April 3, 2013

Regarding Donna Freitas’s March 31 Outlook commentary, “Time to stop hooking up? (You know you want to.)”:

Having graduated not so long ago from college (University of Virginia, ’07), I was distressed by Ms. Freitas’s article discussing undergraduate students who are “emotionally dulled or depressed about sexual intimacy and romance” in the American hook-up culture. Ms. Freitas suggested students “take a break from carefree sex” or even “embrace dating” to develop a romantic attachment to someone before engaging in sex.

Indeed, one might “take a break” from sex for a weekend, or even a semester. But would Ms. Freitas find it strange that I and many hundreds of my classmates at U-Va. abstained from sexual activity for our entire academic careers?

That’s not to say we didn’t enjoy college life: We played varsity sports, formed college bands, studied abroad and even had parties where alcohol was served. Rather, we understood that sex separated from marriage and an understanding of its beauty as a “self-gift” to another becomes shallow and empty, an objectification and manipulation of another person for one’s own self-gratification.

Instead of “taking a break” from sex, college students need a grander vision of sexuality: that it is less a form of entertainment and more an act of love signifying unity and openness to life.

Casey Chalk, Fairfax

How bleak was the culture described in Donna Freitas’s Outlook commentary on college students “hooking up,” which was often characterized as boring, unemotional and obligatory. What about words such as “love” or “values”? Perhaps consideration of these fundamental concepts might have helped experimenting college students who flounder while seeking “happiness” — another word notably absent from the piece. One wonders about the basic framework of values instilled by students’ families in the years preceding college.

It is particularly sad to read this commentary about youth on Easter Sunday, a time of optimism, joy and celebration for most people.

John Monahan, Alexandria