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Sex + Relationships

The Unwinnable Argument: A Discussion About Hook-up Culture

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.

Maeve: I feel like you come up to uni and you’re expected to up your body count like you’re playing football, it can also be a complex topic for women. If casual sex is something you enjoy then you can be treated pretty terribly for that choice. There’s an expectation for women to remain ‘pure’ and a general feeling like sex should only be enjoyed by men and it can really affect how women look at their sex life.  

Maggie: For sure! I feel like there’s shame either way, honestly. If you don’t sleep around enough then you’re “frigid” or “a prude”. It’s difficult to admit if you’re inexperienced.  

Maeve: Yeah, absolutely. People will also try and shame women for sleeping with lots of people or for the way they have sex and they just don’t do that with men. We’ll be called a slut and they’ll be called a player.  

Maggie: You can’t really escape some form of shaming can you? The second people find out you aren’t interested in hooking up it feels like they think you can’t have fun, or even worse, that you look down on them for participating in hook-up culture.  

Maeve: That’s definitely coming from this weird creation of the ‘body count’, it’s become a weird measure of how fun you are. There is no number for how many people you should or should not have slept with at any age! Body counts are a ridiculous concept that are used to shame people, especially women. The only thing having sex with lots of people establishes about your character is that you enjoy having sex. In my eyes that is the same as stating you enjoy ballroom dancing, good for you but unless I am also a ballroom dancing enthusiast, I shouldn’t really care.  

Maggie: Exactly! Having a low body count or not being as experienced as a partner isn’t something to be worried about either. Regardless of the amount of sex you’ve had, you’re going to be starting at square one with a new partner in terms of what you and they like. But sometimes it feels like a huge problem if you haven’t checked certain things off by a certain age. This pressure can come from partners, but also from friends or others. There’s a lot of emphasis on “pulling” on a night out sometimes!  

Maeve: Yeah and I think that’s where people with different views on casual sex find it hard to connect because while there is no shame in casual sex it’s important to understand that it’s not for everyone and it can be really complex. While you may think sex is no big deal other people might. You have to set yourself some rules to avoid hurt feelings. Like don’t sleep with flatmates, don’t sleep with flatmates best friends, don’t sleep with best friends etc etc etc. And there are always exceptions to the rule but most of the time they cause more trouble than it’s worth.  

Maggie: I think that people often feel bad if they have an emotional reaction to a hook-up too. Setting your expectations to the point that you should never feel anything but physical attraction to people can be really messy. It’s okay to have human emotions! It’s okay if sex is meaningful to you! So often, there’s pressure for people to “keep it casual”, especially women, because they get stereotyped as emotional or clingy. You’re allowed to assert your emotional needs.  

Maeve: Exactly! The second a woman shows a desire to be treated like a human or anything but bare minimum there are tonnes of label slapped on us! Sex is supposed to be fun. Nowadays it’s becoming a strange competition where you lose if you sleep with too many people and lose is you sleep with too few, so don’t try to win! Do what you enjoy and don’t feel an ounce of shame for being a human being with human needs.  

Maggie: Absolutely. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with participating in hook-up culture to its fullest extent, but also nothing wrong with never having casual sex. Ultimately, find what you’re most comfortable with, even if that’s somewhere in the middle. Your stance can change, too. Maybe hook-up culture is your jam right now, but that doesn’t mean you never get to have a relationship. Or maybe you’ve never hooked up with someone, but that doesn’t mean you can’t! Honestly, we should just leave people alone to do what they want to do! 

Maeve Topliff

Aberdeen '24

Vice president of my lovely little Aberdeen Chapter. Currently studying English at The University of Aberdeen. I like writing about films and women and quite often women in films. I am passionate about using my voice for change.
Maggie Johnson

Aberdeen '25

Second year Anthropology student with a lot of thoughts! Secretary of the Aberdeen chapter :)