Cultures – sets of widely-endorsed ideas reflected in rules for interaction and in the organization of our institutions – are powerful social forces that shape individuals’ lives. In colleges, “hookup culture” refers to the idea that casual sexual encounters are the best or only way to engage sexually; and the concept also refers to rules of social interaction that facilitate casual sexual encounters and organizational arrangements that support these encounters.
Today, almost all of America’s residential college campuses are characterized by a hookup culture – large and small, private and public, secular and religious, and left- and right-leaning campuses. Students must contend with this culture even if they are not especially sexually active. In fact, many students are not very active. The average graduating senior reports hooking up just eight times in four years; and a third do not hook up even a single time. Individual students can and do opt out of casual hookup sexual encounters, but few can escape dealing with that culture.
The Origins of Campus Hookup Culture
Hookup culture is simply the newest stage in the evolution of sexual norms and behavior in America. Its roots lie in the early city life of the 1920s, the first time in U.S. history that young people routinely socialized in mixed-sex groups beyond the supervision of chaperones. This created intense media interest in “youth culture,” as college attendance became accessible to large swaths of the American population. After a couple hundred years of conflict with higher education administrators, fraternity men starting setting the social tone. Their way of experiencing college life – irreverent, raucous, and fun-oriented – was suddenly the way to experience college. Attending college was linked to the idea of being young and carefree.
After a couple hundred years of conflict with higher education administrators, fraternity men starting setting the social tone. Their way of experiencing college life – irreverent, raucous, and fun-oriented – was suddenly the way to experience college. Attending college was linked to the idea of being young and carefree.
The Great Depression and World War II put the brakes on such revelry. Young women initiated “going steady” – monogamous, long-term dating – as a response to the loss of young men to war. Yet going steady, a kind of “premature monogamy,” was both new and short-lived as an ideal for young people. By the 1960s, young people wanted to remain unattached; and meanwhile, gay men in urban enclaves were experimenting with a culture revolving around “hookups.” The dangers of AIDs infection slowed down the process by which casual sexual encounters spread into the mainstream for young people, but this process proceeded nonetheless.
In 1978, the popularity of the movie Animal House ratcheted up expectations for college fun. Beer and liquor companies took advantage of the moment, spending millions in the 1980s to convince students that drinking was a mainstay of college life. Starting in 1984, when the U.S. government financially pressured the states to raise the legal drinking age from 18 to 21, control over campus parties was thrown increasingly into the hands of men who occupied large, private fraternity residences in which they could flagrantly break liquor laws.
Fraternities again came to dominate the campus social scene. Until today, this remains true on many campuses, but many other factors also reinforce hookup sexual norms on college campuses – including media portrayals of college life, rising individualism, and a halfway transition toward women’s equality. Social and sexual norms originally embodied in fraternities now reign supreme on college campuses.
The Destructive Sense that Hookup Sex is the Only Option
After hearing about hookup culture, many older Americans wonder whether today’s students actually enjoy it. The answer appears to be both yes and no, as I learned from years of fieldwork. About a quarter of students thrive in this culture, at least at first. They enjoy hooking up and adapt well to hookup culture’s rules calling for fun and casual, short-term encounters.
At the same time, about a third of students opt out altogether; they find hookup culture unappealing and would rather not have sex at all than have it the way this culture mandates. The remaining students are ambivalent, dabbling in hookups with mixed results. Overall, about one in three students say that their intimate relationships have been “traumatic” or “very difficult to handle.” Many of them experience a persistent malaise, a deep, indefinable disappointment. And one in ten says that they have been sexually coerced or assaulted in the past year.
Notably, my research suggests that hookup culture is a problem not because it promotes casual sex, but because it makes a destructive form of casual sexual engagement feel compulsory. Students who don’t hook up can end up being socially isolated, while students who do engage in this way are forced to operate by a dysfunctional set of rules.
Hookup culture encourages a punishing emotional landscape, where caring for others or even simple courtesy seem inappropriate, while carelessness and even cruelty are allowed. At its worst, it encourages young men and women to engage in sexual competitiveness and status-seeking while meeting impossible standards of attractiveness. It privileges immediate pleasure-seeking and heightens risks that students will become either perpetrators or victims of sexual crimes.
Changing Power Structures and Destructive Sexual Norms
Understanding that the forces shaping sexual relationships on campuses are cultural – that problems lie not so much in particular encounters as in hookup culture overall – is the first step toward clarifying what needs to change. Because culture is a type of shared consciousness, many people need to work together to make changes happen. And they can. Especially because of the strong ties in student bodies, campuses can transform themselves faster than one might suspect.
Research shows that today’s young people are more open, permissive, earnest, hopeful for the future, and welcoming of diversity than any other generation in memory. They are well-positioned to usher in the next new sexual culture. But colleges as institutions must change, too. Institutions of higher education need to put substantial resources and time into shifting cultural norms in two ways: promoting casual sexual encounters that involve an ethic of care, and diversifying the kind of sexual encounters that are seen as possible and good.
Colleges also need to change the institutional arrangements that give too much power to subsets of students who are most enthusiastic about hookup culture and who benefit from it at the expense of their peers. Doing this may mean disbanding fraternities and sororities as they have existed, because as long as these organizations and their ethics remain power bastions on U.S. campuses, hookup culture will persist.
Fearless: How One Financial Expert Faced Her Fear Of Public Speaking
When you are on a collision course to face your fears in order to achieve your future career goals, what will you do? Do you run and hide, drag your feet and hope things will blow over, or will you dawn your Super Woman cape and address the elephant in the room?
Today’s woman wears many hats and it should come as no surprise that with all of the role-changes, fear and anxiety can be a bit challenging for some. Add to that a career path that is rooted in public speaking and you could have a recipe for disaster as the challenges faced with respect to public speaking are high. Communication, in general, tends to be challenging for women on both a personal and professional level for various reasons, but why do we seem to struggle a bit more with public speaking?
Sweaty palms, a racing heart, or feeling like a frog is lodged in your throat. Those psychosomatic symptoms can be a real bummer and for many women, they never achieve their full potential due to their overwhelming fear of public speaking. To shed light on this common problem, we turned to financial expert and two-time New York Times bestseller, Pamela Yellen, who knows all too well about overcoming the fear of public speaking.
We wanted to know how someone who had garnered enough support to raise $25,000 in funds for the American Cancer Society and was fearless enough to dawn a gold-sequined leotard while riding on an elephant struggled with fear and anxiety that almost halted her career pursuits. “You can be a risk taker and still be afraid to get up in front of more than a couple of people.”
Despite the risks Pamela has taken in her life, it wasn’t until she decided to go in a different direction and develop a more professional career as a financial services consultant and public speaker that she was prompted to deal with her “paralyzing stage fright.” Once she conquered her fears, she went on to help others face their fears relating to financial security and grace us with Bank on Yourself: The Life-Changing Secret to Growing and Protecting Your Financial Future and The Bank On Yourself Revolution: Fire Your Banker, Bypass Wall Street, and Take Control of Your Own Financial Future.
To help quell her fears and set her on the path to success, Pamela got busy and ushered in the help of a mentor. When asked if she felt like the mentoring approach and feedback would have set her on a different path had her mentor been a female, she chuckled, “I guess we’ll never know, but I will tell you that I was a bit intimidated by him and he was a very strong, demanding, no-nonsense kind of guy. I think maybe I needed that [approach] at that time.” She also acknowledges her abilities to develop and lead people to reach their potential, developing strategies to avoid foreseeable obstacles, and her natural curiosity to challenge conventional wisdom as key strengths that have contributed to her success.
So what do you do when all eyes are on you and it seems as if the world is judging you? According to Pamela, “You can choose are you gonna sit there and stand there and worry about what they’re gonna think about you or are you going to focus on the fact that you have value to give them.”
Having a clear focus is important when taking on any task, especially something as intimidating as public speaking.Once you choose to change your focus to the value that you bring to your client or an audience, you can begin to approach public speaking differently. Of course, this doesn’t mean that you will never have a nervous moment again. Pamela stated she “still gets plagued by a lack of confidence every now and then” but despite a few hang-ups, she has still persisted and has been quite successful in pursuing her goals.
Speaking of womanhood, we would be remiss not to address the obstacles faced by women in addition to the generalized fear many have regarding public speaking. How does one persist when it seems like odds are stacked against women? Being a woman has made her somewhat of an easier target to negative criticism and has been a cause of hesitancy along her journey.
Given many of the patriarchal norms and stereotypes assigned to women that continue to shape much of society, it’s easy to see how despite all of her success, remnants of fear and anxiety can still rear their ugly head. There is little doubt that being a woman presents its own set of problems when speaking out and sometimes against the status quo.
When asked about her thoughts on being a woman in such a male-dominated field, Pamela stated, “people attack me regularly because I go against the conventional financial wisdom.” She also offered an inspiring quote from her mentor, Dan Kennedy, “It’s been so profoundly powerful for me ‘If you’re not offending someone by noon every day then you’re not doing much.'” Despite her critics, like a true superhero, Pamela still persists and we are thankful for it.
Switching gears, the interview would not have been complete without garnering some financial advice from the guru herself. Money and financial security or lack thereof can be a great cause of fear and anxiety for anybody. Understanding that a large part of overcoming fear or anxiety involves doing something different, rather it be challenging yourself or learning something new. Pamela’s book encourages you to do both.
With no regard to socio-economic status, age, or income, Bank On Yourself allows consumers to achieve their goals and take control of their financial situation by avoiding Wall Street while challenging financial institutions and their tactics.
While different groups have benefited from Pamela’s books, advice, and financial expertise; by far the group that has benefited the most have been the baby-boomer generation. “I think a lot of baby boomers and women have benefited from my books because the baby-boomers are the ones or the group that no longer has guaranteed pensions from their companies and their basically on their own to save for their own retirement.” For those still reeling from the Recession, looking to recover from slow economic growth, or gain financial freedom Pamela advises “if you’re not comfortable with the idea of never being sure that you’ll have you know a certain amount of money for retirement you need to look at safe and guaranteed methods of saving for retirement.”
Rather it is public speaking, finances, or career guidance; no matter how successful, when it comes to certain things, fear and doubt can set in and if left unaddressed will find a permanent home in our lives. To learn more about some of these safe financial methods and get a free and safe wealth building report, you can visit www.bankonyourself.com.
Who Listens When You Lack Power and Privilege?
How do we differentiate who we are from what we are? Do titles really define who we are or what we think about people? Do we not care about who they are as a person; their morals, values, and stances?
We are asked as children what we want to be when we grow up, which is often answered by a title – a police officer, teacher, a professional athlete. We don’t get asked who we want to be, or what we want to be known for.
We often assign respect and obedience to certain titles without thinking the expectations we have of someone who holds it. Some may exceed expectations, and others may not be close to meeting them. But, what do we do when we learn who they are as a person and not the title they hold?
A professional football player kneeled during the national anthem because police officers were not meeting the expectations society has relayed on them. But rather than join his efforts in holding them accountable for their deadly actions, he lost his job for getting involved in something that isn’t part of his job description.
Collin Kaepernick’s job is to be a quarterback and not protest injustices which is what some of his critics say. He showed us who he is as a person, what he stands for, and what he believes in. In return, he is villainized and no longer is he considered a good football player, but has been rebranded as a troublemaker. Is that fair?
Power and privilege are two concepts that most people strive to obtain, but some may never achieve it. These two things are primarily held in the hands of white men in America. Minorities lack the social status to have powerful messages heard and understood by White America which often leads to relying on our white counterparts to understand our situation in order for something to get done.
Collin Kaepernick had a platform at his disposal which was the NFL. He used his stage in hopes of giving a voice to an issue troubling his community because this was something “white America” isn’t experiencing, nor could they understand the lived fear people of color have of the police.
Because this was something the majority did not understand, Kaepernick’s behavior was too radical for unaffected to be willing to listen and pay attention to the real issue, police brutality. Kneeling during the flag and national anthem was not about disrespecting the flag or national anthem. His kneeling was to bring attention to an epidemic faced by a particular group of Americans.
When we often hold positions of power, we expect others to listen to us and conform to our desires. When something is not presented how we like it, we are less likely to value that person and what they believe.
One of the core values of the social work profession is the dignity and worth of the person. Acknowledging the reality that not everyone will be affected the same. The willingness to listen to others when they’re trying to tell their story can go as far as saving someone’s life.
If the reasoning for Kaepernick’s kneeling had been met with empathy when he shared why he was kneeling, the issue of police brutality would have remained the center of the issue instead of NFL players being called “sons of bitches” by the President of the United States because he doesn’t like them kneeling.
If the people in power, the NFL stakeholders, the President of the United States, and other officials who can hold law enforcement accountable, cared as much about issues like police brutality as they did about football players kneeling, American lives could literally be saved.
Unfortunately, when minorities with no standing and power in America try to bring awareness to social issues where minorities are also the victims, no one seems willing to listen or do anything about it.
The Grand Challenge of Thoughts and Prayers
The snapping sound of my laptop closing echoed in the room as I stared up at the ceiling and shoved it aside along with the glaring screen and endless scroll of ‘thoughts and prayers‘. Realizing that I had a visceral reaction to seeing ‘thoughts and prayers’ tweeted out by well-meaning people for I’m not sure how many thousands of times now. I puzzled over why this time caused more reaction than other similar events. I won’t even bother to name the incident because it will be dated by the time I finish this article.
The endless snark of the social media blame game (this includes me at times, it’s a coping mechanism) and the seeming avoidance of meaningful action post “marking” events like Sandy Hook or Las Vegas in its level of horror was just too much today.
Maybe it’s the stark nothingness that has followed. In the subsequent, daily violence, the blame of outsiders, leadership, anyone but ourselves for taking action that will result in change, is what must change.
What’s my bias, you ask? The lack of action from anyone posting about guns, walls, terror, foreigners or travel bans outside of snide social media posts. I beg everyone to take meaningful action and then share that on your social media.
Let’s start with the pro-gun people.
Individuals who believe we need guns to protect ourselves from a corrupt government or to keep yourself safe from harm.
Your Action: Go take a class on how to be a hero to satisfy your John Wayne fantasies without getting anyone else or yourself, killed in the process.
I’m quite serious under the sarcastic tone. I think it’s 99% fantasy that you are going to contribute to stopping mass shooters, but at least you are doing something. Share about the awesome class you’ve taken, and how you’ve reduced your “freeze time” in reacting to a guy with a semi-automatic weapon pointed at you or family members while at school, church, the local Walmart or while watching the latest Disney movie at the theatre. Practice should certainly help you if you find yourself at a packed outdoor concert with thousands of people. Make sure to take the advanced class at aiming for shooters at 15 plus stories above (also without shooting bystanders or others in the building). Make sure to share with everyone the smoke signals you learned to share with the local law enforcement, who will surely appreciate your well -trained help in the next mass shooting incident.
NRA Defensive Pistol Course
The NRA Defensive Pistol course will focus on the techniques needed to develop a defensive mindset. The goal of the course will be to develop the knowledge, skills, and attitude necessary to carry and use a concealed pistol ethically, responsibly and with confidence… This course is only conducted by NRA certified Advanced Pistol Instructors.
NRA FIRST Steps Rifle Orientation
Firearm Instruction, Responsibility, and Safety Training is the NRA’s response to the American public’s need for a firearm orientation program for new purchasers.
You can even check their ratings on Yelp.
Next, let’s talk with the travel ban people.
Your Action: Get a big paper map
Get yourself a world map- the type that covers your entire wall, old- school style with accessorized colored push- pins. I won’t tell you how to code your travel ban countries but you’ll need to, in 4th-grade style, create a key and chart about the history of mass shootings in the US and make sure we’re covering the right countries. Don’t let phrases like “extra super extreme vetting” confuse you.
Better yet, just list the countries that you believe pose a danger to America based on recent history (I’m trying to be reasonable- perhaps since 2007?). Then look at the travel ban list- how do they match up? If they don’t, there’s your short list of action items. Find out why the “terrorist countries” aren’t on the list then contact your local, state and federal representatives about it. Share that on your social media.
Here’s a link to the Department of State: https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/news/important-announcement.html
For the “Build the Wall” people:
Do you want to build a wall to keep out people who fly here? Who are you trying to keep out? If it’s the Terrorist Catholics from Mexico you’ll need to make that case, but far too many responses to news and social media reports are reactionary to terrorists who flew here on an airplane or actually live here in the US.
Your Action: Check the country of origin for the latest mass shooting or terror attack on the map and compare it to the travel ban list to see if your noise on social media is adding to creating change or confusing the uneducated. If they can’t walk here, surely it’s the latter.
For gun safety or anti-gun people:
Know what “they” have for support and organizing versus what you do. There’s money all around, but being a paid member of a club like the National Rifle Association gives a base of actionable information sharing that those who lack organized structure do not. Gun safety advocates need to reach out to the community and invite them in, not just ask for donations about something they believe is obvious and based on moral outrage. Teach others how to organize- the NRA’s annual meeting has something like 80,000 members present every year. Professor Harie Han wrote about this in “How Organizations Develop Activists” which I stumbled upon while looking for others who think along similar lines.
Using terms like “gun violence prevention” is more useful and descriptive for most arguments (and reflective of almost all Americans) rather than “gun control”. An easy action item is to learn your local and state laws on gun violence prevention and join an already established group like Everytown that is making headway and has coffee meetups for new members. Don’t reinvent the wheel.
Most of all, do rather than say– then share what you’re doing and why. Your focused time will reflect your passion for change and will be more likely to draw others in.
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