Every college girl has a story about a hookup gone wrong, whether it’s about a friend, classmate, or herself. It’s not a funny or awkward story- it’s scary. It’s a story of groping, coercion, stealthing, or even rape. Sometimes it’s at a party; sometimes it’s in a dorm. These are not isolated incidents no matter how different they may be. They are a direct result of the dangers of hookup culture, and one of the many ways campus hookup culture disadvantages women.
Hookup culture is so normalized on college campuses that hookups seem more common than actual relationships. Although there can be risks involved, the individual choice to engage in casual sex is not something that be shamed at all! Women should have the freedom to make their own decisions when it comes to their sexuality, and there is nothing wrong with women enjoying or seeking out casual sex regularly. The issue is that the culture created around these casual hookups caters only to men and keeps women in a place of submission.
Alcohol, parties, and dating apps are a huge part of this culture and encourage a false sense of sexual liberation in women. In reality, the influence of drugs or alcohol can put women in unsafe situations, and put men in positions of power, especially in the context of a frat party where men purposely prey on women who are under the influence. Additionally, the normalization of dating apps encourages female college students to meet with complete strangers in sometimes unsafe conditions. This is not what real sexual liberation looks like, and on top of that, the general attitudes and expectations around college hookups also work to disadvantage women.
Although hookup culture is so prevalent on college campuses, the issue of slutshaming women for their sexual encounters still remains. Essentially, women are shamed for participating in casual sex, but then are told they’re prudish or emotional if they do not want to participate. This is an absolutely ridiculous double standard, as men are praised for their hookups while women are judged no matter what decision they make.
Another problem with hookup culture is that it prioritizes male pleasure and often ignores female pleasure. Men expect these encounters to be quick, which means there is little, if any, foreplay. Therefore, the experience is rarely pleasurable for women, and sometimes even painful. Women also need to be mentally and emotionally at ease in order to orgasm, which is not impossible to achieve with a casual partner, but can be more difficult with multiple one-time partners than one consistent partner. The idea of a quick, no-strings-attached one night stand fulfills a man’s simple desire for easy sex, while women’s pleasure is more complex, making this an unequal exchange that only benefits men.
The most important issue with hookup culture is that because it caters to men’s pleasure, men feel more entitled to do what they want in bed without consent from their partners. Common examples of this include stealthing (removing a condom without consent), choking, or even more violent acts. Part of the reason hooking up with a stranger can be so dangerous for women is that both parties are unfamiliar with the other person’s boundaries. Today’s hookup culture normalizes rushed sexual advances in a world where most are not properly educated on consent, therefore it perpetuates the larger issue of rape culture.
In order to achieve true sexual liberation for women, the culture needs to change. This includes ensuring that all college students have a full understanding of consent. It means encouraging women to be vocal about what they want and don’t want during sex, and their partners actively valuing their pleasure and comfort. Additionally, the double standards need to be changed because women do not deserve to be shamed for embracing their sexuality the way men do. Sex positivity doesnt have to mean promoting hookup culture, but rather creating a new culture around sexuality by empowering women to make their own choices free of pressure or stigma.