Hookup Culture Examined

Donna Freitas in her book The End of Sex offers us a window into the hookup culture that exists in many college campuses. Her research does only offers us one part of the picture and leaves out young adults who are actively and faithfully living out this life and claims is unreasonable. However, she does offer us a glimpse into the world that many young adults on college campuses and even those out of the college setting are encountering on a daily basis. Many of these young adults engaging in the hookup culture are trying to maneuver the expectations and pressure that they feel from peers and perceived expectation of modern society as a whole but at the same time being left feeling empty and lonely.

Zymunt Bauman might make the argument that the hookup culture is a result of liquid modernity. That liquid modernity is gear that keeps the wheels turning for hookup culture because one of the criteria for the hookup is its brevity. It is not meant to last more than a few hours a night and even with serial hookups you’re with them in the moment and then quickly leave each other. The hookup is concurrent with the idea of liquid modernity because it allows you to not be tied down to keep moving. They are able to “satisfy” the sexual need with no strings attached. This allows them to focus on their many other responsibilities and activities, or at least they have convinced themselves of this. It also dismantles the dating structure that many identify as traditional and belonging to another era which is a characteristic of liquid modernity. The hookup also allows the person to focus on this idea of the salvation of the self. Therefore, to Bauman it would make perfect sense that the hookup culture is modern liquidity at play in our romantic lives.

Marion talks about the consciousness and intentionality of love, which is necessary to truly love someone. However, the hookup culture is not even at the level of what the autism of love that he describes. Alcohol which is the energy that powers the hookup completely destroys consciousness and intentionality. The purpose of the hookup is to destroy your consciousness to facilitate the hookup. There is also no intentionality because it is meant to be random and impersonal. If one were to be conscious and intentional one would be breaking the construct outlined in the hookup culture. Consciousness and intentionality would cause the two people engaging in the hookup to be aware of themselves and the other person as people and not simply as two objects being used. Therefore, the hook up couldn’t even be classified as Love autism because even in that one must be conscious of them loving the other person as they themselves experience loving the other person in themselves. However, that level of minor consciousness is not even reached in the hookup. Marion might say that the hookup is what results when consciousness and intentionality are completely absent.

Hookup culture is actively happening on campuses and is the dominant culture, but we know that these young adults are unhappy and long for something more than what they are currently getting. They are craving permanence and real love; however, this requires breaking the hookup contract. It requires kinship (marriage) like Bauman suggests and making relationships more permanent. It requires seeing oneself as not the I but the you of someone else’s gaze and to giving oneself as gift. This would be creating a counterculture to the hookup, which would be radically different but not impossible like Freitas might suggest because now more than ever this is what people are searching for and are desperately craving.

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