The Philosophy of Hooking Up

I was recently reading an article written by a professor of Philosophy about the damaging and toxic affects of hook-up culture on women.  She notes that many of her contemporaries find it baffling to think that the sexual freedoms fought for and won by the architects and activists of the Sexual Revolution might not have a completely healthy outcome for young women today.

And that’s perfectly understandable.  They are indeed true believers in the God of Sex, and true believers generally have trouble understanding why others would not want to believe as they do.  While it may be obvious to those of us looking on after the fact that something is very wrong, it is not obvious to me that those who were born before or during the Revolution are correct about hook-up culture being the root of the problem for the young women who are self-medicating their sense of worthlessness away for a while.

I suspect that the underlying problem is that having sex recklessly has now become not only normative for Revolutionaries, but completely normal for their descendants.  What was liberating for their grand-parents is just the standard expectation for young people.  And there’s nothing liberating about obeying the standard cultural expectation.  The Sexual Revolutionaries were able to feel liberated because they felt socially constrained from making reckless sexual decisions.

Their grandchildren have no such social constraints, and therefore no such liberation.  Hooking up (meaning to have casual sex with someone new) cannot possibly be liberating if there really aren’t any serious consequences for doing it.  And for most of my generation and those who are younger, there are no longer any serious consequences for hooking up.  We’re more likely to be handed a condom and told to avoid getting in a car drunk than to face our parents kicking us out of the house because we had sex with a new acquaintance in their car.

Hooking up is now boring; the only reason it held any draw aside from the intense physical and emotional high was that it was a rebellion, a participation in a fight for freedom from antiquated social mores.  That draw is dead for most of us, and so what fulfillment could young women (or young men) be finding in it?  They might feel sexually competent, or experienced, or even accomplished.  But they won’t feel any sense of higher purpose to it, because the higher purpose of liberation is no longer possible and the higher purpose of spiritual communion/procreation is unthinkable.

That’s because sex is just a recreational act to them, something to be explained in a sexual education class so that there’s no mystery to it, so that it’s reduced to a combination of mechanics and sentiments.  And after it was stripped of any glorious purpose and reduced to mere techniques, then it was divinized, made to be the transcendent value, a moral duty and a right to be exercised all at once.

We must all bow at the altar of coitus or be barred from the public temples; no matter that we neutered it by demanding that it not ask us to bring forth new life, or that we insisted that it was not sacred at all, or that we just go through the motions without believing it actually means anything (even though we really want to).  The architects and activists of the Sexual Revolution tore down the old cluttered temples our ancestors had built to the God of Sex and erected empty ones in their places.

So it’s no surprise that the new worship feels empty, that our praises of the joys of sex ring somewhat hollow now, and that the sacrifice of our time and effort to reach the altar of coitus seems like a bit of a waste in the end.

The God of Sex is dead, and its worshipers were the ones who killed it.

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One Response to The Philosophy of Hooking Up

  1. Jack says:

    We’ve seen the consequences of it, in children who grow up without parents; in mentally ill people who are sane enough to consent but not mentally well enough to make reasonable sexual choices; and in a thousand other negative consequences that we all could name. Our society got it right that consent is key to meaningful sexuality; where they got it wrong is that consent is only the first rule regarding meaningful sexuality, not the last rule, not the final deciding factor. Many children, spouses, family members, and friends have had their souls crushed because of what “two consenting adults” decided to do.

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