A New Perspective on the Hookup Culture

      Cassie Walter 

     I’m glad we got assigned to read “Queer Women in the Hookup Scene” by Rupp et. al because hookups outside the heterosexual norm were all but ignored in the article by Kimmel. I appreciate that this article actually goes into that because clearly not all college students are heterosexual so the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and trans students are a part of the hookup scene as well. It was interesting to hear their take on it and if they interact in the hookup culture in different ways than heterosexual students do. My only complaint is that we have yet to read anything about gay college men in the hookup culture. As the article stated, lesbian, bisexual, and questioning women can at times hide behind the male fantasy of girls hooking up with each other but gay men don’t have that.

One part of the article I found to be particularly fascinating was the way that lesbian, bisexual, and questioning women use the socially acceptable drunk girl-on-girl hookups to experiment with their sexuality or to hookup with a member of the same sex they are attracted to without the threat of being immediately labeled as lesbian. I think we were all obviously aware of the male fantasy of girls hooking up with each other and how girl-on-girl hookups are considered socially acceptable and ‘hot’ by guys before reading this article so it was nice to hear how these kind of hookups could be beneficial to college women who are questioning their sexuality. These hookups mostly occur at parties when people are drunk so later it can all be blamed on the alcohol without the actions being labeled as homosexual. Several of them women interviewed who labeled themselves as bisexual or lesbian seemed to enjoy this part of the hookup culture so for them it’s great that something good could come out of it. On the other hand, it makes me question the fact that some girls are just doing it for the pleasure of the men surrounding them and have no interest in actually being with girls. If they were doing it just for themselves in order to have fun, I would have no problem with it. But if this class (and intro to soc) has taught me anything, it is that things like this are rarely done for the pure enjoyment of the participants, instead these girls belong to a male-dominated hookup culture where they are constantly looking for ways to be more attractive to men.

Several of the openly lesbian and bisexual women also seemed to have a few issues with the women who hooked up with other women non-seriously. These women were less likely to want to label themselves as bisexual because they felt as if the heterosexual girls who hooked up with girls for fun took away trivialized the bisexual label so instead they took on the label of ‘queer.’

The “At Least I’m Not Gay” article seemed to signify everything that is wrong with our current cultural understanding of people who fall outside of the heterosexual norm. The last line of the article (which was also used as the title) was especially tragic. The fact that the seemingly only positive thing these low-income black teenagers can say about themselves is “at least I’m not gay” is not only sad because of the situation that they are in, but also because they automatically think that to be gay is wrong. Some of these kids even had relatives who were gay yet they were still not fully accepting of it. One teenager shared that his mother told him to never talk to a gay person or even sit next to them in the fear that somehow this contact with them would then turn him gay, as if homosexuality was a sort of disease that could be caught like the common cold. It is hard for this younger generation of kids to get over the negativity surrounding homosexuality when so many of the adults in their lives are not supportive of equality for everyone. Even one of the teachers at the program insinuated that one of the male students was a ‘lady’ because he was gay and spoke in a slightly high-pitched tone. Another problem is the continued belief that homosexuality is a choice and that some kids are ‘behaving in this manner’ because they want to draw attention to themselves. Clearly America has a long way to go until people outside of the heterosexual norm are accepted for who they are.

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8 thoughts on “A New Perspective on the Hookup Culture

  1. Sophie Sharps

    Cassie, I agree with your critique about the fact that gay men are often left out of the discussion regarding hook up culture. In our Soc of Inequality class last semester, my group focused on the inequalities that queer people of color face on Conn’s campus. While we were not explicitly discussing the hook up culture, many interviewees mentioned the active scene among queer people of color, particularly male students. However, this information was new to me and is not frequently discussed on this campus, paralleling the lack of discussion about it in more academic settings such as these articles.

  2. Bianca Scofield

    There are two things about your post that I would like to comment on. First is how women are constantly looking for ways to be more attractive. Men say girl-on-girl action is hot, so women do it. I really liked how you mentioned this because we can see this theme play out in many forms in this course. Why do women always even have to be attractive to be accepted in society? Also why is girl-on-girl action even considered hot? I know that as a heterosexual female when I see men preforming homosexual behavior, I am not particularly “turned on” if you will. I also liked how you mentioned the mother who told her child not to look or sit next to a homosexual for fear of becoming a homosexual yourself. That is one of the most disgusting and ignorant statements I have ever heard. She quite literally in comparing homosexuality to a disease.

  3. Brittany Juliano

    I disagree with your take on the “At Least I’m Not Gay” article. It is upsetting that the UYN kids have such a negative view of homosexual people around them, even those that are close to them. You pointed out that this general homophobia is something that is fundamentally wrong with our society, but for the UYN kids, I do not think that this is true. The anti-gay sentiments that the kids express were not inherited from the society in general but as a result of their racial and class statuses. Like the article mentions, they are disadvantaged in many ways, so that their sexuality becomes a singular element of their identity that they can use to maintain a sense of power and status. I think that their homophobia is a product of their threatened and disadvantaged position in society rather than something that they truly believe.

  4. Olivia Rabbitt

    I tend to also agree more with Brittany that the UYN kids were not actively trying to be homophobic, but rather were trying to maintain roles that kept them at least one rung up on the socioeconomic and racially discriminatory ladder. Their homophobia comes from a false belief that homosexuality is a choice and therefore if you see someone who makes it seem “fun,” as one girl said about her cousin, they might be more inclined to try it out. This social survival mechanism recognizes that in a community that is so marginalized and disadvantaged, adding the element of a sexual orientation that deviates from the “norm” a person adopts another layer of discrimination. Is this view as homosexuality as a choice at least partially maintained by parents who have seen the additional hardship that their gay and lesbian friends/family members have had to face and therefore want their children to avoid it, or is it completely structural?

  5. Sophie Furman

    Though I agree with what you’re saying about girls being able to explore with their sexuality in an environment they might feel more safe in when out at night, I find it disappointing that that has to be the way they feel comfortable exploring. It shouldn’t have to be a “drunk girl-on-girl” hook up for them to feel comfortable if it’s something they’re curious about it should be in a sober manner. If experimenting is what they’re looking for without being called a lesbian than the focus should be around taking that word out of the equation and taking away the label rather then the focus be on doing it in a space where it will be forgotten and actually encouraged by the people surrounding you. I think when it’s a drunken hook up it’s no better than the ideas mentioned in the grinding article we read, and Kimmel’s hooking up article.

  6. Sarah Wills
    Just like Cassie, I also found it very interesting how girl-on-girl hook ups are socially acceptable at a party whereas it is not acceptable for men to hook up with other men. At a party where people are drinking, girls hooking up with other girls is just considered entertainment for guys and is not taken seriously. However, this is a double standard because men do no share the same freedoms. If a man were to hookup with another man at a party then his sexuality is questions and most likely, people would not be accepting of this action

  7. Karen Cardona
    In the article “At Least I’m Not Gay” we are able to see the way some teenagers from a lower income background think of homosexuality. I grew up in a low income community that expressed very homophobic ideals. Most of the time the teenagers that associated themselves with these stereotypes came from very religious homes in which homosexuality was something looked down upon since very early stages. I feel that these teenagers are exposed to the same way of thinking on the daily bases and are unable to explore ideas outside of these opinions. When i was in high school saying the words “That’s so gay!” became completely normalized and acceptable , back then i never knew the harm these words caused. When i stepped out of my neighborhood and began to be exposed to different ideas, i was able to understand much more about these issues, and how offensive terms and words like these could be.

  8. When reading the comments, I couldn’t help but think of all the things that women do to “look hot” for men and all the things that men DO NOT do to “look hot” for women. Women spend so much time doing their hair and makeup and choosing their outfits while men just throw something nice-ish on and stand and assume that women will want them. For women, all this is to fit an image crafted by the male-dominated media. Sure, men are encouraged to go to the gym and get buff, but women also have to go to the gym in order to fit the image proscribed for them. I wonder when the media first eroticized female-on-female make out sessions. Could have it been with Girls Gone Wild, as Karen suggested on her comment on another post? I think that would be a really cool research topic.

    Patrick Gallagher Landes

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