Hookup culture dominates the lives of college students today. Most students spend hours agonizing over their hopes for Friday night and, later, dissecting the evenings' successes or failures, often wishing that the social contract of the hookup would allow them to ask for more out of sexual intimacy. The pressure to participate comes from all directions—from peers, the media, and even parents. But how do these expectations affect students themselves? And why aren't parents and universities helping students make better-informed decisions about sex and relationships?
In The End of Sex, Donna Freitas draws on her own extensive research to reveal what young men and women really want when it comes to sex and romance. Surveying thousands of college students and conducting extensive one-on-one interviews at religious, secular public, and secular private schools, Freitas discovered that many students—men and women alike—are deeply unhappy with hookup culture. Meaningless hookups have led them to associate sexuality with ambivalence, boredom, isolation, and loneliness, yet they tend to accept hooking up as an unavoidable part of college life. Freitas argues that, until students realize that there are many avenues that lead to sex and long-term relationships, the vast majority will continue to miss out on the romance, intimacy, and satisfying sex they deserve.
An honest, sympathetic portrait of the challenges of young adulthood, The End of Sex will strike a chord with undergraduates, parents, and faculty members who feel that students deserve more than an endless cycle of boozy one night stands. Freitas offers a refreshing take on this charged topic—and a solution that depends not on premarital abstinence or unfettered sexuality, but rather a healthy path between the two.
Freitas, a novelist and assistant professor of religion at Boston University, wants "young men and women of all sexual orientations to have great sex if having sex is what they want." If it isn't, she's cool with that too. Her newest work of nonfiction (after 2010's Sex and the Soul) is a scathing and reasoned attack on the casual-sex culture at American universities, which is marked not by free love, but by pressure to have as much sex with as little emotional connection as possible (and often while drunk). Through interviews and demographic surveys, Freitas constructs an anthropological survey on what hooking up and dating (or its absence) look like on campuses today. She lays out convincing arguments against this harmful kind of sexual culture one that degrades women to the status of objects, and consigns men to a life of constantly assuaging sexual anxieties but her advice is rarely scolding or prudish. She encourages mindfulness and an open dialogue about what students want to get out of sex, and her remedies (which include temporary periods of abstinence and a return to the traditional date) should provide, if not solutions, at least inspiration for parents and college staff in talking to students about how to have better relationships, and better sex. If that's what you're into.