Alcohol and Consent: A Dangerous Mixture

In this day and age, one of the most well known things about college campuses is the prevalence of hook-up culture. Many students in college tend to have random hook-ups, simply because it is the thing to do. Yet, the less discussed topics, is why this is the case. Chapter 4 of Kathleen Bogle’s book, Hooking Up, addresses how the combination of alcohol, admissions process, campus setting, and proximity on college campuses all play a part in influencing students to participate in hook-up culture.

Many students realize that the situation they are in while attending college is really like no other. As individuals in Bogle’s study noted, in college, there is extremely easy access to other individuals in the same age range. The environment in which they are immersed makes it very easy to engage in hook-up culture. Students see college as a time to let loose and not be tied down by relationships. As a result, hooking up is the logical result for students who still desire to have sex. Although education plays a role in students determining to go to college, so does the overall college experience. Going to college is one of the few times in an individual’s life that it is acceptable to drink and hook-up with people potentially even multiple times a week. Bogle suggests that individuals avoid relationships in college in order to have the best college experience possible, because many they feel a relationship would limit their opportunities. With many young men and women deciding to get married later, this takes the pressure off of finding a boyfriend or girlfriend while in college. Another reason that hooking up is the predominant script on college campuses is that there are more women than men at many schools. Therefore, men are presented with more options and don’t necessarily want to simply commit to one woman. For women however, there are simply not enough men to date on campus and as a result, many tend to cling to one man. Due to the surplus of women on college campuses, men lack the incentive to be in a committed relationship.

The admissions process also plays an important role in hook-up culture. Considering that most students are from similar demographics, it breeds a sense of familiarity. With many students having similar backgrounds and other commonalities, they don’t feel like strangers to one another. This produces trust among the students and therefore makes some students more likely to hook up with random individuals, because they don’t feel that random. The closeness of living quarters also helps to reinforce hook-up culture on college campuses. Students also have the freedom to have individuals of the opposite sex in their room whenever they please, and therefore, hooking up becomes much easier than it did in high school.

Some students hook up with other students, simply because it is the thing to do. As individuals in Bogle’s study pointed out, for some there is a pressure to have sexual encounters with other students. According to Bogle’s study, members of certain groups or social circles were more likely than others to participate in hooking up. For example, men in fraternities often had an easier time of finding potential hook-up partners than those who were not members.

Finally, as seen in Bogle’s book, alcohol plays an important role in hook-up culture because it often works as a social lubricant and makes interactions occur much easier between individuals. Bogle also suggests however that for many college students, they believe that the use of alcohol increases their desire and likelihood to hook up. Alcohol often leads individuals to go farther than they would if they were sober.

Bogle realizes that not all students participate in hook-up culture and those in her study who are less likely tended to be were minority students or homosexual students. Yet, even though some students may choose not to actively participate in hook-up culture on campus, they are still affected by it and the consequences that it can produce.

Although Bogle briefly acknowledges the issue of alcohol and consent, she really does not delve much deeper into the topic, which is bizarre because it is a very controversial issue and can have dire consequences. We read numerous Time articles that addressed the issue of sexual assault on college campuses and how it is a difficult issue. When students are under the influence of alcohol, it is difficult to determine whether or not consent was given, especially if both students were under the influence of alcohol. As seen in Matthew Kaiser’s article “Some Rules About Consent Are ‘Unfair to Male Students,’” some people claim that these issues surrounding consent are often harmful to male students because female students are more likely to regret sexual encounters. Yet, consent is a problematic because without proof it is simply he said, she said, which can lead to issues. When women are told however that there most likely won’t be a conviction against their attacker, it leads to a lack of reporting. Jonathan Kalin’s article, “Consent Must Be Created, Not Given,” suggests that movements that acknowledge the necessity and importance of consent may be vital to ensuring that both parties of a sexual encounter respect the wishes of the other individual.


Creating a culture in which consent is the norm is vital to stopping sexual assaults on college campus. Many sex scenes in popular movies and television shows often skip consent. It is just assumed that both parties would like to engage in the act. Yet, to foster a culture in which consent is seen as a necessity, it should be shown more. In Disney’s Frozen, Kristoff asks permission before kissing Anna, which is very important because it is teaching children from a young age that asking for consent is the right thing to do. Often, individuals may give cues to whether or not they may be interested in receiving a kiss from someone, but with sex, it should always be asked. Although many films ignore the issue of consent when combined with alcohol, 10 Things I Hate About You, does a good job at addressing the issue. In the movie there is a scene where Kat, played by Julia Stiles, gets very drunk at a party and tries to kiss Heath Ledger’s character, Patrick, he politely declines and suggests it happens another time because she is clearly intoxicated. When his friends ask him why he didn’t do anything with her, he tells them that she was too drunk.

In order to stop sexual assaults occurring because the lack of consent, it is vital to teach individuals the importance of consent and how beneficial it can be for both parties. In what ways could the importance of consent be taught to individuals from a young age? Would it even be effective?

2 thoughts on “Alcohol and Consent: A Dangerous Mixture

  1. the most dangerous thing to me is going into a situation with a female and not being aware of my surrounding. they biggest mistake a guy can me is taking a drunk female to his room and having sex with her. because the moment she wakes up could be the worst day of your life. so agree with consent and drinking is bad for anyone. i believe that this is starting to be a norm to hookup culture and also some of the reasons sexual assaults became apart of the campus culture.


  2. I think it is very important to not only teach the importance of consent but to also stress the importance of consent. Though it may seem a bit unrealistic, I would just advise students to not engage in sexual practices with students who are intoxicated even if that student verbally expresses interest in having sexual relations of any kind; as you have already stated in a sense, alcohol and consent are much oil and water- they just don’t mix.


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