Xenia Gonikberg is a sophomore journalism and sociology double major.
Thanks to more relaxed attitudes toward sex and sexuality, “hook-up culture” – casual sex without emotional intimacy – has become more common among teens and young adults.
This cultural shift reflects a change in priorities, as young people nowadays get married and “settle down” later in life than previous generations. The rise of sexual freedom in the U.S. has liberated us from outdated ideals of love. It has encouraged people to settle down when they are ready, rather than conforming to traditional societal expectations.
The increased portrayal of sex in the media has also normalized hookup culture. According to one study, 60-80% of college students have reported having had some sort of hookup experience. These statistics might be attributed to the fact that sexual expression has been monetized through music videos, movies and dating apps.
Popular culture has had a tremendous impact on reshaping our collective attitudes towards dating and sex. But that isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
The popularity of apps like Tinder, Hinge, Bumble and Grindr have reimagined what dating looks like. Originally, dating apps were common among queer communities, but the rise of Tinder in 2012 helped bring dating apps to mainstream media.
The rise of dating apps has since helped to lessen the stigma associated with same-sex dating and non-heteronormative relationships, allowing LGBTQ people to express themselves in ways they couldn’t before. Part of the reason Tinder became so popular is that it helped fill a specific need — the options in the dating scene weren’t too vast, and Tinder helps match people who wouldn’t have otherwise crossed paths.
The concept of casually hooking up with someone has been around for a long time, but it feels like it gets more accepted in our society with time. Promiscuity and sleeping around can still have derogatory connotations, but these are social stereotypes that connect sex to guilt rather than equality.
Hookup culture destigmatizes the idea of sex, especially since chastity has historically been so closely tied to upholding religious beliefs and purity. By separating sex from the private sphere and tying it more to pleasure, it can liberate us from the regressive thinking of previous generations and allows us to pursue our sexual desires without fear of judgment.
Individuals are able to be more autonomous when they enter a long-term relationship because of this change in dating norms. Hookup culture has shifted the emphasis of a relationship to equal cooperation rather than conformity with social standards.
From my experience, it has also become more okay to not be in a relationship at all. While some people might choose to focus on themselves, others simply do not have the desire to be in a romantic or sexual relationship at all.
Overall, “hookup culture” has helped encourage people to talk more openly about sex and intimacy in a liberating way.Young folks especially feel more comfortable exploring our sexual interests, so by the time we decide to enter committed relationships, we confidently know what we want.