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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Column: What does hook up culture mean for millennials?

College students today are members of Generation Y—aka the millennial generation—and Generation Z. We are constantly criticized under the lens of generations who came before us for being less capable of emotional connections or genuine relationships.

But just because younger generations take different views from our parents and grandparents on physical and romantic relationships does not necessarily make our views wrong.

College-aged young adults are creating a “hook-up culture.” Hook-up culture can encompass anything from casual sex to open relationships. Older generations tend to view these behaviors as a result of not being able to form real, emotional or trusting bonds with partners.

That is the most prominent misconception about hook-up culture. Millennials and the generation after them do not choose these nonchalant arrangements as a last resort; It has just become the more common choice for its convenience and how much more realistic it is than committing to a full-fledged relationship.

There are many factors contributing to young people’s avoiding serious relationships. For one, young women around the world prioritize careers over family life more now than ever before. In 2012, 17 percent—a new high—of men and women in America aged 25 and older had never been married.

For millennial women who chose to maintain a career while also having a child, 58 percent said being a working mother makes it harder to get ahead at work. Only 19 percent of millennial fathers, on the other hand, reported having a child made it harder for them to advance in the workplace.

This relates to another factor contributing to the appeal of noncommittal ties to young people: living in the midst of the third wave of feminism. While we are unable to foresee the entire effect of this, one thing is clear — there has been an enormous push for women’s independence in nearly every facet of life and popular culture.

Women are bombarded with messages of pursuing financial independence by paving their own career paths and of taking control of their reproductive independence with the growing attention toward birth control and abortion issues. They are also encouraged to put their sexual interests ahead of their partner’s for probably the first time in the history of patriarchal society. These messages are being transmitted through current music, art, retail and many other trailblazers of popular culture.

Hook-up culture should not be criticized for encouraging promiscuity in young people; rather, it is just one of the ways young people have found they can enjoy life while still prioritizing other areas of their life over personal relationships. There is nothing wrong with doing that in college, either. After all, many people come to college to eventually get a job and start a career. That is where a student’s focus is meant to be, not in finding a potential spouse in their 400-person lecture.

Older generations’ argument that we are more promiscuous than they were is false. The age at which both men and women lose their virginities is on the rise and the percentage of teenage girls who are sexually active is declining.

Committed, monogamous relationships undeniably require extra time and effort. It is not wrong for young people to choose to put off this work in place of their education and jobs until they are ready for all the challenges a relationship will bring – and it will bring them.

There are, of course, benefits to monogamous relationships as well, but younger people today are starting to realize other endeavors in their lives can give them fulfillment too. It all comes down to personal choice.

Whether young people choose to participate in hook-up culture, a serious relationship or none of the above, it should be because they chose to, not because it is what anyone expects of them. 

Follow Jessica Suriano on Twitter.

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