Minus the City: Spring Into Hookups

It’s the end of April, and school is coming to a close. With the promise that the 2,900 intoxicated Colgate students will soon be gone, flowers are blooming and the sun is shining in Hamilton, New York once again. Without really realizing it, we have entered peak season for hookup culture, and with the flurry of projects, finals and scrambling together summer plans, no one has had time to prepare for the uptick in casual sexual encounters that comes with the good weather.

The first rule of hookup culture is to not care (about the hookup and the other person), and much of the energy we put into our sex lives is actually energy put into proving we don’t care about people romantically. Starting with Spring Party Weekend, the end of the school year is the perfect time to not care about someone. We’re all about to leave campus, so really you just have to get through three weeks of purposeful disinterest. With the promise of a three-month break from campus life, end of term hookups are low maintenance and highly desired.

Basically, the next few weeks are amazing if you are someone who participates in and benefits from Colgate’s hookup culture. It’s great if you do, and if you don’t, good luck weathering the storm. You might not think of yourself as someone who has to weather the storm, which is why I think it is necessary to distinguish what it means to be a participant from what it means to be a beneficiary. The rise of hookup culture is rooted in the feminist movement of the 1960’s and 1970’s, when emphasis was put on the sexual liberation of women. This was a step in the right direction, but the point of sexual liberation is being able to seek sexual pleasure free of fear or social consequences. In an interview on NPR in February, Lisa Wade, author of “American Hookup: The New Culture of Sex on Campus,” commented, “Hookups are decidedly not about finding any sort of romantic connection… They’re often not so much about pleasure in particular for women.” Many people gladly subscribe to hookup culture, and the decision to hook up or not to is a very personal one. I have seen a problematic pattern of people convincing themselves a hookup was beneficial just by nature of it being a hookup. Countless times I’ve asked friends about their sexual encounters only to get a “meh,” or, “it was alright. He was hot so it was fine.”

The reality is that participating in hookup culture does not guarantee benefits. It’s like going to the gym – if you’re not exercising properly you’ll hurt more than help yourself. I’m not saying to stop hitting up Trudy Fitness Center, but don’t forget to stretch and drink some water. You might be thinking that this metaphor makes no sense, so I’ll put it in simple terms. If you want to benefit from casual hookups, you have to voice your wants and needs to your partner. You have to speak up when things become painful or uncomfortable, and ask them about their wants and needs.

As classes wind down and the hookup frenzy continues, I encourage you to not just practice safe sex, but practice good sex.