Mayhem of the Antihookupites

        3/5/07


It happened again this morning.  No, not the dream about going to Manderley (that was last night), and not passing that one dude on the stair (that was yesterday).  This morning, over a banana and muffin (hey, my breakfast is a double entendre!), I once again saw something on a daytime pseudo-news show that pissed me off so much I had to do an essay about it.

Did you just give the person sitting next to you 10-1 odds that it was about sex?  You win.  Also, why are you and another person simultaneously reading an article on the same computer and betting on it paragraph by paragraph?  That's weird.

The story this time was an exposť of sorts about “hooking up” — which, as any young person will tell you, is the term that replaced “making out” sometime in the early ’90s, or, as apparently any old person will tell you, is a terrible new phenomenon that is certainly not exactly the same thing they did when they were kids, and which needs to be shit-fitted out of existence before it does irreparable damage to the self-esteem of the space-time continuum.

Ooh! My self-esteem is showing!

The first pre-commercial lead-in was “do casual hookups scar young women for life?”  Okay, no reason to be enraged so far.  After all, maybe they’ll say “no, of course not,” right?  That would be fine.

The second teaser reestablished that “today’s young women” are “hooking up,” and then asked “…but does it doom them from ever finding true love?”  What the fuck?  Yes, it dooms them from ever finding true love… because it prompts a sinister wizard to put a curse on them.  WHAT KIND OF LANGUAGE IS THAT FOR A GROWN-UP TO USE?!  

In the last teaser, despite the fact that it was clear by now they were talking about college students, they changed it to “what are the consequences when your child engages in casual sex?”  So this is a scaring-parents thing?  Scaring parents with the fact that their 22-year-old children might be having sex?  OF COURSE YOUR 22-YEAR-OLD CHILDREN ARE HAVING SEX!  DO YOU THINK THEY’RE RETARDED?  YOU WOULD HONESTLY BE HAPPY IF YOUR CHILD WERE RETARDED, WOULDN’T YOU, HYPOTHETICAL VIEWER?

But I try not to get too angry before the segment even starts — or I would try, if I were ever wrong about where it’s going.  The panel consisted of the show’s host plus two women who’ve each written new books on the subject:  Laura Sessions Stepp, author of Unhooked: How Young Women Pursue Sex, Delay Love, and Lose at Both, and Amber Madison, author of Hooking Up: A Girl’s All-Out Guide to Sex & Sexuality. 

When I saw that there were two guests, I assumed that one was a Liberal and the other a Conservative.  After the first one spoke, I said “Oh, that must be the Conservative.”  Then the other one spoke, and I said “No, wait, that must be the Conservative.”  Finally, after one of them had gone on about “empowerment,” and the other had gone on about how “hooking up” is different from the “free love” that “we” had in the ’60s, I said “Holy Fuckface, Mother of Shit — they both think they’re Liberals.”

But the discussion certainly wasn’t liberal by any definition of the term that I’m willing to countenance.  It seemed to be accepted a priori that girls don’t ever really want casual sex, and the panel proceeded directly to the questions of why girls are engaging in activity that they don’t really want to be engaging in, and, of course, how this can all be stopped.

It wasn’t about not wanting girls to get STDs, because STDs weren’t mentioned (and this actually constituted the high point for me, insofar as it was refreshing for once not to hear an ansy justifying their rhetoric with surrogate arguments about STDs).  It was just about sex, and how it’s bad — for girls.  

One panelist alleged that girls only “hook up as a result of being afraid of relationships.”  Excuse me, but how is this Liberal?  Saying that girls can’t ever just be horny like normal people, but always have to be all about relationships?  The entire discussion was framed in terms of empowerment or lack thereof — something along the lines of “young women think hooking up is empowering, but it really isn’t” was said approximately 756 times.  Well, no shit, it isn’t empowering — but, you know what else?  It doesn’t have to be.  Think about it:  do boys play video games because it’s empowering?  No.  Boys play video games because it’s fun.  And so is fucking.  The only true empowerment will come when women feel free to act based on what they just fucking feel like doing, same as boys, rather than feeling as if their every action must constitute a political statement made on behalf of their entire gender.  Wanting to fuck isn’t a consciously mapped-out political act; it’s just wanting to fuck, because you’re a mammal and you’re horny (cf. Gang, Bloodhound).

There was plenty of acknowledgement of — which is not to say insistence upon — the reverse: that boys have emotions too; that boys want to get married too; etc.  But no acknowledgement of the existence of simple female horniness.  Not one — and I listened for it very carefully.

Statistics like “3/4 of college students have hooked up by their senior year,” “the average college student hooks up seven times,” and “Over 88% of women have had sex by age 24” scrolled across the bottom of the screen — is that supposed to be shocking?  Are we supposed to react by thinking that something needs to be done about that?  I mean, aside from something to help that poor 12% of women who haven’t even gotten laid by the age that Paul McCartney was when the Beatles recorded Sgt. Pepper and the age that Keats was when he wrote, you know, everything, because then he fucking died.

You heard it from the people who are trying to help you, girls:  by the time you are the age that some of the greatest creative minds in history were when they created some of the greatest art in history, the most important thing about you will still be whether or not you have sex.

I should probably stop here and mention that, after doing further research about the panelists, it seems that Amber Madison is actually way cooler than Laura Sessions Stepp.  Madison’s book is aimed at high-school girls, and is more like (much-needed) sex advice than finger-wagging (although some of the advice does include “finger wagging,” if you know what I mean).  But the fact remains that I was surprised to find this out, because she didn’t really come off that way on the show.  The segment as a whole was pretty unambiguously a juggernaut in the direction of “girls should not hook up because it is bad for them.”  So if this isn’t a statement that Madison would agree with — as it does indeed seem that she wouldn’t, in all the other media I could find about her — then why did she allow herself to be pushed that way on the air?  Maybe the producers were pushing the alarmist angle, or maybe Stepp just did most of the talking.  I don't remember, and I don’t have the show on tape.  I realize that I could actually read their books if I wanted to learn more about the differences of opinion between Madison and Stepp, but this essay isn’t a review of their books — it’s a reaction to a segment on a TV show that featured them, and that segment was indeed beyond asinine.

Meredith Vieira sexy legs in pantyhose and high heels
53-year-old morning-show hosts can still
hook up though, right?  Because holy shit.

The panel discussion was intercut with quick-edit footage of college-aged women being asked questions about “hookup culture” (i.e., culture at all, for anyone who isn’t old).  I wasn’t sure what to make of their responses.  Whatever the entirety of the answers may have been, the footage was pared down to statements like “yeah, usually alcohol is a factor.”  Okay:  a) you know what else “alcohol is a factor” in when you’re in college?  Fucking everything.  And b) as a million people have already pointed out until they were hoarse, girls have to drink first even when they know beforehand that they want to hook up, so that they can use being drunk as an excuse to people who are waiting to call them sluts — many of whom are other girls.  You want to stop college girls from getting drunk before they have sex?  Tell the ugly ones that they’re not allowed to call the hot ones sluts anymore.

Stepp kept insisting “I’m not against sex; I’m for romance.”  But here’s the thing:  yes, you are.  If you are saying — or even coming close to implying — that people should only be having sex with someone they love, then you are in fact “against sex.”  That is what “against sex” means, no matter how much armchair-psychological or lite-feminist language you couch it in.

And another thing:  I thought the anti-sex feminists were the same people as the “there are no differences between men and women” feminists — but doesn’t their rhetoric presuppose way more essentialist gender difference than even the average man these days assumes to exist?  Stepp may have been implying this more than Madison, but both panelists were pretty clearly implying that all women inherently only truly desire sexual activity within the confines of a traditional “romantic” relationship, and that any woman who says otherwise is only fooling herself because she’s been warped by that topsy-turvy villain “society.”

There’s an already-infamous passage in Stepp’s book where she suggests activities that young women can engage in besides hooking up — and you know what her #1 example is?  Baking.  I’m not kidding:  fucking baking.  Way to stick it to “society.”

I’d like to return to that bit about boys having emotions too.  Yes, that’s true — boys do have emotions.  But, like anyone else, boys base these emotions partly on knowledge of which ones it is or isn’t okay for them to have.  If a male college student likes a girl and she doesn’t like him back, or he’s just having trouble getting laid in general, he will not forge these setbacks into an anti-sex philosophy unless he lives in an environment where it’s an option for him to become a religious Conservative.  Short of that, it is simply not an option for a boy to be against sex.  And you know what this is, for boys?  That’s right:  empowering.  It makes us work harder, instead of just giving up.

But a girl who’s suffered romantic disappointments isn’t only given the option of developing an anti-sex philosophy — she feels pressure to develop one, from women who are supposedly trying to empower her.  And this is the real “pressure.”  Pressure to like sex comes from inside your own body, and thus is not actually “pressure” at all.  Being against sex is an option that only the political right should be extending to people.  The left has long since stopped extending it to boys, and the so-called left needs to stop extending it to girls.  You want to empower women?  Then for Fuck’s sake let them grow up.  That’s how they stop being girls.

In closing, I’d like to congratulate all readers who not only caught the fact that the title of this essay was a reference to the classic Aqua Teen Hunger Force episode “Mayhem of the Mooninites,” but also realized that I did this because Artemis/Diana, pagan goddess of the Moon, was also the patroness of virgins, and hence women who are against sex are represented by the Moon.  If you figured that out, you’re really, really smart.

Wanna fuck?

Mooninite



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