Kimmel and Ronen

Gracie Hall

 

I thought that Kimmel’s linguistic analysis was valuable in understanding the way that we as a culture represent  and understand ‘hooking up’. He notes that “the phrase “hooking up” itself is deliberately vague” so that the term can encompass a wide range of actions. This vagueness aids itself to re-establishing gender power dynamics by protecting women’s reputations and exaggerating men’s sexual conquests. And although all can’t agree on what constitutes a hook-up and the definition remains vague, Kimmel notes that there are three constant variables to all hookups: “the appearance of spontaneity, the nearly inevitable use of alcohol, and the absence of any expectation of a relationship” (198). Like the vagueness of hooking up, supposed spontaneity, alcohol, and the absence of an expected relationships re-establish classic power dynamics seen in “regular” dating and other heterosexual male/female relationships (Sidenote, I wish Kimmel went more into implications about dynamics outside of heterosexuality!). These dynamics, as exhibited in past readings, can be detrimental to both men and women.

Women, through hook-up culture as described by Kimmel, and grinding as described by Ronen–lose agency. While dancing women are often surprised attacked, can’t initiate dancing, and are always upheld to a double standard which places them in a Madonna/Whore binary. They are constructed as passive, compliant players in the homosocial arena, and are denied the right to excercise their own agency. The only time that they recieve power is in the power to say no–whether this be to hooking up or grinding. Ronen notes that this “power” doesn’t do anything to upset power dynamics: “Men initiated and women cooled out. This is the dynamic that reproduced gender inequality in this sexual script. Rather than risking commandeering the masculine role of agency and power, women sought feminine—deferent, submissive, communal—ways to express their own agency, and their refusal, while avoiding embarrassing men.”  And furthermore, as we have read before in Kimmels other chapter, and seen in Tough Guise, women often don’t even maintain this form of power. Men, Kimmel argues, are also disadvantaged in that they enter adulthood “misinformed and unprepared” and are so fed up with proving their manhood to other men that they don’t even gain pleasure from hooking up.

The implications of hooking-up as the new cultural path of courtship including steps such as grinding–has interesting implications. I agree with Kimmel in that this phenomenon is widespread and normal at every college and feel as though Ronen’s statement that her findings were potentially school specific to be refuted, as these paths seem normal and dominant on Connecticut College’s campus.  As someone who is in a long-distance relationship with my high school boyfriend, I feel like I have an alternative perspective on these topics. In some ways I feel very removed because I don’t participate in hook-ups or grinding at Cro dances, but at the same time, by attending this school, I am still involved. I still watch all of these experiences and power dynamics play out for my friends, and still am included in conversations about who hooked-up with who, when to have “the talk”, and have often saved my girlfriends from unwanted dance partners. I have often had friends say to me that I am lucky because I don’t have to negotiate this normative culture, and most of my girl friends AND guy friends seem to be upset that this is the necessary path to establish relationships. One of my guy friends has flat out boycotted Cro dances because he can’t stand watching grinding and the drunken hookups that happen on the dance floor. Although Kimmel gives some history on this topic Ronen admits that little sociological research has been done in this field. I wish I had a better understanding of how hooking up became the dominant culture, because I don’t know anyone, personally who is a huge fan.

 

 

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One thought on “Kimmel and Ronen

  1. Gracie,

    I loved that you brought up the Madonna/Whore dichotomy, because I still feel like I don’t understand the expectations of how (in a heteronormative lens) men expect women to be “experienced” yet not “too experienced.” One of my friends from home showed me the app “Tinder” over break, a really interesting thing to look at with a sociological lens. We were flipping through profiles of men around the area, and one guy’s caption caught my eye: “No whores.” Like…WHAT. That’s all I could say at the time. So…let me get this straight. This guy writes “No whores,” meaning what exactly? This is an app used for conversations and even hookups, meaning that both parties have to in some way contribute. So while he supposedly makes the initiative, what is this woman supposed to be doing? He is completely denying any sexual freedom for women. We’re supposed to wait (and I don’t know, look pretty?) while he does all the maneuvering? First of all, that is completely unrealistic and also reminds me of the structure of sexual assault, when (again in a heteronormative lens) women’s sexual wants are not considered.

    Emma Weisberg

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