Thursday, December 03, 2009

Chicago Tribune Copies Laura Sessions Stepp by Telling Girls Hooking Up is Bad


(image from laurastepp.com)

Thanks to my pal "Early Marriage is A-Ok" Mark Regnerus for this article from the Chi-Trib (what, no R. Kelly stories to cover this week?) explaining a "study of more than 4,000 Twilight fans by researchers at the University of Missouri" that apparently demonstrates, once and for all, that girls want love and boys want sex and therefore, hooking up is bad for girls.
"This series represents a backlash to the 'hooking up' culture," explained one author of the study. " 'Twilight' has been a way for young girls to acknowledge their emerging sexuality without actually having sex." In other words, it's a female fantasy. It's also every boy's nightmare. After all, the hooking-up deal works pretty well for guys. Lots and lots of sex, without all that messy relationship stuff? What's not to like?
Hold on a minute. I was 17 once, and I don't recall having fantasies of "acknowledging [my] emerging sexuality without actually having sex." Kind of the opposite, actually. According to who is this a female fantasy? If you think this sounds suspiciously like the official Cassandra of GIRLSEXISBAD, Laura Sessions Stepp, you're right! The author of the newspaper article included this incredible stretch of a statement as though it were fact:
Remember dating? As quaint as is it might sound today, dating required you to get to know a girl before you did anything else. The goal might be the same -- indeed, it often was the same -- but you had to follow several distinct steps to get there. That was far better for girls, who could decide if they liked a guy before physical intimacy began. Now, the order is reversed: You hook up first, then decide if you want to "go out."
Jonathan Zimmerman, did you ever see Grease? Have you read The Crucial Decade? Just because you (if you were alive) were playing Cowboys and Indians in the 1950s doesn't mean teenagers weren't getting busy, you know, in the back seats of cars all over America. What do you think led to the highest teen pregnancy rates in our nation's history? But wait...there's more:
"No real commitment, no real feelings involved, this is like a guy's paradise," Bogle said one male student told her. "I mean this is what guys have been wanting for many, many years. And women have always resisted, but now they are going along with it." The male student is right. Since the sexual revolution of the 1960s, women have made enormous strides in education, income and professional achievement. But when it comes to sex, it's still a man's world. And that's why young women are celebrating an imaginary one, in the movies, where the guy actually loves you before he makes love to you. Even if he is a vampire.(emphasis mine)
Look, I read Bogle's book and she does not make the bogus conclusions Zimmerman claims here--and there were plenty of women interviewed who, surprise surprise, were too busy outperforming boys in the classroom to want a boyfriend--they wanted casual sex, too. Bogle starts out the book with a detailed history of "dating" in America and how the history people like Stepp often look back at with rose-colored glasses is far more layered and complex than a system of calling cards and polite conversations in front of the fireplace with a girl's parents.

And besides, most guys in college do want a girlfriend. They aren't looking for one when they're hooking up at parties, but they do want one. Another fact Zimmerman ignores that Bogle discovered in her research--hooking up often doesn't mean sex. But Zimmerman clearly just read the dust jacket.

Oh, and by the way, Jonathan Zimmerman is the acclaimed author of the groundbreaking book "Small Wonder: The Little Red Schoolhouse in History and Memory."