The Death Penalty for Hooking Up? Of course.

As my little girl makes plans to go to a movie at school with two classmates, I find myself reflecting on the newest show of interest in hook-ups, or gang dating. Though my daughter is only eight--and smart, confident, independent, and loved--I wonder if the mob mentality might ever get the best of her.

Now, instead of girls and boys pairing off Barbie-and-Ken (mom-and-dad?) style, they're going out in packs. Awful things are happening. Reporter and author Laura Sessions Stepp has this to say about these things in her new book Unhooked:

Young people have virtually abandoned dating and replaced it with group ­get-­togethers and sexual behaviors that are detached from love or ­commitment—­and sometimes even from liking. High school and college teachers ­I’ve talked to, as well as researchers, remark on this: Relationships have been replaced by the casual sexual encounters known as hookups. Love, while desired by some, is being put on hold or seen as impossible; sex is becoming the primary currency of social interaction. Some girls can handle this; others...are exhausted physically, emotionally and spiritually by it. They struggle largely outside the awareness of parents who either ­don’t know what is going on or are vaguely aware but ­don’t know what to do.

Loose girls willing to put all God gave them on a silver platter for some boy--any boy--are not new in this world. I went to school with a slew of them. These little neophytes grew up to become school teachers, housewives, executives, responsible adults.

Now, though, the platter comes off the shelf earlier--in middle school--and the pile of offerings gets higher. I see these self-servers in my college classes. Their ability to expose cleavage without losing their drawers or their baby sisters' T-shirts defies every physical law. We all know they are available. Their boobs and their butts tell us this when they walk into the room.

Strangely, though, their promiscuity has had the opposite effect on many of the young men--if daylight hours are anything to go by. Nothing is private anymore, but neither is it interesting. Those tender folds of flesh here and there in what we used to call private places? They are just bits of skin these days. That's it. There's no allure. The boys have stopped looking at the girls and have turned back to their textbooks. Student for student, the boys have more to offer than the girls. Perhaps they spend less time nursing colds caught as a result exposure and more time studying.

Here I would invoke my mother. "Your father will kill you if..." If you think for one minute you're a prostitute. The threat of the death penalty was my mother's shorthand for "there's nothing to talk about because this is non-negotiable, so do what you're told because I love you."

There wasn't a kid in town who didn't love my mother. The black-and-white clarity was a part of the same woman who put three meals on the table with clockwork precision every day, cared for her home, and didn't mind telling us what we didn't want to hear. She drew the straight line of certainty that ran through the days of my growing up. There's nothing to talk about: you put your clothes on when you get dressed. You keep them on when you go out. You do nothing you wouldn't want your father to hear about. A little hyperbole and a lot of love go a long way.


  1. another inetersting post...

    "Nothing is private anymore, but neither is it interesting." this statement is true for young and old alike and it is sad to think abtou what we as a culture have lost in losing our ability to be genuinely intimate... in many more ways than expressing one's love...

  2. You know, I think intimacy is a lost art--to be genuine and real and just plain open to being close to others. It's easier and safer to pull down the shutters and walk away than to hang in there.

  3. Do you honestly believe that if a man from one of the college classes described were to approach each of the women from the class in turn and ask to "hook up" for some casual sex that any of them would say yes? Regardless of which man it was? Do you really believe that even half the women would agree?

    Are you trying to say that the men in the class have not shown the slightest interest in the women?

    Are there any studies, etc. to back up Laura Steppes claims or your observations?

    I find the idea a bit hard to believe.

    I would imagine that keeping Rush Limbaugh and friends, their suitcases full of Viagra, off campus to be a full time job. The admissions offices would be overflowing with the desperate applications from young men from all over the world where physical intimacy were not so easy to come by. I'd wager that you could double applications from high school if people actually believed that what you imply is true.

    The notion of young people being extremely free with sex is not new. I can recall seeing this sort of "scare" during the 80's the 90's, etc. The current incarnation may in fact be true, but, as one teacher I had commented on the 60's: "We all heard about 'free love' and easy sex, but it always seemed to be the next dorm over from us."

  4. Whatever,
    I think you and I are actually saying some of the same things.

    It is true that the young men have shown no interest in class in the hoochie girls. I am amazed to see girls replace the glass tiles in the proverbial glass ceiling by dressing like sluts. Why is being sexy so important at 10 a.m.?

    I'd invite you to follow the links to the book and news reports and evaluate the research.


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