Lately, I’ve been thinking about hooking up. Before you blame my hormones (go ahead and exhale, Mom and Dad) let me explain. First I read Rachel’s blog about whether hooking up is good for girls (her answer, not so much). Then I read the countless, insightful reader comments and bloggers’ thought provoking responses. Finally, I saw a flowchart created by a sophomore girl and boy at my high school.
The chart illustrated who hooked up (made out) with each other at the school dance two weeks ago. Among a web of arrows, there are the names of dozens of students. The chart does not even begin to fully document all of the hook ups that occurred that night. Many, many tongue-happy students slipped under the radars of the sophomore documenters and, clearly, of the chaperones. Yet the majority of the school has seen the chart. With this in mind, I sit down to write about hooking up.
I’m not entirely convinced that hooking up with guys, without being in a relationship, is a bad thing. Hooking up can be a positive experience young women should be able to enjoy without fearing judgment. Furthermore, learning how to relate to others is a process and it should be understood that for many of my peers being sexually active is part of this natural process.
But, on the other hand, I see a lot of validity in people’s concern over hook up culture. I agree with Rachel, acting now and asking for a relationship later puts girls in a fundamentally powerless position. As commenter Dr. Elise Rose points out, we cannot forget that promiscuity can be a physically risky behavior and sexually transmitted infections, diseases and unplanned pregnancies do become a reality for many girls. (In all fairness, someone in a committed relationship can be confronted with these issues as well but the risk is not as great.)
When it comes to whether….prolific sexual expression is empowering for young women, I’m on the same fence I sit on during the “can you reclaim derogatory words?” debate (let’s hope it’s not a picket fence. Ouchies). I do find one thing curious though. Doesn’t it strike you as odd that whenever we speak about girls and women being empowered we refer to behavior typically associated with boys and men?
Acting upon every sexual urge is generally attributed to teenage boys (an admittedly unfair assumption). Now that some teenage girls are doing the same, they are considered empowered. I think it is troublesome to apply if-you-can’t-beat-‘em-join-em’ logic to matters of being empowered. The day that boys who do “female” things (like crave relationships) are called empowered we’ll know that hell has frozen over and pigs have flown.
That worries me. We cry foul when boys are told not to throw like girls yet pat each other on the backs when we play like boys in the halls of Congress, in boardrooms, and in high school dances.
So I don’t know whether hooking up is good for girls or not. And truthfully I don’t think anyone can say with much authority if it is empowering or not because, like snowflakes or Rihanna’s outfits, no two girls are the same. What feels empowering for one girl may not be another’s cup of sexy tea. But, while sipping (that cup of tea) or kissing we should contemplate why our prototype of empowered behavior continues to be overwhelmingly male.