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The apparent depth of her relationships with students, and the candor and power of the students’ own reflections and observations makes an engrossing read.
It also means that the book grapples honestly with both the attractions and problems of hookup culture and avoids some of the ideological blinders that have led others to argue that hook-up culture is necessary for women’s liberation.
Wade appears ready for a new synthesis that avoids the trap that says that for women to be free, they must become like men and have meaningless sex like men supposedly can have.
In that vein, Wade argues that an exclusive focus on casual sex misses the point: The irony is that most college students actually want to be in a caring relationship.
Of the students who filled out the Online College Social Life Survey, 71 percent of men and 67 percent of women said that they wished they had more opportunities to find a long-term partner.
This is because, as Wade herself points out, the code surrounding the hookup (not looking each other in the eyes, getting sufficiently drunk, ignoring the person after a hookup, and sometimes treating the other contemptuously) developed as a way to mark the hookup as meaningless.
Wade argues that casual sex “doesn’t have to be cold”—but her students have “lost sight of this possibility.” I wonder if that is because students find “kind” casual sex to be messy and difficult.
To fail to keep proper emotional distance is to risk actually “catching feelings” for the person you are sleeping with—something probably fairly easy to do given the release of the “love hormone” oxytocin during orgasm.
Attachment is to be avoided if sex is to remain casual, and therefore the script of behaviors associated with the hookup exist to prevent such attachments.
Wade notes that students are less happy and healthy than they were even just 10 or 20 years ago, and surmises that “the sexual environment on college campuses is part of why.” As Wade explains when describing a difference between her research findings and those in Katherine Bogle’s 2008 book, , “It may be that dating culture isn’t as strong as it was almost a decade ago. We know they sometimes do.” Yet, as Wade points out, it’s important to remember what this mean.
Students regularly overestimate the extent to which their peers are participating in hookup culture.
They tend to be more actively religious and have more conservative views about sexuality.