richmond_goarmy_728x90
Sex | Opinions

How casual sex culture increases sexual violence

Published: April 13, 2014, 11:50 am ET
Opinions Editor

We live in a culture that is grotesquely focused on “hooking up.” Couples rarely date anymore, and the days of nice dinners and chivalry are long gone. Instead it’s become widely accepted to consistently have sex with someone, forego the romantic gestures and still consider the relationship mildly legitimate.

I may sound old-fashioned, but I assure you, I am not blinded to the shifting dynamics of modern affairs. In fact, I am well aware of this culture and I believe it leads to a much bigger problem.

The problem is sexual violence.

It happens every day all over the world. The more frightening fact: it happens all the time on our very own campus. Once a year, at Take Back The Night, an event organized as an open forum for survivors of sexual abuse to candidly share their stories, we realize the atrocity that our fellow students have endured. In return, the University of Richmond community touts its support through claps and crying. This event took place earlier this week and, as always, was an emotional whirlwind and a source of shock.

But what about the other 364 days of the year? Where is the support system then? When a drunken night at a lodge leads a “couple” into a twisted situation? The girl says, “No, it’s only been a few weeks.” The boy is too intoxicated to filter his actions. And the next morning it goes unreported, because, well, they were “hooking up.”

This is exactly the problem with the hook-up culture we tolerate today. Casual sex is a thing: no gimmicks, no strings, just sex. In most bedrooms, the act is consensual and leaves no bad aftertaste. In other cases, it ends poorly for one partner involved. Suddenly, what was a fun and flirty make out takes a turn for the worst. Because casual sex is a thing, accidental and casual rape becomes a thing. Let’s get something straight – it’s not a thing.

I understand that full-blown relationships are simply unappealing to some, and I don’t want to detract from what brings satisfaction to many. However, guidelines still need to exist. Omitting the fluffiness and all the feelings when entering into the agreement to just “hook up” does not give either party a free pass on respect. There must be a mutual ethicality in the way the unconventional relationship functions. No means no. If making out is all that will transpire, so be it. We cannot continue to expect sex from everyone.

I don’t think the hook-up culture will dissipate any time soon. So, the remedy should be to proactively make the culture less psychologically draining. The symbolism of Take Back The Night should be felt every night. And sexual violence in the context of “hooking up” needs to end now.

Contact staff writer Stephanie Manley at stephanie.manley@richmond.edu

Related Article Topics

,
Comments »
To post a comment, leave your first and last name and a valid e-mail address. Comments may not appear immediately because they must be approved by a moderator before posting. No registration is required, but you may sign in with DISQUS, Facebook, Twitter, Yahoo, or OpenID.
  • Erin

    Hi, Stephanie –

    First of all, I really appreciate the importance of ending sexual abuse on campus, and I feel like this article was written with good intentions. If I’ve misinterpreted anything you said, I sincerely apologize.

    However, I felt when reading that the article comes across as suggesting that members of the “hookup culture” (eg. those who have sex outside of traditional relationships) are in some way responsible for the sexual violence that they’ve encountered – that by not being in a formal relationship, there were no “guidelines” to protect them from abuse (and that “because casual sex is a thing, accidental and casual rape becomes a thing”).

    The problem is NOT limited to the hookup culture. The problem is a lack of understanding or respect for the basic principles of informed, enthusiastic sexual consent. Being in a traditional relationship does not protect someone from sexual abuse if their partner does not respect their boundaries, and I feel like this article marginalizes that fact by suggesting that hookups are relationships minus the “respect”. Complete respect from your partner should exist during all sexual relationships, and it doesn’t feel fair to say that people who are hooking up were entering into relationships where they signed up for anything less.

    Let’s not place the burden on people engaging in sex outside of “full blown relationships”. Let’s instead start trying to encouraging ALL members of the UR community to seek out enthusiastic consent from their sexual partners – whether in a relationship or not.

    Erin Brady (Class of 2010)