Having a hoe phase and being friends with benefits are concepts most commonly utilized by generations that came after the 1960s sexual revolution. This is not to say these concepts were nonexistent before that time, but more so that they were not socially embraced...sans the colorful language, of course. However, the millennial generation was once baptized in what eventually came to be known as "hookup culture." One can only speculate that the social acceptance of hooking up is where things look extremely different from previous generations, as it has been largely accepted at this point.
In fact, it’s become so normalized that I have found myself feeling bad that I can’t get down with the get down. Not really. I’m that girl and have come to live with the fact that I always will be – casual sex isn’t for me, not penetrative anyways. In other words, I will get some head and head out. But casual penetrative sex always proves to be far too intimate for me to do without some type of romantic connection.
That being said, it has always been thought that women just don’t have what it takes to fully immerse themselves in hookup culture without eventually attaching strings. However, per this misogynistic TikToker, research alleges that hookups are impacting everyone as a whole and it’s not for the reasons we once thought it to be. In fact, what this research suggests, is like every other mammal in this world, we eventually learn to evolve with the circumstances instead of being written off as extinct. Hookup culture, be damned.
Over time, the human brain adapts and rewires itself so that the new pattern doesn’t come with strings attached, and hooking up feels like less of an emotional chore. Though this might seem good at the moment, the same research suggests that if you are someone who eventually desires a romantic connection, your brain then has a difficult time remembering how to thrive under those lovey-dovey circumstances as it now requires itself to readapt and remember how to do so.
I’ve never been opposed to the protest against hookup culture backed by more reasoning than a societal “because I said so.” But, I have been opposed to how it is always framed as "the burden of women." It’s never a nuanced discussion and always a gendered discussion about how women are far "too emotional" to be able to tolerate hookups. Not only is it a problematic statement, but it is also false. Men are just as emotional as women, the difference lies in their inability to express emotion as anything in between anger and contentment (because I'm not even sure they know how to express joy).
Though I’m not deep into the research aspect of this, I truly do believe in "kill or be killed." I believe in evolution. This makes it difficult for me to ignore the likelihood that eventually a generation of brains would come to adapt to a new way of life, after all, it is a defense mechanism, yes? If we know human emotion doesn’t allow for us to instinctively hook up without the hurt and the attachment – wouldn’t it also be true that there would be far less hurt and difficulty exploring this new cultural norm if you shut all of it off? (Slight The Vampire Diaries reference there – the girls that get it.)
I do think we should be careful not to use this argument as a means to tear down other relationship structures that may fall into the consensual non-monogamy category. Why? Well,because I believe a hookup relationship stands alone in how it’s structured (by today’s unfortunate circumstances) in that they haven’t been conditioned to receive the care and candor that those in the non-monogamy community have poured into that category of relationships – though it absolutely should be receiving that level of devotion.
Much like the structure of non-monogamy, and despite what much of society thinks, the healthiest way to execute hookup dynamics is through strong, healthy, and ongoing dialogue. As it is innate for us to crave more, I think it is unrealistic and dangerous for there to be one sole discussion around the stipulations of a hookup without any aftercare/check-ins that allow for boundaries to be reset. If we were to treat hookups in a more healthy manner, I don’t know that it would hold the same emotional weight emotionally…mentally.
Nevertheless, I’m no scientist nor do I claim to be. And though promises of the future can seem far off, especially when you turn 23 and realize everything doesn’t magically fall into place by 25 as you once naively thought it might, we must be cognizant of our own emotional capabilities and observant of the shift we experience when making ourselves flexible to new cultural adaptations.
Though we all crave different types of relationships, my hope is that we do all crave the ability to intimately connect when it counts.
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