In July 2001, the IWF released the results of its ground-breaking survey, “Hooking Up, Hanging Out, and Hoping for Mr. Right,” conducted by the Institute for American Values. This 18-month study of the attitudes and values of today’s college women regarding sexuality, dating, courtship, and marriage is considered the first serious study to document a widespread campus social trend known as “hooking up” — casual sexual relations where there are no expectations of commitment.
In the wake of this study, Kate Kennedy, Campus Projects Manager for IWF, has visited several college campuses to present a compelling speech on the study’s results. Her talk examines what the social phen-omenon of “hooking up” means to college women and how it reflects on modern-day feminism.
The following is an excerpt from her speech:
The sexual revolution of the 60s and 70s was largely responsible for crafting the present social structure on college campuses, resulting in confusing ramifications for young people today, particularly women. It gave women the false sense that they could be sexually active without emotional commitment. If only it were that easy.
Do you think the masterminds behind the sexual revolution considered its emotional toll while crafting their theory at the proverbial drawing board? I highly doubt it.
There’s something to be said for the old rules and norms that governed the 1950s. I’m not so naiíve to argue that we return to that time, but people went on dates then because there were guideposts they could follow. The sexual revolution wiped the rulebooks clean. As a result, women (and yes, even men), have been left to tread water in a great sea of murkiness. Sometimes it can be fun to make the rules up as we go along — inherent in that act of “making up rules” is the essence of liberation with, arguably, a giddy dose of romanticism. But when you throw a keg of Budweiser and raging hormones into the mix, “making it up as we go along” has questionable, and often unhappy, results. And yet, that is what you have been left to do.
These days, if you choose the path less traveled — to disengage from the current hook-up climate, I wish you luck in keeping the snickers at bay. Instead of respecting that attitude, the sexual revolution left us with the notion that displaying prudence and modesty indicates some sort of “hang up.”
So, in the absence of social norms to guide a young couple through the rocky “getting-to-know-you” phase, hooking up has ensued at the expense of dating. The next stage that often develops is a relationship in which a couple is literally joined at the hip, for the most part living together and playing “house.”
And for those who wish to excuse themselves from this bad movie? Well, that’s the problem. There are no alternatives. Getting to know the opposite sex through casual and chaste dating has become practically non-existent.