Unhooked- A Review
February 29, 2008, 5:10 pm
Filed under: Books | Tags: ,

As I said in an earlier post, I have had an ongoing conversation with myself about the hook-up culture, particularly as seen on my campus. I picked up the book Unhooked, by Laura Sessions Stepp. Essentially, it is a popular non-fiction expose of a culture that I am used to, but that people of my parents’ generation might be horrified to learn of.

And rightly so. Stepp follows a number of girls through the course of a year: they meet, they email, and they tell her about their lives, particularly their sex lives. She goes with them to bars, and witnesses how girls behave there. She follows high school girls, college girls, black girls, white girls. In that respect, it is a pretty well-rounded sample. Of course, it is a very small sample. That is the nature of the beast of a sociological study, particularly one that is performed by a journalist writing pop-nonfiction. One must take these findings with a grain of salt: she went in, expecting to find something, and find it she did. And then she wrote about it. No science. Ok, shutting up now.

In the end, she concludes exactly what I did: as a society, we are doing girls a disservice by convincing them that they must wait for love, to the point of running from it into the arms of an unworthy boy that they know they will never fall for. That way, they will never have to risk their future plans by accidentally falling in love with someone who will treat them well and is a good match for them. It really is absurd that this is the message we are sending girls: falling in love is bad, because you’ll ruin your chances for a future. So, you should avoid good men, and only see bad men, because they are discardable.

In the end, we are encouraging young women to sleep with inappropriate men. That’s a problem. If these girls are as stellar as we are told, they deserve men that will treat them as such. And most importantly, they deserve support from their parents and elders when they do find such a man.  A good man will support her in what she wants to do, and if they are truly in love, the relationship will last regardless of her plans. If it doesn’t, it wasn’t a waste of time, not in the way a string of hook-ups are.

However, it is in this article in the New York Times today that sums it up best: “The culture of dating is much healthier than the culture of the hookup, in which the primary form of sexual intimacy is a girl on her knees servicing a boy.”

How is a woman prostrate in front of a man she doesn’t care about, servicing him, a sign of sexual freedom? It isn’t. It’s a sign of sexual inequality and shame.  Young women deserve better than that. Shame on all of us for encouraging anything less, especially in the name of freedom and success.


Sex and the City, 2008
February 18, 2008, 10:48 am
Filed under: daily | Tags: , ,

My family sometimes drives me up the wall. Families are required to do that: finding yourself clinging to the ceiling by only your fingernails is good for your heart rate and encourages fingernail growth. They do it because they want you to have a healthy heart and long nails, and don’t you forget it.

My immediate family loves Bear. Even Brotha! seems to like him. One never really knows with him: he’s notoriously difficult to read. However, they seem to be able to have conversations and share jokes and such, so that’s a good sign. Plus, Brotha! was the first one I told about the Shacking Up of 2008, and his response was something like, “why did you wait so long?” Another good sign, considering that he views living with other people to be a Fate Worse Than Death, and doesn’t understand why other people do it, or get married and have children for that matter.

My parents love Bear. A lot. Sometimes, I think they might like him more than they like me. They get very excited about him going East. This is mostly because they like feeding him. He’s much more satisfying to feed than I am, since he eats a lot, and enjoys good food, and tells you repeatedly that he likes whatever you made for him. My parents sit there grinning at him while they watch him eat. It’s kind of strange, but whatever.

My extended family, on the other hand, has this really strange idea that I should avoid getting married until I’m 35. Or at least 30. Why, do you ask? Because my family sees one person do something, have it work out, and then decide that That Is The Way It Shall Be Ever After. My mom’s cousin is my godmother, and she didn’t get married until she was 30, or something like that. She didn’t have babies until she was 32. She lived in Poland for 3 years teaching them all about capitalism, and now she has a very nice job in Manhattan.

Bully for her! She has a great life she seems to enjoy. I’m nothing but happy for her.

Also, my nana and her sister have been disappointed in love. Lesson #1: Do Not Marry For Money, EVER. You Will Always Be Disappointed. Lesson #2: People don’t lie to you regarding their character. They might hide it really well, but it always comes out sooner or later. You should never be surprised.

However, the lesson they took away from their disappointment is this: Men Suck. The Later You Get Married, The Less of a Chance You Have of Getting A Bad Egg. So, nobody approves of me dating Bear this early, this seriously. Sure, I respect that they have concerns, but they should also realize that I’m actually really good at making decisions. Do we need to talk about the fact that I only applied to one college, and one grad school, and that I am still the same majors I was when I started? And that I am extremely happy with my choices? That I am doing well? Clearly, I know myself well enough to know what I want out of my life.

Furthermore, I live in my culture. The culture of college students at a large secular university in 2008 is different than the culture of 19 year olds just out of high school in 1950. There was an entire feminist/sexual revolution that happened in the meantime. Bear and I had fish sandwiches after swing dance class on Friday at a bar here in Oakland. They were tasty and delicious, yay Lent! Regardless, while we were eating, I was sitting there in my warm sweater with jeans and sensible shoes, while there were girls prancing in skirts that would provide an easy gynecological exam if they bent over, and heels that nearly tilted them forward. Their tatas were pushed up and out over their tops and nothing was left to the imagination. Now, I’m sure that you can dress like that and still keep your integrity in tact. However, these girls weren’t. They stood their flinging themselves at boys that had signs hanging over their heads, blinking, “I AM AN ASSHOLE” in bright red neon. Chances are, these girls would go home with these boys, incapacitatedly drunk, and have meaningless sex that they barely remember. They probably won’t see them much after that, and if they do, it will be for another hook-up.

This is what “dating” is now, Nana. This is what it means to date around. If you see a bunch of guys at the same time and don’t put out, you are immediately labeled a prude and probably won’t get much attention after that. This is not 1950.

This is also not me. I am not that girl, I never have been. I was never comfortable with that scene. I’m too shy, first of all, to put myself out there like that. I’m also not willing to cheapen myself like that. I know I’m worth more than that. Those girls are, too, they just haven’t figured it out yet. They’re going to spend the next 5-10 years prancing around from jerk guy to jerk guy, adding one meaningless sexual encounter after another. This is “Sex and the City” culture. Hopefully they’ll realize that they can do so much better, and settle down for a nice man like Bear, one who will treat them well. Chances are they won’t. They’ll marry the same kind of guy that they’re flinging themselves at in a dirty bar now, and at some point down the road, realize he’s a jerk and divorce him. And you wonder why we have the divorce rate we do. Our culture misread the sexual revolution as saying that girls HAVE to behave like boys, that it is their duty to feminism to bare themselves like that.

That’s not me. I don’t mean to judge these girls, although I am. I genuinely feel sorry for them. I wish they could realize what they look like, and how much better they deserve to be treated. They’re going to learn that lesson the hard way, and unfortunately it is our society that is forcing them to take that path.

I think all of this is discussed in the book “Unhooked” by Laura Sessions Stepp, which I am going to take out of the library today. Perhaps I will review it at a later date. I would like to make my family read it so they can see where I am coming from. I do not want to take part in the culture that they are pressuring me to join. If they really knew and understood what it was like, I’m sure that they wouldn’t. I’m sure that the problem lies in different definitions for “dating”.

I know myself well enough to know that I have found something good, something really good. He cares about me, feeds me, listens to me, and supports me in everything. We can talk to eachother about any range of things. We can each pursue our own interests and still appreciate the other’s interests. We want the same things in life. We spend a lot of time together because we are stultifyingly co-dependent, but not because of a lack of trust. More because we just like being together. I’m not willing to throw that to the wind in favor of a culture that is actually more harmful to women. I wish I could explain that to my family without having to use the word “sex”.

Furthermore, I found out this weekend that a former classmate of mine died unexpectedly of a heart attack. She was 22. She had just started teaching after graduating in December. She was engaged to be married in 2009. She had her whole life before her. I don’t know what caused her to have a heart attack at such a young age, but it doesn’t matter. It’s no different than if she had been in a car accident, like other classmates of mine were. What I do know is that she lost her life just as it was starting. Life is short. When you realize how you want to spend your life, and who you want to spend it with, you should grab onto that immediately, because you don’t know how long that will be. I don’t care what my family says: I want my life to be with Bear, and I’m not willing to sacrifice the time I have with him in favor of some misguided ideal that they have.