Hook up culture leads to highs and lows

Casual sex can lead to both crushing physical reduction and fulfilling anonymity


Isabella Mason, Staff Columnist

Hookup culture provides all parties involved a really interesting perspective. If you engage in hookups, you’re probably sexually frustrated. If you don’t engage in hookups, well, you’re probably sexually frustrated too.

I say this with love, truly, from the deepest part of my heart: hookup culture sucks. It’s absolute garbage. I, fresh out of a relationship, may or may not have dipped my toes into the deep and murky Tinder waters. It was less of a love-finding experience and more of a science experiment.

Casual sex is at the core of hookup culture. In order for an experience to be categorized as a ‘hookup,’ typically, there is a sexual element to it, if not sexual intercourse as a whole. One fascinating thing I drew from my experiences, which I won’t go in-depth with because I’m pretty sure my mom reads my articles, is that those very things that make casual sex bad, are some of the things that make casual sex good.

Allow me to divulge a bit. In Adrienne Marie Brown’s incredible book about the politics of pleasure, Pleasure Activism, there is a chapter titled “The Highs, Lows, and Blows of Casual Sex.” Mind you, I read this book before heading into Tinder-land. In this chapter, Brown asks some friends and colleagues about what they think the worst part of casual sex is, and some essential notes came out of this chapter.

“The worst thing is, there is an element of not knowing each other, it leaves one open to vulnerability and to being harmed, at worst,” says one friend.

Agreed. Hookup sex is just that — casual, often empty and meaningless sex. For you, this might be great! For others, this could be the worst kind of sex possible. For some, this could lead to miscommunication, which can lead to serious traumatic events, or the transmission of sexually transmitted diseases, or, in our day and age, the transmission of COVID-19. “The anonymity promotes a lack of accountability,” says another friend in Brown’s book.

Hookup culture is a vessel in which people are allowed to exist as something other than what they are. If you’re a dork, but you want to not be a dork, then don’t act like a dork in your Tinder profile. The people I may or may not have hooked up with are people I know very little about — who know very little about me. Again, this could be great — what a breath of fresh air to not be known! It could also be terrible. Being anonymous allows you to get away with some pretty terrible things.

The things that make casual sex great, like anonymity, instancy and vulnerability, are the things that make it bad. So, clearly, it’s a balancing act. You can leave a hookup feeling empowered and on top of the world. However, oftentimes you leave feeling confused, bored and a little ashamed.

Hookup culture has been around for a long time, predating Tinder by a long shot. But technology has revolutionized it to the point where connection with another living, breathing human being is instant. Swipe right, match and invite them over. It’s that easy (especially if you don’t have fish pics in your profile) which is why it’s that dangerous.

I think I was left confused by the hookup culture when the communication between two individuals ceased as fast as it did. It’s within hookup tradition that when they leave your room, you two no longer know each other. It’s weird. It doesn’t make sense to be close enough with someone to be physically intimate, but not enough to say ‘hey’ in passing. But that’s what makes hookups great, right? No baggage.

I don’t think I’m built for hookups. I enjoy getting to know people, spending quality time with them, and being visible and vulnerable. Hookup culture reduces me to my body. I think I’ll delete Tinder.