Friday, March 29, 2013

Undergrads: Underloved or Just Under Grads

An article in the G&M today expresses concerns with the "hookup culture" of university students.   There's a big fear that casual sex will create "a drastic divide between physical intimacy and emotional intimacy," and that people will see human bodies as disposable and "become incapable of creating 'valuable and real connections'."  The author goes on to quote researchers who have concerns about the quality of the sex as well.

I think there's a bigger problem that they've missed:  the connection between physical intimacy and emotional intimacy to begin with.  That fact that we see love primarily as a romantic connection between lovers, keeps intimacy from being part of less intense and exclusive relationships - even hookups.  We've created a false dichotomy between true love and nothing at all to the extent that some people, so concerned to clarify their lack of romantic intention, end up acting like jerks to partners in a  temporary encounter.


Some people will never accept that sex can be acceptable or valuable on its own - for whom "sex for the sake of sex" is unqualifiedly less satisfying than "real desire." I've come to believe that, for some people, the notion that sex is an expression of lasting love is so ingrained and part of their belief system, that it just can't be otherwise.  But there are others out there, likely more male than female but clearly not necessarily so, that see value in sexual expression completely outside of loving relationships.

Whatever works.

If we can come to a place of accepting that, for many, sex doesn't need loving desire to validate it, and if we can divorce love and intimacy from sex, then maybe we can have more non-sexual love.  And, as a corollary, maybe people could be less concerned about kindness and respect being mistaken for romantic love that they can treat others with care even without envisioning a future together.  As it is, people fight with themselves to differentiate the "real" and illusory relationships instead of allowing them all to sit on a continuum.  If we can have casual sex without a "walk of shame" in the aftermath, then it could become easier to ensure it's always respectful.

We can care without being in love.  People can still have "the incentive to go out of their way to make each other happy" for the sheer sake of having a positive effect on another human being even if it's for the ego boost that comes with being skilled at private entertainment techniques.

But that brings us to that final concern a few women raised in the article: can casual sex be good sex?

A couple of male voices in the article made it clear that there are few negatives for them.  That's not just the double standard of slut/player status.  It's also a reality that, in male-female relationships,  male satisfaction typically requires a female presence.  But female bodies are less understood.  I was going to write "more complicated," but that's not really the problem.  Women's bodies are still so widely misunderstood that it can require longer relationships to unbrainwash males from porn and mainstream sex scenes.  But this can be a non-issue during the briefest affairs if only partners have the barest modicum of concern for one another.

The problem with hooking up isn't the casualness of the sex or the lack of committed love when none is really expected, but the casualness of exploiting and using another without assuming a standard of reciprocity for having had the pleasure.    

1 comment:

Thoughts? It's easiest to comment with the Name/URL option - then you can pick any name and leave the URL blank if you prefer.