Dating to be different

Last summer I had the chance to take a long, hard look at my freshman year and I realized that the dating scene at Providence College, like other campuses nationwide, has taken a back seat to the hookup culture that has claimed both driver and shotgun.

Everyone seems to have a different definition for the term "hooking up". It can mean anything from kissing to oral sex and everything in between. It has been deemed the umbrella term that allows for privacy from others. No one knows what students mean when they use it and it gives them the opportunity to not have to go into detail with their friends.

For a while now, this has been a topic of heated debate on campuses, causing many people to wonder how we got to this point. Why are so many students succumbing to this trend?

You might recall hearing the voices of your parents right before leaving for school, or perhaps the president of the college during orientation telling you something along the lines of, "Who knows, in the crowd of people you meet this year, there could be that person who might one day be your spouse." And so, you embarked on this four-year experience believing, perhaps not wanting to admit, that somewhere amidst the teeming campus is your true love.

Upon arriving on campus, however, mixing and mingling with upperclassmen, you soon came to realize that relationships and dating, as they once were (the old-fashioned notion), have been replaced with drinking and hookups. We apparently have no time for relationships, so why bother? Instead, we get the message we should go for the no-strings-attached, fast and easy, fun approach. But is the experience really fun and worth it?

Studies show that objectifying your partner plays a definite role in this process and if you ask most girls, it's all about the guy. Many feminists have tried to sell the hookup culture on the grounds that it's empowering to women: "I'll screw him before he gets the chance to screw me." The underlying theme here seems to me to be fear -- fear of rejection, fear of commitment, fear that he won't really like me. Fear is what has been driving girls to the hookup scene for a while now.

Yet, here is my question: How is this empowerment? Don't you see he's getting what he wants either way? Even if you think you are more self confident because you took the first step, got what you wanted, and got out, that doesn't change the fact that you are making it faster and easier for him to get what he wants and leave. Since when did being comfortable with your sexuality equate to hooking up, having sex, and everything in between?

By giving into this culture that pushes instant gratification at all costs and downplays feelings and emotions, you are not rebelling, standing out, empowering yourself, or making a difference. Instead, you're doing the complete opposite: you are pushing yourself into a corner, reprogramming yourself to repel love (yes, love, that nearly foreign word that seems to have joined the dinosaurs in the land of extinction), attempting to hardwire your emotions to an on and off switch. In the future, when you are ready to experience a real relationship, it will be a lot harder to turn on.

Why sacrifice who you are, what you feel and what you want? Why is everyone so scared of being the good girl? By saying no, you are standing out, making a difference, and all eyes will be on more blending into the crowd of micro-minis, stilettos, over-the-top intoxication, and submissive attitudes.

So, the next time you are approached at a party or bar by some guy who has downed way too many Heinekens for his own good, asking you for your number and slowly making his move to "take you back to my room", try saying no. One of two things will happen: He will either walk away, or say, "Okay, I respect that," and if he means it he'll call you, because you weren't one of the other girls, you were the one that gave him a challenge to pursue.

What girls don't realize is that they have the power to bring back dating and romance. All it takes is breaking from the conformist ignorance everyone seems to be living in and making one's own decisions.

Viviana Garcia is a sophomore at Providence College, Rhode Island, USA.

This is a slightly edited version of an article that appeared in The Cowl, Providence College's student newspaper.


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