Hooking Up at Notre Dame

“She hooked up with that guy last weekend”. “Yeah, they’re totally hooking up”. “Wanna hookup?” With all this rhetoric being tossed around, it can be challenging to navigate the college “hookup scene”.

Partially in the name of research, and partially because I’m nosy, I asked female students around campus some questions regarding their opinions and experiences with hooking up at Notre Dame. I didn’t know what to expect because the conversation surrounding the topic is relatively hushed, so the answers I received were enlightening. To the ladies who took the time to answer my personal questions, thank you!!

I asked about the type of experience with hookups that each girl had, to get an idea of how representative my ~super scientific study~ would be of the general population. The level of experience represented a range from minimally experienced to highly sexually experienced. Some cited personal preferences against hookup culture. Other explained that their hookup tendencies have changed throughout the course of their time here.

What is a “hookup”? Because the term can be ambiguous and the definition can vary, I wanted to get a sense of what this term means here. Across the board there was a general agreement that a hookup entails more than just kissing, however there’s disagreement as to exactly how far things must progress to “count”. While a few assert that a hookup has to entail sex, many draw the line slightly farther than making out, mentioning that some level of touching should be a factor. Some girls noted the concept of a “Notre Dame hookup”, which entails little more than making out. Some added contingencies, saying that a hookup can only occur outside of an established dating relationship. One respondent added context as a defining aspect, saying “If I made out with someone as part of a game, like truth or dare, or if I made out with someone at a party or a bar, I wouldn’t call that a hookup, but if I went back to a guy’s room, even if all we did was make out, I’d call that a hookup.”

When I asked about the stigmas surrounding hooking up, I was surprised that in addition to slut-shaming, some girls reported “prude-shaming”. Many girls explained that while there’s no campuswide stigma, per-say, there are pockets of people on campus who may stigmatize hookups or lack thereof.

With regards to the unique Notre Dame hookup culture, the major differences mentioned were dorm life, the size of the student body, and a level of conservatism. With regards to dorm life, differences in rule enforcement between male and female dorms leads to a male-biased hookup culture for heterosexual couples, in which men are more likely to have a “home court advantage”. Several girls also reported feeling shamed, albeit implicitly, by rectors and RAs. The comparatively smaller size of the student body means you’re more likely to run into any given person than you would be at a school like Indiana University or UVA. For some girls, the possibility of running into the person becomes a consideration when deciding whether or not to hookup with them. Several girls expressed that there’s a level of sexual conservatism on campus, possibly correlated to the religiosity of the student body, that stifles the possibility of a liberal hookup culture. As one student explains, “[Students here] don't go as far as students at other schools. For instance, I don't think many students at Notre Dame have casual sex”.

When asked specifically about how parietals play into the hookup scene on campus, the girls had varying perspectives. While they’re a universally acknowledged annoyance, it’s generally understood that if you want to hookup with someone, parietals don’t serve as an incredibly effective barrier. Some also pointed out that the fear of getting caught after parietals can put people in situations where they are uncomfortable because they don’t want to leave but don’t want to stay. Overall, parietals seem to make the whole thing more official because there’s often the conscious choice to sneak in and/or break parietals. Even if parietals seem to be an obstacle to after hours activity, as one rector is cited as saying, “just have sex in the afternoon”.    

As for hookup advice, the best tips these ladies have received are as follows:

”Just have sex in the afternoon”

”Do what you want”

”Over analyzing texts and conversations is useless”

“FOREPLAY!!!”

”Boys don’t care if you haven’t shaved your legs”

”Only do things you’re comfortable with”

“Be safe. Have fun.”

Again, thanks to the ladies who took the time to answer my questions. 

 

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