College is a place where young adults experiment with many different things in an attempt to learn about themselves. Therefore it should not come as a surprise that sexuality is a topic that students come face to face with frequently. The authors of the articles Hooking Up and In the Same Boat even chose to interview college students and recent grads to learn more about the way sexuality is encountered.
The general undertone of their works suggests that the experience for males is for the most part a positive one. On the other hand, females must navigate this experience on a fine line, with threat of being viewed negatively if they step outside the social norms. Males seemed to be focus on performance and quantity. These two ideals have the capability to confirm their delicate machismo. Women on the other hand do not have the same freedom. They must not engage in sexual activity with a wide range of partners for fear of being called ‘slutty’. However, they must not refrain from all sexual encounters entirely because that would remove them from the heterosexual social frame. Thus, these women turn to socially constructed relationship terms to be able to freely engage in sexual activity without the social repercussions.
In class the idea of female selectivity was brought up with respect to evolutionary biology. The idea states that a female has a lot more invested in the production of her offspring than the male counterpoint does, and therefore will be more selective with whom she mates with. I have two things to add to this. Firstly, female selectivity implies that there must be competition among males. It has been shown in many other species as well as humans that males will go to great lengths in courtship behaviors. Taking with respect to the In the Same Boat article, the pressure these men feel to perform well in their sexual encounters may be a manifestation of this male competition driven by female selectivity. Another point to be made is to challenge the assumption that the female has the most invested in sexual reproduction. Reproductive fitness is a measure of how successful an organism is at producing offspring that survive to reproductive age and continue to pass on their hereditary information. There are two main methods to achieve this: have a large number offspring and by probability some of them will survive, or have a small number of offspring and dedicate a lot of care and support to make sure that a high percentage of them survive. Human babies rely heavily on their parents for a number of years. A male presence as a supportive figure in a committed relationship with children would likely greatly increase that child’s likelihood of survival and success. Therefore it would be in the male’s evolutionary advantage to stick around after conception.
However I really think that the heterosexual hooking up phenomenon is due to the social structure of college. In college, both men and women want to explore sexual options and I feel starting a family is not necessarily on anyone’s minds. The fact that some women stated this desire may be a result of the negative consequences that come when women act outside the norms. I think a study more representative of coeds aged in the late 20s and 30s would show a greater emphasis on settling down as the novelty of exploring sexuality may have run its course.