What’s sex got to do with… booty calls?

The term booty call is frequently used among adolescent college students, as booty calls are more common in places where hookup culture thrives. Kathleen A. Bogle describe in her book, Hooking Up, how booty calls are an invitation to have a sexual encounter with someone you have had a sexual experience with in the past. These encounters are typically based only on sexual desires and do not resemble emotional relationships. Therefore, booty calls are less common among young adults who have graduated from college, as they are more involved in dating rather than hookup culture. Furthermore, people often discuss meeting up for a booty call through text or other informal modes of communication, and alcohol often contributes to the sexual nature of these encounters.

In heteronormative college life, agreeing to “go to someone’s room” or “hang out” late at night is essentially agreeing to having sexual interactions in the minds of many men. It seems there is an expectation for women to engage in the sexual behaviors associated with booty calls, while some women have different presumptions about what the night will entail. This discrepancy in thinking may contribute to why sexual assault is so prevalent on college campuses, as one in five girls get sexually assaulted. The alcohol consumption that is associated with drinking puts sexual assault victims in an even more vulnerable position during booty calls.

Another setting where similar expectations are placed on women, is in the field for immigrant workers. In the movie, Rape In the Fields, a male employer makes sexual assumption when he hires a vulnerable immigrant to work for him. Some immigrant employers assume that their position of power gives them implied consent to have sex with their workers, while this is definitely not the case. Unjust employers may feel that they are doing these marginalized people a favor through giving them a job, and this sense of entitlement for helping immigrants sets the foundation for an abuse of power.

An immigrant’s displaced position in society and fear of deportation puts him or her in a situation where they feel powerless to sexual violence, just as alcohol contributes to a victim’s struggle to escape from the sexual assault that occur at booty calls.

The idea that rapists are typically acquaintances or friends is definitely apparent in Bogle’s book and in the documentary. Booty calls and work can evolve into rape because of the sense of familiarity that builds between people. Rapists may think their behavior is justified because their victim, possibly a previous sex partner or worker, is not a stranger to them.

I have heard in the news and through gossip at Vanderbilt that sexual assault often occurs at booty call-like encounters with assumed friends. I think that in order to lower the number of assaults that occur, students, particularly freshman who are not as familiar with hookup culture, need to be weary of the sexual nature of booty calls.

How common do you think booty calls are on college campuses? Do you think that sexual assault is more likely to occur in these settings? How can we help fight sexual assault?

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