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Thursday nights at many party houses on the Hill look the same: empty beer cans on the counter, strangers flirting, friends gossiping, more guests constantly stumbling in. As the night progresses, the gossiping friends might leave to give you a chance to see what happens with a cute, new stranger. Moving far beyond “What’s your major?”, many students have found themselves in the throes of a hook-up with a relative stranger at the end of the night. And this is not such a revolutionary trend.
An influx of recent articles about hook-up culture in colleges across the country have portrayed students as lascivious and hyper-sexualized beings. Although this template is often inaccurate, it has generated a lot of discussion.
Many people have been chiming in with their feelings about hook-up culture. Some strongly believe that it is a move in the right direction for women. Others, like Michigan University senior Jeffrey McMahon, believe that hook-up culture is victimizing to women, leaving them “to find their fulfillment here and there, but ultimately left objectified and used.” McMahon argues that women are negatively affected by hook-up culture more than their male counterparts.
But is there a way to look at hook-up culture as a feminist movement?
Not very easily. Hook-up culture is a product of our world today and not of a social justice movement. In the American college world of underage drinking, readily available birth control and newly found absence of supervision, it is understandable that young, educated people would want to find their sexual identities. Hook-up culture in and of itself is not problematic as I see it. The consequences that can arise are the problem.
The fact that this “culture” exists within an environment of binge drinking is not good. I do not like the idea of drinking dangerous amounts in order to have sexual encounters, especially with the knowledge that one in four women on college campuses has been raped.
That being said, hook-up culture can do a lot of things for the curious undergrad (male or female). Hook-up culture can help a person understand what they do and do not like, sexually speaking. It can show people what kinds of relationships are best-suited to them and what they are looking for in a partner. And hook-up culture can be fun. But this is all assuming it is practiced consensually, safely and in a right mind.
Hook-up culture is not a feminist movement, but it does have room for feminism. Women participating in such a culture have the chance to make decisions about sex and relationships more freely than ever before. But here’s the most important concept to keep in mind: mutual respect. Nobody involved is an object, and even somebody you will never speak with again deserves respect.
So go ahead and ask that cute person what his or her major is — you never know where things might lead.
Contact Feminism Columnist Becky Powell at Becky.email@example.com.