How and why American college students are engaging in nonintimate one-night stands.
Although students on college campuses profess to be having a lot of sex, according to Wade’s (Sociology/Occidental Coll.; co-author: Gender: Ideas, Interactions, Institutions, 2014, etc.) research, “today’s students boast no more sexual partners than their parents did at their age.” The difference is the culture surrounding the intimacy, a topic the author thoroughly and perceptively explores. Using in-depth research and multiple surveys from hetero, bi, trans, and queer students of all ethnic and economic levels from colleges across the country, Wade delves into the new hookup culture, which allows students access to sex but can leave them feeling anxious, depressed, and overwhelmed. It comes as no surprise that drunkenness and sex often go hand in hand, that many students feel they would not be able to have sex with just anybody without the alcohol, and that the hookup often starts on the fraternity party dance floor. What is surprising is the intentional lack of emotions allowed after the sexual encounter has taken place, with students deliberately acting cold toward each other after sex. Since no one wants to be tied down or viewed as clingy, needy, or desperate, all partners act as if the other person doesn’t exist, which leads to doubts about why the hookup happened in the first place. Wade does a solid job explaining the pros and cons of this new culture and includes historical data that shows how it evolved from the shift in family dynamics following the Industrial Revolution. The most interesting perspectives come from the journal entries written by students, in which they admit to wanting an emotionally charged relationship with someone but don’t want the stigma of being “uncool” or of losing the opportunity to “live their sexual lives freely.”
An eye-opening, conversation-starting examination of sex on the American college campus.