In today’s Wall Street Journal, Harvey Mansfield reviews Donna Freitas’ Sex and the Soul, a new book documenting the college hook up culture. There have been a host of books on the topic recently (which I think is a great thing–it’s brought the hook up culture into popular dialogue) and while I haven’t read Freitas’ book yet, Mansfield’s review makes me want to pick up a copy:
In “Sex and the Soul,” Donna Freitas, an assistant professor of religion at Boston University, acutely describes this “liberated” campus culture and wisely analyzes its effects. She is especially concerned to measure conduct and expectation against the inner life of students, including their religious feeling or “spiritual” selves. Over and over again she finds a conflict that does not resolve itself happily.
According to one feminist professor of health – the head of a recent Harvard committee on student sexual relations – sex on campus should be “mature, respectful and life-affirming.” But, as Ms. Freitas shows, it usually is not. Instead it degrades both women and men. Women lose their sense of having a choice, to say nothing of “autonomy,” the supposed goal of sexual liberation. They feel compelled to offer a hook-up when they really want a date without the expectation of sex. And yet they fear “getting a reputation” for doing just what they are expected to do. “I felt a lot of regret . . . ,” one female student tells Ms. Freitas, speaking about a hook-up experience. “I felt that I kind of just gave myself.”