When Hookup Culture Was Just a Toddler
American Hookup by Occidental sociology professor Lisa Wade explains a lot. Like hookup culture’s early beginnings.
I’ll hit a few highlights. For more check out her book or an excerpt in Time.
College students in America’s colonies were typically middle class men (and only men) who wanted to enter the ministry.
By the end of the 18th-century things had shifted. By then, most college students were wealthy young men seeking a diploma to validate their family wealth. They were very different from the humble and obedient ministry students who were their predecessors.
This new breed were all about bucking authority and bolstering the social hierarchy that privileged them. As Prof. Wade put it,
The men who started frats lauded the skills they believed would be useful for winning in this life (not the next). Instead of humility, equality, and morality, fraternities promoted status, exclusion, and indulgence… and hierarchy.
Fraternities isolated them from “blue skins” — their slur for the middle-class they looked down on. As one nineteenth-century frat boy put it, “I am an aristocrat. I love liberty; I hate equality.”
Since these wealthy men didn’t need to make a living they flaunted their wealth by insulting their hard-working middle class peers as “grinds.” The “elite” men were all about having fun — which eventually included sexual conquest.
Before the 1900s, when women were still not admitted to universities in large numbers, frat brothers mostly had sex with poor women, prostitutes, and women whom they had even enslaved (!) Since these women were not their social equals, having sex with them was no great achievement.
But once colleges became coeducational, getting women to have sex with you — when the double standard punished them — was seen as a great accomplishment.
And there you have it. Hookup culture’s early beginnings.
No wonder so many see it as unpleasant and even dehumanizing today.