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American Hookup: The New Culture of Sex on Campus

by Lisa Wade

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1094246,743 (3.71)None
The hookup is now part of college life. Yet the drunken encounter we always hear about tells only a fraction of the story. Rising above misinformation and moralizing, Lisa Wade offers the definitive account of this new sexual culture and demonstrates that the truth is both more heartening and more harrowing than we thought. Offering invaluable insights for parents, educators, and students, Wade situates hookup culture within the history of sexuality, the evolution of higher education, and the unfinished feminist revolution. Using new research, she maps out a punishing emotional landscape marked by unequal pleasures, competition for status, and sexual violence. She discovers that the most privileged students tend to like hookup culture the most, and she considers its effects on racial and sexual minorities, students who "opt out," and those who participate ambivalently. Accessible and open-minded, compassionate and brutally honest, American Hookup explains where we are and how we got here, asking not "How do we go back?" but "Where do we go from here?"--Jacket.… (more)
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Showing 4 of 4
A disturbing but important read. ( )
  pollycallahan | Jul 1, 2023 |
I thought a good book if you are interested in American College-age Sexuality questions and culture. I think Wade paints an unnecessarily grim picture of today's college students, although she starts by qualifying that the following chapters only apply to a small percentage of college students, and ends by indicating most of the students she collected data from grew up fine after their 1st year of college. Wade describes many students and their situations by using a first name, and these names return in subsequent chapters. For me, it's confusing. I don't remember the specifics from the first mention, so when the name returns several chapters later, the context is ruined. I would have liked to have heard from Wade some information and statistics about how having a major affected some of her students vs. not having a major. ( )
  Jeff.Rosendahl | Sep 21, 2021 |
*I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review*

Lisa Wade's book is well-researched and really details college students' thoughts and feelings towards hookup culture. Most of what she has written was applicable to my college experience about ten years ago, with the difference now being the bigger impact of social media making it seem like everyone is living a crazy college lifestyle. Definitely a thought-provoking read for everyone. ( )
  JaxlynLeigh | Jul 29, 2018 |
Maybe because I seemed to always have a boyfriend or maybe because I went to a commuter university and did not live on campus, but hooking up is not something I really engaged in. I can remember one instance when I was an adolescent when I met a boy camping and we fooled around a little, but that is the extent of my hookup experience. Hooking up is one of those behaviors that I know exists mostly through reality television shows. Until I read this book, I was not fully aware of how pervasive this practice is.

As an instructor, Wade assigned her students to write in journals all that they wished to share about sex and romance of themselves and those around them. From these journals, she relates anecdotes about how these students experience sexuality on campus. Using these stories and additional research, she is able to provide a picture of the current state of hooking up in a non-judgmental and approachable way.

She does not see any harm in hookups in and of itself. However, she does see that the practice often reflects inequalities in society at large in ways that are harmful to the social structure and to individual psyches. There is quite a bit of game-playing and pretending to like or not like others that is inauthentic. There is a general lack of romance and the sex is often not very rewarding, especially for women as shown through the lack of men’s interest in women’s pleasure. Gender inequality is also exposed through the focus on women’s sexiness and past sexual experiences. There continues to be far too many instances of sexual aggression and sexual assault victimizing women.

As a reflection of the general culture, heterosexual white men are still benefiting the most. This culture places those who engage with it on hierarchies in which men compete against each other to bed the most desirable women and women compete with other women to be the most desired. The author stresses that it is not the hookup that is a problem, but the culture that surrounds it. She concludes:

"We are all in the fog. We face an onslaught of sexualized messaging designed to make us worry that our sex lives are inadequate. There is an erotic marketplace off campus, too, and it is distorted by prejudice, a fixation on wealth, and a shallow worship of youth and beauty. For certain, there is an orgasm gap between men and women outside of college, and the practices that enhance sexual encounters – communication, creativity, tolerance, confidence, and knowledge – are scarcer than they should be. We all tend to look to men for approval while valuing women’s opinions too little. Sexual violence is epidemic everywhere, and unfortunately anyone, male or female, can be cold and cruel (p. 248)."
1 vote Carlie | Mar 9, 2018 |
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The hookup is now part of college life. Yet the drunken encounter we always hear about tells only a fraction of the story. Rising above misinformation and moralizing, Lisa Wade offers the definitive account of this new sexual culture and demonstrates that the truth is both more heartening and more harrowing than we thought. Offering invaluable insights for parents, educators, and students, Wade situates hookup culture within the history of sexuality, the evolution of higher education, and the unfinished feminist revolution. Using new research, she maps out a punishing emotional landscape marked by unequal pleasures, competition for status, and sexual violence. She discovers that the most privileged students tend to like hookup culture the most, and she considers its effects on racial and sexual minorities, students who "opt out," and those who participate ambivalently. Accessible and open-minded, compassionate and brutally honest, American Hookup explains where we are and how we got here, asking not "How do we go back?" but "Where do we go from here?"--Jacket.

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