For Immediate Release
Contact: Virginia Rutter / Framingham State University Sociology
firstname.lastname@example.org / 206 375 4139
Does “Netflix and Chill” Ruin Your Chances for True Love? Scholars have an answer.
AUSTIN, TX, FEBRUARY 11, 2016: Yes, Valentine’s Day. It is 2016, time to put away some of the panic about hooking up and men’s—or women’s—advantage on the romantic playing field. A study by sociologists Arielle Kuperberg and Joseph E. Padgett reveals that most men and women in college—perhaps out of college too—place a high value on intimacy and relationships, and are more similar than different in their approach to sex.
In “The Date’s Not Dead After All: New Findings on Hooking up, Dating, and Romantic Relationships in College,” a briefing report for CCF, Arielle Kuperberg (University of North Carolina-Greensboro) and Joseph E. Padgett (University of South Carolina) share what they learned about hooking up based on a survey of over 24,000 college students. This survey was collected at 22 colleges and universities around the United States between 2005 and 2011. Highlights include:
Everybody wants love—and men and women are the same on this.
- Young men and women may be delaying marriage and long commitments, but they haven’t given up on looking for love. Seventy-one percent of men and 67 percent of women said they wished they had more opportunities to find a long-term relationship. Contrary to popular impression, men were more likely than women to express such a wish, although the difference was small.
About the panic.
- Dating is alive!—and a diet based entirely anonymous sex is actually quite rare. Kuperberg and Padgett found that college students have basically equal rates of hooking up and dating: “Approximately 62 percent (of college students) reported having hooked up, while 61 percent said they had gone out on a date. Only eight percent of all students had hooked up without ever going on a date or being in a long-term relationship.”
- Hookups aren’t having a large negative impact on participants. Forty-eight percent of men and 45 percent of women reported being glad about their most recent hookup. Most were more neutral, but “only 14.5 percent of women, and 12.5 percent of men regretted their last hookup,” according to the report.
But what are people doing?
- A majority of hookups in college don’t involve sexual intercourse, let alone unprotected sex. In Kuperberg and Padgett’s study, sexual intercourse occurred in 42 percent of hookups, and 13 percent had unprotected sex.
Drinking, not Sex Itself, Seems to be the Main Problem with Hookups.
- Details in Kuperberg and Padgett’s study suggest problem areas, chief among them alcohol. One half of men and 46.5 percent of women stated that they engaged in binge drinking leading up to or during a hookup. Students who did this were the ones most likely to report regretting the encounter.
The gender gap is dead, long live the gender gap? Check the Greek system and religion.
- The gender politics of hooking up may be different for members of sororities versus fraternities. Kuperberg and Padgett found that people in the Greek system were more than twice as likely as non-members to have hooked up; yet sorority members did not seek hookups more than women in general.
- In fact, sorority women were 50 percent more likely to want more opportunities to form long-term relationships, although they were not more likely to actually form a long-term relationship. On a positive note, sorority members were less likely to report having unprotected sex than any other college women.
- Religion also shaped men’s and women’s experiences differently. College men who attended religious services more frequently (at least once month) hooked up as much as those who said they never attended religious services. And men’s religious service attendance did not make them less likely to engage in unprotected sex during hookups. In contrast, women who attended religious services at least once a month were less likely than other women to have ever hooked up in college, and when they did hookup they were less likely to have sexual intercourse or unprotected sex.
Accurate, non-judgmental public health and sexual education campaigns work
- Kuperberg and Padgett conclude: “Three groups stood out as having significantly lower rates of unprotected sex during hookups compared to other students: men hooking up with men, women who were members of sororities, and students who met hookup partners in dormitories. What do these groups have in common? Each has been the target of accurate, non-judgmental public health and sexual education campaigns.”
Uh, about those good old days and nostalgia
“Hookups may seem shocking to an older generation unaccustomed to such frankness, but this generation did not invent casual sex or one-night stands,” commented CCF’s Stephanie Coontz, author of the forthcoming revised edition of The Way We Never Were: The American Family and the Nostalgia Trap. “In fact, most contemporary youth would be equally shocked by the panty raids on 1950s campuses, where men stood outside dorms shouting ‘we want panties. We want sex,’ and by the dating rituals of the early 1960s, where men pretended to be interested in a woman until they got her into bed, and then stopped calling.”
“This research shows that, as with so many other changes in family life, gender relations, and sexuality, it’s the incomplete nature of the change, not the change itself that causes problems. Many students binge drink because they don’t yet feel comfortable having casual sex without courage from a bottle. Women often fail to ask for protection because they don’t want a man they like to think they are too sexually calculating. The authors’ finding that non-judgmental approaches work best is a lesson too many politicians have yet to learn,” Coontz reflects.
-continue for background-
Arielle Kuperberg is Assistant Professor of Sociology, The University of North Carolina at Greensboro Joseph E. Padgett, is a Doctoral Candidate in Sociology, University of South Carolina
Contact Dr. Kuperberg at email@example.com; 201-681-2382
CCF ADVISORY: The Valentine’s Day News that Is Good for Everybody
The Council on Contemporary Families, based at the University of Texas-Austin, is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization of family researchers and practitioners that seeks to further a national understanding of how America’s families are changing and what is known about the strengths and weaknesses of different family forms and various family interventions.
The Council helps keep journalists informed of notable work on family-related issues via the CCF Network. To join the CCF Network, or for further media assistance, please contact Stephanie Coontz, Director of Research and Public Education, at firstname.lastname@example.org, cell 360-556-9223.
The Council on Contemporary Families’ 18th Annual Conference: “Families As They Really Are: Demographics, Disparities, and Debates,” convenes experts on youth well-being and international adoption, parenting and intimate relationships, fertility, sexuality, and partner selection, transnational families, and interventions for immigrant families that work. The conference will be held at the Liberal Arts Building on March 4-5, 2016, and is hosted by the University of Texas at Austin.
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February 11, 2016