Casual hookups are not feminist

By Rae Jefferson, Copy Desk Chief

Since starting college, I’ve gone back and forth with whether or not I define myself as a feminist. I’ve decided I do.

One of the decisive factors for me was the push of feminist groups to talk about the overwhelming physical and sexual violences against women that occur across the world. Closely tied to this is male sexual entitlement, or the idea that mass media and a male-dominated society teach men they deserve sex from women, particularly if they do or say the right things.

Although it’s horrible, I find conversations about male sexual entitlement fascinating because it’s an excellent example of how large groups of people can be coerced into following a foolish line of thinking, whether they realize it or not. Many males, especially young adults, subscribe to this ideology. So do many females. They are all wrong.

There are plenty of articles and columns about the subject online, many of which hail from the feminist camp, but most of these writings are missing a huge piece of the puzzle: the fact that casual sex feeds into male sexual entitlement in a major way.

Many modern feminists would argue that a woman has the right to have sex with anyone she pleases, strangers included. They wouldn’t be incorrect. Consenting adults have the freedom to do whatever they want together.

The error arises when feminists suggest that casual sex is empowering to women.

I promise it’s not.

I understand their logic. Casual sex, or hooking up, can involve strangers who are part of a one-night-stand, or friends who have sex with one another without becoming emotionally attached in a romantic way. In a society where sexual assault is a serious issue (about 4.2 million Americans have been victims in the last 20 years), the ability to choose to have sex with someone is valuable. Therefore, choosing to have sex with a complete stranger is seen as a victory in a woman’s right to tell a man “yes” or “no.”

However, when a typical man has the opportunity to sleep with a woman without any obligations to her, he isn’t thinking, “I respect you for exercising your feminine right to have sex with me.” He’s thinking of himself and what he’s about to gain from the situation.

Interestingly enough, research conducted by scientists at Brunel University in London found that men are more likely to sleep with women without respect to attraction. In other words, the drive for some males’ sexual satisfaction is great enough that they’ll have sex with women they think are ugly.

Even if he isn’t completely self-absorbed, the reality is still one of objectification. By its nature, casual sex rends the emotional value from the act, leaving only mechanical actions. The value of sex is cheapened by a utilitarian approach to something that science shows is naturally linked to emotion.

We’ve all heard it said before: women are emotional beings. Well, the proof is in the pudding.

Research conducted by psychologist Anne Campbell found that 80 percent of men experienced positive feelings the morning after a one-night-stand, while only 54 percent of women reported the same emotions.

If you aren’t ready to face the emotional commitment of a relationship, you probably aren’t mature enough to be having sex. It’s also worth mentioning maturity has a lot less to do with age than we’d often like to believe.

Having the ability to tell a man he is free to objectify a woman is not empowerment. If anything, it’s an about-face from the very goal set by feminism – to strengthen women so they are on equal playing fields with men in all areas of life.

Some feminists take this idea of equality and warp it to fit an agenda that still caters to casual sex. Rather than saying men are objectifying women, they argue that women are consenting to an encounter in which both parties receive something from the interaction.

So rather than a man using a woman, both individuals are now using each other. Still doesn’t sound like progress to me.

The greatest strike against casual sex is the reality that men are required to do nothing for sex. A man wants it, and he wants it free of emotional responsibility.

This is the most dangerous setup for perpetuating male sexual entitlement that I can think of. Gone are the days of buying a girl a drink or buttering her up with a few flirty compliments (as if these things make sexual entitlement okay).

We’re moving away from the idea that men are entitled to sex for what they do, to the idea that men are entitled to sex for what they are.

For years, I’ve carried this odd image of Feminism in my mind. She’s an elderly woman who has been to the edge of the earth and back. She knows what it means to toil for the people, and she recognizes when her name is being misused. From her flows greatness and a legacy of raising women up to the fullness of what they were made to be.

Things like casual sex steal that fullness and replace it with the antics of selfish little boys.

Rae Jefferson is a senior journalism major from Houston. She is the copy desk chief at the Lariat.