Sunday, December 14, 2008

I Love Old People

It's really funny when they try to explain youth culture. Let's take it apart:
The paradigm has shifted. Dating is dated. Hooking up is here to stay.
Revelation number 1! Come on, this has been true for a decade.
(For those over 30 years old: hooking up is a casual sexual encounter with no expectation of future emotional commitment. Think of it as a one-night stand with someone you know.)
Almost a good defintion. But "one-night stand" implies sex, while a hook-up generally implies something short of sex. And a hook-up is not necessarily with someone you know. It's more common that way, but not a requirement.
According to a report released this spring by Child Trends, a Washington research group, there are now more high school seniors saying that they never date than seniors who say that they date frequently. Apparently, it’s all about the hookup.
Maybe this necessitates an article, but all it says to me is that the rest of the country has caught up with my high school 10 years ago. I tried dating a little back then, but didn't have much success. Why? Because the people who DID date mostly started with a hook-up. And I definitely didn't have any luck with that.
When I first heard about hooking up years ago, I figured that it was a fad that would soon fizzle. I was wrong. It seems to be becoming the norm.
Well, if you'd gone to college with me you would have known better, my friend.
I should point out that just because more young people seem to be hooking up instead of dating doesn’t mean that they’re having more sex
See above.
they’ve been having less, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) or having sex with strangers (they’re more likely to hook up with a friend, according to a 2006 paper in the Journal of Adolescent Research).
See above again. Like I said, it doesn't necessarily include sex and isn't always with a friend.
To help me understand this phenomenon, I called Kathleen Bogle, a professor at La Salle University in Philadelphia who has studied hooking up among college students and is the author of the 2008 book, “Hooking Up: Sex, Dating and Relationships on Campus.”
Probably would have been more effective to call a bunch of students at La Salle University in Philadelphia, but different strokes, I suppose.
It turns out that everything is the opposite of what I remember. Under the old model, you dated a few times and, if you really liked the person, you might consider having sex. Under the new model, you hook up a few times and, if you really like the person, you might consider going on a date.
This is overly simplistic. If you hook up more than 2 or 3 times, it generally becomes unlikely that anything will come out of it. And again, the reason sex is still down on the list is because it DOES still come after you get to know someone for a lot of people. Hooking up is an addition to the process, not a reversal, per se.

And that's the mistake that a lot of older people make, I think. But I'll discuss that more once we're through with the column. Moving on...
I asked her to explain the pros and cons of this strange culture. According to her, the pros are that hooking up emphasizes group friendships over the one-pair model of dating, and, therefore, removes the negative stigma from those who can’t get a date. As she put it, “It used to be that if you couldn’t get a date, you were a loser.” Now, she said, you just hang out with your friends and hope that something happens.
Yeah, there's no stigma for those who can't get a date. But trust me, at least among guys, there's still a stigma for those who can't get some play. And among girls there's a stigma for the girl who hooks up all the time, but never with the same guy.

Group activity or no group activity, the guy who isn't getting any action gets picked on and the girl who's getting too much looked down on. The more things change...
The cons center on the issues of gender inequity. Girls get tired of hooking up because they want it to lead to a relationship (the guys don’t), and, as they get older, they start to realize that it’s not a good way to find a spouse. Also, there’s an increased likelihood of sexual assaults because hooking up is often fueled by alcohol.
Why is it not a good way to meet a spouse? People always say this, but I think it denies a basic factor of human nature. The best husbands in the world would have gone in for the hook-up scene in their late teens and early twenties if they'd had the opportunity. And yes, it's unlikely that you'll catch a guy on his last hook-up and he'll suddenly want to settled down.

But if it is one of those hook-ups that develops into a dating relationship, then it's just as good a marriage prospect than if it had started the other way.

As for sexual assaults? It happens. But dates typically involve alcohol, too. I would say the hook-up party scene leads to more sexual assaults than the dating scene, but that's not a result of hooking up, per se.
That’s not good. So why is there an increase in hooking up? According to Professor Bogle, it’s: the collapse of advanced planning, lopsided gender ratios on campus, delaying marriage, relaxing values and sheer momentum.
Professor Bogle is an idiot. This is a case of someone studying people too scientifically instead of just looking around. One more paragraph and then I'll explain why I think hooking-up is more prevalent.
It used to be that “you were trained your whole life to date,” said Ms. Bogle. “Now we’ve lost that ability — the ability to just ask someone out and get to know them.”

Now that’s sad.
So 200 years ago, do you think the elders looked down at young people and said "It used to be that you were trained your whole life to be happy in an arranged marriage. Now we've lost the ability to marry our children to whomever we want. Now that's sad."

Just because it's different doesn't mean it's worse.

So where do I think hooking-up came from? I think there are several factors, but the prime one is the advanced role that sex has taken in our culture. The combination of sexual education at school and constant sexual innuendo on TV has led to sex playing a much greater role in dating than it ever had before.

Under the old regime, dating involved getting to know someone. It was talking, laughing, learning about one another. Now, dating is getting to know someone, followed by getting it on. The latter is just as important to a successful dating relationship: if the other person is a bad kisser, or all thumbs in bed, it isn't going to last. So while you can't get to know someone in one night, and that remains a long-term progression, you can find out if someone's a good hook-up in one night. If it's a deal-breaker anyway, why not get it out of the way? And if it's going to become a significant proponent of your relationship eventually anyway, why put off the fun?

What else? Well, I think it's a natural extension of the fact that society is shifting older. People live longer, they stay in school longer, and they get married later. Fewer kids have jobs in middle and high school than ever before. They're going to die later, and they're going to enter the real world later, so they get to be kids longer. They're not planning for their future but enjoying the present. This isn't inherently a bad thing, but it does result in less maturity overall. And with less maturity comes less readiness to be in a relationship. So, we get hook-ups.

But talk to girls and guys around the age of 25. (Girls a year or two before or at 25, guys at 25 or a year or two after). You'll hear most lamenting that dating doesn't work the way it used to in our parents' day. The article believes it's because meeting a husband doesn't work in the hook-up world (why he said "husband" and not "spouse" I don't entirely follow, either). But that's not true. In fact, this transition at 25 is the opposite. Women don't stop hooking-up and start waiting for guys to ask them out—they become more discriminating in who they hook-up with. So do guys.

It's no worse for meeting a spouse than dating, you just can't go on every date that's offered.

And I think I've run out of things to say about this topic at the moment. Hope you've enjoyed it!

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