The Hookup Culture: a detrimental trend to the teenage mind
I decided to research the hookup culture because it is something that surrounds my community and has had a negative effect on a lot of people that I care about. I have witnessed many girls in particular, struggling to make meaningful relationships with the people they actually care about. I connected this “symptom” of the hu culture with the symptoms of many mental disorders: an inability to properly communicate or form meaningful relationships. which made me think that mental disorders can cause an inability to form meaningful relationships. The hookup culture is synonymous with a mental disorder in some ways, which is why I felt the need to study it and interview people in my community.
*Important! Hu means Hookup, it is the term used when texting or writing casually*
(I have given the individuals in this story aliases to hide their identity) “Anna” used to hookup with “Ryan” who is friends with “Carter”. Carter wanted to hang out with Anna and some other people, without Ryan. Anna went to his house and she felt like he expected her to hook-up with him even though they had only spoken a few times over Snapchat and had never met in person. Anna didn’t really want to hookup with Carter but thought that it was no big deal, she recalls saying “Oh F*ck it!”, and proceeded to hook up with him. After interviewing “Anna” about this situation, she claims that she believes that she should have been more excited about the encounter. However, she doesn’t have regrets, because she felt it was a “good” hookup.
What is it?
The Hookup Culture “accepts and encourages casual sexual encounters, including one-night stands and other related activity, without necessarily including emotional bonding or long-term commitment” (according to Wikipedia). According to the dictionary, a “hookup” is “a casual sexual encounter: he was tired of meaningless hookups”, or, “a person with whom someone has a casual sexual encounter: she’s hurt that her hookup didn’t even bother to stick around long enough to say good morning”. The example sentences show the universal understanding that a hookup is generally something that is meaningless or emotionless. The second example even shows how women are often disheartened from these relationships.
The teenage definitions that I collected are so vast; though most people said something along the lines of “Making out”, we generally don’t understand what exactly a hookup is.
Some more telling definitions that I found from teenagers were:
- “go to a party, find someone you’re attracted to, go make out somewhere and if it’s good maybe go further than making out”
- “making out w someone for a prolonged period of time but it can progress sexually and can include sex it depends on your definition”.
- “They could have done anything from kiss to have sex. It’s a pretty vague term.“
- “Honestly not sure making out or something?”
Teenage years are crucial to personal development, but the point is that teens are developing. We, as teenagers, are on the cusp of adulthood and are far from knowing everything, which is why it is difficult to try to learn about relationships on our own. This is probably why a lot of people that answered my survey saying they didn’t know exactly what a hookup was. Being attracted to people and learning how to discover yourself along with your sexuality is extremely hard, and the pressures that follow the hookup culture only increase the difficulties and misunderstandings.
I decided to focus on teenage girls in particular because I feel that more of my female friends complain about the effects of this culture in comparison to my male friends. My male friends are a lot more casual about sexual encounters and tend to expect praise after telling me or other people about a sexual encounter.
Here is one of my audio interviews with a 17-year-old female student at my school:
Parents and other adults: Most parents already teach their children about values and lessons every day. But it is arguably more challenging to teach their children about sex, whether the child doesn’t want to hear about it or whether the parent feels awkward about it. The leap that would make this process more manageable for both parties, according to Shafia Zaloom (a sexual educator), is to “guide kids to understand what those values sound, look and feel like within the context of sexuality”. The most important quality that separates a mature person who is able to form meaningful relationships from one that isn’t ready to fully commit or understand how to properly communicate (a person that might be more susceptible to the hook-up culture) is the level of empathy that one has. Adults should be teaching children how to properly empathize with others, one way to do this is to explain their own romantic successes and failures so that they can learn from an adult’s mistakes and understand that no relationship is perfect. Empathy is most certainly the cure that will allow the generation of the hookup culture to learn how to form real relationships because being able to develop empathy for others will instill the idea of meaningful relationships rather than physical ones that might hurt somebody.
Teens: Teens can and should still discuss their lives with their friends, it is always good to talk about struggles or successes with somebody. It is extremely important to talk about relationships with somebody that has learned about them in their life, your parents. Most parents know what they are talking about when it comes to relationships, despite what teens might think. Talking about love and what to do in compromising situations with parents will provide more preparedness and ability to communicate and empathize. However, it is most important for teens to understand themselves, and who they are in a sexual context before they start engaging in sexual relationships or more serious ones.
(These are some texts about hooking up that one of my friends received)
What would happen if young adults started communicating with their parents instead of learning about sex from porn? How can people start talking about sex in a healthy way that is more respectful to women?
I am talking to my friends about the hookup culture, especially the ones that are not happy about the hookup culture, to help them understand that they do not have to participate. I am working with my guidance counselor and figuring out how we can make the hookup culture less of an issue in our community. I plan on talking to the leader of sex ed in my school to ask her about how she can better incorporate the issues of the hookup culture, consent, and teaching teens about how to have safe LGBTQ+ sex. I am explaining the psychological benefits of having a real relationship, versus a hookup.
“APA Dictionary of Psychology.” American Psychological Association, American Psychological Association, dictionary.apa.org/abnormal.
“Hookup Culture.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 3 Apr. 2018, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hookup_culture.
“How to Teach Teens About Love, Consent and Emotional Intelligence.” KQED, 8 Feb. 2018, www.kqed.org/mindshift/50518/how-to-teach-teens-about-love-consent-and-emotional-intelligence?utm_source=facebook.com&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=npr&utm_term=nprnews&utm_content=20180210.
“Types of Personality Disorders.” Johns Hopkins Medicine Health Library, www.hopkinsmedicine.org/healthlibrary/conditions/mental_health_disorders/personality_disorders_85,P00760.
Weissbourd , Richard, et al. The Talk: How Adults Can Promote Young People’s Healthy Relationships and Prevent Misogyny and Sexual Harassment. pp. 1–7
“What Teenagers Are Learning From Online Porn.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 12 Feb. 2018, mobile.nytimes.com/2018/02/07/magazine/teenagers-learning-online-porn-literacy-sex-education.html.