Panelists Discuss Hook-Up Culture’s Effects at the 5Cs

Hooking up has become an accepted sexual norm for the Claremont Colleges. According to this norm, students shy away from committed relationships and instead enjoy one-time sexual encounters with no expectation of further intimacy. The Women’s Union (WU) at Pomona College hosted a student panel on hook-up culture on Tuesday, Oct. 16 to clarify stigmas and discuss the issues of race, gender, class and consent in relation to the hook-up culture.

The student panel, comprised of Maya Horgan PO ’13, Jalynn Larry PO ’13, Quinn Lester PO ’13 and Tony Gomez PO ’15, explored what hooking up means to different people, and discussed its implications for physical and psychological health.

Horgan began by discussing the stereotype of a hook-up as a sloppy, post-party relationship, usually under the influence of alcohol, with a person one might not know too well. Across the panel, the other students gave their own variations on this definition, showing how ambiguously the term can be defined.

The panelists also suggested ways in which hooking up can be beneficial or harmful, using their own experiences to support their claims. Gomez said that hook-ups are an option for those who seek a physical connection with others but may not have the time for emotional commitments. He also said, however, that these hook-ups can be hurtful if intentions are not clearly communicated. 

“A social cost exists along with the personal cost in a hook-up,” Lester added. 

Gomez said that people, particularly women, can be subjected to “slut-shaming,” or denunciation for having casual sex. He added that men can also be social victims. 

Larry brought up the implicit effect of the hook-up from a first-year perspective. Speaking from her experience as a former first-year, Larry said that she felt “socially stumped” by students’ tendency to meet each other through hooking up. The idea of asking another student out to coffee or for other more traditional dates did not arise, she said.

Audrey Glaser PO ’16, who attended the event, said the role that hook-up culture plays in one’s life depends on one’s self-esteem. 

“If you are hooking up purely for fun, then it doesn’t have to be wrong,” Glaser said. “But if you are hooking up to validate something about yourself, then you’re going to wake up the next morning and feel shitty.”

The moderator of the event, Maria Zhu PO ’13, said that it was important to call a student panel on such an issue affecting campus culture, even for those who don’t actively engage in hooking up. 

“[Hooking up] changes the nature of the way people socialize, as well as with whom and in what circumstances people do so,” Zhu said.

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