Sorry, Hanna Rosin, but the sexual hookup has been around for a while.
An article by Rosin in the latest issue of the Atlantic blows the lid off the bold world of young, aggressive, smart women taking any man they want, indulging in pleasure and then throwing him out with the morning trash. The ritual repeats the next night or weekend, maybe with the same guy, maybe with a different one.
Women, she reports, have finally broken through the sexual glass ceiling and no longer need chivalry, wooing or even a cheap date to land in bed. They just want what they want — sex without complications or promises.
The only problem with this news alert: It’s been happening forever. The only difference? Women didn’t brag as much about it in the past. Social media didn’t exist to tag a one-night stand and cellphones weren’t around to text friends as said fling was happening. It wasn't proper to discuss sex in open forums, but now, that taboo has vanished for the generation that shares everything.
Rosin writes that this new culture is filled with “ubiquitous porn, young women so inured to ubiquitous porn that they don’t bother to protest, young women behaving exactly like frat boys, and no one guarding the virtues of honor, chivalry, or even lasting love.”
She adds, “To put it crudely, feminist progress right now largely depends on the existence of the hookup culture. And to a surprising degree, it is women — not men — who are perpetuating the culture, especially in school, cannily manipulating it to make space for their success, always keeping their own ends in mind.”
Throughout history, women — educated, smart, beautiful and savvy all in their own way — have slept with men on their own terms.
Attending college on the cusp of the 1990s, I knew girls who had goals aside from making straight A’s and keeping their scholarships. One wanted to sleep with the entire basketball team. She didn’t want to marry an athlete; she wanted to put notches in her lipstick case. She reached her goal and bragged about it to the rest of us in the dorm. Maybe she was ahead of her time, and maybe the basketball team was just lucky that social media had yet to be invented.
Another friend never pretended to be strait-laced in high school or college. Granted, her end goal was marriage, but she found plenty of men along the way. Men fell for her and she left them in her rearview mirror.
For decades, MTV icons like Madonna have bragged about treating men as women had been treated — as sex objects. She certainly taught a generation how to express themselves.
In 1962 when Helen Gurley Brown, who died earlier this month, wrote her book “Sex and the Single Girl,” the United States said a collective prayer for the decaying of society’s morals. But Brown had the courage to tell it like it was — she hooked up with men she worked with, even married bosses — and lived to write about it.
When she took over at the helm of Cosmopolitan magazine, Brown continued her sexual trailblazing. Women didn’t just read Cosmo and toss it under the bed. They studied the advice and lived it during the disco 1970s, the MTV-era 1980s, the rave-happy 1990s and into the conservative George W. Bush era. They slept with men. Gasp! But they weren’t always happy, and sometimes they paid a high price. (Remember the 1977 movie “Looking for Mr. Goodbar?” If you did, you can’t forget it.)
Rosin writes in her article that the women she interviewed often felt empty after a sexual encounter. They want more, and, not surprisingly, so do men. It’s human nature to crave attachment and love. One-night stands may be paradise for a nanosecond, but in the end, the high usually leads to a low.
Not exactly a news flash, is it?
Suzi Parker is an Arkansas-based political and cultural journalist and author of “Sex in the South: Unbuckling the Bible Belt.” Follow her on Twitter at @SuziParker.