Noted speaker on college hook-up culture to lead discussion Friday

Chance Swaim

Pleasure, meaning and empowerment — three things students want most from their sexual encounters, but for the most part, aren’t getting.

In a recent study on freshmen students, the average college student has somewhere between four and seven different “hook ups” during their four years in college.

Lisa Wade, professor of sociology at Occidental College and founder of the website “Sociological Images,” will give a presentation Friday on sexual encounters on college campuses based on studies she has conducted about students’ sex lives. The presentation is titled “Sex, Rapture, Resistance: What Students Really Think About Hooking Up.”

Wade is famous for her research and commentary on the sexual culture of college campuses; she recently appeared on MTV. The presentation will take place at 6:30 p.m. Friday in Room 209 Hubbard Hall.

Through her extensive research, Wade has come to several conclusions about college students and sex.

“Students feel like they’re supposed to have casual sex, as opposed to having the option to have casual sex,” Wade said. “That can cause people to not want to participate at all.”

Wade defines a hook up as a casual sexual encounter, including intercourse, oral sex, making out or any other encounter sexual in nature.

“The problem is people feel it’s imperative to hook up on a college campus,” said Wade. “They’re nervous and they don’t know what the rules are, so it’s hard to stand up for and negotiate these situations.”

Wade said hook up culture on college campuses is heterosexist, and laden with gender inequality. She said women suffer more than men sexually, becoming more dissatisfied and experiencing less pleasure. Women, Wade said, are more likely to get a bad reputation for having sex.   

“Of all the social inequalities that we have in the United States, sex and gender are unique in that they require people who are positioned differently to be intimate,” Wade said. “That makes for an interesting dynamic in looking at how gender inequality works.”

Wade said most students look at casual sex as a game with winners and losers. Part of the problem with that view, she said, is that it leaves one or both partners dissatisfied.

The hook up culture on college campuses creates a barrier for students who want to enjoy casual sex, Wade said.

“Part of the problem is everyone assumes they know what everyone else wants, so nobody ever asks anybody what they want,” Wade said, “but if there were different options for being sexual on college campuses, students could not only choose, but they would feel more empowered to talk to each other about what they want.”

If you go:

Sex, Rapture, Resistance: What Students Really Think About Hooking Up

When: 6:30 p.m. Friday

Where: Room 209 Hubbard Hall