Duke Forum

what is hooking up?

Let me define what I mean. “Hooking up” is the practice of engaging in a physical connection—from kissing to sex—between two willing participants. The gender dynamics here set Duke’s hookup culture apart form that of other schools.

This dating culture that I speak of is unthoughtful yet deliberate, reckless yet quite strategic, planned yet unplanned. Across all races at Duke, males indirectly enjoy superiority over their female peers. However, both sexes hook up willingly. The distinguishing factor is the double standard. Male participants glorify one another as their sexual relations increase. Women still accept them. On the contrary, both genders perceive participating women degradingly as their sexual relations increase. There is little room for empathy for the female sex. I wonder how much thought a female student puts into her actions before hooking up.

What still baffles me is how we, as educated and progressive Duke students, both complain about and readily engage in the culture. We even critique the next person for doing the same thing we did the night before. I must say I’m guilty, and you as the reader are too. So what’s the million-dollar explanation? Can’t call it love, can’t call it lust. As one who has engaged in the hookup culture myself, I attribute Duke’s hookup culture to a combination of opportunity, boredom, and a lowering of standards—the perfect storm.

I attribute opportunity to be a key element because many of the sexual advances made here are a matter of opportunity. Rarely do I see someone put a significant amount of effort or time into creating a relationship with one particular person. If the desired person is not available or willing, then the instigator will quickly move on to the next.

Boredom is the next ingredient on my list. Rarely will Duke students look to the outside community (Durham or surrounding schools) for relationship partners. This is why sexual partners overlap in the same social circles. But can you blame students? Opportunity is opportunity.

Lastly, Duke students significantly lower their standards as a result of being on this campus. Do I personally like Duke’s hookup culture? That’s not the question. It’s there for me to engage in or refuse to engage in. This poisonous concoction that is Duke’s hookup culture leads to great dissatisfaction for both participating men and women. I myself have learned to deal with it. Until we as Duke students mature and use a bit of common sense, this hookup culture is here to stay.

-Sophomore Female

Why have you made your choice to participate in or abstain from the hookup culture?