By Amberly Richardson
Eyes squint as the lights in the bar go on. Last call for
alcohol was announced 30 minutes ago and the squinty eyes scan the
scene for one last hope at finding Mr. or Mrs. Right Now.
A new culture has risen from the early hours: the “hookup
culture,” an alternative many college students are using as a
substitute for committed relationships.
Hooking up ranges from kissing to intercourse and from a
one-time occurrence to a reliable option.
“The culture definitely exists,” said Dr. Gil Brum, a human
sexuality professor who voluntarily speaks at the dorms to students
about safe sex practices.
Students tell Brum sex is treated very casually and he stresses
to them the implications of these careless relations.
“The research supports that the freshman year is the most
dangerous time for getting sexually transmitted diseases and
getting pregnant,” said Brum.
Freshmen experience freedoms that did not exist before college.
Suddenly, parental restrictions have been removed and there is
greater access to alcohol, which is a factor in hookups.
“There is a direct link between casual sex and consumption of
alcohol,” said Brum who has noticed the difference in attitudes
between the freshmen he speaks to in the dorms and the
upperclassmen in his human sexuality course.
“[Students in my class] have come to a maturity level, where
they want to value the relationship more than hooking up and having
Brum thinks most people’s ideal is a long-term relationship, but
they fall victim to the current culture.
From magazine racks to billboards, Southern Californians are
exposed to a lot of sexuality and the media plays up the idea that
it is cool to be sexually active, according to Brum.
The media may also play a role in why women have become
increasingly open about their sexual affairs.
“I think people share their sexual experiences to see if it’s
common,” said Sarah Kharrazi, a second-year hospitality and
restaurant management student. “It’s your way of testing ‘am I
However, Kharrazi does not think the media should be used as a
scapegoat for the current hookup culture.
“The media helps younger generations think hooking up is OK, but
if they have commonsense they should be able to figure out things
on their own and the media should not be blamed,” said Kharrazi,
who has a different explanation of why people hookup.
“Most people hook up because they have commitment and trust
issues and don’t want to settle down,” said Kharrazi.
She is now in a committed relationship, but Kharrazi’s brother’s
unfaithfulness to his girlfriends guided her previous decision to
substitute hookups for relationships.
Kharrazi has friends who have built relationships after a
hookup, but she said the relationships never last long.
“Usually, if you hookup with someone on the first night, they
don’t respect you enough to date you,” said Kharrazi.
Some have seen how hookups can lead to regret.
The number one reason young adults experience regret after a
hookup is because the act disagrees with his or her morals,
according to a 2005 study on sexual regret in college students.
The second is the influence of alcohol, followed by different
expectations from each partner, of what the hookup means or what
the hookup will lead to.
Men and women approach sex differently, according to Brum. Women
have sex to build intimacy and tend to have more regret after a
These same women have more options than any generation before
them. Many have made the choice to defer marriage until after their
The estimated median age at first marriage in the United States
for 2000-2003 was 27 and 25 years old for men and women,
respectively, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
Birth control is one reason why women are waiting longer to get
“As birth control has become more accessible, [young people] are
using condoms less, but condoms protect you from most STDs,” said
Amberly Richardson can be reached by e-mail at
firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (909) 869-3747.
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