a bird and a bottle


Wading In

college humor

The Times’ Thursday Styles today wades into the debate over Pulitzer Prize winner Laura Sesssions Stepp‘s book Unhooked. The book, which has already received a drubbing around the feminist blogosphere, argues that when college women “hook up” with men instead of dating traditionally, the women are harming their own ability to form lasting bonds later. For someone who calls herself a feminist, as the author does, her arguments sound suspiciously like Eric Keroack‘s.

A lot of the feminist frustration with the book has revolved around two issues. First, that the book reinforces outdated notions of men and women (it suggests that women bake and spend time with friends to avoid hooking up with guys and lead instead to dating, since men loved baked goods). Second, the book assumes that the desire to explore one’s sexuality and to exercise a vigorous libido is solely the purview of college-aged men.

Take, for example, what Sessions Stepp says at the end of today’s article:

Ms. Sessions Stepp said her goal is to retool, not reject, feminism. “Really, when you look at it, hookup culture is gravy for guys,” she said. “So how much are we winning?”

This is what gets me. Why the assumption that hookup culture may not sometimes be damaging for men and gravy for women? Sessions Stepp has done her research, and I have no doubt that there are times when college women feel disappointed the morning after a hook up, or the week after. But I also have no doubt that the opposite is equally true — for some college-aged women, particularly those with limited dating experience who are not desirous long term relationships, hooking up may be a good way to explore their own sexuality. College kids are not fully adults yet. Why, then, should we impose an adult style of dating and courtship on them?

The bottom line is this: Sessions Stepp’s book is aimed *only* at women and discusses *only* women. In doing so, it sends the message that we are still tied to outdated gender dynamics in which men always want sex and women always want affection. Just because it’s penned by a feminist doesn’t mean it is.

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[…] is why I was so excited to see this over at Slate in reference to this post: At a Bird and a Bottle, a feminist and politics blog, twentysomething New Yorker Bean trounces […]

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[…] could very well be a negative factor when a potential employer evaluates her candidacy. And while I disagree with the premise that a more casual sexuality can harm women’s later relationships, I do think that society […]

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