Erin Kiley is fed up with the dating scene on her college campus.
She's just ended a three and half year relationship,and certainly doesn't want to jump into another one. At the same time,she doesn't want a hook-up—or casual sex.
She just wants someone to take her to dinner.
Her frustration evident,Kiley stood Thursday before a group of her peers—college-aged congressional interns—and asked the men,“Is dating appealing?” then offered,“We'll pay.”
The audience of several hundred interns responded with laughter and applause,but Kiley,a student at Pomona College in Claremont,Calif.,was serious. She offered some advice to other frustrated women.
“OK,we need to restrict the sex and then get the dinners,” she said.
Kiley's frustration is evidence of a “hook-up” culture on college campuses nationwide,according to a national survey released Thursday by the Independent Women's Forum. The survey found that 91 percent of college women reported a rampant hook up culture on their campus.
A hook-up is a sexual encounter with little emotional attachment. The term isn't specific—when someone says they “hooked up,” they could mean they kissed someone or they had sex with them,or any of a number of things in between.
Forty percent of the women said they'd hooked up before and one in 10 reports hooking up more than six times.
While some respondents expressed frustration by the lack of details in the term “hook-up,” the IWF's Kate Kennedy suggested that people use the term because it is better for their reputation—a hook-up doesn't always mean sex.
“It appears that the very ambiguity of the phrase is something that people liked,” she said.
The IWF conducted 20-minute phone interviews with 1,000 women from colleges nationwide and 62 in-depth interviews with women from 11 schools during 18 months.
Its study also found that while hooking up seems to be a popular campus sport,83 percent of women do actually hope to get married and 39 percent say they are virgins.
Dr. Drew Pinsky,the host of “Loveline,” a call-in show that once aired on MTV and assistant professor of pediatrics at Los Angeles Children's Hospital,offered his perspective on hooking up and fielded relationship questions.
“Women want one thing,” Pinksy said. “The culture is telling you [hooking up] is what you should do.”
He said most men are worried about adequacy in their sexual performance,but most women worry about men and why they do the things they do.
He said he hears confusion from women about relationships and sex,and he isn't surprised that college campuses are fertile ground for hooking up.
The opposite of hooking up seems to be “attached at the hip” relationships. The survey found that there's little middle ground between the two extremes.
Neither type of relationship is totally healthy and both take a toll on women,said Elizabeth Marquardt,the survey's co-author.
“[Women] seem,to be dealing with a distinct lack of clarity in terms of sex and love and relationships,” she said.
Hooking up is unhealthy,she said,because while 61 percent of women reported feeling desirable after a hook up,they also said they felt awkward,she said. But a “joined at the hip relationship” is sometimes so intense that it quickly overwhelms.
And,when these relationships break up,women find themselves reaching for the opposite,thinking,“I don't want to go through that again,so I'm just going to hook up,” she said.
Eliot Rushovich,a student at Harvard University,said dating is a stressful process which students on his campus don't need because of the school's already stressful environment.
He the fact that so many people report such a culture at their schools is indicative that the dating scene doesn't work anymore.
“I think one of the problems of the formal dating scene … is that it's formal,” Rushovich said.
But the emphasis on hooking up frustrates Nick Crill,a student from Franciscan University in Steubenville,Ohio.
Crill,who says he's a virgin and “it hasn't killed me yet,” tries to treat women with respect. Most women would rather be treated poorly by the “bad boy,” he said.
“I get passed over all the time for the player,” he said. “[Women] want to have fun with them for a while.”
Nina Dutta,a medical student at SUNY-Buffalo,thinks hooking up happens more when people are undergraduates,because age makes them more discerning. She wasn't surprised that study offered a picture of women who hooked up frequently,but still want to get married to someone they meet at school.
“It's hard not to get your emotions involved,” she said.
And Kiley said the current dating culture doesn't look hopeful to her.
She now plans to get to know guys better before she tries to date them,rather than just getting a guy's number at a bar and hoping it works.
“I think it has to come from a friendship,” she said.
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