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“The idea of college students having casual sex or casual sexual encounters with other college students is definitely not a new thing,” said Kacy Welsh, a lecturer with the University of Georgia department of psychology, whose research and teaching interests include human sexuality.“There were certainly college students engaging in those behaviors in past generations in the ’60s and ’70s.“I also think that everyone is influenced by popular culture, and hooking up is really talked about a lot right now.” Popular TV shows such as “Scandal,” “Grey’s Anatomy,” critical hit “Girls” and the recently ended “Gossip Girl” all feature several main characters who frequently engage in casual sexual relationships.“Movies, television,” said Amanda, when asked what she thinks creates the illusion of hook up culture.“If you have these expectations of ‘Oh my gosh, I’m going to go to college and I’m going to go to all these parties and I’m going to hook up like what [these characters] do, in bathrooms and closets and bedrooms,’ that’s where people get the expectations from.”All the hype surrounding these films and television shows, only aided by the modern conveniences of Twitter and Facebook, contribute further to the rumor of these behaviors, rather than their reality.“I don’t think it’s just the media,” Welsh said.
I’m not judging, but I personally don’t do that.”For some, the choice is about the act itself.“Sex is just better when it’s a moment shared between two people who, if not in love with one another, care about the other person as a human being,” said Marcus, also a senior who identifies as straight.
Most students defined hooking up as a sexual experience beyond making out or foreplay.“When someone tells me they hooked up with someone, I’m going to assume they had sex,” said Sarah, a senior.
Media Daze The source of the hook-up culture myth may be no further away than your nearest laptop, television or cellphone.“I think the media has a huge role to play here, because it is depicted so much and you have so many articles like the [New York Times article “She Can Play That Game, Too”], and students see those and they think ‘Oh, everybody must be hooking up,’” Welsh said.
“A large majority of the gay guys I know are extraordinarily judgmental and really harsh, even to their own kind inside the gay community, and a lot of them don’t value relationships in the same way I do but rather are very sexually promiscuous and hooking up on a very regular basis with multiple people.”But even a personal distaste can’t fight a force as powerful as peer pressure.“[Hooking up] isn’t something that I’ve never done, but something I don’t want to do or try to do,” Brody said.
“In general, I’ve found that I feel excluded from my own community in Athens.”No inhibitions It comes as no surprise that alcohol plays a huge factor in whether or not flirtation will turn into a sexual encounter.“Research shows that hooking up and alcohol are correlated, and that depending on the study you look at, [in] 60 to 80 percent of the hook-ups, at least one of the people were drinking,” Welsh said.
Alyssa, a senior who self-identifies as straight, reports hooking up on multiple occasions in her time at UGA.“Some of my hookups would last months, and I wouldn’t have to worry about all the rules of relationships,” Alyssa said.