The dominance of the market and utilitarianism over American culture has created a sexual lifestyle that rejects risk, intimacy, and depth. It has removed the fun and adventure from sex, and turned even casual sex with a new partner into a boring, mechanical, and idiotic experience. I’ve suspected that “hookup culture” is destructive to good sex after observing how little college students flirt, and after listening to some of the guarded, but honest comments students make about their sex lives.
Donna Freitas confirms my suspicions in her new book, The End of Sex. She conducted thousands of interviews to research her subject, and she determined, based on students’ own words, that hookup culture leads to bad and boring sex that leaves its participants unfulfilled at all levels.
In a new essay for The Atlantic, I review her book and give my own insight into hookup culture. The book review and essays allows me to put forward an argument that I’ve been making for a long time – “The most lamentable aspect of hookup culture is not, as some social conservatives would argue, that it will lead to the moral decay of a modern Sodom and Gomorrah, but that it is so boring.”
In a culture caught between puritanism and pornography, Freitas offers a third way to sexual independence and autonomy. It is a way for those of us who believe that conversation is often the best foreplay, moments of tenderness are more memorable than animalistic orgasms had without thought or emotion, and as I put it in the article, “The electrifying mystery of romance is powered by the surge of a smile from a stranger across the room, the heat generated by hands on an unfamiliar set of hips on the dance floor, and the sweet synchronicity of flirtation.”