"Amid the seemingly endless partying on America's college campuses lies a thick layer of melancholy, insecurity, and isolation that no one can seem to shake. College students have perfected an air of bravado about hookup culture, though a great many of them privately wish for a world of romance and dating. And yet they soldier on. By all appearances, graduating college with sex on one's social resume is as important as it is to have a range of activities, internship experiences, and a solid GPA on the professional one. In today's college culture, sex is something students fit into their schedules, like studying and going to the gym.
"College students learn from the media, their friends, and even their parents that it's not sensible to have long-term relationships in college. College is a special time in life — they will never get the chance to learn so much, meet so many people, or have as much fun again. Relationships restrict freedom — they require more care, upkeep, and time than anyone can afford to give during this exciting period between adolescence and adulthood. They add pressure to the already heavily pressured, overscheduled lives of today's students, who, according to this ethos, should be focusing on their classes, their job prospects, and the opportunity to party as wildly as they can manage. Hookups allow students to get sex onto the college CV without adding any additional burdens, ensuring that they don't miss out on the all-American, crazy college experience they feel they must have. They can always settle down later.
"Students play their parts — the sex-crazed frat boy, the promiscuous, lusty coed — and they play them well. But all too often they enact these highly gendered roles for one another because they have been taught to believe that hookup culture is normal, that everyone is enjoying it, and that there is something wrong with them if they don't enjoy it, too. What could be better than sex without strings? Yet, in fact, many of them — both men and women — are not enjoying it at all.
"Hookup sex is fast, uncaring, unthinking, and perfunctory. Hookup culture promotes bad sex, boring sex, drunken sex you don't remember, sex you could care less about, sex where desire is absent, sex that you have 'just because everyone else is, too,' or that 'just happens.' It's the new, second shift of college: the housework, the domestic labor that everyone needs to pitch in and get through because it simply has to get done. The more students talk about hooking up, the clearer it becomes that it has less to do with excitement or even attraction than with checking a box off a long list of tasks, like homework or laundry. And while hookup sex is supposed to come with no strings attached, it nonetheless creates an enormous amount of stress and drama among participants."