Inequality in hookups is universally widespread in a physical sense: according to Natalie Kitroeff in the New York Times, “many young women are finding that casual sex does not bring the physical pleasure that men more often experience.” The hookup is “over” when the guy “finishes.” This misconception is true here at Bowdoin, but there exists a more serious problem. Frankly, many of the men are so detached and therefore sexually inept that physical pleasure is beside the point. The real inequality that exists in heterosexual hookups at Bowdoin is rooted in disrespect. Men have ceased to treat women in the polite and courteous manner we deserve and have begun to view us as disposable playthings. 

I am intentionally steering away from the stale, overused argument that white male athletes are the only men who perpetuate this disgraceful hookup culture. I am not trying to generalize or stigmatize a certain group of people. The problem instead is one of self-imposed entitlement, achievable by any male, no matter his race or athletic status. The insolent way in which men treat women on our campus during romantic encounters is attributable to this embarrassingly unwarranted superiority complex that many men inhabit. These men perpetuate the hierarchical hookup culture that we see on our campus. Their arrogance gives them false senses of privilege that make their way into the bedroom. The self-importance they assign themselves causes them to perceive the dating culture as they wish rather than taking into account women’s perspectives.

Because of their ignorance, these self-entitled men believe three startling false notions. First, they suppose that women always want more out of a hookup. Second, they are under the impression that if they treat a woman with any decency post-hookup (i.e. acknowledgment around campus), they are leading her to think they are looking for something more. Third, they think that acting dismissively and emotionlessly is “cool.” These selfish, presumptuous and offensive misconceptions surface in the form of disregard. Somehow, disrespect has become normalized and tolerated in our community. The following anecdotes illustrate this disrespect and the skewed power dynamic that color many heterosexual hookups on our campus.

A friend of mine took a guy home from a party. In the morning on his way out, he said to her, “Thanks for the hospitality, see you around.” She was understandably annoyed at this interaction, so she told me and another friend of ours about it. I was livid. Hookups are not a service. Our other friend was speechless. She indulged us in the following: she had hooked up with a guy on the same team the night before who ended their hookup that same morning with those exact sentences. Verbatim: thanks for the hospitality, see you around. Does this particular team script their hookups? These belittling, power-hungry statements shocked me. Next time, how about, “I had fun, I hope you have a good day.” Clear, polite, to the point. Is that too much to ask?

I had been seeing someone for a couple of weeks when, out of the blue, he asked me to talk. He said something along the lines of “I’m not emotionally available enough to be with you.” One of my close friends expressed interest in this same boy a few days later. I told her he’s on limits but to be careful. The weekend after, they got together and soon started a relationship. That felt shitty, but I could take it. What I couldn’t take is that a few weeks later, he did the exact same thing to her and more. Cheated on her, told her he “wasn’t emotionally available” and immediately pursued the next girl. This particular male unjustly deemed my friend and me disposable and still is blind to how objectifying and deplorable his treatment of us was.
A friend of mine brought a guy to her room a few weeks ago. It was their first time hooking up. When she woke up the next morning, she found that he had forced himself inside of her while she was asleep. “Are you wearing a condom?” she asked. “No, I just woke up.” As if that were a fucking explanation. On his way out he said the familiar words, “See you around.” This example far surpasses the others because it clearly crosses a line: instead of just a bad hookup, this is rape. My friend did not immediately recognize it as such, through no fault of her own. Treatment during hookups is so disrespectful that sexual assault has become normalized. As a community and a generation, we need to ask ourselves how we let this happen and how we can establish a safe environment going forward.

These experiences shed light on the false superiority that men feel over women. Unfortunately, these are just a few of my and my friends’ experiences: there’s my semi-boyfriend (now semi-ex) last year who wouldn’t reply to me for days; there’s the guy that my friend went home with, and when he was done, he went back to the party; there’s the boyfriend my friend had sophomore year who dropped her without explanation, and later we found out that he had done this same thing to three other women. The list goes on. I’m not claiming the position of victim nor am I victimizing women. I am simply advocating change. Men should not, under any circumstance, treat us like we are disposable objects. There needs to be a complete shift in our hookup culture. Expectations need to be clearly stated, dialogue has to be open and honest, and consent must be explicitly communicated. Every single sexual encounter must be preceded with acknowledged permission. There is no such thing as blank check consent. The men that ignore this and view the hookup scene as their customizable playground need to recognize that women are equal to them in every situation. The gender inequality that our hookup scene perpetuates is disgusting. It is absolutely time for men to treat women at Bowdoin with the respect we deserve. 

S. Aresty is a member of the class of 2016.