Saturday, March 9, 2013

Hookups: pro and con

Start with a standard scare piece on college hookup culture. I will confess that I just can't map this stuff onto the undergraduates I actually interact with on a day-to-day basis either in class or as childcare providers, but probably I am not fully undoing the sample selection.

Compare that piece to this quite thoughtful piece by Hanna Rosin in the Atlantic. I particularly liked this bit:
But this analysis downplays the unbelievable gains women have lately made, and, more important, it forgets how much those gains depend on sexual liberation. Single young women in their sexual prime—that is, their 20s and early 30s, the same age as the women at the business-­school party—are for the first time in history more success­ful, on average, than the single young men around them. They are more likely to have a college degree and, in aggregate, they make more money. What makes this remarkable development possible is not just the pill or legal abortion but the whole new landscape of sexual freedom—the ability to delay marriage and have temporary relationships that don’t derail education or career. To put it crudely, feminist progress right now largely depends on the existence of the hookup culture. And to a surprising degree, it is women—not men—who are perpetuating the culture, especially in school, cannily manipulating it to make space for their success, always keeping their own ends in mind. For college girls these days, an overly serious suitor fills the same role an accidental pregnancy did in the 19th century: a danger to be avoided at all costs, lest it get in the way of a promising future.
This is too strong, to be sure. The pill and/or (maybe just and) legal abortion are surely necessary conditions. But it makes a worthwhile point: there are costs as well as benefits to choosing a partner relatively early in one's adult life.

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