Hookup culture and P.C. sex

Patrick Kempfer, Opinion Editor

We have a big problem in this country.

Young people are not receiving adequate information that will give them the knowledge and the aptitude required of them to make confident, sound decisions that will impact the future of their lives and this country as a whole. One issue is that information is not getting shared within all the circles of youth culture. There are so many diverse facets of subcultures and countercultures within our society, and especially in the young generation, that it has become increasingly difficult for accurate information to make its way into the minds of young voters. For how can a nation of young people prepare themselves for the formidable future if they do not have the wisdom to withstand the oncoming onslaught of information, misinformation, and all out lies this coming fall election? Politics has long been a sore spot for many citizens in the United States. However, never before in modern history, has a nation been so bipartisan. Never before has a country been so divided. And never before has such an election held the fate of a nation in its whim as this 2016 election does.

But this article isn’t about politics. This piece has nothing to do with why the people in this country are not comfortable discussing differing political opinions.

This story is about sex.

While, yes, there is a definite issue with the fact that young people in this country are somehow voting despite lacking the intellect to comprehend the ramifications of those actions, a far more confounding manifestation of that same type of behavior is evident in what is now known as “hookup culture.” This is not just some phenomenon we can brush off as a passing phase, another dating app craze, or even trend; the apathetic approach at casual sex is likely set in a deep groove, and more than likely making a bigger impact than any technological fanfare can shake an algorithm at, to be sure.

There appears to be a gross divide between how young men and young women view hookup culture. Men seem to think that the young ladies are in full, unspoken agreement on what sort of diligence goes into a hookup. For example, one young man I spoke with said that he believes women know full well that the conversation of sex, even a general one, leading into the hookup, will suffice for an acknowledgment, and understanding agreement that no emotional hang ups will ensue following said hookup. Whereas women see this as a prelude to a more in-depth discussion during the post hook up instance. However, men believing that all of this information has been given and is mutually understood, this ongoing conversation ultimately never takes place.

A young woman I spoke with on campus, Jane (not her real name), said, “I have a lot of male friends, and they’ve had consistent hookups, but it seems like the issue with females and hooking up, is that they get too emotionally invested; especially if they’re younger. I’ve seen a couple of them cry, which was awkward. Me, personally, I have not had any emotional attachments with my hookups.”

Jane told of an occasion in which she engaged in a consensual hookup, five minutes after meeting that particular partner. They were introduced by a mutual friend, who had also been a previous hookup of his. Although, she may have had high expectations, the sex was not very pleasurable. Before engaging in sexual congress, Jane explained to her selected mate, the ground rules for the situation, explaining what could and, more importantly, could not take place, and if he were to move beyond the bounds of those rules, well, let’s just say, harm would likely befall him.

Not every hookup is so on the fly, as Jane described, she also has experiences with people she has known for years. “I occasionally hook up with a friend I’ve known for, like, six years. I’m not emotionally invested into them, like in a relationship standpoint, it’s more, like, ‘Oh you are doing a service for me, and I’m doing a service for you,’ but we still have just a generalized friendship.”

I asked Jane if the initial hookup conversation was sufficient, or if later discussions occurred, explaining that many of the off-record conversations I have had on this subject reflect a disparity between young men and women, and that many of the young women I have interviewed would prefer a closing conversation, simply for the sake of clarity. She had this to say of a female friend who is new to hookup culture, “She’s told me a lot of her distress. Which sounds a lot like that and I just tell her, ‘Well, first off, you guys had this one conversation and that’s that. If nothing else is brought up, just stick to that initial conversation.’”

Jane later explained that she is very clear with her partners that when it is agreed upon that an interaction is just a hookup it must remain so, unless a deeper discussion later takes place and both parties agree.

Ultimately, though, what everyone fears when it comes to any kind of dating is rejection; but that’s just half of the problem. Despite the overwhelming insecurities that every young man and woman must feel when going out and trying to meet other young singles, and the passivity that goes along with the hookup approach, characterized in the “maybes,” “kinda likes,” and “let’s just see what happens” texts that circulate the bars, clubs, and swipey apps, young people are denying themselves the single most compelling benefit of every opportunity to lie-naked-breathing-as-one-body-and-forget-the-world-cum-together moment: we’re supposed to fall in love with each other! That’s the whole point, and, sadly, far too many people are sacrificing this potential experience for the fear of, what again? Oh, yeah… HONEST, HUMAN, TRANSPARENT CONNECTIVITY. However, I pass no judgment. If people want to fornicate, I actually encourage it. Just be safe.

Speaking of which, what about trust? How is it that any of us can give of ourselves in such a way, not always knowing a partner; having not established a trusting relationship, even brief, and go forward, going to feel good? If I don’t trust someone, then I don’t feel safe, and if I don’t feel safe, it’s pretty hard for me to feel free, and isn’t that what this is all about? I imagine that Jane feels some sense of freedom when executing her plan to hookup, but if we’re not experiencing an honest, intimate moment with our partner, with whom we’ve established some semblance of trust, empathy, and communication, aren’t we really then just using another person’s body to masturbate?

Still, it makes no sense to me to repress emotional expression during sexual intimacy. If we’re not having sex for the sake of procreation, then we’re doing it for pleasure, but if we are denying ourselves the full bounty of that pleasure, then we are selling ourselves short.

Now, let’s hope for the same kind of transparency leading in to the 2016 Presidential Election.