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November 13 2012

Time to Reboot Dating?

Charlotte Hays

One of the more intriguing articles about the hook-up culture comes from Ricochet blogger and New Criterion associate editor Emily Esfahani Smith.

Smith has an interesting proposal on how to combat the hook-up culture. But first the problem: women are dissatisfied with and often harmed by the casual sex that is the norm on many campuses.

This runs counter to the argument advanced by author Hanna Rosin in a famous Atlantic piece headlined “Boys on the Side.”  Rosin proposed that young women, who now outnumber men on campuses, are actually empowered by the hook-up culture. Not so, says Smith. In a piece for the same magazine, Smith describes the toll taken on young women by the "Hook up now; get therapy later" atmosphere that prevails on many college campuses:

The balance of power in the hook-up culture lies with the men, an issue that has become more pronounced as women outnumber men on campuses, creating a surplus of girls and a scarcity of guys. According to a 2010 report by the American Council on Education, 57 percent of all undergraduates are female. Robert Epstein, a professor of psychology at Harvard and an expert in relationships, said in an interview with me that the more women there are on campus, the more prevalent the hook-up culture is: "You have a situation in which relationships are bound to fail and men keep switching off from one woman to the next," he told me. What motivation do men have to ask women out on a date when sex is so widely and easily available

The feminist sociologist Lisa Wade, based at Occidental College, who did a qualitative study of 44 of her freshman students (33 of them women), found that most of them were "overwhelmingly disappointed with the sex they were having in hook ups. This was true of both men and women, but was felt more intensely by women."

Smith has a novel idea: Lysistrata feminism.

Lysistrata, as you will recall, was the visionary gal in a play by Aristophanes. It was she who persuaded the women of Athens to withhold sexual favors until the guys stopped fighting the Peloponnesian War.

Maybe I've been reading too much Camille Paglia, but I have a new vision of feminism for young women inspired by ancient Greece. My feminism--Lysistrata Feminism--is meant to reboot dating and end the hook-up culture. 

Independent Women’s Forum’s mission is to improve the lives of Americans by increasing the number of women who value free markets and personal liberty. Sister organization of Independent Women’s Voice.
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