In light of such events on campus like “Bring Back the Date,” “I <3 the Female Orgasm” and the brown bag on hook-up culture at the COVE a couple weeks ago, it seems like a lot of students here at Colgate have a lot of complaints about current methods of sexual expression. Many female students feel that there are very few healthy, long-term relationships on campus; and even fewer relationships that haven’t been the product of a hook-up, literally a casual sexual encounter ranging anywhere from kissing on the lips to sexual intercourse. Women in the room also felt that parties encouraged sexual objectification of women, referring specifically to acceptable nightlife attire and themed parties such as “CEOs and Corporate Hos.”
In a sexual climate survey done in 2005, 94 percent of the respondents said they believed hooking up was accepted within Colgate’s campus culture. However, over half of the respondents are not comfortable with hooking up with women being the driving voice in this trend. According to the survey, men tended to be alright with the idea of hooking up.
So, what exactly is hook-up culture, and why is it such a problem? Hook-up culture is a common sexual expression among heterosexual people our age, and it necessitates consumption of alcohol, and, of course, hooking up. Another important aspect of hook-up culture is that it is reserved for specific spaces, such as the Jug, and involves dancing to specific genres of music, such as electronica, rap, hip-hop and even the
occasional classic rock tune.
The problem lies in multiple things here. Firstly, sexual expression is reserved for night life when everyone is intoxicated. Is this a safe way to express one’s sexuality? According to numerous studies, more than half of known rape cases involve alcohol consumption for both or all parties involved. Being intoxicated may not cause rape, but it sure seems to make it more likely to happen.
Think of all our recent articles on sexual assault, drug abuse and depression. All of these topics are connected and relate directly to the hook-up culture. Drug abuse is vital for the hook-up culture to exist because people are too uncomfortable with sobriety to express their true sexual desires: this is why it is so difficult to get students to attend “dry” parties. And depression can be involved in many ways. More than half of Colgate students report feeling peer pressured to drink alcohol; this could exacerbate or cause depression amongst students to feel accepted here. Depression could also be linked to women’s body image and even sexual assault.
Now, we don’t want you to think that casual sex is wrong. In fact, we think it’s healthy to explore your sexuality with people as long as it is on safe terms. The reliance on drugs and gendered stereotypes makes it more difficult to keep casual sex safe.
Another reason for the prevalence of a hook-up culture at Colgate are the rigidly defined gender roles. Men are encouraged and pressured to act a certain way, i.e. “I need to have sex with as many girls as possible.” At the “Hook-up Culture and Healthy Relationship” talk at the COVE on March 26, the only male of color present made a comment that many women have come up to him in the Jug with the intention of hooking up and if he says no they look at him as if he’s crazy and almost always ask if he is gay. The pressure is there for men to act a certain way and if they don’t, it is a threat to their masculinity. This idea that all men want sex and the more sex they have or girls they get strengthens their masculinity is completely false; however, this is what many are made to believe. Women in turn are assigned to these rigid gender roles. They too feel pressured to hook up. They are viewed as sexual objects and don’t do anything to counter this image. Women continue to dress skimpier and skimpier as the weather gets warmer, yet weather is not a determinant factor. Even when the temperature drops, short skirts and dresses are spotted.
If one is not hooking up, they are outside the norm. Women start to feel insecure, that the reason for this is they are not pretty enough or forward enough. Men are seen flexing at the gym trying to build muscle for the next party. The other day I was talking to a group of girls who were expressing their distaste for the hook-up culture at Colgate yet their solution was to play along as opposed to fight back, basically hook-up and ditch’em in the morning. This problem is not one sided, it is the fault of both the men and women.
In a culture like Colgate, how does one cope with their own idea of what an intimate relationship means and what society tells one it means? Especially in an environment where masculine means hyper-masculine and femininity means being a sexual object, where is the line drawn? If being a heterosexual is what is perceived as “normal” on this campus, then where does it leave people who wish to express their sexuality in ways that might be “different”? The way we look at it, on this campus no one even questions heterosexuality and instead it is normalized to the point where hyper-masculinity and sexual objectivity takes its place. A man is only considered a man if he exerts his sexuality in a way that is heterosexual and in line with the hook up culture. A woman is only considered a desirable woman if she participates in the hook-up culture.
But what about LGBTQ students? Do those who identify with the LGBTQ community relate to the hook-up culture in a different way? As the COVE-sponsored “Queer at Colgate” on Friday, April 3 revealed, the hook-up culture at Colgate does not necessarily exclude the LGBTQ community, however, if a gay or lesbian couple were to participate in this culture, the negativity that would result might be too much to handle and in fact might put the safety of the individuals in jeopardy. Furthermore, why when two women hook up is it considered sexy just as long as they are not actually lesbians? On the other hand, when two gay men hook up why is there NEVER acceptance, not even toleration?
The harassment that LGBTQ students face is not only an issue, but it is a real live danger. Is our community at Colgate teaching tolerance, but not acceptance of students who don’t fit the heterosexual norm? In the current trend on college campuses nationwide, the hook-up culture is one that only includes those who fit into the tiny box of the norm. However, in the end, can we really say we hate the player or that we hate the game?