The Hook Up Culture: Yay or Nay?

by Katrina Avila

Sex. The one thing that plenty of people do but aren’t comfortable talking about, at least not in public. We all giggle and whisper about it in the dining hall, while walking from class to class, or in the comfort of dorm rooms. However, who actually has a full-fledged conversation about all of the sexcapades that go on behind closed doors? Who talks about all of the regrets, mixed emotions, and feelings of guilt and shame that come with it? No one. At least, not until recently.

On Wednesday, November 14, students, faculty, and staff members of Mount Saint Mary College all crowded into the Hudson Hall Auditorium for what most students believed was going to be another boring lecture on abstinence. Most of the students had annoyed and dejected looks on their faces as they found their seats, notebooks and pens in hand. It quickly became clear that they were not there by choice. I began to feel like the odd-man-out. I had volunteered to attend, while everyone else my age was there for class. After listening for a whle, I realized how happy I was that I made the choice to go.

Donna Freitas, author and Assistant Professor of religion at Boston University, discussed her book “Sex and the Soul: Juggling Sexuality, Spirituality, Romance, and Religion on America’s College Campuses.” It was nothing like what anyone expected. Freitas instantly launched into a candid discussion about the hook-up culture on college campuses in America. Prior to her book, she conducted research on four types of college campuses: private Catholic, non-religious private, public, and Evangelical private schools. She discovered that the Evangelical schools were the only ones that had differing attitudes towards sex and spirituality; the other three types of colleges all had similar ideas.

What Freitas found during her research surprised everyone, herself included. Most people that had hooked up with someone did not enjoy themselves, and a good chunk of those students, only did it because they felt obligated to. It’s part of the culture that we as young adults have all grown accustomed to.

This discussion raised questions: How many of the people on our campus partake in some form of sexual activity because they think they have to? How many of them are disappointed in the quality of their experience afterward? How many of them wish that they had never left their comfy bed and Netflix behind that night? I have heard it more times than I can count: “I don’t want to go out tonight, but I told [insert friend with benefits’ name here] that I’d go back to his/her room after the party. I don’t even feel like doing that.”

The simple solution to this predicament would be to trust your gut, but that goes against everything we know. It’s not a “good” weekend unless we hook up with someone. It’s boring without gossiping with your roommate about the latest person you’ve hooked up with.

I agree with Freitas. If you don’t enjoy the hook up, do yourself a favor and take a break. Figure out what you really want: a committed or casual relationship, a friend with benefits, or a friend?  We do ourselves an injustice by not determining this before we go into any sort of a sexual situation. Half the time students feel horrible about afterward, and wonder why we went through with it in the first place.

I got stuck behind a group of girls today walking to Aquinas Hall. I was happy to hear them discussing Freitas’ lecture and affirming everything that she had said.  Then it dawned on me: it was the first time I had heard anyone openly talk about their regret in regards to a previous sexual experience (at least the first time in a very long time). The girl said that she was going to take a step back from “the scene.”

Whether she will follow through or not, I don’t know, but maybe with just a little more reflection, we can transform the perspective of “Mount Saint Mattress” back into the more accurate “Mount Saint Mary College.”