No hooking up, no sex for some coeds
By Stephanie Chen, CNN
April 19, 2010 9:07 a.m. EDT
Nashville, Tennessee (CNN) -- Almost every weekend, there is a tradition called raging at Vanderbilt University.
It's a recurring, drunken activity that isn't the proudest moment for student Frannie Boyle. After consuming large quantities of alcohol before a party, her night would sometimes end in making out with a stranger or acquaintance.
Casual hook ups fueled by alcohol may be the norm across college campuses, but Boyle, now a 21-year-old junior at the school, chose to stop. Her reasons to quit hooking up echo the emotional devastation of many college students, particularly girls whose hearts are broken by the hook-up scene.
"I saw it [hooking up] as a way to be recognized and get satisfaction," said Boyle, shaking her blond ponytail. "I felt so empty then."
The hook-up culture on campuses may seem more pervasive than ever, especially as media outlets, books and documentaries rush to dissect the subject, but some college women and men are saying no.
Some, like Boyle, experimented with hooking up and quit. Though she is Catholic, she says her reason for disengaging herself from the hook-up culture had more to do with the unhappiness she experienced afterward. Others influenced by religion have abstained from casual physical activity from the moment they set foot on campus.
The idea of rejecting hook-ups may not be as strange as it sounds in a generation surrounded by sex. Pop star Lady Gaga recently announced she was celibate and encouraged others to follow. In Kelly Clarkson's song "I Don't Hook Up," she addresses the dominant hook-up culture: "I do not hook up, up I go slow, so if you want me I don't come cheap."
The term "hook up" is ambiguous, usually defined as a no-commitment, physical encounter with a stranger or acquaintance. Hooking up can range from just a make-out session all the way to sex. Other lingo for the no-commitment sexual encounters are "booty calls" or "friends with benefits."
Various academic studies have cited at least 75 percent of women have engaged in hooking up on campus, and the number is usually higher for men. The activity is most likely precipitated by alcohol, studies show. Boyle's decision to quit hooking up leaves her in the minority.
Evidence of the backlash on hooking up on campuses can be seen in the growing popularity of the Love and Fidelity Network, a secular, nonprofit group dedicated to helping college students open the discussion for a lifestyle that doesn't involve casual sexual activity with anonymous or uncommitted partners.