Sex-trafficking on campus: the logical outworking of feminist rhetoric

First, let’s quickly review what feminists think about young women hooking up with men on campus.

Here’s feminist Hanna Rosin writing in the Atlantic:

The hookup culture that has largely replaced dating on college campuses has been viewed, in many quarters, as socially corrosive and ultimately toxic to women, who seemingly have little choice but to participate. Actually, it is an engine of female progress—one being harnessed and driven by women themselves.

[…]To put it crudely, feminist progress right now largely depends on the existence of the hookup culture. And to a surprising degree, it is women—not men—who are perpetuating the culture, especially in school, cannily manipulating it to make space for their success, always keeping their own ends in mind. For college girls these days, an overly serious suitor fills the same role an accidental pregnancy did in the 19th century: a danger to be avoided at all costs, lest it get in the way of a promising future.

The Weekly Standard talks about feminist Naomi Wolf:

On top of it all is the feminist-driven academic and journalistic culture celebrating that yesterday’s “loose” women are today’s “liberated” women, able to proudly “explore their sexuality” without “getting punished for their lust,” as the feminist writer Naomi Wolf put it in the Guardian in December.

Wolf devoted her 1997 book Promiscuities to trying to remove the stigma from .  .  . promiscuity. On the one hand, she decried the double-standard unfairness of labeling a girl who fools around with too many boys a “slut,” and, on the other, she lionized “the Slut” (her capitalization) as the enviable epitome of feminist freedom and feminist transgression against puritanical social norms.

And here’s feminist Nancy Bauer in the New York Times:

If there’s anything that feminism has bequeathed to young women of means, it’s that power is their birthright.  Visit an American college campus on a Monday morning and you’ll find any number of amazingly ambitious and talented young women wielding their brain power, determined not to let anything — including a relationship with some needy, dependent man — get in their way.  Come back on a party night, and you’ll find many of these same girls (they stopped calling themselves “women” years ago) wielding their sexual power, dressed as provocatively as they dare, matching the guys drink for drink — and then hook-up for hook-up.

Feminists aren’t concerned about the hook-up culture. On the contrary – they think of it as a natural and good application of their feminist doctrines.

Now with that out of the way, let’s look at what Stuart Schneiderman has found in the Atlantic about the college hook-up culture.


Not long after she arrived on campus in September, Nicole had started hooking up with a guy who belonged to one of the more popular fraternities on campus. As she explained to me over coffee that day, one night in the fall, she got drunk and ended up having sex with this guy in his dingy frat room, which was littered with empty cans of Keystone Light and pizza boxes. She woke up the next morning to find a used condom tangled up in the sheets. She couldn’t remember exactly what had happened that night, but she put the pieces together. She smiled, looked at the frat brother, and lay back down. Eventually, she put her clothes on and walked back to her dorm. Mission accomplished: She was no longer a virgin.

This was a routine she repeated for months. Every weekend night, and on some weekday nights, she would drink so heavily that she could remember only patches of what happened the night before and then would have sex with the same fraternity brother. One night, she was talking with someone else at the frat when the brother interrupted her and led her upstairs to have sex. On another occasion, they had sex at the frat, but Nicole was too drunk to find her clothes afterward, so she started walking around the house naked, to the amusement of all of the other brothers. She was too drunk to care. Eventually, everything went dark. Next weekend, she returned to the frat.

On that spring day, as Nicole told me these stories, she didn’t make eye contact with me.

When I asked Nicole if she was still hooking up with the same frat boy, she shook her head. She explained that the entire time she was having sex with him he never once spoke to her or acknowledged her outside of his fraternity’s basement. Not in the library, not in the dining hall, not at the bookstore.

“One time, I waved at him in front of the food court and said hi, but he just ignored me.”

“Was he with anyone?” I asked—as though that would make a difference.

“A bunch of his friends.”

And later:

She talked less. She stopped exercising. And she started walking around with her eyes to the ground. The lively girl I had known in the fall, who reminded me of so many freshman girls I had met as editor of a campus publication and vice president of my sorority, had recently been placed on suicide watch by the university health clinic.

This reminds me about one of the chapters in “Unprotected“, by Dr. Miriam Grossmann, in which she explains how women respond to the pressure to take part in the hook-up culture.

Stuart explains why women are doing this:

College administrators who counsel young women are permissive about hooking up. They believe that women like sex just as much as men and therefore that if a man likes hooking up a woman must like it too. They are comfortable with the idea that abuse is not abuse if it is consensual.

Thus they encourage hooking up and pretend that it is normal behavior.

Young women have learned from the ambient culture that the alternatives to hooking up, dating and courtship are oppressive. They have learned that abstinence is unnatural and repressive.

As I have often mentioned on this blog, feminism deserves considerable responsibility for this state of affairs.

Feminists encourage hooking up. They are pimping out young women for the cause. They must count among the sex traffickers.

[…][O]ur culture has imposed mental constraints that are every bit as powerful as physical coercion, but far less difficult to identify.

It has taught young women that when they hook up they are making free choices and are doing something that Hanna Rosin and the sisterhood approve of. Forcing young women to hook up by persuading that they have no real choice in the matter is utterly contemptible.

One of the reasons why I remain a virgin is because I think that sex is something that should not be done merely for recreation. It’s a way of bonding, and it’s not fair to women to make them do bonding activities before you have bonded to them through marriage. Sex is not something that should be done before a lifelong commitment. We shouldn’t be passing any laws or creating any policies that encourage women to get involved with recreational premarital sex. It’s not good for them.

8 thoughts on “Sex-trafficking on campus: the logical outworking of feminist rhetoric”

  1. Some conflicting reports on this issue, Wintery. First, from one of the stories you cited above:

    “On most college campuses, the hook-up culture is the norm; there is little to no dating. Various academic studies have found that anywhere between 65 to 75 percent of undergraduates nationwide have participated in the hook-up culture.”

    Yet from a study published just last week:

    “… a new study… suggests college students are not actually hooking up as frequently as one might think.”

    Just FYI.


    1. The research findings in the last report are very hard to assess. There is no way to tell whether the student hooking up are also included in the students having romantic sex. You could argue that when students are not in a romantic relationship they are hooking up, with only 16% of women holding out for romance. What is clearly troubling is that from the beginning to the end of the first year there is a significant increase in the percentage of people hooking up. And keep in mind that these are freshmen in the study. I wonder about the results among juniors and seniors.


  2. Rosin et al are basically saying that hooking up is good for the most ambitious women, because it frees them to focus on their education and careers without the constraint of having an emotional entanglement with a man that might lead them to make compromises on either or both of those fronts.

    She’s right about that, I think. I was at Stanford around the same time she was, and there were many women who followed that approach.

    The problem, though, is that the hookup culture becomes the dominant meme of the sex relations culture on campus, even though the women who are not top line ambitious and who are a majority even at places like Stanford do not benefit from this. That’s where the coercion comes in. In other words, because the hookup culture benefits the top women in terms of their single minded advancement in life, it must be the dominant meme (otherwise it won’t happen), and the rest of the women need to either participate or sit out, but either way not reap the “benefits” of this (which are sex without entanglements — something that very few women want, but which the few that *do* want are using to run roughshod over everyone else).


  3. “One of the reasons why I remain a virgin is because I think that sex is something that should not be done merely for recreation. It’s a way of bonding, and it’s not fair to women to make them do bonding activities before you have bonded to them through marriage.”

    I can assure you that I very much appreciate that.


  4. “[…][O]ur culture has imposed mental constraints that are every bit as powerful as physical coercion, but far less difficult to identify.”

    This is very well said and very important.

    “Sex without entanglements” is a very shallow concept, in that it ignores the massive damage done to the soul. It affects every relationship that person will ever have, and especially cheapens and destroys the joy of true and deep intimacy of any future marriage.


Leave a Reply to Nobody Important Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s