What’s Sex Got to do With.. Double Standards (FINAL POST)

A double standard is “a rule or principle that is unfairly applied in different ways to different people or groups” (dictionary.com). I completely hate that there is a double standard especially when it comes to genders. Excuse my language but it is bullshit knowing that guys can do one thing and when girls then do it they get scolded or shamed. For our group project, my partners and I looked at gender double standards and there are a good amount. Clearly most people know about the double standards against women more than they do men.

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Hooking Up

Since when did people start using the term “hooking up”? For as long as I can remember, people have used the phrase “hooking up” to refer to having a sexual encounter with another person. On the other hand, neither of my parents had heard of it before my generation. Where did the word even come from? To start, I think the term may have been developed to give people the luxury of being vague about a sexual experience. As younger and younger people started having some type of sexual experience earlier and earlier in life, a maturity issue must have been developing. These boys or girls are not at the age where they are comfortable talking about the actions that they are performing. This lack of maturity was the reason the word hooking up was even made.

The word eventually blew up into a term used on a daily bases. It would be hard for a sentence to be said without using the word hooking up. Nowadays, hooking up is one of the most talked about things on college campuses. The consequences however are what needs to be talked about. Hooking up made definitions and sexual acts so vague that interpretations can be made from extreme to boring. False rumors get spread that can make a girl regret trusting anyone. The world hooking up is dangerous to the mental health of teens.

To further understand hooking up, I think who we “hook up” with needs to be talked about. In most cases, heteronormative stances occupy the social aspect that is hooking up. Thus, shaming and diminishing the queer movement. Homophobic tendencies controlled the means in which hooking up was used, turning it into a danger. Hooking up never meant to be a word that sparked controversy into the gay community. Although people knew this, the LGBTQI community felt disrespected.

What’s Sex Got to do With Hooking Up?

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Sex and hooking up are terms that are synonymous in many ways while at the same time meaning entirely different ideas. In today’s world, hookup culture is the standard, sex has taken the idea of allowing a person to be sexual without being in love, meaning sex has nothing to do with love or getting to know someone personally it’s all about the end results. In my earlier years of life I remember no one ever talked about having sex. If someone liked someone they would write love letters, talk on the phone for hours at night, put that person they liked first by either holding doors open, or even allowing their partner to meet their family. Today’s society has a completely different outlook on what it means to like someone. For example, hookup culture has become the approach of easy access to sex. Because hookup culture is so powerful in today’s society, many people would say that it has ruined the dating scene. Although, the idea of hookup culture is alive in the world, I believe that “hookup culture” isn’t real. Meaning that people use this term to protect themselves from being called other names, “it’s all a part of the hookup culture.”  Hook up culture is also a way that a lot of people commodotize their bodies in exchange for love. A lot of people feel like they are forced to hook up or they won’t be appealing to people who they are attracted to. For example, hook up culture at Vanderbilt has really dismantled the dating scene and it’s very seldom that one sees a couple on campus. On the other hand, frat parties are a breeding ground for hook ups and you can expect to see at least one couple hooking up at a party.

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How do we know if hook up culture is desired by students or if students want a stronger dating scene?

How can we combat hook up culture?

Does hook up culture create an environment conducive to sexual assault?

Seeing Double

Kathleen Bogle’s book, Hooking Up, devotes an entire chapter to discussing the double standard as it exists on college campuses. In it, she illustrates how women are seen as “good” if they do not have sex with many people, do not dress provocatively, and take things slow and wait awhile to have sex. A “bad” girl is one who may be incredibly sexy, but has sex with many men, dresses improperly, and has sex when she wants to. Bogle’s research has shown that men and women in hookup cultures want different things; men want only sex and women want relationships. Now, (setting aside psychological reasons like women being more emotional and getting attached more easily) some women are looking for relationships because they want to marry in a few years. Other women may feel the need to be in relationships to protect their reputations and not be labeled “sluts” for having sex. As far as sex goes, men can have sex as much as they want to without having to worry about any sort of social backlash; they have basically no rules. For women, however, it is a different story.  It is very easy for a woman to get a bad reputation– if she hooks up too often, hooks up with too many different people, hooks up with two friends (or frat brothers), dresses too scandalously, or behaves too wildly. When women do engage in these no-no’s, they are labeled as “sluts,” stigmatized, ostracized, and not seen as candidates for relationships. It seems women who want to be in relationships almost have to trick or coerce the men to be in them. Bogle found that guys are a little more willing to enter into friends-with-benefits relationships, although they are still worried about women wanting “more.” Because clearly men and women want different things, men want hookups and women want relationships, why do women not opt-out? Men are in a higher position of power within hookup culture, because that is all that they want. If women choose not to participate in hookup culture, they don’t really have any other options.

As an undergraduate female at Vanderbilt, I have seen, and even experienced firsthand, much of the double standard and differing goals of male and female students. One guy I’ve heard of is extremely well known for hooking up with lots of girls; people who talk of him almost regard him with a sort of awe. On the other hand, my female friend was once worrying about being seen dancing on guys at parties, as she didn’t want to get a bad rep like some other girls who were known for sleeping around. Guys really don’t have many “rules” governing what kind of behavior is acceptable. Hooking up with someone else’s girlfriend may make him mad at you, but you’ll still probably gain a lot of esteem from your friends. Really, guys can hook up with whomever they want, whenever they want, and not face much (if any) stigma. Girls, however, have to watch their steps. I do not agree with these labels or stigma, but I am describing what I see as dominant scripts here on campus. A woman who avoids sex and parties altogether may be branded a “good girl,” someone innocent and naive, or possibly a “goody-goody” who stands on a moral high ground above the other people who do engage in those behaviors. She can’t be too “good,” but woman cannot go too far in the other direction either. If she drinks and parties too much, she may get a name for that, especially if she makes a habit of getting “sloppily” drunk, passing out, or throwing up. If a woman has sex with too many people, she is seen as a “slut,” and then is less desirable. If a woman is looking for a relationship, she can’t have sex with the candidate too soon, or else he won’t see her as relationship material (I just want to point out that it takes two to tango here, he had sex just as soon as she did). Now, a woman’s safest bet here is to have a boyfriend (if she can snag one), or even a friend-with-benefits. She wouldn’t be judged for sleeping with too many people, or regarded as “too good” to hook up with anyone.

The problem is that a large amount of guys are not looking for relationships. They view college, especially the first couple years, as a time to let loose and have fun. Everyone just wants to party and live the college experience, right? I think that many freshmen, guys and girls, come into college with this mentality, but that over time, it gradually changes. I agree that girls are more likely to want relationships, but that there is no clear course to finding one when hooking up seems to be the only option.

I think this double standard is completely ridiculous, though the solution is not to start slut-shaming men equally. Men and women should be able to have sex whenever, however, and with whomever they want (with consent). No one should have to feel embarrassed about their sexuality. Having sex does not make someone a bad person. Our culture needs to recognize women as sexual beings with desires of their own who can make choices for themselves and do not need the fear of outside judgment to keep them in line. It is absurd to me that today, in 2014, men and women are still not equals. They may be protected from discriminatory practices by law, but in social situations with socially constructed rules and scripts for behavior, men are often favored.

How do you think we can work to eradicate the double standard? Why do you think guys do not seem to want relationships, but girls do? Does the double standard apply to non-heterosexual and non-cisgender people?

Football, Fraternities, and Rape

With students attending college now more than ever, the hookup scene and culture have grown in popularity. Whereas college was once a male dominated space, the presence of women on college campuses has surpassed that of men. In Hooking Up, author Kathleen Bogle writes that for every 100 women on campus, there are approximately 80 men. T Continue reading

What’s Sex got to do with… Mono?

We all know that if you have sex, you have a chance of getting STD’s. This risk is surely higher within hookup cultures, where it is normal to have many partners, for anything from kissing to intercourse. We don’t always think about how a hookup culture could contribute to the spread of other diseases, like mono for instance. Continue reading

Wait, What’s Hooking Up?

Sociologist Kathleen Bogle, a woman who experienced the early stages of the hookup scene herself in the early 1990s, found herself intrigued after trying to explain the hookup culture to a fellow member of the sociology department who was a member of the dating-era. Upon this episode, she was urged to follow up and do a study on it. To do so, she conducted a series of interviews throughout northeastern college campuses, and began to collect data. All of the information that she gathered was organized, forming her book, Hooking Up. She seeks to reveal many aspects of the current hookup scene on college campuses today, including what hooking up is, the shift from the dating scene, the existing double standard between men and women, and life after the hookup scene. the most interesting aspect of all of the studies to me personally is the question of what it means to hookup.

The main assertion in Bogle’s chapter about what it means to hookup is that there is no concrete definition; the definition can change based on the people involved, the situation, and the environment. This chapter features an interview with a man named Tony who attends a State University and helps explicate this idea further. In the interview upon being asked to define a hookup, he said that it could be taking someone home, spending the night with them, and having intercourse- but it could also mean just kissing, having sex, or other sexual acts. In Bogle’s dissection of this interview and others, it became clear that the term, “hooking up,” is very ambiguous. It can refer to multiple things, such as having sex, oral sex, making out, sexual touching, and just kissing. Students are aware of the ambiguity of this term, and it is clear that different people use the term differently. Because of this, saying that you have “hooked up” with someone begs follow up questions to clarify exactly how far the hookup went.

This is the problem with the term “hooking up”. The obscurity leaves room for people to make assumptions and form ideas of what happened when they really cannot be sure unless follow up questions are asked. Because of this obscurity, it is easy for people to blur the lines of hooking up, embellish stories, and downright make up stories of what happened during a hookup. The issue with this term is not what constitutes as a hookup, because clearly, the definition will shift based on the person that is asked and the situation, but it is the uncertainty that follows the term because of the ambiguity of the term itself. A person saying that they hooked up with someone is normal, and expected of college students; however,  problems can begin to arise when others make assertions about someone else’s hookup.

In class when asked to define hooking up, most everyone had different answers, similar to Bogle’s interviews, yet some were the same. The definitions really do vary based on a student’s age, friend group, environment, social scene, upbringing, etc; agents of sexual socialization could also play into this. The definitions also shifted between males and females. From these discussions, it has become evident that the “bases” metaphor to hooking up no longer stands and has shifted, and that there is a disparity between what these terms and ideas mean whether you are a man or a woman. It seems as if the bases are beginning to go further than they have previously. What is now “first base (making out accompanied with sexual touching” is what used to be second, and what is now “second base (oral sex)” used to be third. Some might even argue that oral sex comes with first base, but not necessarily both male and female oral sex; oral sex performed on males is now expected to happen prior to oral sex performed on females in heterosexual relationships.

Relating all of the assertions made in Bogle’s book, formed and class and made by me, myself, proved to be very interesting when relating them to the social groups I am involved on here on Vanderbilt’s campus as well as other college campuses across the country. Once again, the definition of hooking up varies based on the person. In my friend group here, hooking up seems to mean having sex to the more sexually experienced girls, whereas to the less sexually experienced girls, it could mean kissing, making out, or possibly oral sex. To those who are more sexually experienced and hooking up means sex, they would say they just made out if that is all that happened rather than saying they “hooked up.” This is very normal here on Vanderbilt’s campus, but compared to other schools, there are disparities on the hookup scene and definition of hooking up. My three best friends go to Arizona State University, University of Kansas, and University of Portland. At Arizona State, my friend said that the hookup scene is so prevalent that hooking up, regardless of who the person is, almost means sex. The same goes for at Kansas, yet not quite to the same level ASU. However, at Portland, the scripts are much like here at Vanderbilt.

Why do think that the hookup scenes vary from campus to campus? Why is Vanderbilt’s so unique? Does region and prestige play in a role in this? How influential are the agents of sexual socialization in someone’s definition of hooking up?