Everywhere I turn it seems someone (usually someone older than 30) is bashing the so-called "hookup culture." And yet I know only a handful of people who don't somehow engage in it.
As I've come to know it, a "hookup" is a catchall phrase for a brief sexual encounter ranging from kissing to intercourse. "Subversive," "demoralizing" and "unfulfilling" are the terms most associated with the act. For women especially, the stigma is intense.
To the critics, I offer this: You are retrograde and narrow-minded.
In the 1960s counterculture, the idea of "free love" was conceived and immediately linked with promiscuity and deviance. But "free love" was much more than that. It never advocated unhealthy sexual relationships. Instead, it advanced the idea that love and sexual relationships should be free of government and religious jurisdiction.
"Free love" allows me to have this very job because it attempted to lift the taboo associated with allowing sex to be a normal part of public discourse.
Hookups today are similarly attacked for not falling within society's predefined courtship patterns.
I can't help but think there's more than one way to skin a cat.
For as long as I can remember, education has taught us there is no set way of doing things. Who's to say that our hookup culture is not making us more sexually savvy?
For me, hookups have been both rewarding and unsatisfying experiences. I have learned a good deal about myself sexually, have felt powerful and sexy by engaging in a sexual act for only the pure pleasure it brings, and have freed up time I would usually spend fostering a relationship, devoting it instead to my schoolwork and career aims.
At the same time, I have felt sad on some occasions when my hookup partner did not call me or when I craved a deeper emotional connection. But can't the same sentiments be applied to so-called "normal" relationships as well? There will always be favorable returns as well as disappointments in any relationship.
The basic question I see here is this: Can sex, or more broadly, sexual acts without love, still be gratifying? For me, the answer is a resounding yes. For others, that is not always the case - and that is perfectly acceptable too.
Maybe what's lacking in our culture's view on sexuality is an open mind for people who engage in both hookups and traditionally defined relationships.
As long as you are engaging in an act of your own free will while being safe doing so, is it really so harmful? Central to that equation is communication, which is the cornerstone to all relationships.
Perhaps I simply view "the hookup" as another item to be enjoyed on the sexual pu pu platter.
Like "free love" before it, hookups extol an important virtue: Love and sex exist in various forms, none of which should be judged or controlled.