Donna Freitas writes in The Washington Post about the sorrows, travails, and confusions of the hook-up culture (if it can be called such).

I am reminded when reading her article that one problem with the idea of personal autonomy or choice is that it assumes that we always know what’s best for ourselves; or, even if we don’t, doing bad things that we have chosen is better than doing good things under the direction of another. It’s a prejudice that requires serious examination. But even then, one wonders how much of a choice it is to “hook-up” when, as she says, “being causal about sex…has become the norm.”  What underlies a lot of this is a fear of attachment, a fear of vulnerability, a fear of genuine connection: in short, fear of being human.

The pro-hookup notion that dating is a sexist castoff of the 1950s dismisses the fairly innocent wish for an alternative means of getting to know someone before getting physical. When one attitude about sex dominates, be it restrictive or permissive, it becomes difficult to defy it.

I’m still mystified by a world where sex leads to commitment rather than commitment to sex. In any case, she concludes by noting that most students would be better off choosing something more…um…traditional.

Today, sexual experimentation might be getting to know someone before having sex, holding out for dates and courtship focused on romance rather than sex. From where I sit, meeting a student confident enough to say she’s not hooking up and is proud about that is as experimental as it gets.


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Jeffrey Polet
Jeffrey Polet grew up in an immigrant household in the immigrant town of Holland MI. After twenty years of academic wandering he returned to Holland and now teaches political science at Hope College, where he also grudgingly serves as chair of the department, having unsuccessfully evaded all requests. In the interim, he continues to nurture quirky beliefs: Division III basketball is both athletically and morally superior to Division I; the Hope/Calvin rivalry is the greatest in sports; the lecture is still the best form of classroom instruction; never buy a car with less than 100,000 miles on it; putts will still lip out in heaven; bears are the incarnation of evil; Athens actually has something to do with Jerusalem; and Tombstone is a cinematic classic. His academic work has mirrored his peripatetic career. Originally trained at the Catholic University of America in German philosophy and hermeneutical theory, he has since gravitated to American Political Thought. He still occasionally writes about European thinkers such as Michel Foucault or the great Max Weber, but mostly is interested in the relationship between theological reflection and political formation in the American context. In the process of working on a book on John Marshall for The Johns Hopkins University Press, he became more sensitive to the ways in which centralized decision-making undid local communities and autonomy. He has also written on figures such as William James and the unjustly neglected Swedish novelist Paer Lagerkvist. A knee injury and arthritis eliminated daily basketball playing, and he now spends his excess energy annoying his saintly wife and their three children, two of whom are off to college. Expressions of sympathy for the one who remains can be posted in the comments section. He doesn’t care too much for movies, but thinks opera is indeed the Gesamtkuntswerk, that the music of Gustav Mahler is as close as human beings get to expressing the ineffable, that God listens to Mozart in his spare time, and that Bach is history’s greatest genius.


  1. When I was younger, the girls I knew who were hooking up weren’t hooking up with guys like me. Guys like me were the ones they wanted to marry when they were thirty and had a kid or two from previous past failed relationships. Then, when guys like me balked at marrying them, they complained about men not wanting commitment and rushed off to vote for big government liberals who would give them rent subsidies, food stamps and other goodies (paid for by guys like me, of course). Unfortunately for them, they can’t extract many taxes from me because I stopped working hard and now just immensely enjoy my leisurely life while watching the welfare state slowly collapse.

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