Sociology Department Professor Danielle Currier revealed some secrets about “hooking up” during C.O.R.E.’s (Conversations on Reconciliation and Equality) second session of the year Thursday.
Currier’s talk, entitled “Can I Getcha Number? The Culture of Hooking Up at William and Mary,” was aimed at providing College students and staff with an outlet to discuss their perspectives and opinions on what it means to “hook up.”
The discussion began with students filling out a paper stating their age, race, gender and definition of a hook up as they entered the Caf’s side room.
Definitions were as varied as “any sexual encounter outside of a relationship,” to a “one-night stand,” to some who just simply wrote “sex.” Some gave “a boyfriend or girlfriend” as a response, but those were in the minority.
“A fuzzy definition of hooking up serves everyone well,” Currier said in response to the exercise. “Nobody’s reputation is hurt.”
Currier said that men, by exaggerating their sexual escapades, yearn to establish reputations as studs. Women, on the other hand, downplay their experiences to avoid being labeled promiscuous.
Currier first noticed these trends while conducting a three-year study at Radford University in Southwestern Virginia. Using both surveys and interviews, she also learned that alcohol and boredom serves as instigators for sexual encounters.
“From friends, I’ve learned that Radford is a loose community and I was not very surprised to learn that they are engaging in this activity,” Kevin Buckler ’12 said.
At the end of the talk, many of the attendees reported a dramatic change in their opinions on hooking up. In some cases of sexual assault, the session even encouraged them to report the incident and seek counseling.
When asked about the culture of hooking up at the College compared to Radford, Currier responded that
College students probably hook up less for several reasons: a greater middle-upper class, a more academic focus and less of an alcohol culture.
However, Buckler said that there was definitely a clear hook up society on campus.
“The sex community is very hush-hush here, but there is definitely a significant group of students, both gay and straight, that are hooking up on a regular basis,” he said.
In the future, Currier said she hopes to continue her research on relationships by delving into stigma management and the ways women can avoid labels. She is also interested in studying the disparity in sexual practices between different races and sexual orientations.