Friday, March 28, 2008

Makes sense to me.

On this Friday when I'm absolutely buried beneath paying work (and thus bereft of spare time to drum up anything original), I submit for your consideration, courtesy of regular Mike Cane, the winner of the "oddest book title" award, given annually in the U.K.:

If You Want Closure in Your Relationship, Start with Your Legs.


Apropos of same, I offer, also, a piece that runs in my local paper today, The Morning Call; it's your host's sardonic take on the latter-day phenomenon of "hooking up."

Have a good, safe, SHAM-free weekend, if we don't talk again before Monday....


Anonymous said...

Dr. Laura called and she wants her title back.

Anonymous said...

The hooking-up phenomenon has caught me by surprise, to put it mildly, and I've still not recovered. As a mom of one college student and another kid to become one soon, I was blissfully unaware of what went on. It took another mom, who is a college prof herself, to inform me -- and she, in turn, learned about it, to her non-ending horror, from her friend, whose daughter is very much into the hook-up trend and, get this, both parents not only do not see anything wrong here, but encourage it.

It does make me gasp -- and feel very old. But before I let myself get on the easy-moralizing jump wagon, I gotta say that when we were young (ah...) things were not that much different, were they? It's just that our generation was not as open about it and perhaps we still nursed (all those wonderful and much needed, imo) inhibitions. Not today's kids -- or so they kid themselves.

Steve Salerno said...

Well, you know, the irony here--and I do recognize it as such--is that it sort of appears as if I'm blaming girls for wanting to act with the same libidinous excess that boys have demonstrated (and with very little censure from society, frankly) for centuries. I'm reminded of someone's response (and I wish I could remember who, because it's classic) to the fact that campuses nationwide are congratulating themselves b/c stats on date rape are tracking sharply downward in recent years. "Of course the stats on date rape are going down," goes the quote. "You can't have a rape if no one ever says No anymore!"

And see, that's a topic I very much struggle with, even as an advocate of sexual individuality--by which I mean, I don't think society should have an "authorized" stance on sex and sexuality; if it works for the people involved, that's good enough for me. Still, at least in the old days, the fact that girls felt obliged to say "no," even if they didn't always mean it, kept things from getting truly out of hand (from a public-health standpoint as well). If girls are now just as bad as boys have always been, to the point where they're the ones actually initiating many of these ad hoc that really OK? (That's not rhetorical. I'm asking.)

sassy sasha said...

i just read the article steve and also your latest comment right as i was typing this and wow, for somnebody i though was pretty cool you do seem up tight and yes *very* sexist!! why is this a bad thing b/c girls now have equal sexual rights? where were the compalints and letters to the editor when only boys were getting the benefits, using girls like disposable sex toys one to the next with no conscience at all? so now girls enjoy that same type of life if they want and suddenly oh its such a terrible thing! wake up steve! you're on the wrong side on this one.

Anonymous said...

Oh, but Sassy Sasha, this is just a bit of unintended sexism, mind you;)


Watch out, Steve, your biases are showing again. Grab the cloth.

Steve Salerno said...

Elizabeth, I've got the cloth on as we speak...but correct me if I'm wrong, did you not, in your comment just previously, voice similar concerns? And--inasmuch as we know that boys have pretty much always been this way--wouldn't those concerns, then, in some part, stem from the newfound spirit of liberation on the part of girls? So maybe you're not being as overt about it, but don't we share some of the same concerns?

Better grab a piece of cloth for yourself, too, ya think? ;)

Anonymous said...

Steve, I am already fully covered, as you'll see in a moment. :)

Sassy Sasha says:
"why is this a bad thing b/c girls now have equal sexual rights? where were the compalints and letters to the editor when only boys were getting the benefits, using girls like disposable sex toys one to the next with no conscience at all?"

Totally agree with you, Sassy, on this point. But I also think that hooking up is not really about sexual equality as such, though it may seem so to those who champion it. To me, it is about promiscuity of both sexes -- and this does not necessarily have much to do with equality (though I know it's debatable).

I'd say that what's bad for the goose is bad for the gander -- i.e. sexual promiscuity is, well, bad for you (and I don't mean you specifically, of course, but all of us human beings) -- boys and girls alike. I do not want my sons to engage in it any more than I would my daughters (if I had them) (this sentence sounds weird, but you get my gist). I talk to my sons about it and they know where I stand -- though what they do is their decision, admittedly.

Part of my thinking is my being hopelessly old-fashioned, another part equally hopelessly romantic -- and another fearful. And yet another, just experienced. We are talking about the most intimate and powerful contact possible between human beings. No kidding. And, sigh, yes, we are talking about love -- and whether young (or old) people want to admit it or not, sex is about love. Detaching it from emotions leads to problems, which may not be immediately apparent, but which will shape the human being you become. There is just no way around it (in this one old woman's head, at least:). Boys and girls alike; let's not fool ourselves that this is only women's problem here.

(Wrapping herself in blankets with her old, wrinkled hands, and sipping herbal tea.)

Anonymous said...

As you say, Steve, I guess we're seeing the end result of widely available birth control meeting widely available technology. But it seems like the human element--the ability to relate to others, to enter relationships--is getting lost, and the exchange itself is becoming more mechanical in the literal sense--more machine-like. Then again, perhaps in our era of extended adolescence, these meaningless hookups provide an emotional time out that allows people to wait to enter into real relationships until their emotions have had more time to catch up to their sex drives. As long as they can remember how to relate when the time comes!

Anonymous said...

Where have people been? This type of behavior has been happening for a while now. Doesn’t anyone remember the 70’s or 80’s? When I was in college in the 90’s, girls did this as well as guys. We did not call it “hooking-up,” but dating without the date. We used protection and were careful, which is my biggest fear. Maybe “men” will start closing their legs with all these “free” women around. Isn’t that an interesting thought?

Anonymous said...

Sex may still have strings attached. I am sure there are boys and girls who fall in love when it comes to sex. When you play with fire, don’t be surprised if you get burnt. I remember after my divorce having a series of meaningless affairs or so I thought. They were fun for me, but not to some of the men I slept with. I was in my late twenties and few guys got their hearts broken. I do not feel bad, because I was honest with them about my intentions or lack there of. They were not honest with themselves about theirs.

Anonymous said...

What we're facing here, even in the comments, is the legacy of political correctness vis-a-vis the rise of Feminism. This was always scummy behavior, no matter who was doing it. But once women's causes became so prominent, and now that women apparently have claimed the right to be just as scummy as men always were, we're not allowed to call them on it. This really goes back to your whole thing on race and racism, Steve. Everybody concedes that slavery was horrific, and certainly a lot of what went on in this country prior to the reforms of the 1960s and later was almost as bad. The problem is, what blacks do today in the name of "racial pride" is really no better--and what guys like Rev. Wrong scream from the pulpit is almost as horrific as the mentality that supported slavery itself. But again, as with women, we're not allowed to call him on it, at least not as vocally, because for PC reasons we have to be oh so sensitive to minority rights. Otherwise we're racists or "sexists" as several people called you here.

Anonymous said...

Roger, I agree with you that this (the hook-up culture) is the legacy of feminism and I also agree with you that this (promiscuity) is "scummy behavior" in general.

But I would say the pendulum swing toward liberating women from the stiff corsets of unfair and oppressive social mores was necessary and inevitable, even with all the problems it entails. Until very recently, women had no real opportunities to express their sexual needs in a way that would allow them free choice in this (or any other) matter.

Now they do, and whether we like it or not, it is what it is. My feeling/guess is that the situation will evolve as the hook-up generation become parents. I think the imbalance will correct itself, and I hope this correction will include a more universal acknowledgment of personhood in both women and men when it comes to sex and relationships in general.

The way I see it, a view that advocates responsibility for upholding social mores and standards of behavior (or anything else) as applicable to only one sex is biased. And biases, we all have'em. Pointing out our biases is nudging us toward acknowledging the reality that exists beyond our particular field of vision, which is always limited by who and where we are.

I did not call Steve a sexist; just commented (humorously, I thought) on what appeared to be a bias in his reasoning. And to Steve's credit, he is willing to entertain opposing views and possibilities.

What's more, I do not think anyone stops you (or Steve, or anyone else) from commenting on what you see when it comes to women or anything else -- I don't think anyone has done it here? But I would say, again, that when we believe that it is only women's responsibility to keep up the moral virtues of the society, we are regressing to Dark Ages (with the stakes and stonings not that far away, just see what happens to women who do not adhere to their sexual/moral codes in Arab countries and not only). Been there, done that, and it did not work all that well for all concerned. Especially not for women.

We also need to tackle the demonized specter of feminism here. Feminists are people of both sexes who believe that women matter as much as men do, which means they deserve the same rights to education, employment, equal pay, political voice and representation, as well as -- perhaps first and foremost -- the right to make sovereign decisions when it comes to their bodies and reproductive choices. That's all.

Anonymous said...

New Zealand

And here I thought it was just a Kiwi Thing.


Anonymous said...

Ah, and I guess they're more careful in New Zealand?

America: 1 in 4 Teen Girls Has Sexual Disease

Chad Hogg said...

I have not been a regular SHAMblog reader, but felt compelled to respond to today's Morning Call editorial. I was a college student just 4 years ago, and have continued to participate in that culture as a graduate student since that time. In my (admittedly limited) experience, reports about the sexual exploits of college students are greatly exaggerated in Mr. Salerno's column and elsewhere in the media.

My circle of close friends while an undergraduate would not make a good sample of the population due to shared value systems, but even among many acquaintances I found behavior of this kind quite rare. While I may have been in an unusual subculture, I ate most of my meals in the communal dining hall and never found it be "buzz with relevant chatter". That is not to say that the average college student is not sexually active, but that in most cases sexual activity occurs within long-term relationships. If I had to guess based on my own experiences in college culture, I might say that 25% of students are interested in random "hook-ups". I would be interested in reading the Stanford study and Journal of Sex Research article, if you would please provide full citations for them. From my perspective, every generation seems to have a moral panic about young adults doing more or less the same thing that their parents did.

Technology certainly changes the way people communicate, but I am not convinced that it has a significant impact on behavior. It may not have been your intention, but your editorial at least suggests that becoming someone's "friend" (as you put it) on a social networking site such as Facebook is laden with sexual meaning. I am sure that some people use the service with this in mind, but it is certainly not the typical case.

As someone who hopes to enter the academic profession within a few years, I am much more concerned by the entitlement philosophy demonstrated by the story with which the article starts. For someone who is in a classroom, it is usually fairly obvious that there are (at least) three kinds of students: those who are there because of a thirst for knowledge, those who are there because they have been told it is the ticket to a high-paying job, and those who are there because it is the thing you do after high school. The rise of the number of students in the second, and especially the third category, is a serious problem that higher education is going to have to face, rather than continuing to delight in expansion.

Steve Salerno said...

Chad, thanks so much for taking the time to weigh in on this issue. I would only remind you that your anecdotal experience cannot necessarily be presented as a microcosm of the situation, nationally. I would take serious issue with the fact that only 25% of today's college kids indulge in indiscriminate "mating," and that the rest save the sex for committed relationships. That runs counter to everything I hear/read; the "only in committed relationships" part in particular is the very antithesis of the hook-up culture that, according to all evidence, dominates today's campuses (and is gaining traction in high schools as well).

As to your greater area of interest, you may wish to take a look at the following two pieces, which I wrote for the
Los Angeles Times
National Review Online.

Steve Salerno said...

Chad, try this link for the Times piece. I think the other one is broken.

Chad Hogg said...

I readily admit that the evidence I have to offer is purely anecdotal, and thus close to worthless, but I had not considered that the larger communities in which I participated were not representative of the nation. There may be some merit to that, so I'll be clear that my experiences are at Ursinus College, a small liberal arts school in the Philadelphia suburbs, and Lehigh University, ranked (apparently) as the third greatest party school in the nation a few years ago.

The other articles you posted are spot-on. I am sorry to say that I have seen first-hand that, in the arts and humanities at least, getting and keeping an academic job is all about politics. I am fortunate enough to be working in the field of computer science, where toeing the party line is much less important, but where who you know still manages to be often as important as what you know.

Regarding your L. A. Times article, I recall reading a very interesting recent study that found a negative correlation between a person's ability in some area and their perception of their ability. Unfortunately, I seem to be unable to find any reference to it at this time.

Speaking of which, do you have those citations?

Steve Salerno said...

Chad, try this for the Stanford study, by sociologist Paula England, and this: "No Strings Attached: The Nature of Casual Sex in College Students," The Journal of Sex Research, August 1, 2006, by Catherine Grello, Melinda Harper and Deborah Welsh.

Steve Salerno said...

Chad, once again the links are not publishing correctly in blogger, but here's the URL (which you must connect into one line with no spaces when you actually paste it into your browser):

Anonymous said...

This is from the NZ article referenced by Mike:

""There's a new kind of mating ritual sex is the point of entry into the relationship." If the first-up sex wasn't any good women weren't prepared to waste their time progressing the relationship."

That's exactly how my in-the-know friend described the approach to me -- girls just don't want to "waste time" on boys who are lousy in bed.

And the below is interesting too:

"Men are also feeling the impact from the new sexual tactics being employed by women. The Sunday Star-Times' Being a Bloke survey last year found that 29% of the 5000 men surveyed felt they had been pressured into having sex or had had sex unwillingly."

Does it not change our perceptions of the well-established "truths," like, for example, "boys have always been like THAT" (meaning sexually promiscuous and happy-go-lucky in matters of casual sex)?

The legs-closing advice is an equal opportunity piece of wisdom.