Sex Life Post-College…

In chapter 7 of Hooking Up, Bogle argues that there is a radical change in the ways boys and girls interact upon graduating. While she uses most of the book to define and analyze the “hook up culture” that’s taken over college campuses, she devotes chapter 7 to address what happens beyond college. Bogle finds that post-college, men and women return to antiquated dating practices in which there is a much larger emphasis on developing a connection before becoming sexually intimate with each other. She cites the multitude of post-college environmental factors that allow for this shift in social script (i.e. living further apart, having work responsibilities, knowing less about potential partners). Bogle explains that “after college, they [young adults] continued alcohol-centered socializing, primarily in small groups at bars. However, in terms of the opposite sex, men and women largely abandoned the hookup script in favor of formal dating” (130).

In our class discussion, though, we questioned how quickly this “abandonment” takes place. I believe that there is more of a time lag than Bogle accounts for. Once a person graduates from college, its not like they are instantaneously focused on dating only, its not that rapid. Nor is this change as clear cut as chapter 7 presents it to be. From what I’ve observed, there is a much more gradual transition from hooking up to dating, that happens to be a byproduct of pragmatic reasons–burgeoning work responsibilities and drawing closer to what is considered a mainstream marriage age. Bogle fails to identify how varying the post-grad experience can be. For example, what about students who remain living in a campusesque setting as they attend grad school? Or how about the stereotypical belief that most bachelors exercise the mentality that, before settling down with one woman, they have to play the field to ensure that they’ve seen it all first. These are only two specific examples but what I am trying to get at is that Bogle makes it seem like most young men and women share similar living conditions, desires, and values upon graduation even though she only cites alumnus experiences from only two schools (both are primarily white, heterosexual-laden private universities).

This is consistent with our cultures’ infatuation with generating binaries. As humans we like to categorize people in to clear cut categories, which is what Bogle is doing here. She is viewing college students as hook-up crazed hormone-flooded sexual beings who then transform to polar opposite chivalrous and prudelike responsible adults after graduation. She is disregarding the grey area, or maturing process, that accounts for this gradual transition.

I think Sex and the City shows a more accurate portrayal of dating life after college because of the vast differences between all the protagonists. That is, by having four characters of varying ages, careers, and relationship aspirations, the show highlights the variation in sexual behavior for young adults. For example, there is Samantha Jones who can be found “hooking up” and sleeping with different men extremely frequently. Conversely, Charlotte York is on the other end of the spectrum with her constant husband hunt and conservative sexual beliefs. For instance, even though she was not a virgin, she refused to have sex with Trey McDougal before they got married to make it more special. Then there is Miranda, whose demanding career as a lawyer dictates her personal life and sexual relationships. And lastly, there is Carrie who does not fall into one specific category either, because she hooks up as well as maintains long-term relationships (to this day I am bitter than her and Aidan broke up). The sitcom that aired in the late 90s may be slightly antiquated, however it offers a more accurate portrayal of the variation of sexual scripts present in early adulthood. All the women represent a different facet of sexual expression, whereas chapter 7 suggests that most adults, after graduating, would identify with Charlotte York

More recently, another sitcom How I Met Your Mother, also, provides a better portrayal of the sex lives of young adults than Bogle’s chapter. Barney Stinson is similar to Samantha Jones in that they are both extremely sexual beings with little to no regard for monogamy or marriage. At the same time, the characters Lily and Marshall met in college and got married not too long after. They are closer aligned with Charlotte York’s behavior because they thoroughly enjoy married life and were eager to start their family together.

I am not yet a post-grad adult living in our contemporary society, so, of course, I could be wrong in my analysis. However, from what I’ve observed and from our class discussion, the sexual scripts of life after college are not as clearly defined as Bogle assumes. Popular sitcoms such as How I Met Your Mother or Sex and the City portray a much more accurate representation of the continuum of young adults’ love lives.

From your personal experience, do you think Bogle’s claims in chapter 7 are, generally, the most popular sexual scripts nationwide? Or do you feel the sitcoms I cited are a better representation? What about her mention of how scripts shift varying from season? Think of Jersey Shore, for example. Is this something you see playing out among adults after college? How could this vary by race, class, or sexual identity? That is, if a homosexual lives in a state in which same-sex marriage is banned, do you think they’re be more likely to just pursue non-monogamous hook-ups because marriage appears to be too much of a hassle?

4 thoughts on “Sex Life Post-College…

  1. I agree with the fact that Bogle tries to fit everyone into the same categories as she doesn’t account for varying experiences. She makes it seem like everyone in college is hooking up and then everyone immediately turns to the dating script post college. In her study, Bogle only interviewed a small amount of students in which there was very limited diversity. It is hard to speak for an entire nation when you have an unrepresentative sample, which is what she did. I think that there is a more gradual shift from the campus hook up culture to the post college dating scene because, as you mentioned, in the years after college people get closer the age in which they tend to get married. As they approach this age they are more likely to look for long-term relationships rather than engage in random hook ups.


  2. This is a very interesting post because it presents great questions whether Bogle described post-college life correctly or not. I think both the shows and Bogle described post-college correctly. There will always be people of both options; some might pursue their career more intensely and put relationships on the back burner and some might pursue the hookup culture that they were so used to in college. I think it depends on the demographic(like Jersey Shore) and other varying factors, but ultimately you will have both parties represented.


  3. You make a very interesting and clear argument! Looking back at chapter 7, it is evident that Bogle quickly assumes that college graduates leave their hook up culture behind and assimilate into the dating world. I agree with you that this time period is not quite as quick as she mentions. It could be very hard to abandon all sexual practices from the past four years in a matter of graduation day. I think having a new sexual script definitely depends on the persons situation, whether they have a job and are focused and ready to date and settle down, or they do not have plans and continue their hook up script. In this way, Sex and the City I think it a great example that a persons sexual script varies and can depend on their work and/or conservative sexual beliefs.


  4. It’s hard to say which is more accurate because I think both exist and both are prevalent. It really just depends on the situation at hand, though. I think that class, agents of socialization, religion, and morality have a lot of say in how an individual choses to assert their sex life post graduating college. It is probably true that dating is on peoples minds more once they have graduated college, but that can’t be said for all cases.


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