By Hermione GrayUPDATE: This is from one of my comments on the original thread, responding to Joe Carter...
Poor Charles Blow. It must be hard to produce a fresh and entertaining column for the New York Times on a regular basis, even if he does only publish on alternate Saturdays. Today’s column critiques the Millennial practice of “hooking up” and the supposed death of traditional dating, which has, of course, been done to death. Blow offers nothing new, but to briefly recap: “Girls get tired of hooking up because they want it to lead to a relationship (the guys don’t), and, as they get older, they start to realize that it’s not a good way to find a spouse.”
Critics of hooking up rely heavily on the unsupported myth that women are more interested lasting romantic attachments than are men. But according to a 2003 survey of 12,000 men and women, Nearly 66% of men, compared with 51% of women agree with the statement, ‘It is better to get married than go through life single’. Moreover, women file two-thirds of all divorce suits, although men are only slightly more likely to be accused of infidelity and allegations of physical abuse are rare.
If most people of both genders want to be married eventually, why has dating given way to hooking up? I think that the so-called “hook-up culture” is the natural result of a cultural shift that has permitted men and women to form more and deeper platonic attachments: as fellow students, as work colleagues, as good friends and confidants. The ritual of traditional dating – in which you took an attractive near-stranger to dinner in order to get to know her better – was popular in an era of gender-segregated colleges and workplaces, which offered few other opportunities for meaningful interaction between the sexes.
Blow cites a 2006 academic paper with findings that reflect my own experience: people usually hook up with friends rather than strangers. While it seems true that men experience, on average, fewer downsides to purely casual sex, the hook-up culture may encourage more rather than less responsibility. After all, you will see a friend again, especially if you have many mutual friends. While sex between strangers does happen, I’d argue that today’s paradigmatic hook-up partners know each other better than a typical 1950s couple on a third date at the drive-in movie theater, and are more likely to be on speaking terms a few months later. A finding from the Centers for Disease Control perhaps supports this view: today’s young people are having less sex than their elders despite the hook-up dynamic.
It’s ironic that the rebellious Boomer generation has reached the stage of life at which they can be found bleating, like their elders, “Social change is ba-a-d!” But love, as Richard Curtis reminds us, remains all around, whatever its complex and evolving forms.
And I guess, in the end, I simply feel that sometimes even more can be gained from a piece like this than lost. After all, sometimes the most valuable argument is the one we have to argue against. I, for one, find the “hook-up” culture morally shallow and just overall very sad. I think leaving the post up and commenting on it would have been a valuable contribution to this site, if only to allow those of us who disagreed completely with it to be able to air our thoughts and make our case.