meaningful romantic relationship, because I’m always busy and the people that I am interested in are always busy, too.
This makes sense. But casual sex isn't always simple. It has its place, by all means, it can be fun. But the reasons these girls are doing it is disturbing. They are saying there is no room for love or emotion in their lives. They are saying it's all pointless in the face of ambition and drive.
That seems very sad.
It's not that I agree with Susan Patton, the Princeton mom who thinks all girls ought to be looking for their spouse at Princeton. As she says:
For most of you, the cornerstone of your future and happiness will be inextricably linked to the man you marry, and you will never again have this concentration of men who are worthy of you.
It's not about that. It's not about money or prestige or any other kind of thing. It's about love. No matter how successful we are, no matter how much money we make, without love, none of it really means anything. And that is what is getting lost here.
We can say they will find love later, and it's true, they might. But when will they make time for it? When will love ever be the priority and something they are willing to sacrifice for?
As a mom, I would want more for my kids. Sure, I want them to be ambitious and successful and go to Ivy league schools and all that, but I also want them to find love, to prioritize it, and to find a partner who makes them better than they would be otherwise.
People can (and should) experiment with sexuality. But this sounds less like casual sex for sex's sake and more like a utilitarian thing: I have needs, you have needs, let's pound this out and get back to work. That's not romance or love. But it's not even sexy either. It's just kind of sad.
We make the time for the things we value, and valuing success and money over love and relationships is a mistake. Ten years from now, I would love to hear how these young women fare.
Do you think constant sex without love is a good idea?
Image via bobbi vie/Flickr