Check out the article “Is Hooking Up Bad for Young Women?“ by Elizabeth A. Armstrong, Laura Hamilton and Paula England, which appears in the Summer 2010 issue of Contexts. This highly accessible and interesting article will work great in an undergraduate course on sexualities or gender.
The article offers insight on the “hook-up culture” among young people today by examining the Baby Boomers’ panic over teenage casual sex, presenting the data on casual and serious sexual relationships among teens, and examining pros and cons of hook-ups for women.
The authors cite the work of some journalists and others who have commented on “hooking up” among young women in very different ways:
- Laura Sessions Stepp, author of Unhooked: How Young Women Pursue Sex, Delay Love, and Lose at Both (2007)
- Jessica Valenti, author of The Purity Myth: How America’s Obsession with Virginity is Hurting Young Women (2010)
- Ariel Levy, author of Female Chauvinist Pigs: Women and the Rise of Raunch Culture (2005)
A fun and interesting way to use this article in your class is to allow students to take on the role of commentator by writing a short paper (3-4 pages) on their understanding and opinions on hook-up culture. You could have them read sections from the books above and/or read blog posts like this one from Salon.com in addition to this article from Contexts, and also have them research and cite scholarly work on the subject, like the work cited in the article.
Have them take a position on the issue of “hooking up”/casual sexual interactions in college and use evidence they find in their research to back up their claims.
Questions that could be used to develop their argument include:
Do you think that hook-up culture is empowering for women or not?
Why do you think hooking-up is more common now than ever?
Why do you think young people hooking up causes such a moral panic?
Is sexual interaction within relationships preferable to hook-ups?
Is there a sexual double standard between men and women when it comes to hooking up?
How does the hook-up culture described in this article relate to same-sex relationships?