Love, sex and happiness

In her article in The New York Times, “Sex on Campus: She Can Play That Game, Too,” Kate Taylor describes a world of ambitious Penn undergraduates who put their personal interests and their resumes first.

Many have chosen to avoid romantic relationships during college entirely in favour of “hooking up,” no strings attached.

As they (and their male partners) describe it, money and status matter; but they don’t just happen–they are the result of hard work.

If you want to become the head of the World Bank, you have to put in the hours. Relationships, therefore, become an afterthought at best.

The theory is that anyone can find a partner later in life and have a couple of kids.

This situation is troubling–but not because these women want to “put themselves first.” It is important to have a good sense of one’s identity and needs before giving that self to another.

The problem is that they seem so miserable while doing it.

Much like the sex had by the characters on Lena Dunham’s HBO series, “Girls,” the sex described by the Penn undergrads in the story sounds sort of grim; less like sex and more like work.

One woman describes the man she regularly sleeps with this way: “We don’t really like each other in person, sober. We literally can’t sit down and have coffee.” Talking about their hookup she sounds bored, like the oldest 19 year old in the world: “[W]e watched TV, had sex, and went to sleep.”

One woman said, “I have to be drunk in order to enjoy it” and reported being barked at to “get down on [her] knees” and thinking, “I’ll just do it…it will be over soon enough.”

Because the sex occurs outside of committed relationships and alcohol is involved, hookup culture can quickly lead to a culture of sexual assault.

Without love or friendship we are left with the language of an economic exchange, the sexual partner as service provider.

The women in the story speak of the “cost-benefit” analyses of having a relationship, and the “low risks and low investment costs” of hooking up versus putting the time and energy into a real friendship, which, they argue, may not lead to anything long term. Continue reading

Source: America Magazine

Image: Brennan Boom

Anna Nussbaum Keating is the co-owner of Keating Woodworks in Colorado Springs, Colo, and is co-writing The Catholic Catalogue, a field guide to Catholic practice and culture.

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News category: Features.

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