Don’t Be Late For the Apocalypse

Or, Keep the Wolfe from the Door lest Western Civilisation fall…

Shocking news from a US survey that college students are having casual sex.

Chris McGillion writes:

Research into the sexual practices of American college students has identified a new phenomenon known as “hooking up”. This involves the usual gamut of sexual activity (from kissing to oral sex and intercourse), but among participants who typically know little about each other and want to know even less. Moreover, it is not something they do “on the side” or between stable relationships (like an older generation’s one-night stands). Hooking up is the norm for some young people and is replacing traditional dating and the old boyfriend/girlfriend coupling. Some researchers warn that hooking up provides no relationship training and could detrimentally affect the ability of those involved to form committed partnerships over time.

Tom Wolfe, it seems, was responsible for popularising the term “hooking up” in his new novel I Am Charlotte. Wolfe also won an award for worst written sex scene in the said novel:

“Slither slither slither slither went the tongue. But the hand … that was what she tried to concentrate on, the hand, since it has the entire terrain of her torso to explore and not just the otorhinolaryngological caverns — oh God, it was not just at the border where the flesh of the breast joins the pectoral sheath of the chest — no, the hand was cupping her entire right — Now!”

Otorhinolaryngological is such a sexy word!

Wolfe notes that “sexual promiscuity has existed for a long time in U.S. colleges.” And in Australian universities too. Except that when I was at Uni, it used to be termed “winning on”. Still, slow news day, etc. etc.

About Mark Bahnisch

Mark Bahnisch is a sociologist and is the founder of this blog. He has an undergraduate degree in history and politics from UQ, and postgraduate qualifications in sociology, industrial relations and political economy from Griffith and QUT. He has recently been awarded his PhD through the Humanities Program at QUT. Mark's full bio is on this page.
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Kate
Kate
2022 years ago

So, it’s called ‘Hooking Up’ now? Do you think they possibly listen to such radical new music by groups such as The Rolling Stones while they do it?

Gaby
Gaby
2022 years ago

Mark,

Tom Wolfe had a collection of essays called “Hooking “Up” published a few years ago. The title essay examined the sexual mores of high school and college students.

My perception is that it has been in quite common use for the past couple of years.

In passing, I thought “A Man in Full” was quite a bore.

Irant
2022 years ago

Oh no! Chris McGillion has being paying attention to the Devine Miss M. It was just a few weeks ago that she revealed to a shocked nation that uni students actually have sex.

Jim
Jim
2022 years ago

Isn’t this the stepwise demystification of sex – freed from procreation – to a simple recreational activity, possibly a bit like human sex before the recognition of blood lines. It’s perverse though, that the culture that reduces all to an extrinsic utilitarian value should lead the lament.

Rex
Rex
2022 years ago

How can I possibly know what I think about this issue Mark if you dont’t make it clear on which sides of the debate the Right and Left fall?

blank
blank
2022 years ago

oto = ear
rhino = nose
laryngo = throat

I know my ancient Greek roots, but I obvious don’t know much about modern American rooting.

Nibbling ears yes, but I haven’t tried hand in ear, up nose, or down throat.

Mark Bahnisch
Mark Bahnisch
2022 years ago

Irant, I wondered if Miranda had been prophetic! (and or read by anyone but bloggers…)

Gaby, yeah, it surprised me too that “hooking up” was apparently a new term.

Rex, it’s obviously a Third Way issue – transcends left and right!

Francis Xavier Holden
2022 years ago

” it surprised me too that “hooking up” was apparently a new term.”

Hell “winning on” is a new term to me.

James Hamilton
James Hamilton
2022 years ago

“booting one through” was a term that went the rounds a couple of years ago.

Jacques Chester
Jacques Chester
2022 years ago

I think it very much depends on the university and the individuals.

Or, to quote Prince George: “To me, socks are like sex. Tons of it about and I never seem to get any”.

Nabakov
Nabakov
2022 years ago

When I was at uni, we called it fucking around. Guess they’re more nuanced these days.

And the rule of thumb back then was the more you talked about sex, the less you were getting.

Mark Bahnisch
Mark Bahnisch
2022 years ago

Could be the case with some of Wolfe’s informants, Nabs…

Francis, I believe “win-on” (noun as in “did you have a win-on last night?” or verb “to win-on”) is a Qldism. No-one I’ve mentioned it to in any other state has heard of it…

TimT
2022 years ago

“And the rule of thumb back then was the more you talked about sex, the less you were getting.

Hmmm. Considering the subject matter, perhaps it shouldn’t be a rule of thumb, but a rule of bum, or rule of c… er, ha ha ha. Forgot for a moment this was a family-friendly blog.

Mark Bahnisch
Mark Bahnisch
2022 years ago

Tim, rule of the otorhinolaryngological cavern is probably the safest bet.

yellowvinyl
2022 years ago

in fairness to Wolfe, the character whose voice the sex scene is written in (the eponymous Charlotte) is meant to be a bit of a nerdy dork. having said that, Wofe so can’t write female characters… (or sex scenes – at least according to this female nerdy dork who’s not sure where her otorhinolaryngological cavern is…)

yellowvinyl
2022 years ago

Irant is keeping up his Devine Miss M Watch, btw:

http://www.immanuelrant.com/comments.php?id=162_0_1_0_C

yellowvinyl
2022 years ago

Jim, interesting comment. I think there is a tendency to regard sex as just one more pleasure to be competed for in the market. I don’t know that there’s anything wrong with casual sex, if it’s consensual, but it’s nice if there’s some emotional connection. I think there’s probably a more instrumental attitude towards relationships as well as sex, though, too. I agree with you about the perversity or irony.

Francis Xavier Holden
2022 years ago

“And the rule of thumb back then was the more you talked about sex, the less you were getting.”

Ok back then – but what about now?

Irant
2022 years ago

Thanks for noticing yellowvinyl. Note that tomorrow is Thursday, the first day of the week for us Devine Miss M watchers and a day of joy. I’m thinking of calling my paeans “Through The Picket Fence.” I wanted to call it the “Shorter Miranda” but the collective Ozblogistan may sue me.

As for FXH’s questions, nothing had changed and still the same. Notice that I don’t talk much about sex

David Tiley
2022 years ago

I have had long term academics tell me that there seems to be a decrease in yer actual relationship formation behaviour in young folk. More flocking in groups of friends but less closeness.

That worries me a bit. I know a lot of people in their early thirties or even later who have not created stable lifelong relationships though they now want bubbies, and company when they are grumpy, and someone to chuck on when they are sick, and help with Mum in the twilight home.

And I wonder about the connection. At moments of alcoholic despair I think humans only every did form relationships because the lack of contraception created raging horniness, and any experiments led to a shotgun wedding.

I think Wolfe was actually being parodic when he wrote those words which the Award took so seriously. After all, he has an impeccable if windy way with words.

yellowvinyl
2022 years ago

no probs, Irant, I enjoy your writing.