I read a lot of articles bashing "hook up culture" — its a term du jour, kind of like "menage a trois" was in the 80's — but this term unlike the latter, is not associated with being sex positive and it's usually not written about in a positive light.
We live in a society where it often seems like we are moving forward and backward, simultaneously.
We have things like "slut walks" all over the country, and many women reclaiming the word slut while addressing issues which are detrimental to women's health as well as the right to choose such as anti-abortion laws. We have movements such as the fourth wave feminism movement where women around the world are speaking up about inequalities against women, rape and sexism. We have men marching in high heels (walkamileinhershoes) to demonstrate against gender equality. and sexual assault on women. While also suggesting men are a big and important part of the feminist movement, we have the Dove ad campaign, and many others have popped up since, which encourages women to take back their body and embrace all shapes and sizes, and not feed into media's obsession with thinness.
But it seems like with every step forward, we are met with someone who is angry, disappointed and wants to blame someone for something. All the while we have propaganda which is anti-abortion, we have bullying, subtle and sometimes not so subtle “slut shaming”, and mass shootings which seem to indicate something terribly awry in the messages we are sending.
Since I am a big believer and supporter of the ongoing sexual revolution (yes, ongoing because we still are definitely fighting on this one), one of the things that catches my eyes these days is the shift to online dating, and this whole "hook-up-culture." This idea has popped up as a result of all the choices and freedoms we have which come with the plethora of dating websites, apps and all people out there who now have access to it simply with a click or swipe on their smart phones. Let me be clear, I am not only fascinated with it, but I do support a culture that supports freedom of choice. And hook-up-culture has always been around, we are now just more keenly aware of it, as it is at our fingertips.
But let me clear something up first, I don't necessarily think endless amount of choices are great, unless we can handle them and set our own boundaries, morals, standards and values. I am not saying the smorgasbord of dating revolutions are the enemy, but I am suggesting that the ability to discard something because it simply is not perfect, is not the answer either.
I have also recently read several articles as to why the hook-up-culture is a myth — the premise being that no one really enjoys casual sex, and the art of dating is a dying art, being belittled by suggesting it has been replaced by hook-up-culture, and of course the subtext: hook-up-culture is a bad thing. One article that I read specifically about dating, and while the author was probably initially looking for a decent woman who does not play games, (communicates directly), or for a good relationship which doesn't end in pain, loss or grief (most of anything meaningful might also be painful when it ends, a part of life) decided to bash the entire notion of online dating, and hook-up-culture.
And yes, while dating in today's world can be downright frustrating, I think we can get around it without having to generalize. One article which suggested, by looking at statistics (which we know are never based on true samples anyway), that hook-up-culture was mostly a myth because most women felt shameful or cheap after a one night stand. Yes, biologically speaking there is truth that the powerful "love drugs" are at play, and a lot of women's shame at being used, or feeling cheap, comes from a long history of "slut shaming" in our culture.
Women are conditioned to believe hooking up is bad. And, in all actuality, it wasn't until very recently, that sex before marriage was considered okay. So, yet another example of moving forward, but not quite as fast as these dating apps want us to.
So I say in general, "hook up culture" gets a bad rap, and is done so by "slut shaming" women under the guise of research and science that suggests that women are not hard wired to have one night stands. I don't believe it. I only believe it in the sense that it goes back to the same argument of monogamous vs non monogamous.
If monogamy falls on one end of the continuum and non monogamy falls on the other end of the continuum, then each individual is predisposed to one thing over another. And, at the end of the day, it all boils down to choice. I don't believe women are more predisposed to monogamy while men are more predisposed to non monogamy.
What I do believe is that sexuality is fluid. It evolves with us at each stage of our lives. Sometimes our life may call for monogamy, sometimes it may call for serial monogamy, sometimes it may call for various non monogamy and sometimes it may call for hooking up. Let's try not to bash one another for the varying points of our lives which may differ from each other.
Let's not try to blame nor point fingers when someone's needs don't match our own. What might help us, of course, is more communication, which we'd might see more of if we knew people weren't going to judge us for our choices. In this ever-changing world of endless choices and changes, sometimes it can be hard to know up from down, and bottom from top.
So, I've come up with a short list to help you stay focused in this vast world of dating, to have a more healthy and meaningful way to date by means of respect for yourself and others so that dating can actually be a peaceful and enjoyable experience. And of course, should you choose to hook up, you're not doing so blindly.
1. Be honest with yourself: This is basically knowing what you want out of dating. I am not talking about what qualities or what type of person you are looking for, but rather your long term goal. Do you want a long term relationship? A traditional marriage with children? A good friend to hook up with, who is also respectful, honest, communicative and shares your passion for travel? I am serious about this one. What exactly are you looking for? What do you see for yourself? Where do you see yourself in a year, 2, 5 years? It's not about the ideal person, it's about the ideal relationship(s) for you.
2. Be steadfast: Basically, don't back down from what you want. Go for what you want from the start and it will be yours, maybe not tonight or this week, but eventually. In other words, always keep your eye on the prize. It's your life, you get to create it however you want.
3. Let it be known: COMMUNICATE it. Basically, don't play games with your dates/partners. So, you want sex, but not sure if he/she is going to be the long term partner type? It's okay. Don't let ye olde adage of getting into the sack be something "dirty," "sinful" or "shameful" get in your way. In this day and age, dating means getting intimate, having sex, what have you, with strangers. How else are you going to know if he/she will be good for you short or long term? Figure it out, and let them know exactly where you are at.
4. Revisit your goals: Our wants and desires change with each passing day, moment and minute. We are constantly evolving, growing, flowing, and ebbing, so check in with yourself. Do you want to keep dating? Maybe you met someone and your initial idea of hooking up only needs to be revised. Maybe you need to take a break. I like journaling, writing, exercising to clear my head or talking to a therapist, fleshing out feelings, emotions which can cloud long term goals.
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