Barney Stinson spent most of his time on How I Met Your Mother having one-night stands and random hook ups with girls he had just met. Meanwhile, his best friend Ted Moseby spent all of the first eight seasons searching for his dream wife. With great hopes and high expectations at his side, Ted went on an almost never-ending journey to find this mystical creature known as a “wife”. As I spent years watching this show, I realized only now how much this television show shaped how I viewed what dating would be like in the real world. I grew up believing that I would have to go through messy relationships, odd encounters at the bar, and bizarre social situations until I would finally meet “the one”. As I, and other How I Met Your Mother fans, spent nine years watching this show progress, we all came to believe that this was the social script that we should use to engage in finding our future spouses; that our post-college years would be spent in bars and parties trying to find our life long companion.
In Hooking Up by Kathleen Bogle, a study was conducted at two college campuses to determine how sex, dating, and relationships function on campus and also after college students graduated and entered the real world. In the study, Bogle found that there was a shift from hook up culture to form dating as people transitioned from college to post-graduation. Bogle states that a reason for this is because college campuses were seen as a “safe haven”, where students “felt as though they knew everyone and could trust them, even though most of their fellow classmates were technically strangers” (Bogle 132). The most interesting part about this finding is how paradoxical it is that people feel safer on college campuses when women are more likely to be sexually assaulted on a college campus as opposed to not attending college.
The abrupt shift from hook up culture to formal dating left many who had graduated in a strange position. Transitioning from hooking up to formal dating entailed a new set of rules: the formalities involved in a date and a moral stance on having sex on the first date. Male college students in the interviews stated that they would not be too interested in a woman who had sex with them the first night. As the saying goes, it takes two to tango, so this double standard is held that it’s okay for these men themselves were to have sex on the first date with these women and were able to see themselves as good people but yet, find fault in the female that they had sex with. One possible reason for this could be that these men see these women as potential mothers of their children and would not want their daughters to be as sexually promiscuous.
Although there are these differences in hooking up and dating, Bogle was able to find some similarities between the two types of relationships. She found that the location for both relationships was the same: “they still primarily meet people at bars or parties” (Bogle 131). Bogle also found that even after the college, students who had graduated from college still found the term “hooking up” to be vague in reference to the sexual acts that were conducted between the people involved.
Bogle research is fairly accurate to the sexual scripts that I have seen on campus and have heard from friends who have graduated from college. Bogle conducts interviews with current students to understand this hook up culture phenomenon. However, the interviews that she conducted only addressed issued of a heteronormative society. The findings she found mainly implied the hooking up scene and dating scene between men and women only. In progressive college campuses, including New York University, arguments like these may be invalid and misrepresentative of college relationships. As America becomes as more progressive society, Bogle’s findings will soon be outdated and inapplicable because her findings only include those of white, affluent, heterosexual, and cisgender persons. Another issue that I found with Bogle’s arguments is that the context of these situations was in her own fantasy world where sexual assault was not an issue. As statistics have shown that one in four women in college will be sexually assaulted, Bogle makes readers believe that rape does not exist and that all sex and hooks up are consensual when that is clearly not the case.
Therefore, can Bogle’s findings be applied to college campuses in the next ten years? With changes in social morality in the United States, this may become outdated soon. And to what extent would findings that addressed sexual assault on campus differ from Bogle’s current findings? How do you feel about this flip flop from random hook ups to formal dating? Will this social script change and evolve like other social scripts have had in the past?