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Interesting Thoughts Related to Dissecting Hookup Culture

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As modern society progresses, the taboo surrounding discussions of sex remain unclear and leaves behind confused adolescents. As short term relationships’ relevance becomes more apparent in our world, its ambiguous nature confuses our innate need to develop meaningful relationships. Looking past the arousal of acceptability of hook-up culture will reveal many disadvantageous discrepancies between men and women, neural circuitry that damages trust adaptations in humans, and a trend of reluctance to properly communicate and educate oneself hook-up culture impels the diminishment of meaningful relationships, allowing for harmful stereotypes to smolder to further an imperfect society.

A cultural revolution centering around a social shift towards an acceptance of hookups unintentionally elicited a harmful disparity between the happiness of women opposed to men, smothering and suppressing female empowerment within any and future relationships they may have in an already male-dominated society. Detailed in Justin R. Garcia’s article, “Sexual Hook-up Culture”, for the American Psychological Association, a study conducted in undergraduate women were found to have higher rates of mental distress. Garcia notes that “more women than men hoped that a relationship would develop following a hookup”, directly contrasting with the following quantitative study where “only 4.4 percent of men expected a traditional romantic relationship as an outcome”. The incongruity Garcia is referring to are subsequent emotions resulting from a short term relationship, collectively shared by many individuals alike. The mensurable data depicting the difference for the participants’ future romantic involvement rendered two conflicting and distinct apprehensions of what one wants.

A disconnect in wanted versus received romantic feelings prompts an unhealthy relationship consisting of unreachable expectations. As women who partake in these sexual encounters fail to meet those expectations, mental distress will continue to fester while they enter a relationship where their feelings are not reciprocated. Women that become increasingly attached to their significant other will result in an increase in emotional vulnerability. In the event that attachment increases, confidence will dwindle as their projected feelings are not coinciding with their partners, which Garcia discovered within his findings. Given the alignment of a meaningless social structure of a man’s perceived temperament versus a woman’s, social norms enable men to be rewarded for multiple hookups, but penalize women for doing the same (Allison). Coupled with the wrongful sexual double standard, the “still lagging acceptance of women’s entitlement to sexual activity and pleasure …results in women’s experience of disrespectful treatment by their partners, shame, regret, and diminished sexual pleasure [orgasm-gap]…” (Lovejoy). With consideration to today’s society, the perpetuation where women are repeatedly undermined will not only negatively impact their emotions, but will become a damaging normalization of what they are wrongly discerned to be from hookups: needy and insecure. The pursuit of an uncommitted relationship with “no strings attached” only gives rise to a disdainful, contemptuous society that disacknowledges the fundamental human rights women deserve. A culture which favors men over women will only result in the further degradation of women in a preexisting unbalanced society.

Casual sexual relationships unintentionally facilitate the degradation of women as it discreetly favors males. Lucy Napper, a professor at the University of Sheffield that focuses primarily on health and psychology, reports that Differential Item Functioning (DIF) studies revealed women frequently report poor psychological well-being, predominantly depression. Due to hookups, females are compromising their mental health under the false hope that hookups will be a positive experience. Likewise, men and women have different situational triggers that prompt them to partake in hookups, for example, when asked about what factors encouraged participation in hookups men often cite “social environmental reasons such as increased status and popularity”, whereas women cite “interpersonal reasons such as hoping their casual relationship/experience might evolve” (Dulmen). According to the findings Napper and Dulmen observed, women are given the impression that engaging in casual short term relationships will bring instant joy, but are unaware of the heavy toll it takes on their wellbeing. Although this may not be the case for all hookup experiences, its occurrence in many is enough to be very alarming. In a society where the status of women is trying to transcend past previous prejudice, it is damaging to the livelihood of all women if they are treated as a pawn in order to upraise a man’s status. Even more concerning, author of “Exploring the Influence of Hookup Culture on Female and Male Rape Myths”, Matthew Valasik, became troubled when an emergence of the acceptibility of rape culture was associated with the acceptibility of hookups. Rape culture is the belief that how a woman acts or portrays herself is the determinant to sexual assault, which is not true. The rise of a false belief is severely damaging to the well-being of women as it paints them in a negative light under already much adversity.

In relation to couples and their interactive reciprocity, hookup culture diminishes the value of meaningful relationships due to neural circuitry within the human brain. In other words, formation of romantic attachment releases oxytocin to signify deeper trust, which is unavoidably present in hookups. A UCLA medical doctor explains in an article titled “Studies Show Negative Effects of Hookups” by Jenna Barratt that an excessive release of oxytocin causes people to minimize the faults or shortcomings within their partner. This became increasingly concerning since the oxytocin released during hookups was positively correlated to anxiety and distress later on found in future romantic couples (Schneiderman, et. al). Correspondingly, Dr. RenĂ© Hurlemann, a Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Oldenburg, ruled that the oxytocin system is affected by a disruption that short term relationships can cause; she reveals “social isolation precipitates anxiety and depression behaviors in monogamous voles” due to the unpredictable cycle in the levels of oxytocin. The inevitable disruptions are proven by scientific knowledge to be unfavorable to humans in their quest to establish meaningful relationships. Engaging in unnecessary hookups for instantaneous happiness, creates an even bigger problem for today’s society– a diminishment of true sincerity. To live in a world without sincerity is detrimental to our existence as individuals become unmotivated and lackluster will become the expected.

The irregularities coinciding within hookup culture triggers unhealthy hormones and can compromise one’s health. In an article for Sex Roles, Shmuel Shulman and Sophie Walsh revealed that following a study of 122 and 219 adolescents, increased sexual activity from hookips causes a lower level of authenticity in realistic romantic relationships. Repeated interactions entail more sexual health risks if no protection is used because of the greater sense of trust which prompt discontinuation of protection at future interactions (Vrangalova). This type of behavior corresponds to the alarming data of the data Jon Krantz found in his article “STDs, Mental Health Risks Ignored by Students • The Tulane Hullabaloo” that “sexual transmitted diseases have skyrocketed in comparison to other decades, leading to 20 million new cases of STDs every year.” The prevalence of uncommitted relationships is fostering careless and harmful practices that prompt the dispersal of STDs. Although those with sexually transmitted diseases will not be impaired from finding a loving partner, it is highly possible that within our imperfect society, stigmatization will follow to those who contract. On the other hand, sexually transmitted diseases such as AIDS can be potentially life threatening and is even more dangerous if individuals are not having safe sex and unknowingly administering it. The existence of hookups are dangerous due to the potential it has to encourage unsafe behaviors that can lead to life-threatening disorders and diseases. On top of this, the dissolution of relationships compromises people’s well-being and lowers authenticity.

The normalization of pluralistic ignorance in today’s society shapes hookups into a culture of ill-informed rumors and toxic behaviors. As the “dominant sexual script” on campuses, hookup culture holds the power to pressure peers to engage in sexual freedom in order to explore their sexuality. However, despite common belief, “…college students believe their peers are hooking up significantly more than is actually the case,” says Laura Klinger, an Associate Professor at Grand Valley State University; Klinger calls the widespread belief that hookups determine popularity on college campuses a “paradox” due to the reason that several studies exhibit the dissatisfaction of many individuals when asked about their behavior in regards to hookups. Klinger discovered that undergraduate students at Grand Valley State University revealed relational communication within hookups was found to be difficult because of four reasons: undesirability, stigmatization, unwritten boundaries, and maintenance. Also, the necessity to engage in relational talk is crucial to the success of all relationships, but may be especially salient in the management of FWBR primarily due to their ambiguous nature (Konstam). The perceptions of hookup culture is significantly disparate from its reality, proving it to be completely devoid of proper communication. The avoidance of communication due to the unspoken required limitations produces dysfunctional relationships where boundaries are not well articulated, prompting the failure of friends with benefits type relationships.

The absence of an articulation of concerns from hookups lack the specificity individuals need to distinguish in future romantic relationships, dampening the success of their relational scripts. Discussions of sex hold an inapropiate levity in American culture that prevents helpful discussions about an indivudal uncertainty, however, this is the opposite in Dutch parenting. According to Dr. Varda Konstom, former professor at the University of Massachusetts, Boston, compared to Dutch teenagers, teens in America are more likely to fall to peer pressure in regards to hookup popularity because of a proper education of sex and the nonexistence of open discussions. On average, only 1.8 hookups occur a year on college campuses, remarkably fewer than what is expected by students (Napper). With its occurrence in today’s society, it is important to analyze the trend of a reluctance to educate oneself in regards to a natural phenomenon hookups inhabit. Hookups have the ability to perpetuate misconceptions and wrongful assumptions of sex within fragile, vulnerable adolescents. Likewise, misinterpretation of short term relationships can set off a domino effect; to exemplify, “In the case of injunctive norms, perceptions of others’ approval of a behavior often shape an individual’s own attitudes, which in turn influence their own behaviors,” (Garcia). As ambiguity suppresses maximization of happiness and satisfaction, miscommunication of actuality is only a catalyst that incites the need for emerging adults to fit into a useless narrative.

The sense of possibility and unprecedented freedom gives hope to many individuals to engage in hookups, oblivious to the harm it could cause. Hookup culture has become a concerning and dangerous trend within today’s imperfect society, spurring unhealthy behaviors, judgements, and statuses. We can not endorse a culture that only creates harm and suppresses good.

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