The End of Sex: Chapter 2, The All-Purpose Alcohol Solution

October 23, 2013 | Catie

by NeW summer intern Catie Verano, student at Hillsdale College

This week, the Online Book Club is discussing Chapter 2 from “The End of Sex: How Hookup Culture Is Leaving a Generation Unhappy, Sexually Unfulfilled, and Confused About Intimacy.”

Alcohol plays a lead role in the hookup culture. In Freitas’ research, she found that “overall, the study showed that a whopping 55 percent of the sexual encounters on campus with someone who was not a steady partner involved alcohol” (43). Getting wasted releases inhibition and serves as an excuse for sexual intimacy. “…alcohol was a key ingredient of the hookup culture because it allowed people to excuse themselves from responsibility for whatever sexual intimacy occurred” (47). 

One of the great problems with the hookup culture and its heavy reliance on alcohol is the lack of consent between partners and the potential for sexual assault. It is difficult to determine what is wanted and unwanted in the hookup culture because there is a real lack of communication, emotional intimacy, and care for the other person. Many women have reported being unwilling to have sexual relations, but being out of control and not in their right mind when they hook up. They are often unwilling to call it rape or define it as sexual assault because they never said “no” and they were drunk. Alcohol aside, good conversation and straightforwardness between partners is not what the hookup culture is about. Alcohol increases confusion between partners and blurs the line between true consent and assault.

The Obama administration issued a letter out of the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights to universities, requiring under Title IX that they increase sexual assault prevention programs and further investigation into sexual assault cases. While this was met with great approval across campuses, Freitas doubts that this will solve the problem. Hooking up and sexual assault are closely connected and ought to be addressed as one. Freitas argues that:

“…they must be addressed together if we are to put a stop to sexual assault. One of the most productive conversations we could have is the conversation about how we can educate people about sexual assault on campus and address this issue in light of a widespread culture that teaches students that ‘yes’ and ‘no’ are irrelevant, that they should be apathetic about sexual intimacy, and that whatever happens under the influence of alcohol is unavoidable and justified” (53).

Discussion Questions

1) How great a role does alcohol play on your campus? Does everyone drink to get drunk? What is the purpose behind doing so?

2) Do you think sexual assault is a big issue on your campus?

3) If we encouraged less alcohol consumption, do you think that we would see a decrease in the prominence of the hookup culture?

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