Our ‘Hookup Culture’ Could Mean Women Have Given Up on Love & Marriage

casual sexA 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

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nonmember avatar Kristi

You can't have it both ways. You can't insist that women don't marry too early, don't have kids until they have an established career, etc and then act surprised and appalled young women aren't thinking about those things. Why would you be looking for a relationship when you have no interest in doing the relationship thing until you feel the need to settle down? Either you want them to be young and married or you want them to wait and have to forgive the fact that they're still going to *gasp* have sex.

Miche... Michelephant

If a woman wants to focus on career goals and not emotionally entangle herself with another person then it's her choice.  Just like anyone who wants to be a stay at home mother has a choice.  Also, the young women being interviewed are on average between 18 and 25.  This is the perfect time to be selfish and not worry about feeling like you need to share and compromise in your life (if that is what makes the person happy).  Are young men looked as as wasting their youth and potential for love if they want to focus on their own personal goals until their 30?  Not normally.  

And there is more to life than romantic love.  What about developing strong loving friendships and familial bonds?  Creating a solid support system before deciding to share your life with someone in a romantic way?

Yasheve Miller

Are you suggesting that women do not enjoy sex? That there only use for sexual interaction is for snagging a husband and having babies?

Jeremy Abrams

"I would like them to go to Ivy league schools and all that"? If you're placing that kind of expectation, or even hope, on your daughter, and if she loves you and wants to please you, how exactly is she supposed to make time for love. The ivy league really is supposed to be for driven professionals and entrepreneurs, man or woman. Certainly you have to be driven beyond reason to get into one of those schools. The gentry lifestyle, and the effort to get into it or remain in it, has become so strenuous that the unbalanced expectations of these ladies seems quite reasonable, from their standpoint.

Do they grow up with their parents stressing friendship, lovingkindness, service to God (whoops - I said it) or at least community, as much as academics and income?

If they're having casual sex only and focusing otherwise on their careers, then they're having casual sex to please you.

nonmember avatar kishke

Do you know any adjectives other than "sad?" Your poverty of expression is just ... sad.

nonmember avatar GG


Maht Hajj

Or it could mean that liberals have convinced women that being a loose whore is ok!

nonmember avatar tooironic

Funny how this sounds: if a young woman wants to focus on her career yet have casual sex when the mood hits, that is her choice. Sounds all pro-feminist, empowering, huh? And yet, reverse the genders, and see how it would read to a feminist: if a young man wants to focus on his career yet have casual sex when the mood hits, that is his choiice. Suddenly, the situation is revealed for what it is: shallow, callow, pathetic, really. Thus, we see the fallacy of feminism. Blind pursuit of male "privilege" at the sacrifice of soul. Some "choice."

nonmember avatar vipie

Love is not everything. It can be hard to be tangled with someone you dont really want to be with. Being im a relationship has its ups and downs. Its their own choice to have casual sex or not. I choose to be single cuz its just to much work that I cant handle. Im a single mom doing things on my own. I dont have the time to be with someone who does not love me in return. Im not their housekeeper or there toy. If there is a guy out there who is mature and catches my eye I may reconsider but my child is more important to me

nonmember avatar bob

That's OK...us Men don't want to Marry you either... Not with being vulnerable to being hammered in a divorce where you take everything that we've worked for. No, thanks. Just give us the pootie and shut up and let me play Halo.

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