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[Pn. 6] Hooking-up: Intersections of Gender, Power, and Sexuality

19 October 2013


Hook-ups, casual sexual encounters that occur with no expectation of future romantic involvement, are increasingly common amongst adolescents and young adults. Scholarly exploration of the impact of this casual sexual/dating culture on psychological and relational well-being is in early stages of development. Researcher-identified negative psychosocial correlates of hooking-up include lower self-esteem, higher “peak” alcohol intoxication levels, a “ludic” love style, higher fear of intimacy, more depressive symptoms, and elevated levels of shame and regret, although some neutral and even positive outcomes of hooking-up have been reported. Importantly, women and men consistently differ in their motivations for hooking-up and the effects of doing so. Specifically, women report significantly more negative reactions, consequences, and regret to hooking-up than men do, especially for penetrative hook-ups.

The purpose of this roundtable is to further the scholarship on the hook-up culture through discussion regarding the causes, correlates, and consequences of this increasingly normative form of intimacy, especially with respect to gender and power. Together, participants will seek to answer the following questions:

  • Does the hook-up culture improve (or reduce) sexual agency and self-acceptance? Does this vary for men and women (in heterosexual relationships)?
  • How does coming of age in the hook-up culture impact young people's ability to develop, communicate, and maintain sexual boundaries, or relational intimacy and/or vulnerability?
  • How do the media and the hook-up culture mutually influence one another? What is their relation to sexual coercion and assault?
  • How can sexual agency be improved through psychotherapy and community outreach and education?


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