BY JACOB KARAFA
Published January 27, 2014
“Hooking up” may refer to many activities, ranging from casual kissing to intercourse. The term itself has a certain ambiguity that appeals to the college environment where — unless you live in close proximity to your acquaintances — you too can benefit from remaining somewhat ambiguous. The issue is thus: hookup culture continues to become more prominent in universities. This culture holds the potential to instill damaging morals into the minds of students who may eventually have trouble developing real relationships later in life.
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The 1970s proved essential to motivating the explosion of this culture when birth control and various birth control methods became more mass-produced and readily available. Some argue that these innovations essentially made obsolete the need for relationships in college. Many students may now ask, “What’s the point in being committed to one person?” College is a system that fosters individualism, independence and the right to further one’s own educational and moral development. It’s no surprise that between the periods of 1980-1990 and 2000-2010, the percentage of college students reported to have “had sex with a friend in the previous year” rose from 56 percent to 68 percent — based on a General Social Survey of 2,000 students from different universities. The institutions themselves provide a basis for hookup justification: this is the student’s world, and these are the student’s decisions.
For new college freshmen from smaller high schools, exposure to the hookup culture of larger universities can prove especially intimidating. Many of these students find the transition difficult and feel pressured to make rash decisions. It is this blend of hookup-accustomed freshmen and those who were raised in more conservative environments that proves most dangerous. For example, one student pursues another not solely for physical desire, but rather for the establishment of a real emotional connection. The other party wants nothing of the sort. The one who wants something real is crushed; we have seen it countless times.
Also dangerous is the intricate, fragile web of connections made by hooking up with several people. Thoughts of past and current hookups may plague those newly influenced by the culture with jealousy or fear. “Why is she kissing him if we hooked up last week?” and “he told everyone that we hooked up,” are commonly heard phrases schoolwide. Considering many hookups take place while one or both parties are under the influence of alcohol, there is also room for regret and remorse. Impaired judgment clashes with the fuel of desire and sparks the resulting hookup. It is a kiss. It is an exchange of words. It is a trip to a bedroom followed by early-morning disappointment. It is whatever you want it to be.
A study done at Stanford University surveyed about 17,000 college students during their time at their respective universities and reported that by senior year, 72 percent of both sexes had hooked up at least once. The average male reported having nine to 10 hookups, the average female about seven hookups. This means, for example, that Boy A has a history with 10 girls. He may see relationship potential in some, and he may desire the complete avoidance of others. He may see them as objects; he may see them as friends with benefits. But ultimately, he remains unsure. Boy A is a victim of this spreading culture and these increasing percentages. His views of women are distorted; he has forgotten the value in dating and now pursues the facility of more selfish, individual physical desires.
This is not to argue that the hookup culture lacks advantages. With busy class schedules and accelerated course work, University of Michigan students may not have time to adequately maintain relationships. However, despite the benefits of relative ease and convenience, statistics show that preference-wise, both genders still prefer traditional dating. In a study done with males and females from a Southern public university, only 2 percent of women and 17 percent of men showed a strong preference for hooking up over traditional dating. This is positive; however, the difference in percentages proves alarming. This statistic essentially suggests that there are women, internally desiring a real relationship, settling for hookups merely because a significantly bigger population of men won’t settle for relationships.
Despite the alarming percentages and stats, at least we can safely determine that the dating relationship, while preferred less now than in recent years, is still more desirable than the hookup. And it should be. The emotional damage, jealousy, general uneasiness and sense of remorse that may exist after a hookup is enough to turn many students away; however, the concepts of college independence and ease keep the practice alive. Are college relationships dead? No. Are they in a losing battle with the ever-rising hookup? Let us hope not.
Jacob Karafa is an LSA freshman.
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