Double standard surrounds ‘hooking up’

While casual sex among women is more accepted by college students, there is still a stigma for women who “hook up.” There are pre-existing ideas in society of how sexuality is defined for both men

Maryline DossouWhile casual sex among women is more accepted by college students, there is still a stigma for women who “hook up.”

There are pre-existing ideas in society of how sexuality is defined for both men and women. For the man, casual sex is an instinct. After all, they are wild beasts with naturally ravenous appetites for a lot of sex with a lot of women, right? For women, there is an established dichotomy: the girl you take home to mom and the girl you take home for the night. These stigmas fail to acknowledge the complexities of human sexuality and now, more than ever, people are torn on how to receive sexuality, particularly in women.

A woman’s sexuality is as complicated as a man’s sexuality. We need to accept that to truly empower women.

It used to be simple: Men loved sex and there was nothing anyone could do about it. Promiscuity in men was chalked up to the old saying, “boys will be boys.” Women were virtuous and waited for the right guy to come along,  for casual sex, or “hooking up” anymore. Pappas added that the viewpoints are actually a lot more complicated than that, yet still comes to this conclusion that it is widely accepted. A recent study she cites from researchers at North Caroline State University surveyed college students about several scenarios involving relations between men and women.

The results showed that alcohol or “a moment of wild spontaneity” were reasons women engaged in casual sex. This does not show that female hooking up bears no judgment, it merely exemplifies that a woman’s sexuality is still defined on a man’s terms.

“One of the effects of recent media has been the conflation of sexual liberation with sexual objectification,” said Dr. Margaux Cowden, assistant professor of the women’s studies program. “So now we see a lot of ideas like the idea that ‘Girls Gone Wild’ is a form of feminism.”

Even at Temple, it is not uncommon to see guys and girls casually hooking up at off-campus parties. But while both the guy and girl have engaged in the casual sex, only one ends up becoming the victim of nasty gossip. On certain gossip sites, students can be seen badmouthing women who are supposedly promiscuous, while the men inquire about which girls are the easiest to get in bed.

We may be more aware that casual sex is prevalent, even in women, but that doesn’t mean we have come to accept women’s sexualities on the same level as men’s. We accept that women can indeed hook up, but we put a cap on how often they can do so. Once you’ve crossed a fine line, you’ve now entered “slut territory.”

In fact, the only female character in the media who comes to mind as being accepted, even praised, for her sexual liberation is Samantha Jones of “Sex and the City,” portrayed by Kim Cattrall. Her character is successful, professional, beautiful, sexually liberated, secure in her sexuality and extremely rare. While not every woman can be a Samantha, it is important that society relays the message that it is a possibility and it is OK.

“Being able to self-determine your sexuality is impossible in a culture that won’t talk openly about sexuality,” Cowden said. “So until we have a really open public conversation happening about sexuality and safe sex, about valuing one’s body, it’s going to be impossible to have real self-determined sexuality.”

Once we start accepting that a woman’s sexuality is as complicated as a man’s, we will be able to genuinely empower women to embrace their sexuality, be it mild or intense. For the time being, we are still unfortunately judgmental in our approach to women who “hook up.”

Maryline Dossou can be reached at


  1. Why is it not possible for girls in Girls Gone Wild – or porno in general – to not be feminist? There is nothing wrong for a girl to have a lot of sex. As a guy, I have a problem with guys saying “YO DUDE, I BANGED THAT CHICK LAST NIGHT”. The problem is with the advertisement and the “kissing and telling” rather than just being open about sex.

    I have two friends who are open about sex and have hooked up with guys. I disliked what one did because the guys she hooked up with didn’t care about her or how they treated her. I didn’t care about the other because she hooked up with guys who were nice guys.

    There is a difference and until guys, girls, fems and non-fems want to break out of the slut-stud paradigm of “sexuality” we’re not going to get anywhere.

    Sidenote: it is completely feminist if a girl chooses to do what she wants with her body. Having any gender tell her how she should control her body is sexist.

  2. Let me see if I can address your statements. First, porno can most certainly be feminist. Take the pornographic works by Tristan Taormino, for example. The point I make is that it is not feminist if it is being dictated by men.

    Of course men, in this day and age, will try to convince women that flashing themselves on “Girls Gone Wild” is on their own terms, they are the ones benefiting and profiting from it in the end. We have to be really careful to fall into those kinds of traps.

    I agree that women should absolutely be able to do what they want with their own bodies. Sometimes, however, they end up doing it for the wrong reasons. For example, it sounds like you’re one friend who hooked up with bad guys might have been doing it for the wrong reasons. The second friend’s situation sounds a lot healthier and perfectly fine. It’s clear that she knew what she was doing, and was therefore in total control.

    Again, sometimes women are convinced that what they are doing is on their own terms, when, really, it is not. I want to stress that it’s important to know the difference.

  3. What your article made me think about: In my personal experience and my vicarious experience through friends I have noticed that casual sex usually starts out as casual and then, if it continues with the same person, morphs into something bigger for at least one of the parties. I believe that women can have casual sex but I have yet to see an example.

    I like that you brought the Samantha character into the mix because what I have always taken from her character is that she is very committed to not being in a relationship and not getting married, unlike many of the women I know. I used to go out on the town in search for a casual satisfaction but feelings for the other person would always begin or the opposite would happen and in both cases the feelings were never mutual. I think that a casual sex relationship requires what planet Earth required to be created; the Earth began do to the perfect cocktail that just so happened to mix at the same time. I casual sexual relationship would have to be between the two perfect people at the perfect time in the perfect place for it to work out without any blood shed.

    I think casual sex is talked about often but what casual sex means is not talked about. Yes women can have casual sex and so can men but they have to ask themselves do they want to build a friendship with the person they are sleeping with or are they sleeping with them and that’s all? Are they okay with a casual relationship with a person who is sleeping with other people? Are they beginning to have feelings for the person that aren’t being returned? Do they really want a relationship and are they just calling it casual because they don’t want to scare the other person away or something like that? Sex is more complicated than “casual” a lot of the time.

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