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12-Jan-2020 13:19

In the spring of 2008, when I was a junior in college, I was sitting in the student center, waiting to meet up with a friend—let's call her Nicole—for coffee. And she started walking around with her eyes to the ground.Nicole was a freshman girl who had graduated from an elite northeastern high school at the top of her class. In the nine months that had passed since she first stepped foot on campus, she had become a different person. The lively girl I had known in the fall, who reminded me of so many freshman girls I had met as editor of a campus publication and vice president of my sorority, had recently been placed on suicide watch by the university health clinic. Not long after she arrived on campus in September, Nicole had started hooking up with a guy who belonged to one of the more popular fraternities on campus.In her Atlantic article "Boys on the Side" (September 2012), Hanna Rosin argues that the social progress of women depends on the hook-up culture.Women in their 20s and 30s are, for the first time, more successful than their male peers.As she explained to me over coffee that day, one night in the fall, she got drunk and ended up having sex with this guy in his dingy frat room, which was littered with empty cans of Keystone Light and pizza boxes.She woke up the next morning to find a used condom tangled up in the sheets.Women are better off in part because of the hook-up culture, the argument goes. On most college campuses, the hook-up culture is the norm; there is little to no dating.

This would not have been possible without sexual liberation, which has let women delay marriage and child-rearing to pursue their educational and career ambitions without worrying about the emotional burdens of a relationship.

But these are not the only alternatives to the hook-up culture, either.