Illustration by Maren Slobody.
Illustration by Maren Slobody.

In a collegiate world swirling with competitive academics, jobs, athletics and student associations, who has time for romantic relationships? There are those college students who do and who are very happy and deserve commendation for fitting their respective significant others into their busy lives.

According to various studies, however, many college students are just left with “hookup culture,” and according to various authors, it’s ruining any future prospect of romance in our lives. This perspective of “hookup culture” is ridiculous. It presents a narrow view of the different types of sexual encounters one can engage in, and it is problematic to think the only kind of sex a person can have is the kind with emotional attachments.

The book “The End of Sex: How Hookup Culture is Leaving a Generation Unhappy, Sexually Unfulfilled, and Confused About Intimacy” by Donna Freitas considers the hookup culture many studies say is so pervasive and how this culture is destroying our generation’s chance of future romantic relationships. Although I am by no means advocating that all college students should engage in “hookup culture,” Freitas bases her argument on assumptions that are based on offensive stereotypes about men and women.

Freitas’ argument completely negates the possibility that women enjoy sex by implying that women are the ones who provide pleasure and men are always on the receiving end. Freitas, and many others, also make the assumption that women feel the need for all their sexual encounters to lead to a relationship and that when they don’t, the woman feels unfulfilled.

Elizabeth Armstrong, a sociologist at the University of Michigan, did a study four years ago that found 89 percent of men and 85 percent of women said they enjoyed the sexual activity of their last hookup “very much” or “somewhat.” The same study found less than half wanted a relationship to come of their last hookup.

I can only imagine that men are equally offended by the implication that they are the only ones who enjoy sex with no strings attached. Or by the stereotype that they only “take” from sexual encounters, especially ones that supposedly lack emotional investment.

Hookup culture can certainly be risky. In some cases, individuals enter into sexual activity with no agency, no direction in what they hope to gain  or knowledge of what interests them about a particular sexual encounter. This can be destructive to their self-esteem.

However, this does not have to be the case. Hookup culture in many ways is our generation’s — especially for the women of this generation — way of experimenting sexually and experiencing sexual satisfaction while  navigating the complex life of an ambitious college student. There are women in today’s colleges who are less interested in being tied to a partner and more interested in being tied to a future that they have invested tens of thousands of dollars in.

A sexual encounter can come in many forms, from long term relationships to casual encounters – or something in between. As long as both parties involved have agency in the sexual encounter and as long as both parties practice safe sex, there is no reason to condemn any of these acts.

Hookup culture should not be a fallback in the case that dating does not work. Just as there are many different kinds of people who each have their own objectives when it comes to romance and sex, there are many different ways of engaging in sexual activities. Hookup culture is less the monster some would make it out to be and more just another way for those who are interested to engage in sexual activity.