Here are all the Dish posts that make up our thread following the role of women in hookup culture.
Ask Hanna Anything: Is Today’s Hookup Culture A Positive Thing?
Hanna Rosin has a new book out, The End Of Men. Previous videos of Hanna here, here and here. “Ask Anything” archive here.
Women Aren’t Victims Of The Hookup Culture
In the Atlantic piece she discussed in Monday’s “Ask Anything” video, Hanna Rosin stands up for the sexual choices of Millennials:
When they do hook up, the weepy-woman stereotype doesn’t hold. Equal numbers of men and women—about half—report to England that they enjoyed their latest hookup “very much.” About 66 percent of women say they wanted their most recent hookup to turn into something more, but 58 percent of men say the same—not a vast difference, considering the cultural panic about the demise of chivalry and its consequences for women. And in fact, the broad inference that young people are having more sex—and not just coarser sex—is just wrong; teenagers today, for instance, are far less likely than their parents were to have sex or get pregnant. Between 1988 and 2010, the percentage of teenage girls having sex dropped from 37 to 27, according to the latest data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. By many measures, the behavior of young people can even look like a return to a more innocent age.
I wrote the other day about how a gay culture of promiscuity is a “culture of death.” This is a heterosexual version of the same. It is a culture of spiritual death. I see one of my primary jobs as a father as raising my sons and my daughter to hate this culture, and to resist it, mostly by learning to love what is good, true, and beautiful. Nothing — nothing — about the hook-up culture is good, true, or beautiful.
Maggie Gallagher waves a study suggesting that women prefer hookups much less than men do. David French, in a defense of Nathan Harden’s Sex and God at Yale against critiques by Hanna and Nora Caplan-Bricker, is on the same page as Maggie and Dreher:
One has to be willfully blind to believe that men and women approach sex on the same terms.
Sure, there are some women who sleep around with gusto and some men who just want to settle down, but to believe that there aren’t profound differences in the way men and women experience the world is to live in a fairy land. If Ms. Rosin and Ms. Caplan-Bricker want to see the true fruits of the sexual revolution, I suggest that they get out just a bit more — out of the world of wealth and privilege (which can absorb a multitude of sins) and into the working-class world of skyrocketing illegitimacy, generational fatherlessness, and deepening poverty. … Ask a woman working two jobs to provide for three kids by two different deadbeat dads if the hook-up culture has empowered her.
A reader quotes David French from our previous post:
Ask a woman working two jobs to provide for three kids by two different deadbeat dads if the hook-up culture has empowered her.
Nothing in hookup culture prevents the use of birth control. The root causes of generational fatherlessness and poverty are more about lack of comprehensive sex education in schools and access to health care, ie, birth control. Yet why am I not surprised that the same cultural conservatives who decry sexually liberated behavior also oppose anything but abstinence-only programs and try to defund Planned Parenthood? Opposition to sexual freedom is all about the rear-guard action of cultural conservatives unable to adapt to modernity.
Rod Dreher doubled down on his belief that gay promiscuity is a “culture of death” by saying that the heterosexual “hook-up” culture is also part of a “culture of death.” He brought up his daughters and how he’s trying to raise them to be, I guess, virgins till they’re married. I’m also the father of two girls, and I see youthful sexual adventure as normal healthy exploration of this beautiful world – finding out what their bodies do, trying out relationships and especially trying out sex without relationships.
I don’t want my girls to become self-destructive with compulsive, dark, promiscuous sex. But I also don’t want them to marry as virgins and find out they’re completely incompatible with their husbands. It’s so normal and healthy to explore sex as a young person that it seems weird and life-denying and actually kind of perverted to abstain completely. I know some people find happiness and security in a difficult virtue. But it’s mostly the phrase that keeps sticking in my craw – culture of death. Culture of death? Sex is the foundation of life!
Another is also animated over the phrase:
Gay culture is the “culture of death”? Conservatives like Dreher spend most of their time insisting that gays cannot participate in traditions like marriage, while then turning around and lamenting the iniquity of gays who won’t settle down. You can’t lambast people for not making the choices you would deny them or not accept. Conservatives have the power to promote monogamy and commitment in the gay community by simply allowing gay people to get married (which they’re going to do whether anyone recognizes it or not) and not being huge assholes about it. Calling out the promiscuity of parts of the gay community while refusing to recognize the monogamous inclinations of so many other gay men is just dishonest. Refusing gays marriage in their culture, and then complaining that not enough gay men get married is ridiculous. They can’t have it both ways.
About all this hookup culture stuff: I just don’t get it. When was this magical time when nobody was having sex except when they were in love? Was it in the ’60s, during the “Summer of Love”? Probably not. Was it in the ’70s, when cocaine was everywhere and HIV was nowhere? Not exactly. Was it in the ’80s, the days of hair metal and still more cocaine and clothes so overtly sexualized that they’re a joke now? (I mean, I wouldn’t have had sex with anyone with that hair, but it didn’t seem to bother them then at all.) So it must have been the ’90s, when Ecstasy set off a new generation of ravers obsessed with physical pleasure.
You see where I’m going with this. All this noise about a “hookup culture” is the anxiety of a generation who screwed their way through their youth and are now raising children, desperate to find some line of demarcation between their own behavior and what they wish their children wouldn’t do. I don’t care what the statistics say, I really don’t. I don’t think for a minute that you can trust ANY self-reported sex or drug statistics.
So what are we worried about? America hasn’t had a prudish culture since at least the ’50s, and even then, I’d bet my boots it was just going on behind closed doors. My grandmother got pregnant out of wedlock at 17 in 1951, after all. The only difference was that she was bundled off, married at shotgun-point, and forced into the kitchen for 40 years. Goodbye and good riddance, as they say, to all of that.
A reader quotes another:
The root causes of generational fatherlessness and poverty are more about lack of comprehensive sex education in schools and access to health care, ie, birth control.
Really? Access and education? Do you really believe that that there are more than a handful of single moms that did not know about birth control at the time of their pregnancy? When pretty much every convenience store (at least in New York City) has a slew of condoms hanging behind the counter, there is no access? That any woman that has already had a child is ignorant of birth control? Come on. This reply was just another example of liberals treating people like idiots.
Another pounces on another:
But it’s mostly the phrase that keeps sticking in my craw – culture of death. Culture of death? Sex is the foundation of life!
Yes. Yes, it is. Therefore, a culture that constantly tells people to take the act that is the foundation of all life, strip it of its pesky life-giving properties using devices and/or chemicals, and use it as a recreational activity in superficial encounters with people you don’t care about and may never want to see again (any accidental offspring of which have a good chance of being aborted) … is viewed by many as a culture of death.
A reader writes:
I’ve been reading your posts on the hookup culture with increasing dismay, and just want to chime in with my own experience. I specifically want to respond to the comment one of your other readers made: “I … don’t want [my daughters] to marry as virgins and find out they’re completely incompatible with their husbands.”
Certainly many of your readers see this line and nod in approval. “Yes,” they say to themselves, “that is a true danger.” I just want to point out that that idea – being “sexually incompatible” – is a complete construct of … wait for it … the hookup culture! And, in my opinion, is a large reason marriages and relationships fall apart so often.
Full disclosure: I’m a Mormon. I was brought up in many places around in the country, including Utah, California, and Iowa. I have seen dozens of my Mormon friends marry and have (so far) extremely happy relationships. To the person, we were all virgins when we got married, including all of our spouses. And you know what? Nobody cares! I had never even heard the term “sexual compatibility” until after my marriage, and it made me laugh out loud.
Because of all the things to cause strife in a marriage, this one seems strangest of all. My wife and I have never had sex with anyone but each other. I have no idea if I would be “more” or “less compatible” with someone else; but I don’t care, because sex is not the centerpiece of our relationship. Physical intimacy certainly is important – sex is a happy, beautiful, wonderful part of our marriage. But the very idea that sex should be a determining factor of our “compatibility” in marriage to me is merely evidence of the over-sexualization of our culture.
I once spoke with friends in Iowa about the fact that my wife and I never lived together (including never having sex) before our marriage. We moved in after our honeymoon. Our first sexual experiences were together, and on our honeymoon. And these friends asked, “But how can you know if you’re compatible if you don’t live together? What if you find out things that bother you about that person?”
My response is still this: anything you can only learn by living with (or having sex with) someone is not something that should affect the quality of your marriage. Marriage is about love, commitment, service, not about pleasing each other. My wife has some small quirks that bother me, that I didn’t know about prior to my marriage. Who cares? Our sex life is wonderful, and both of us happily have nothing to compare it to. Great! If we had “shopped around” or experienced sex with many different people, it would have ruined the beauty and simplicity of what we have.
So please don’t tell me it’s necessary to have many sexual experiences to learn whether we are “compatible” with others. This is a creation of a sexualized society, which puts the largest weight on the lightest and least significant things.
A reader quotes another:
When pretty much every convenience store (at least in New York City) has a slew of condoms hanging behind the counter, there is no access? That any woman that has already had a child is ignorant of birth control? Come on. This reply was just another example of liberals treating people like idiots.
People are not ALL idiots, but when abstinence-only public sex ed insists that condoms are fallible and therefore only abstinence works, the relative abundance of condoms in convenience stores does not matter. I’d also point out that the vast majority of the American landscape is not New York City, and there are millions of sexually active teenagers and young men and women who do not have the easy access to condoms that our New Yorker enjoys. Maybe a small-town drugstore stocks condoms too, but can a young person buy them without worrying that Mom and Dad will hear from the druggist, who’s in their church (where birth control is demonized)? I love New York City, don’t get me wrong, but to generalize about the accessibility of ANYTHING from NYC to the rest of America is … idiotic.
Another adds, “Any prescription based birth control is expensive, and also difficult to access if you are uninsured or in a rural area or under 18.” Another:
In the South, schools are frequently not allowed to teach about contraception, and when they are, parents are given advance warning and many withdraw their children from the sex ed classes rather than have them be educated. Birth control urban legends are legion, including, but hardly limited, to the idea that an aspirin inserted in the birth canal will prevent pregnancy (I’ve also heard coca cola because it is acidic, and soap because it will wash out the semen, amongst other similarly idiotic – these days weirdly mutated into the ‘joke’ that holding an aspirin between your knees will prevent pregnancy). When children-becoming-adolescents don’t get official information from parents or teachers, they fall back on one another. I remember hearing the myth that you can’t get pregnant on your first attempt. All these and more are still frequently circulated amongst teens all over the Western world (and while hardly an expert, I’d be surprised if the rest of the world cultures don’t have similar legends amongst their teenaged population).
Another points to some stats:
The latest CDC survey (released January of this year) of teenagers ages 15 to 19 found that over half didn’t use birth control and of those 31.4 percent believed that they couldn’t get pregnant. Those teens who did get pregnant, as would be expected, were much less likely to use birth control.
Another takes a different tack:
I have to respond to this: “The root causes of generational fatherlessness and poverty are more about lack of comprehensive sex education in schools and access to health care, ie, birth control.” Poverty doesn’t mean people don’t have the same wishes and dreams as people not living in poverty. Isn’t it entirely possible that some poor women have children because they are not immune from wanting children? Isn’t it possible that some poor women want children because they suspect they will never ever, have something that is unconditionally theirs and unconditionally loves them, besides a child? Isn’t it possible that some poor women have children because they were raised by a single mother and model what she did because THAT IS WHAT THEY KNOW? Isn’t it possible that some poor women feel they will never do anything as meaningful as raising another human being and they want that meaning and purpose in their lives?
By the way, single motherhood is not a plight reserved for the urban poor. It is a mainstream occurrence now.