“A must-read for any student—present or former—stuck in hookup culture’s pressure to put out.”—Ana Valens, Bitch
Offering invaluable insights for students, parents, and educators, Lisa Wade analyzes the mixed messages of hookup culture on today’s college campuses within the history of sexuality, the evolution of higher education, and the unfinished feminist revolution. She draws on broad, original, insightful research to explore a challenging emotional landscape, full of opportunities for self-definition but also the risks of isolation, unequal pleasure, competition for status, and sexual violence.
Accessible and open-minded, compassionate and honest, American Hookup explains where we are and how we got here, asking, “Where do we go from here?”
Wade, a professor of sociology at Occidental College, reframes the conversation about casual sex on college campuses today with a sharp, canny report on how hookup culture has become a new norm of American campus life ("It's more than just a behavior; it's the climate"), and why its sexual dynamics should be cause for concern. Wade includes firsthand accounts from her research subjects (her students from the two American liberal arts colleges where she's taught), who report in fresh and candid language on their experiences. She groups them into "abstainers," "dabblers," "strivers," and "enthusiasts." Both the media and the students themselves overestimate how much sex is happening on campus, and this leaves those who aren't having sex (intentionally or not) feeling left out. The price of the perception, Wade notes, is high: the entrenchment of gender stereotypes, insistent heterocentrism, punishing competition among women for male approval, and the prevalence of sexual violence. Wade writes engagingly, and the research is historically grounded (though the history is sketched swiftly and with broad strokes); her conclusions won't surprise anyone, but the numerous student voices she includes set her book apart from others on the topic.