I was looking for a couple good books to read over the summer that might pertain to women’s issues today, and I came across a new book by Donna Freitas titled The End of Sex: How Hookup Culture is Leaving a Generation Unhappy, Sexually Unfulfilled, and Confused About Intimacy. After reading a summary, this book struck me as especially important. Hookup culture is definitely dominant among people my age, and I hoped to hear a fresh take on the role of women in this culture.
Prior to reading about a third of this book (which is where I’m at right now) I had heard several feminist arguments that noncommittal sex was a benefit to women. In fact, Freitas quotes Hannah Rosin, a journalist and proponent of hookup culture, who represents the dominant feminist perspective:
To put it crudely, feminist progress right now largely depends on the existence of the hookup culture. And to a surprising degree, it is women– not men– who are perpetuating the culture, especially in school, cannily manipulating it to make space for their success, always keeping their own ends in mind. For college girls these days, an overly serious suitor fills the same role an accidental pregnancy did in the 19th century: a danger to be avoided at all costs, lest it get in the way of a promising future (Freitas 8).
Freitas’s research, however, suggests that this argument is misleading and may be the mask behind which today’s youth hides the despair and emptiness that accompanies hookup culture. She writes that this culture is detrimental to women and men and cannot be classified as only a woman’s issue. The more I read, the more I formed the opinion that the hookup culture was perpetuated by the left as a way for women to free themselves from past restrictions on behavior. I commented on an earlier blog that I believe women in our modern culture have moved forward in a particular sense. But simply being allowed to do whatever we please is not making any of us (men or women) happier or healthier. Perhaps feminists are partially perpetuating hookup culture as a way of getting revenge on men for past injustices. Women can now also have meaningless sex while
cunningly manipulating it to make space for their success, always keeping their own ends in mind. (16)
But was the real crime that men enacted this behavior on women, or was it that this behavior was occurring in the first place? I don’t think the solution to creating a better society for women includes women behaving in the same despicable ways men did. I am excited to continue moving through this book, and I hope Freitas provides some solutions for steering our culture in a different direction.