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The End of Sex: Introduction, The Second Shift of College

October 9, 2013 | Catie

posts by NeW summer intern Catie Verano, student at Hillsdale college

This week, the Online Book Club is discussing the Introduction from “The End of Sex: How Hookup Culture Is Leaving a Generation Unhappy, Sexually Unfulfilled, and Confused About Intimacy,” by Donna Freitas.

The “hookup culture” has become a dominant topic of conversation among conservative and liberal women when discussing cmpus relationships. Freitas studied students at various universities, including the private-secular, public, evangelical, and catholic colleges. The schools were diverse in ranking, location, religious affiliation, and economic status. While the dominance of the hookup culture varies among schools with different social groups and values, there remains a strong presence that affects the daily lives of students. I have written a bit about this book in previous blog posts, but I look forward to returning my focus on the issues she discusses, section by section.

First, it’s important to note that Freitas uses a scientific approach to this social study. In thinking back to Dr. Christina Hoff Sommers’ lecture at NeW’s National Conference, Sommers stated we need more women who use tough-minded, factual research. There is a body of false information used by feminists to support their claims. We need to redirect the feminist movement by using scientific methods that can undeniably support conservative claims.

The introduction to this book gives an overview of what the hookup culture is, and for those who are uniformed, some insight into its dominance. The hookup normal is to be casual about sex, although many privately wish for romance and dating. “Hooking up” can run the full gamut of sexual acts, from kissing to intercourse. Regardless, the attitude behind it is the same: “Hookup sex is fast, uncaring, unthinking, and perfunctory. Hookup culture promotes bad sex, boring sex, drunken sex you don’t remember, sex you could care less about, sex where desire is absent, sex that you have ‘just because everyone else is, too,’ or that ‘just happens'” (2).

While I expect Freitas to go into more detail, it is important to understand the history of the hookup culture and how it became dominant. Hanna Rosin, a journalist examining the hookup culture as well, wrote, “‘Feminist progress right now largely depends on the existence of 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'” (8). Women behaving in this way is perhaps indicative of a deeply held contempt for men. Women are trying to prove that they can behave just like men. Ultimately, as Freitas argues, we ought to be concerned with the effects of the culture promoting careless behavior that objectifies others. “The cultural conversation surrounding hookup culture should be what we want our young people to get out of sex. It should offer a wide range of models for good sex and romantic relationships, with hooking up as one option among many” (10.)

Discussion Questions:

1) How prominent is the hookup culture on your campus?

2) How might this culture affect other areas of your life? Does it affect how you treat others?

3) Do you believe this culture can be empowering for women in some ways? Or the opposite?

4) How do you feel this culture portrays women? Does it portray women differently from men?

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