Hookup culture has been a hot topic for women, particularly women in college as both a liberating or seemingly empowering trend. Some believe the hookup culture has become a gender equalizer by allowing us to pick and choose whom we want to have relationships with. We have the power to be sexually autonomous and empowered through these relations. Young women especially are jumping on the trend, as casual sexual relationships are sometimes easier to manage than committed relationships when dealing with the pressures of college. However, new research is suggesting women might not be as equal in the sack as they think.
Research done at The Kinsey Institute at Indiana University and Binghamton University found that “women were twice as likely to reach orgasm from intercourse or oral sex in serious relationships than during hookups.” Women are having more sex, but it is just not as good- in terms of reaching orgasm- as when they are with a longer-term partner. This is not the same across party lines though. Research from NYU found that about “40 percent of women had an orgasm during their last hookup involving intercourse, while 80 percent of men did. By contrast, roughly three quarters of women in the survey said they had an orgasm the last time they had sex in a committed relationship.” Men are still getting the same sexual pleasure while some women are missing out.
Why is this happening? We are supposed to be empowered by allowing our sexual lives to be free beyond gender norms, and yet we still are only having mediocre sex? Maybe it is because there isn’t the same familiarity as with a partner to ask for certain things during sex to increase pleasure. Maybe we just aren’t as focused on the needs of others versus ourselves during casual sex. Dr. Paula England of NYU thinks it could be because women are still being stigmatized for having causal sex in the first place. Sure, I may feel empowered having a random hookup with someone I am interested in, but is the thought of being labeled a slut in the back of my head? It may be. And that might be a distraction to my overall pleasure during sex. Even as we become more accepting of hook up culture, there are still gendered pressures toward women who choose to have a more open sex life. A recent study published in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships, research claims both men and women judge promiscuous women. Lady on lady slut shaming is still happening; even when a woman is having consenting sex that she wants.
However, some women point out that they don’t really care if the sex isn’t all that great. Sex with no string attached can provide great emotional benefits for women or fulfill spontaneity in their sexual lives, and those sometimes outweigh the importance of reaching orgasm. Researcher Dr. Herbenick explains, “Something we don’t talk about is why having an orgasm is the main goal or the only goal of sex. Who are we to say women should be having orgasms?” Sometimes, having an orgasm isn’t everything and women just enjoy the freedom of having sexual relationships whenever and with whoever they want. While the debate may remain up in the air, and frankly at the end of the day boil down to a personal decision about one’s own sex life, one interviewee makes it clear that sometimes “mediocre sex is a small price to pay for the freedom to be able to enjoy it all.”