Movies, television shows and popular music frequently glorify hook-up culture, especially on college campuses. While Zeitgeist reveals that hook-up culture is a large part of college life for many Middlebury students, it is not what they prefer.
When asked what campus cultures students participate in that they do not enjoy, hook-up culture was identified second, only after a culture of “busyness.” Hook-up culture outpaced drinking and outdoorsy-ness, among other aspects of life at Middlebury.
In the past twelve months, the majority of respondents have had consensual sexual relations with one-to-three partners. A little over 8% have had more than seven sexual partners in the past year.
Many students responded that they do not prefer hook-up culture. Over 87 percent of respondents indicated a preference for a romantic relationship, while only 6.96 percent favor hook-ups. These proportions remained relatively consistent across demographic markers including gender and sexual orientation.
This data corroborates a thesis published in 2015 by Leah Marie Fessler ’15 for the English and American Literatures Department. The thesis, titled “Can She Really ‘Play That Game Too’?” explores romantic and sexual culture at Middlebury, focusing on women’s experiences with hook-up culture.
Fessler used anecdotal evidence, data collected through an online survey and other forms of data such as Yik-Yak posts to conclude that female students at Middlebury almost always desired committed and consistent romantic relationships.
“Call it anti-feminist (which I’ll soon explain it’s not), call it old-fashioned (which sure, it is), call it dependent (which it may be) call it whatever you want,” Fessler wrote, “But I’d be so bold to respond: Call it true.”
Hook-up culture is glorified, Fessler explains, and students cite a number of reasons for participating. Fessler recognizes that some might criticize as anti-feminist her claim that hook-up culture is not compatible with females. But she argues that “by actively subscribing to male’s preferred sexual behavior… women ironically bolster, rather that react against male dominance.”
Zeitgeist results demonstrate that not much has changed since Fessler graduated four years ago. Students are still widely participating in a culture of hook-ups, while they would prefer romantic relationships. But, Zeitgeist data suggests that this is not only true for females at Middlebury and rather holds true across student respondents.