Will “Picking Partners” Research Influence Your Hookup Life? A Survey

…[The notion of one single hookup culture is] just a stupid and harmful idea. Suddenly an act that is different for everyone gets subsumed under this umbrella Bad Thing of “the new college hookup culture” and there’s shame / derision / general negativity surrounded by something that has been happening literally since before our species was called Homo Sapiens.

–Anonymous queer individual.

Last week, we asked for your take on this article featuring the research of Samuel B. Cummings Jr. Professor of Psychology Sarah Murnen. Murnen’s study of 487 heterosexual Kenyon students posits that those who prefer the hookup scene over longterm relationships are more critical of the bodies of their potential partners. We wanted to know if the study’s conclusions matched your perceptions of the hookup scene, and whether or not the results would influence your decision to partake in casual sex. Here’s what you said:

  Do you agree with the findings of “Picking Partners?”

  • Gay/queer woman: “I mean, you can’t really ‘agree’ or ‘disagree’ with research, but I can say that in my experience, I have found that, when trying to hook up I was paying significantly more attention to my body than when I was in a relationship.”
  • Straight individual: “I did not take the survey so I don’t feel like I can comment. I do think that there is more to judging body types than simply judging by silhouettes, and in that way perhaps the research could have been improved. I think it is interesting that people would look for different body types when hooking up in college, based on how safe they feel: ‘For women, the strongest predictor that they would have a stricter body ideal for partners was feeling that relationships between men and women are typically adversarial.'”
  • Straight woman: “To an extent. I think that it kind of implies that hooking up is a bad thing, which really it isn’t. It’s just something that shouldn’t be treated as more than it is. It’s something that stems from a sexual attraction, which is fine! However, I do think that it does lead to more superficial judgments of people. When you hook up with someone, you generally aren’t getting to know them on a deeper level, you just judge them on their physical appearance.”
  • Bisexual woman: “Yes. As a bigger woman, I’ve noticed that I have an easier time attracting romantic partners who are female, or who are less interested in things like ESPN. (I think part of that, however, is my complete disinterest in sports.) But given the fact that I am not the “ideal” body type, it is telling the people who will hit on me. They’re not usually sporty dudes.”
  • “A man who is attracted to women only:” “I think it extrapolates the behavior of less than 20 per cent of the campus onto the campus as a whole. I am not surprised a “hookup culture” seems very real to most students–belief in a contingent artifice is just as much an authority over one as an embodied power–but spirit, romanticism, and identity shape people’s phenomenal world way more than cultural critics tend to portray, from my own conversations with people.”

Will this article have any influence over your hookup life?

  • Heterosexual individual: “It makes me dislike hookup culture more and feel less desire to participate in it, although in reality it feels like there’s little choice: in many instances, it’s that or nothing.”
  • Mostly heterosexual woman: “No, because I wasn’t going to hookup anyway.”
  • Queer individual: “Not in the least.”
  • Bisexual female: “No. After my last weird, quasi-hook-up relationship that wasn’t a relationship but wasn’t NOT a relationship, I’m waiting until grad school for romantic entanglement.”
  • “A man who is attracted to women only:” “Lol.”


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