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Getting busy: Fulfillment without commitment at the University

By Bethany Biron, Managing News Editor
Published October 1, 2012

She found that female characters received negative penalties for their behaviors more often than males.

What's your take on hook-up culture?

Choices

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“Hooking up is portrayed in a less conflicting way for men than it is for women,” Aubrey said. “Women are definitely shown hooking up, but there is a variation on the emotional outcome of that for women versus men.”

But despite the enduring stereotype that females have an inherent tendency to develop feelings in the wake of a hookup, Breitenbach said she more often experiences the opposite.

She cited a former relationship attempt as evidence.

“He was totally gung-ho about it, and then I was like, ‘Oh, I’m not interested in you at all,’" she said. “He wanted to take it from being hook-up buddies to being a relationship, and I was just not into it.”

Til death do us part?

But what about marriage? Is this culture — marked by the conflict between the physical and the emotional — just a titillating means of keeping marriage on the backburner? Or is the institution slowly becoming obsolete?

In a study from the Pew Research Center, 39 percent of Gen Yers claimed they believed marriage had become an archaic practice. Only 30 percent consider marriage to be a top priority in their lives.

Additionally, data shows 22 percent of individuals ages 19 to 29 are married. This number is down from 29 percent in 1997.

In her November 2011 Atlantic piece “All The Single Ladies,” Kate Bolick paints a portrait of the American woman’s undulating perspectives on marriage, amplified in the wake of vast economic gains.

“As women have climbed ever higher, men have been falling behind,” she writes in the article. “We’ve arrived at the top of the staircase, finally ready to start our lives, only to discover a cavernous room at the tail end of a party, most of the men gone already, some having never shown up — and those who remain are leering by the cheese table, or are, you know, the ones you don’t want to go out with.”

LSA senior Charlotte Myers’s experience growing up as the daughter of a single, working mother struggling to raise three children has made her skeptical toward wedlock.

“I just want to do things for myself,” Myers said. “If things work out that I get married or have kids or something, then that’s fine too. But it’s not in my plan for life.”

LSA senior Erin Reed, whose father walked out on her when she was three months old, said she would like to get married someday, but is doubtful of the ability to find a partner who will fully commit.

“I definitely think that I’m more cautious in that situation and in the qualities that I would need to see in another person,” Reed said. “My number one is commitment.”

Despite contradictory feelings toward marriage and mounting skepticism toward monogamous institutions, many students haven’t completely foregone the desire to tie the knot.

“There’s a big part of me that’s like, ‘OK, marriage is this antiquated ritual.’ But then there’s the part of me that’s grown up in America, that looks at my parents’ wedding photos and their fabulous wedding, and thinks, ‘Man, I really do want that really beautiful white dress,’ ” Cohen, the woman in the open relationship, said.

Cronin, the woman who describes herself as “in-between,” said she also anticipates marrying someday.

“I think eventually I’d like to get married,” Cronin said with a smile. “Probably when I’m, like, 40, though. Because I’ve got to get my career going first.”