Throughout the years, the term “hooking-up” has had an extremely fluid definition that could imply that society is becoming both more sexually active and sexually acceptable. In both our class discussion and my personal experience, “hooking-up” tends to be inclusive of having sexual intercourse. I would assume there has been a generational shift, as my parents have told me that when they were teenagers “hooking-up” did not go hand in hand with sexual intercourse. Due to the fact that these were all based on personal assumptions, I decided to check out the facts. Paula England, a professor of sociology at NYU, researched the hook-up culture at Stanford University. Her findings were that only thirty to forty percent of students responded that hook-ups involved sexual intercourse, and one third of the respondents said that it only involved making out and some touching (England, 1). England’s study also resulted in the same findings as Bogle’s study, in that there was a clear double standard amongst females and males when it came to hooking up.
It is clear that there is a double standard amongst genders that if women hook-up too often they are perceived as sluts where males are patted on the back, but what constantly comes up is that men cannot define how much is “too much.” In Bogle’s study, the male student she interviews gives a convoluted and then an almost ludicrous response that “females who hook up with twelve males in a short period of time or five guys a week are considered sluts” (Bogle, 136).
One of the main things that has contributed to the double standard is that relational orientation is gendered. Women have a stronger desire, especially in college, to be in a committed relationship than men. Although we often would like to place the blame of this double standard on male judgment, a lot of it is caused by females feeling as if they are going to be judged by their sexual partners and peers. Having the stigma of being a slut often taints you as damaged goods. In both Bogle’s and England’s studies boys talk and it is generally made known which girls are sleeping around. England offers the anecdote of her mother saying to her when she was 19 that she needed to be a virgin at marriage because otherwise, if you have had sex and it does not work out, you do not marry that man, and then no other man will marry you. Because in our current culture almost everyone has premarital sex, excluding Evangelical Christians, there needs to be a definition of how much is “too much” (England, 7).
The reason why “too much” exists is due to the fact that there is an underlying fear of being judged by one’s peers. England asks the question “Have you ever hooked up with someone and then respected your hookup partner less because they hooked up with you?” There was a minority of both men and women who answered yes, but slightly more men did. On the other hand, when England posed the question “Have you ever hooked up with someone and then felt that your hookup partner respected you less?” almost half of the female respondents answered yes in comparison to only 20% of males. What this shows is that although many times we fear that males will label us as “sluts”, women are more worried of this happening and think those guys have thought this more than it has actually happened (England, 8). This gendered script that females hold themselves to only acts to reinforce the stigma that males attach to them. It is evident that there has yet to be a definition on what “too much” is but the there is a commonly held belief that the notion does exist, and it exists in such a way that it will take a while to get rid of.
Bogle, Kathleen. “Hooking Up: Men, Women, and the Sexual Double Standard.” Hooking Up: Sex, Dating, and Relationships on Campus. New York: New York University Press. 2008.
England, Paula. “Understanding Hookup Culture: What’s Really Happening on College Campuses.” Media Education Fund. 2011.