It turns out that college students use MORE alcohol and drugs when they have sex with strangers, and LESS alcohol and drugs when they have sex with people they are in a relationship with.
This study was reported by the far-left Psychology Today.
A recent study published in the Journal of Sex Research sheds some light on these questions. A research team headed by Jennifer Walsh analyzed alcohol use in almost 500 casual and 1400 romantic sexual intercourse events that happened to 300 college women on a monthly basis over a period of 12 months. Alcohol use was not very common during romantic sex: 20% of romantic encounters involved some drinking and only 5% involved heavy drinking (defined as four or more drinks). Hookups, on the other hand, were a different story: Women drank during 53% of their hookups, and drank heavily during 38% of all hookups.
But not all hookups are created equal. There was an almost perfect linear relationship between drinking and partner closeness: The less known the partner, the more likely women drank before sex, and the more likely they drank a lot. Look at the graph I created based on their data. When the casual partner was an ex-boyfriend, for example, only 30% of hookups involved drinking and 17% heavy drinking. When the partner was a random stranger, however, 89% of hookups involved drinking and 63% involved four or more drinks!
The writer explains why this happens:
Alcohol also provides an excuse to those who need one. In a world that encourages hooking up but also judges those (especially women) who engage in it too much, many seem to need it. You’re a slut if you hook up with people just because you want to: Good girls don’t actively want to hook up, and being sober means taking full responsibility for your actions. But if you can blame it on the alcohol, you’re absolved of guilt. You can still be a good girl who just happened to make a mistake.
It’s like they want to do reckless and irresponsible things, but they want plausible deniability, so they can’t be judged by anyone.
This study agrees with a study I blogged about before from the University of Virginia, which explained that college students drink before hook-ups in order to be able to explain to their friends why it wasn’t their fault:
A Rutgers University student commented, “If you’re drinking a lot it’s easier to hook up with someone… [and] drugs, it’s kind of like a bonding thing… and then if you hook up with them and you don’t want to speak to them again, you can always blame it on the drinking or the drugs.”
Other women observed that being drunk gives a woman license to act sexually interested in public in ways that would not be tolerated if she were sober. For instance, a University of Michigan student said, “Girls are actually allowed to be a lot more sexual when they are drunk…”
A University of Chicago junior observed, “One of my best friends… sometimes that’s her goal when we go out. Like she wants to get drunk so I guess she doesn’t have to feel guilty about [hooking up].”
Now, the first thing I thought of when I saw this article in Psychology Today was: “I wonder what criteria these college students are using in order to decide which strangers they have sex with”. And then I realized. For perfect strangers, it would have to be something obvious, like physical appearance. A study found that it takes a woman 3 minutes to decide if she likes a man or not. Whatever assessment is being made in that 3 minutes surely isn’t adequate to determine commitment ability.
Don’t judge me, it wasn’t my fault
It reminds me of something I read a while back in a Theodore Dalrymple book. Theodore Dalrymple is the famous psychiatrist who writes books about culture in the UK.
In the chapter “Tough Love” from one of his books, he talks about the nurses he works with:
All the more surprising is it to me, therefore, that the nurses perceive things differently. They do not see a man’s violence in his face, his gestures, his deportment, and his bodily adornments, even though they have the same experience of the patients as I. They hear the same stories, they see the same signs, but they do not make the same judgments. What’s more, they seem never to learn; for experience—like chance, in the famous dictum of Louis Pasteur—favors only the mind prepared. And when I guess at a glance that a man is an inveterate wife beater (I use the term “wife” loosely), they are appalled at the harshness of my judgment, even when it proves right once more.
This is not a matter of merely theoretical interest to the nurses, for many of them in their private lives have themselves been the compliant victims of violent men. For example, the lover of one of the senior nurses, an attractive and lively young woman, recently held her at gunpoint and threatened her with death, after having repeatedly blacked her eye during the previous months. I met him once when he came looking for her in the hospital: he was just the kind of ferocious young egotist to whom I would give a wide berth in the broadest daylight.
Why are the nurses so reluctant to come to the most inescapable of conclusions? Their training tells them, quite rightly, that it is their duty to care for everyone without regard for personal merit or deserts; but for them, there is no difference between suspending judgment for certain restricted purposes and making no judgment at all in any circumstances whatsoever. It is as if they were more afraid of passing an adverse verdict on someone than of getting a punch in the face—a likely enough consequence, incidentally, of their failure of discernment. Since it is scarcely possible to recognize a wife beater without inwardly condemning him, it is safer not to recognize him as one in the first place.
This failure of recognition is almost universal among my violently abused women patients, but its function for them is somewhat different from what it is for the nurses. The nurses need to retain a certain positive regard for their patients in order to do their job. But for the abused women, the failure to perceive in advance the violence of their chosen men serves to absolve them of all responsibility for whatever happens thereafter, allowing them to think of themselves as victims alone rather than the victims and accomplices they are. Moreover, it licenses them to obey their impulses and whims, allowing them to suppose that sexual attractiveness is the measure of all things and that prudence in the selection of a male companion is neither possible nor desirable.
Often, their imprudence would be laughable, were it not tragic: many times in my ward I’ve watched liaisons form between an abused female patient and an abusing male patient within half an hour of their striking up an acquaintance. By now, I can often predict the formation of such a liaison—and predict that it will as certainly end in violence as that the sun will rise tomorrow.
At first, of course, my female patients deny that the violence of their men was foreseeable. But when I ask them whether they think I would have recognized it in advance, the great majority—nine out of ten—reply, yes, of course. And when asked how they think I would have done so, they enumerate precisely the factors that would have led me to that conclusion. So their blindness is willful.
According to Dalrymple’s experience, it’s not that women don’t know that bad boys are lousy at marriage and fatherhood. They know it, but they choose to blind themselves to it, because it’s just too much self-denial to have to be serious about making responsible choices with men and sex and marriage.
My friend Dina often reminds me to evaluate women based on their past choices, not based on the picture of themselves that they paint with words. Wise advice. And it works for women to judge men, too.