Sex in college is a mess.
You’ve probably heard your parents or professors or some journalist refer to our sex lives as “hookup culture.” In most contexts, it’s negative and implies that we are constantly “hooking up” with one another, even though the term “hookup” can mean something vastly different to each person.
It can range from making out to over-the-jeans groping to actual sex. Using it to talk about our encounters — however sexual they are — gives us the false sense that we’re being open about the subject. In reality, it lets us continue to dance around a subject that affects most of us, even if we’re not “hooking up” with anyone. And if we can’t have open, honest conversations about sex, then we can’t speak frankly about anything related to it — namely, consent.
“Cat Person,” a fictional New Yorker story that went viral a few months ago, illustrates the nuances and complexities of Millennials’ sexual relationships — particularly emphasizing how they are complicated by technology. It follows a college sophomore who enters a flirty relationship with a 30-something guy over text, which culminates in ambiguously consensual, but nonetheless upsetting, sex.
The story concludes with the girl deciding to stop responding to his texts, or to “ghost” him. The friendliness and “nice guy” aura she’d experienced from him over their short relationship ends abruptly with a short, accusatory text from him: “Whore.”
Readers identified with the disconnect the student felt between the person she knew over text and the man she met in real life.
The more ways in which we have to communicate, the more difficult it is to express how we really feel and what we actually want.
How often do you send a screenshot of a conversation to your friends? How many times have you opened the Snapchat map to see where your hookup is? How often do you download, delete and re-download Tinder?
The ways that we start relationships, develop relationships and end relationships are entirely different from the ways our parents did. And that’s okay.
Choosing to casually hook up with people is not necessarily a problem. Some people enjoy it. Others find it empowering. Not everyone is seeking a Miami Merger, or even an exclusive relationship. That’s the point: Our generation accepts a wider range of relationships, from your average pair of high school sweethearts, to your “it’s complicated” set of friends who kiss sometimes, to your weekend fuck buddies.
However, most people aren’t going home with someone every night.
Sociologist Lisa Wade writes in her book “American Hookup: The New Culture of Sex on Campus” that, statistically, we’re having less sex than Gen-Xers did at our age. By the time they graduate, most students have “hooked up” eight times while at school, Wade cites. And for one-third of students, that number is zero. Also, Wade says, many recall their sexual relationships as “traumatic” or “difficult to handle.”
While we can’t pretend that misconduct isn’t an issue, we can’t begin to unpack all the problems related to sex if we can’t even talk about sex itself.
We at The Miami Student want to speak candidly with other students through the paper’s new documentary video project, “Your Status,” which will explore sex, relationships and social lives.
Whether you’ve told your story to a hundred friends or to no one, we’d like to hear what’s on your mind. You can share your thoughts with us at miamistudent.net/whats-your-status.