This study examines a ritualistic sexual phenomenon that is becoming increasingly prominent on college campuses. Commonly known as “the hookup,” this ambiguous colloquialism is typically used to describe any sexual encounter. For simplicity purposes, here we define it to include anything below-the-belt between participants not in an exclusive relationship. We obtained anecdotal data from a diverse selection of Duke University undergraduates. Observational data was gathered from several popular student locations, including Shooter’s II, Devine’s Pub & Sports Bar and Alpha Theta Eta Pi Manor Compound. With these data, we constructed a comprehensive anatomical outline of “the hookup” and its relevant social and physiological determinants.
Hookups are highly gendered. Many influential variables were inherently masculine and validating of a gender hierarchy. In 88 percent of the sample population, male participants experienced more pleasure than their female partners. It was not surprising to discover that in 76 percent of the sample population, males dicktated* the execution of each of the five phases of the hookup.
1. The Approach is the initial male-female interaction. In 94 percent of cases, this occurs after 11:07 p.m. This phase varies depending on participants’ relation to one another. We disaggregated the sample population below.
§ Strangers (38 percent).
§ Participants know one another but don’t acknowledge it due to “awkwardness” (32 percent).
§ Friends or acquaintances (20 percent).
§ F--k buddies*/friends with benefits* (9 percent).
2. The Pursuit, initiated by males 84 percent of the time, indicates an approaching hookup. Alcohol and/or drugs are involved in 94 percent of cases. Drug use was higher at Alpha Theta Eta Pi Manor Compound than other locations. Pursuit peacocking rituals include:
§ Substance use: the male often offers the female alcohol or drugs as a “social lubricant”.
§ Mating dance: more common at Shooter’s II than other locations. It can involve:
o Dry humping*
o In rare cases (2 percent), below-the-belt action.
§ Vapid conversation: if the noise level is conducive, participants establish a connection based on trivial commonalities. Phrases may include:
o “You’re an English major? I read a book once!”
o “You’re from Connecticut so you must have seen the new Range Rover.”
o “My fourth cousin’s neighbor works at McBain Group and he’s the shit.”
3. The Proposition, initiated by males 84 percent of the time, is a hookup proposal. We found that 92 percent of the time, the proposition is thinly veiled as another activity requiring relocation. Phrases may include:
§ “It’s getting late.”
§ “Wanna watch a movie?”
§ “Let’s drop by my room so I can lend you my LSAT prep book before I forget.”
Regarding a f--k buddy/friend with benefits, this is likely the first phase of the hookup and usually occurs via text messaging. Texts may include:
§ “You out tonight?”
§ “I wanna (verb) your (noun) tonight.”
4. The Hookup refers to the sexual encounter. Influential variables include:
o Some participants had unorthodox ways of giving consent. These may include: not speaking, a high B.A.C. and phrases such as: “I thought we were just going to watch a movie!”
o Further research is needed to examine these modern interpretations of consent.
o Prior to sex, it is common for the male to ask “are you on the pill?”
o This statement signifies an effort to avoid condom usage and implies that both partners lack STIs. It presents evidence as to why the Duke Student Health Center has seen a drastic spike in chlamydia incidence over the past 5 years.
o In 96 percent of cases, hookups ended immediately after the male orgasm.
o 85 percent of females surveyed admitted to faking an orgasm.
o Males achieved orgasm at 10.2 times the rate of their female partners.
5. The Aftermath refers to the time period between two consecutive hookups. If there is only one hookup, and especially if it is unsatisfactory, the aftermath often seems negative and infinite. Influential variables include:
§ The morning after:
o Was it present? Did participants spend the night together?
o If so, did the morning after include a walk of shame or a stride of pride?
o Did participants engage in eye contact, conversation or panic?
§ The 3:00 a.m. getaway:
o This occurs in the absence of a sleepover and is often laborious in nature.
o Obstacles include: whereabouts of clothing, hookup location, fabricating a plausible excuse and B.A.C.
§ Future public encounters, especially those occurring sober and in daylight:
o Do participants acknowledge one another?
o How did participants give consent?
o Was the hookup enjoyable?
In essence, many Duke undergraduates experience hookups. Our most significant findings include the gendered nature of the hookup and the unusual ways of consenting. These data suggest that alcohol and drug use is the most influential variable in all phases of the hookup. If we were to repeat the study controlling for alcohol and drug use, we would expect drastically different results. Considering that our sample population was primarily heterosexual, we would also be interested to see how the addition of more homosexual participants influenced our results.
*See glossary at www.urbandictionary.com.
Chelsea Sawicki is a Trinity senior. Her column is part of the weekly Socialites feature and runs every other Wednesday. Send Chelsea a message on Twitter @ChelsTweetzz.