Hookup Culture: Students are doing more than just homework


Elly Herrick

The most recent data on hookup culture from American Psychology Association states that 60 to 80 percent of college students have experienced a hookup.

Elly Herrick, Online Editor

For many college students across the world, good grades are not the only thing they are chasing. Hookup culture took America by storm in the 1920s and has persisted in our society for decades.

A hookup is an umbrella term for having sexual relations with someone in a casual setting without a deep emotional connection. The most recent data on hookup culture from the American Psychology Association states that 60 to 80 percent of college students have experienced a hookup. A hookup can be intercourse, oral sex, hand stimulation of the genitals and or kissing.

I made a post on the anonymous social media platform popular among college students, Yik Yak, asking students how they feel about hookup culture.

“It definitely isn’t positive,” One user with a blue scissors icon at the time said.“Nobody wants to be in actual relationships or develop connections with potential partners.”

Especially on college campuses, hooking up has become more normalized and talked about openly. In today’s media, sex and hookups are common stereotypes associated with the ‘college experience.’

 “Too many people just care about sex and getting pleasure for themselves,” blue scissor said. “If you’re going off hooking up with random people all the time sex loses all meaning then.”

Sociologist and professor at Tulane University, Lisa Wade claims that hookup culture is distorting people’s ideas of emotionally fulfilling sex, healthy expectations, and boundary setting. In one of her many surveys done with college students, she states that one-third of the students reported their casual sexual relationships being traumatic or hard to handle.

After a hookup happens, there are many ways to proceed. One can move on and act like strangers, engage in occasional booty calls, or start a relationship. In this stage, people can be confused about labeling what they are and where to go from a hookup.

“It sucks high key,” another Yik Yak user said. “I would honestly rather have someone that I can emotionally connect with rather than someone that I just have sex with. It makes me sad that all people want to do nowadays is [to] hookup, or at least it seems like that.”

While most of the responses were like this, there were some different opinions.

A detailed look at statistics on hookup culture. (Elly Herrick)

“It’s a cool thing to be a part of to be honest,” a second-year student using a green dragon icon said. “It’s helped me explore myself a lot even though I have things I still want to try.”

In a study surveying female first-year students, 71 percent said they had at least one benefit from their most recent hookup. These benefits included happiness, enjoyment, and increased self-confidence. 

In an article released in March 2021, college student Xenia Gonikberg wrote about the benefits of hookup culture.

“Overall, hookup culture has helped encourage people to talk more openly about sex and intimacy in a liberating way,” Gonikberg stated. “Young folks especially feel more comfortable exploring our sexual interests, so by the time we decide to enter committed relationships, we confidently know what we want.”

While hookup culture persists consistently on college campuses today, consent plays a huge part in if a student engages in a hookup.

“Don’t feel pressured to date and have sex and go to parties,” a pink army hat Yik Yak user said. “College is about having fun and finding yourself and that doesn’t have to be about getting shitfaced and fucking some random guy who refuses to give you the time of day afterwards.”

The use of liquid courage is a common resource in partaking in a hookup. 50 percent of college hookups, ​​not with a steady partner, happen after the consumption of alcohol. This can be a daunting statistic because when alcohol has a role, consent can be mistranslated. 

One in five woman report being raped while in college. Women are more likely to get raped while participating in hookup culture. In a study surveying 100,000 male undergraduate and graduate students, 9.5 percent of men reported sexual assault which is about 9,500 male students. 

After sitting down with a first-year student who preferred to remain anonymous, but will be called Jay Doe for this story, it is clear that hookup culture has affected Winona State students.

“It’s really cool that people feel liberated and empowered by having sex and that’s something no one should be shunned for or feel ashamed about,” Doe said. “Sometimes I feel like as a virgin I’m missing out and that my experiences aren’t good unless I wake up in someone’s bed the next morning.”

While it’s a good outlet for exploration and sexual liberation, some people, such as Doe, feel like hooking up is the only option.

“Sometimes I feel like I don’t belong,” Doe said. “But I know hookup culture is culturally constructed and people shouldn’t be judged for how many or fewer partners or hookups they had. Everyone has the right to do whatever they want with their body, and as long as it’s consensual and healthy, who cares!”