Why Are Conservatives Obsessed With the Sex Lives of College Kids?

According to Shira Tarrant, an associate professor of women’s, gender and sexuality studies at California State University, Long Beach, the obsession over college students’ sex lives, or  “hooking up,” is alarmist.  After all, young adults have long engaged in casual sex and there is no good evidence to suggest that hook ups are much more common now than in decades past.

As Tarrant points out, the guise of concern for young women’s emotional health that underpins so much of the fury over the hook up culture is truly misguided. In fact, “young adults ages 18 to 24 who have casual sex do not appear to be at higher risk for psychological fall-out compared to their partnered peers.”

As we’ve written about before, Mark Regnerus has suggested that hooking up is increasing on college campuses because women now outnumber men, so competition for men has become fiercer and women have to get down and dirty (that’s a technical term, right?) to compete.  This argument has a bunch of problems  – beyond assuming everyone is straight – but most annoying to me is how it tries to protect women (who just want love with their sex, obviously) while also shaming them (what is up with all these slutty women willing to hop in bed so quickly?).

I understand that if you watch too much Jersey Shore or Real World, perhaps its easy to pine for some good old traditional past where dating was abundant and sex was sacred.  But the cast of Jersey Shore are caricatures and anyway, decades ago so-called “reality TV” didn’t exist so we didn’t film young adults as they embarked on their sexual escapades.  Who knows what we would have learned!

So sure – let’s have a conversation about young adults and sex.  But as Tarrant warns, let’s promote positive sexual agency, not out-of-touch scaremongering.

Read the whole article here.