Kimmel’s reading this week “Hooking up: Sex in Guyland” recounted what for many of us is the social norm while attempting to unveil negative a positive effects of such a cultural shift. However Kimmel’s attempt to present an unbiased review of college hookup campus soon leads to the underlying gender roles this culture perpetuates — and it’s nearly impossible to have benefits alleviate the costs of such a toxic “dating” scene. In this new act of the dating play very scripted roles require men to get drunk and wingman for their bros in order to get a potentially hookup to let her guard down (so he can tell his friends about it the next day rather than actually focus on the pleasure aspect of hooking up). Similarly it seems that women do not focus so much on the pleasure component of sexuality but rather on maintaining emotional unavailability with the hookup charade and on using the excuse of drunkenness to avoid the label of slut. For both men and women on college campuses hooking up is much more of a homosocial interaction with the actual act of a hookup as far from the focus until one hookup turns into a relationship.
A particularly disturbing aspect of this culture is the lack of proper sex education. I know from personal experience (Catholic school) that many schools do still teach abstinence only programs with oral sex not even mentioned outright but only alluded to in passing. In addition to a lack of proper physical sex ed there is also a lack of acknowledgement for the important emotional components of good sex. Why is our sex fixated culture so inept at addressing what makes sex good? Kimmel describes this often unattainable sexual encounter as both ethical and passionate, which at least to me, definitely sounds like a good alternative to empty hookups and awkward encounters in Harris on Sunday.
Ronen’s article Grinding on the Dancefloor also rang all to true with social life here at Conn. As a student advisor I attended the first Cro dance of the season with only freshmen and SAs in attendance. This first dance definitely has some grinding, but it seems more like a middle school dance with everyone dancing around awkwardly in large mixed gender groups and often leaving early. Fast forward two weeks to the first campus wide Cro dance and it’s an entirely different scene – one straight out of Ronen’s article with groups of women flaunting their sexiness and playfully dancing together to attract the male gaze. Once a pair starts grinding it is up to these same girls to get their friend out of a bad situation – i.e. the guy isn’t that attractive or the friend looks like she isn’t enjoying herself. Here again we see the homosocial nature of college sexual encounters. Women are responsible for “cooling out” a dance floor hookup while men are responsible to initiate and gain approval of both his partner and all of her friends.
Anyone of us who has attended or participated in grinding at a Cro dance or other party here on campus knows exactly how potent the double standard for women is. While everyone in attendance knows that these dances are only an excuse to hookup, we still insist on looking on with mild disdain for any woman getting “too into” grinding or any couple that is grinding “too intensely.” However we only seem to do this when we haven’t found anyone to dance with. As soon as one of your friends starts dancing with someone, disapproval transforms into encouragement and we insist that we are all partaking in an innocent and fun script to prove how sexually liberated we all are. Meanwhile other students look on with disgust and judgement.