Rather than morally condemning college students for promiscuity or telling them to treat romance with the detached analysis of the headhunter, she is promising them that better sex-more fun, excitement, and intensity-is available if they only invest more of themselves than their genitals into the experience
Freitas’s work is important because it offers a third way toward sexual independence and autonomy in an America caught between Puritanism and pornography.
It seems legitimate to wonder if feminism has unwittingly equalized the sexual playing field to allow women the freedom to behave with as much recklessness as men, as Ariel Levy argued in Female Chauvinist Pigs
» « While being sexually active is the norm for students, » she claims, « the sex itself becomes mechanical as a result of so much repression of emotion. » She goes onto argue that « college is supposed to be a time when young people get to let go of repression » and that doing so would enable young people to experiences sex that is « good, empowering, and pleasurable. »
The importance of Freitas’s message and the urgency of her purpose overshadow the dubiousness of her proposed solutions. She recommends that professors incorporate discussions of hookup culture in their English, sociology, psychology, and philosophy classrooms, and she also suggests that parents take a more active role in steering their children away from participation in the hookup lifestyle. Eighteen-year-olds removed from the restrictions of their home for the first time are probably not eager to accept advice from their parents on when and how to sleep with their classmates. The corduroy jacket-wearing literature professor with a white mustache probably won’t have much of an influence either.
The other flaw in Freitas’ book is that she gives feminism a pass, even while acknowledging that many feminist writers have welcomed the destruction of the traditional date, because such courting rituals « propped up patriarchy, » as one feminist critic quoted in the book put it. The benefits and advantages of feminism are obvious to any reasonable and moral person, but every ideology has a dark side and every action has unintended consequences.
Professors and parents can intercept these questions, but most college students will probably ignore their answers. Pop culture is in the best position to reframe the romantic approach of teenagers and 20somethings. The shift from the sensuality and sweetness of Smokey Robinson and Motown to the aggression and misogyny of Jay Z and hip hop is one of many pop cultural changes indicating how entertainment reinforces and shapes hookup culture. Freitas convincingly demonstrates how Sex and The City, despite its flaws, depicted sex as fun, exciting, and pleasurable, while Girls equates sex with misery and boredom. It is difficult to determine how much pop culture influences the lives of young people or how much the lives of young people influence pop culture, but a rescue from the mechanical tedium of the hookup Baton Rouge escort sites seems most likely to arrive on the television, movie screen, or in song, if it ever arrives at all.
Too many young Americans might be too busy and blinded by monetary goals and financial pressures to notice such a rescue, regardless of the form it takes. The prevailing lifestyle choice of Americans seems to be to live as torpedoes. You have a launching point and an ultimate destination, and nothing is going to distract you from your pre-planned course. As The End of Sex shows, and as even Hanna Rosin’s defense of hookup culture reveals, sex is dangerous and subversive to the torpedo mindset because it should involve risk, commitment, and depth. Most threateningly, it could lead to love.
I teach literature courses at the University of St. Francis just outside of Chicago, and I’ve noticed that students rarely even flirt on campus (a big change since I graduated college in 2007). Freitas told me that she ends every course she teaches with a plea that students, in future classes, « try to look up from the laptops and various devices once in a while, to notice that there was a professor talking to them, and potential friends and romantic partners sitting in the room with them. »