It’s clear that Kurz is uncomfortable with the hookup culture — and that’s fine. Kurz and students like him who find that casual hookups and DFMOs violate their core beliefs should never feel like they have to take part in sexual experiences that make them feel awkward or unfulfilled. And in calling upon Princeton students to seriously evaluate their choices and understand what they want before they blindly adhere to perceived social norms, Kurz validates the very real desire on this campus for alternatives to the hookup culture — dating, relationships — and encourages healthy decision-making. As a personal reflection on campus culture, Kurz’s piece would not have been at all problematic. But Kurz also generalizes his personal experiences to the campus at large, making assumptions that are sexist and harmful.
Kurz’s article is based upon the assumptions that Princeton women who participate in hookup culture are desperately unhappy and that the men they hook up with are taking advantage of them. His article is focused on heterosexual hookups, and he equates them to a predator-prey situation, explaining that he no longer wants to be “a conqueror looking for a victim.” In equating women to “victims,” Kurz implies that the women on this campus are looking to avoid hookups and are simply entrapped by male students. In his column, he describes a time when he chose not to hook up with a student after he decided he should not “use her.” He says, “I shouldn’t make promises with my body that weren’t backed up in my heart and mind.”
My female friends vary in their opinions — some are always comfortable with casual hookups, some know they are only looking for a committed relationship, and many fall somewhere in the middle. But all share one commonality: They know what they want, and they can make their own choices. It is never right to force or coerce anyone to do something she (or he) does not want to do, and adding alcohol to the mix means that everyone involved must be doubly sure of consent. But it is also wrong to assume that men must protect women from themselves. The women I know on campus who participate in the hookup culture do so willingly and purposefully — they are satisfied with what Kurz calls the “temporary gratification” of hooking up and don’t want it to turn into a relationship. They are not victims.
Even more problematic than the portrayal of women as “victims” is Kurz’s alternative. After he realized he no longer wanted to participate in the hookup culture, Kurz describes what he would prefer: “Instead, I wanted to be the knight with a streak of dirt across his face who puts his life on the line to save a girl from her distress. I wanted to be the guy girls could trust, the guy who protects girls rather than taking advantage of them, the guy a father would want his daughter to be dating.” Again, Kurz assumes that women on this campus are vulnerable and incapable — that we need men to save us and protect us from some unnamed evil. Through Kurz’s portrayal, it would seem as though Princeton women are abused and dejected, silently waiting in distress for the day that we are lucky enough to be asked out to coffee.
I am not arguing for an end to dating and relationships and an elevation of the hookup culture.
I personally would prefer to partake in a culture of dating and relationships, and I think people should be able to feel comfortable departing from the hookup status quo. In a place as stressful and hectic as Princeton, it’s so important to have people who support and respect you, and committed relationships are one way to provide that type of connection. But Kurz’s ideal, a “deep relationship built on trust, mutual respect and joy” can only develop if both people involved begin as equals — impossible if one is a damsel in distress.
Sarah Schwartz is a sophomore from Silver Spring, Md. She can be reached at email@example.com.
Original URL: http://www.dailyprincetonian.com/2012/10/18/31558/