Hooking Up and Grinding

Zoe Halpert

I found it somewhat disconcerting to have my lifestyle explained to me in this chapter and article. It was almost as though these authors were observing the mating rituals of a species of birds. Terms like “hooking up” and “grinding,” which I hear as part of normal conversations, were defined, all in quotation marks, in almost scientific words.

Kimmel presents the three elements of hook ups: planned spontaneity, use of alcohol, and no expectation of a relationship. According to Kimmel, for guys it is who they hook up with that is spontaneous, not whether they will hook up. However, he says, girls plan more. This appearance of spontaneity is a way of distancing yourself from your sexual agency, suggesting that sex just happens. This makes you less vulnerable to rejection, and less accountable if you do have sex or if it doesn’t go well.  This is similar to the use of alcohol, which is often used as an excuse for certain behavior. Not only does alcohol make people look more attractive and give you courage to approach someone, but it also gives you less responsibly. If you hook up with someone while you were drunk, you can blame it on the alcohol and escape the label of slut.

A main aspect of hooking up it the third element, which is that there is no expectation of a relationship. People are cynical; divorce rates are high and a lot of people who stay married are unhappy. There’s also the idea that guys can get sex without having to be in a relationship, so why bother. Dating requires time, effort, and money. It’s also emotionally draining; you pour all of your emotions into a relationship and then it ends, usually badly, and you’re an emotional wreck for weeks. People put academics and their careers first. I think another reason that we don’t want serious relationships is that students are no longer planning to get married right after (or during) college. So we aren’t looking to find “The One” in college; that will come later. Society seems to place a lot of value on serious, monogamous relationships. Isn’t this just a social construction though?

I think that all of the elements are also very applicable to grinding. Ronen discusses how alcohol is usually consumed prior to grinding, there is certainly no expectation of a relationship (though possible of a hook up), and there is some aspect of planned spontaneity. It definitely is a surprise when all of a sudden a guy sneaks up behind you and starts dancing with you; the article mentions that this is one of the most common (though less successful) approaches. There is a general script for girls to follow to get out of grinding someone (of course, in a way that avoids hurting the man’s ego too much). However, one part of the article I found interesting was when Ronen pointed out that guys have less of a script to follow when a girl they might not want to dance with approaches them. I’ve definitely seen guys looking quite uncomfortable and rather trapped while a girl dances with him. Apparently it is so rare and shocking for a girl to make the first move that society doesn’t know what to do with itself and is unable to come up a script as to how to behave.

One thing Kimmel makes quite clear is that hooking up is a practice that is skewed to benefit men. Ronen says the same thing about grinding. She argues that grinding is not just dancing, but follows a heterosexual script that promotes gender inequality. I suppose it makes sense then that grinding can often lead to hooking up. Firstly, guys are usually the ones to initiate grinding or a hookup. Girls have the power to accept or reject an advance, but the girl’s power only comes into play once the guy approaches her. Girls are supposed to attract the guys, but the guys are in an active role. There is the double standard that hooking up enhances a guy’s reputation but damages a girl’s. I’ve been called a skank before, by one of my close friends. She questioned my behavior, but never questioned the behavior of the guy I was with. Additionally, women see hooking up at a path that will eventually lead to a relationship, and they are the ones to bring up the “what are we” conversation (this is according to Kimmel, and I don’t think that this is always the case). Considering that caring=weakness in the world of hookups, being the one who wants a relationship (or even the one who replies to a text too quickly) translates into a loss of power.

I was somewhat horrified when I read the part about how it’s not even sex that guys want so much as it’s being able to talk about the sex with other guys. It reinforces Kimmel’s statement in his other chapter that masculinity is done by men for men.

I was surprised that Ronen did not talk more about how grinding physically puts men in a dominant role. When people grind front to back, it is always the guy who is in the back. This gives him more control, both over the girl and the movements. The girl, in the front, has less power; she can’t even see what’s going on behind her. It also is a position designed for the physical pleasure of the guy, often with the guy feeling up the girl.

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5 thoughts on “Hooking Up and Grinding

  1. I completely agree with Zoe’s thought that it seemed somewhat disconcerting to hear our college culture described to us as if we were a strange species. These are our experiences and they are all too real to us. One thing she mentions is that we all pretend like we don’t care as a way to protect ourselves. I recently read an article that discussed the college “dating scene”, or lack of one. As Kimmel mentions, most college students think that they are in a unique position. They are under the impression that none of their peers are interested in being in a relationship and that this hookup culture only exists at their school. Although these beliefs are flawed, they leave many college students feeling stuck.

  2. Zoe,

    You mention about guys objectives to hook up only so he can tell other guys. I find it so interesting that the hook up itself doesn’t even matter as much as the words, “I hooked up with so-and-so.” It makes me think of the movie “Easy A,” when Emma Stone’s character gets talked into letting guys tell his friends that they hooked up. It builds up to the point where a guy flat out tells her “I can just say we did something, and people will believe me.” This quote illustrates the reality that people care less about truth and more about the story. I’m sure when a guy recounts a hook up to his friends, he’s not going to be completely honest, and same for a woman. All we want is for our reputations to remain in good social standing.

    Emma Weisberg

  3. I agree with everyone else that reading about grinding put into almost scientific terms was pretty disturbing. Grinding is something that is such a normal part of college nightlife that we don’t even think about what it really is anymore. I couldn’t get over how weird the definition of grinding made it seem that I actually texted it to my friend to talk about how disturbing it was. Ronen described it as “a woman rubbing her buttocks into a man’s groin and her back against his torso in a repetitive motion to the beat of the music” which out of context sounds kind of appalling, yet when simply called grinding, it is just a normal part of attending a Cro dance.

  4. Carly Ozarowski

    I too found, Kimmel’s third element of not attachment after hooking up to be most interesting. There seems to be an idea that a girl is crazy, needy or clingy if they decide they do not want to have just a no strings attached sexual experience. Women are often times given bad reputations by men if they seem to attached. I also find it very interesting Kimmel’s point that men find it much harder once they leave college to have relationships because, often times, relationships at that point in life become more than just random no names alcohol driven hook ups.

  5. Luis Ramos

    I like the fact that Kimmel spoke about hooking up being “a lot easier” than having a relationship. In a way I agree, but then again, I can’t really testify when I have never actually hooked up with another person. To me, the idea of hooking up seems easier because you don’t deal with much compared to when you’re in a relationship.

    Relationships require a lot of time and effort. Apart from that, you build an emotional connection with your partner, which one must be vulnerable enough to do so. At times, it gets difficult to manage a relationship along with academics or careers, that people don’t necessarily consider their relationship a priority.

    When it comes to hooking up, it’s described as “spontaneous.” It’s easy as long as you’re drunk enough to actually go through with the grinding and hooking up. There are not a lot of worries when it comes to it, but does this necessarily mean that relationships shouldn’t be as important? I kind of have mixed-feelings about the two, but value a relationship more.

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