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I have this ring on my right middle finger.
It’s a peace sign that I originally wore on my left ring finger – you know, the finger associated with marriage.
2008 me was convinced that if Nick Jonas, the man I was destined to marry, was going to refrain from being intimate until marriage, so would I.
I held on to the notion that I would remain abstinent until marriage until I was 16.
I had my first real love, and suddenly my opinion of waiting until marriage seemed out of step with reality.
My feelings towards sex radically changed once I realized the importance of another level of intimacy in becoming closer to another individual, and while some choose not to have sex, I didn’t.
In my eyes, God (you betcha I believe in a higher power) created the body to enjoy his other creations, including sex.
I am a 20-year-old woman who has openly expressed on the internet that she is sexually active and takes pride in her ability to make the choice to be.
Is it just me or does it feel like I had a Carrie Bradshaw moment? You know what I mean, when she was typing away on her laptop in Sex and the City?
Psh, why do I even need to have a Carrie Bradshaw moment?
Well, level with me here because I’m not about to tell you about my sexual escapades.
I value the sanctity of physical intimacy, and I would never share details of an experience with a partner to another individual.
Instead, I think it is important for someone to be frank about sex in college because:
I am unable to trace back to where Western college culture changed so that the major aspect of social development was linked to sex.
Maybe it happened when women (rightly) claimed the entitlements back to their bodies; or maybe it happened when the media could openly sexualize relationships.
Whenever it happened, there was a dynamic shift in our understanding and appreciation of sex.
For the most part, the conversation surrounding sex is treated as much like the methods used to study for a test.
While I think it is truly wonderful that we can have open discussions about intimacy, there seems to be a series of unspoken rules about sex on college campuses in the United States, which I didn’t know about.
Have you ever heard the expression: “High school is all about how long can they date before they hook up? But college…college is all about how long can they hook up before they date?”
It is the most accurate depiction of college hook up culture.
Like I want to paint it on a canvas or get it printed on a flyer because it holds that much power over interpersonal relationships in college.
Don’t worry; Monogamy happens still.
I can tell you from personal experience, I am still struggling with my last heart-break.
But the purpose of this piece is not to talk about monogamy.
Rather, I want to bring to attention the issue that everyone is entitled to believe what they do and should be free from pressure to participate in something they find unsettling.
The results of these beliefs may not always host positive outcomes, but nonetheless the individuals will deal with the consequences as they are presented.
There is some beauty in being in a world where there is an understanding that you can sleep with whomever you want.
What is not remotely beautiful is the expectation that everyone participates in this hook up culture.
Allow me to offer a specific example.
If you, my dear reader, are not involved in Greek life, like the American high school homecoming and prom, fraternities and sororities host semi-formals and formals dances.
While sororities are expected to host their events within the city limits of their university, fraternities will go out-of-town for both events.
Just as sorority women can invite individuals involved and not involved in Greek life, fraternity men may do the same.
The fact that they go out-of-town means they must spend a decent amount of money to secure the hotel room and the nice dinner venue.
Their dates usually will make them a cooler or flask or craft something else catered to the taste of the gentleman.
Basically, the fraternity and its guests are all in for a weekend of all kinds of fun in a city, taking a pseudo-vacation.
Sounds great, right?!
Well, formal season is almost over, but if I hear anything else about fraternity men looking for dates, I will let you know.
There is one catch, though, the frat boy will probably be expecting you to have sex with him or at the very least fool around until he is satisfied.
Yeah, I would be a little taken aback too.
By no means are all fraternity men expecting this, and I have been fortunate enough to be asked on formals by men that identified with their gender assigned at birth that I was either seeing or very good friends with.
There was no expectation from me to do anything I was not comfortable with.
However, I have had approximately seven girlfriends come and speak to me about how uncomfortable they felt around their date because he seemed to hold this expectation that she would participate in the hook up culture.
Let me be perfectly clear:
It does not matter your gender identity, sexuality or combination of the two spectra.
If you invite an individual on some event, whether it be out of college or while you are in school, you do not have a right to expect something in return for the invitation.
I find it appalling and a reflection of the manipulative nature of our modern culture that the definition has evolved from something that used to mean to request someone’s presence at to a word that offers an incentive or opens the door to the likelihood of an opportunity.
This beautifully masked article has been another approach to aid those who still do not understand the concept of consent the entire time!
While I may choose to be free with my body, I still reserve the right to say no and be uninhibited by the expectation that I will use the pleasure intimacy can create to essentially repay a fraternity member with his choice to bring a date on a pricey event.
Don’t be afraid to go stag!
Or just don’t go!
Or better yet, take someone you may actually like!
So, while there is a definite beauty in an individual’s ability to choose to sleep with as many people as they want, whether they are being safe about it or not (which for the sake of everyone else I hope they are being), not everyone has to participate in this culture shift, especially when they are invited out to an event, like a date or a weekend getaway.
If you are interested in reading more about the hookup culture of today, I highly suggest listening to the Hidden Brain podcast from NPR published on February 14.
RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in the world. You can write for us.
Cover Photo Credit: Angie Chung