I’ll never forget an article by Hannah Rosin, author of the book The End of Men, titled “Boys on the Side.” The article, which was simultaneously depressing and unintentionally comical, described the state of relationships and gender dynamics on college campuses.
She began by focusing on a typical couple: “The porn pic being passed around on the students’ cellphones at an Ivy League business-school party last fall was more prank than smut…One of the women had already seen the photo five times before her boyfriend showed it to her, so she just moved her pitcher of beer in front of his phone and kept on talking. He’d already suggested twice that night that they go to a strip club, and when their mutual friend asked if the two of them were getting married, he gave the friend the finger and made sure his girlfriend could see it, so she wouldn’t get any ideas about a forthcoming ring.”
(I know: talk about a charming guy! Where did Rosin’s interviewee find this winner?)
This is what the pornification of college campuses has wrought. On one hand, men now feel comfortable shoving porn in women’s faces (something feminists used to call “sexual harassment”), and women jump at the chance to go to strip clubs to show the guys how cool and sexually open they are. As Rosin said, “I found barely anyone who even noticed the vulgarity anymore.”
And yet there’s a prudish fear of relationships, intimacy, and falling in love. The men and women she interviewed had a borderline antagonistic view of each other. They all insisted they love sex acts of all kinds with multiple partners, but would never do something as stupid as fall in love with one of them.
While the article celebrated this culture as “an engine of female progress,” I couldn’t help feeling disgusted. The students came across as incredibly superficial, callous, and self-absorbed. If they’re typical, is it any surprise that a group of students at Yale published a public letter declaring that “hookup culture is fertile ground for acts of sexual selfishness, insensitivity, cruelty and malice”?
Luckily, the Love and Fidelity Network celebrated Valentine’s Day by encouraging students to think about the importance of love, not just sex.