“Hooking up” is a broad term. As the
definition constantly changes the word hooking up can mean different things to
different people. Anything from kissing to groping or to the act of sex itself.
The hookup culture can be described as something our generation today is apart
of. Over the years it seems to be that young adults especially those who are in
college are taking part of having more casual sex than the generation before us,
but some can argue against it. The podcast “Hookup culture: The Unspoken Rules of
Sex on College Campuses” explains and gives an insight to the different ways
both men and women that attend American colleges are apart of the hook up
culture with the help of sociologist Lisa Wade. The podcast explores what it
means to have a meaningless hookup, how race, gender and sexuality can
influence and effect an individual taking part and the realities that students
face.

            The
podcast covers many topics, but one constant seems to be the topics of how
there is idea that hooking up is usually seen as spontaneous and somewhat
meaningless in the sense that those who are taking part of it expects it to
come without the emotional aspect connected to sex. From what I heard from the
podcast the main unspoken rule that was most prominently mentioned was the fact
that casual sex was and is meant to be meaningless. A “no strings attached” situation
is common not only among individuals who are in college but young adults in
general. As mentioned in the podcast “to convince themselves and other people
or to show themselves and other people that it was meaningless they have to
find a way to perform meaningless, it’s not automatic” (Vandantam & Wade,
2017). A way that an individual would show that the act of having sex with
another individual is not a significant thing is making sure that if they were
to hook up with someone they would be drunk or appear to be drunk. According to
Wade (2017), she states, “if the students have been drinking, it helps send the
message that it was meaningless” (Vandantam & Wade, 2017). I would assume
that people try to convince themselves that they hold absolutely no feelings to
the person they are hooking up with to make it feel casual. People will deny
any romantic feelings once they realize it is there to avoid the potential
rejection or if the feeling is not the same. The down side to trying to make
the hookup “meaningless” with the factor of alcohol what is quickly mistaken as
a meaningless hookup in turn becomes sexual assault or rape. “Hook up culture
is a rape culture in the sense that it facilitates and excuses behaviours that
translate into sexual assaults” (Vandantam & Wade, 2017). As stated
previously that many students rely on being drunk or appearing drunk to
perform, but it is a common thing where consensual consent is not given in a
party type environment resulting in a sexual assault or rape. For example, in
2016 Brock Turner, a student who was charged of sexually assaulting an
unconscious girl at a party.

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The
topic of race, gender and sexuality also come into discussion. The podcast
mentions the difficulty and complications that racial minorities face in
comparison to those who are White. “Some racial minorities are embraced by
white students more than others. African American men and Asian women are
usually considered hot and exotic, where as Asian men and African American
women are considered less so” (Vandantam & Wade,2017).  I find that people of colour face more
challenges especially in the hookup culture. White males and females are the
dominant race, and is the race that people gravitate towards to when people
look for someone to be romantic with. What makes an Asian female more
attractive than her male counterpart? Both are of Asian but why is one seen
more attractive than the other. I could say the same thing for African Americans.
I would sometimes hear or read that White males don’t go for African American
females because they “wouldn’t be able to handle them”, or they are “too
ghetto”. I’m not sure what either means but what difference does the skin
colour make? A person is a person and racial minorities get the shorter end of
the stick because of the colour of their skin.

Furthermore,
in terms of gender women were never given the same opportunity that men had in
how society views them. Resulting to thing such as the sexual revolution and
women’s movement. Wade (2017) stated “The women’s movement wanted two things
for women, both sexually and otherwise. They wanted women to have the
opportunity to do the things that men do and to embody masculine traits and
interests, they wanted everyone to sit up and notice that the things women had
been doing all along and the traits and interest that they were believe to have
were also valuable” (Vandantam & Wade, 2017). The double standard of men
and women is nothing new to society, and it is still much present even when it
come to their sexual activities. Women usually have an option of one out of two
options as stated by Wade (2017), “one is that they don’t participate in any
sexual activity at all, which also means never getting into any sort of
romantic relationship with someone. And the other is passing though this period
with a person, hookup period, with the hopes of coming out the other end as
that person’s girlfriend.” (Vandantam & Wade, 2107). Where as men have the
power to decide whether they want to continue with this casual hookup or if
they want to take it a step further and go into a romantic relationship with
the girl. On the one hand, college hook up culture allows women to explore
their sexuality in ways that previous generations of women could not. On the
other hand, it is deeply gendered custom that can enhance a man’s reputation
and damage a woman’s (Kettrey, 2016). Women emotionally don’t get treated
the same way men do and in turn have their feelings hurt more often time than
men. According to Wade (2017), “Men still have this power at some point to
decide, oh, I’ve been hooking up with you for a while, now I’m going to decide
that I like you. And now I’m going to treat you with respect and as an equal” (Vandantam
& Wade, 2017). In my opinion, whether it be sexual or otherwise men are the
‘Alpha’. When a man is being firm in anyways it just him being a boss and expressing
his views, but if a woman were to do the same thing it comes off as being a
bitch. “Women approach sexuality the same way they’ve been rewarded for
approaching everything else in their lives, with this idea of the thing they
do, the way to be liberated is to act in the way I think a stereotypical man
might” (Vandantam & Wade, 2017). The only way it seems is to think and act
as a man for people to take women more seriously. The double standard is that
men to this day still hold the power on the decision on whether they want to
step out of the hookup period and transition it into a romantic relationship or
to continue with casual sex, but women have a harder time trying to accomplish
the same thing. As much as I am arguing for the women’s side, it does not mean
that I do not believe that men do not go through the same time. The fact of the
matter is that women are more prone to these situations than men are. That is
why trying to work and educate myself is just a start in how I can help change
the views that society has and help spread justice and equality for men and
women.

Lastly,
for individuals in the LGBTQ+ community the hook up culture may be a different
scene compared to those who identify as heterosexual. Wade (2017) states,
“Students participate at their own risk, risking homophobia in either behaviour
or attitude, or they go off campus” (Vandantam & Wade, 2017). Those apart
of the Gay community face challenges where there are not many options for them.
College parties are one of the many spaces in
which queer students cannot practice the same liberties as their cishet peers
without fear of judgment. (Ward, 2016). With the
introduction to dating apps such as Tinder and Grindr, individuals who identify
themselves as gay have a place for finding others for a hook up or casual sex
the same way those who don’t identify as gay would. Whether someone is openly
gay or not, finding someone on campus is not easy. As Wade stated most people
look off campus to find someone to hook up with or to get away from the harsh
criticism and judgement of their fellow classmates.

In
an article called Young Adults and a Hookup culture, it talks about similar
topics like the ones explored in the podcast. It focuses mainly on the
emotional aspect students face when it comes to casual sex. Not only are more college students hooking up —
kissing, making out and having sex — but these experiences often leave them
feeling empty, sad and regretful. (Kerner, 2013). Wade (2017), explains in the podcast
that “If the rule is that we’re suppose to be having meaningless sex and we’re
enacting all the things that enable us to keep that illusion going, even when
that’s not how people actually feel, than it’s against the rules for them to
say, I actually quite like you” (Vandantam & Wade, 2017). The problem is a
culture that overwhelmingly pressures young men and women to have meaningless
hookups — even though they might not enjoy it (Kerner, 2013). The reality that the students face is
that they are looking for something to fill this emotional void that they have.
I know it is argued at some people may enjoy the lifestyle that the hookup
culture gives, but some people don’t. Those seeking for something more than
just casual sex is hard because people are afraid to cross imaginary lines and
to go against ‘the unspoken rules’.

In conclusion, some
of the things said in the podcast kind of threw me off. The things said like
“sober sex is serious” because in my personal view whether it be meaningful or
meaningless, with or without the presence of alcohol sex between two people is
something that only you have the decision to make. With the rest of the things
said in the podcast especially with what was said about racial minorities and
women taking part of the hookup culture, I was not surprised because racial
minorities don’t always get treated the same in everyday situations so when it
comes to the hookup culture I expected it to be similar. The same thing goes
for women, we don’t get treated equally compared to men solely on our gender
and I think it’s important that studying and understanding the challenges that
we face can help improve the way society views who we are so that we can
continue to embrace our femininity without be looked down on.