Anti-Feminist Implications of Hookup Culture in the Media

With the “traditional” college experience, comes the pressure to have the traditional college hook-up experience. While this can seem liberating and exciting to have experiences with different people and encounters, it comes at a cost. Quite usually, an anti-feminist cost. Social media, along with the modern-day music industry, insinuate that hook-up culture is “girlboss” and liberating for young women, when this is actually the opposite, causing these young women to advocate for their own objectification. 

Let’s break this down. The idea of women getting to choose their sexual partners and ideals without being slut-shamed, sounds inviting. Women, in theory, are able to have control over their own pleasure and satisfaction. However, then why is it that only 26% of women participating in college hookups actually report positive feelings after having one? If the feminist goal is to advocate for women taking control over their own sex lives, positive experiences and/or satisfaction should be inferred. With 50% of men reporting a positive experience after a college hook-up, it is clear that this anti-monotonous hookup culture still caters to men. While this is unfortunately the reality, social media and the music industry continue to distort this reality as something desirable for women. 

For instance, with the rise of female rappers and R&B artists, comes the current rise of “bad b—-” music.​​ Think of Megan Thee Stallion, Cardi B, ppcocaine, Doja Cat, etc. While these women are clearly talented artists, their lyrics and meaning behind the songs they make tend to overly romanticize hookup culture, and under the surface, objectify women and pin them against one another. Doja Cat’s songs including “Freak Like Me,” “Juicy,” and “Candy” among others, repeatedly emphasize female physical attributes in a sexual context. The songs don’t just talk about women being hot, but talk about how them being hot is sexually beneficial for their partners. This implies that the primary thing a female has to offer in this world is her body for men to use for their own benefit, when in reality the emphasis on “bad b—-” and “girlboss” music should be talking about things that go beyond the physical scope. 

Male artists do this as well, specifically male rappers. Rarely is a woman mentioned in their songs for anything but their sexual organs for men to have sex with. More times than not as well, it is portrayed in an aggressive, almost nonconsensual way. Unfortunately, this is the type of music that the current college generation and generations below are hearing constantly through general circulation and social media apps like TikTok.

Along with the anti-feminist “girlboss” music that is circulating on TikTok, there are dances and trends that promote this sexist hook-up culture as well. For example, recently there was a trend where women would point the camera to their waist area and essentially grind into the camera and post it. While obviously women have the autonomy to choose how they want to showcase their body to society, this trend is inevitably objectifying women by diminishing them to physical attributes once again. With younger girls seeing these influences on TikTok as well, it puts pressure on them to objectify themselves and teaches them to showcase their sexual desirability. A primary goal of TikToks for women is to appear “hot,” without much emphasis on other aspects of content that could be created. This may seem as though women are taking control of their own sexual superiority over men, but in fact, it turns into a competition where women put themselves on a physical pedestal for men to pick from.

The bottom line is that although women think they are liberating themselves through excess sexual activity, the opposite is the case. By making themselves more desirable to men and then engaging in sexual encounters that only benefit the men, women are in reality losing control of their own liberation. Giving men the one thing they want physically without the other attachments of personality, continues and will continue to reduce women to single-use objects that men can continue to pick from. 

Art by Nicholas Regli for UCSD Guardian.

3 thoughts on “Anti-Feminist Implications of Hookup Culture in the Media

  1. I really like your analysis of hookup culture, Cat. Our culture has been arguably oversaturated in sexualized media to the point where people are seriously hurting themselves in pursuit of something not worth it. As you say, this isn’t to attack one’s personal autonomy or decision-making capacity — it is to call attention to an imbalance within our culture. I hope that people are kinder with their actions and continue to grow with every experience.

  2. THIS THIS THIS! I am tired of seeing men (especially those involved in so-called “social” campus groups like frats) push the narrative that hooking up is something desirable for young women. There’s so much pressure on girls to objectify themselves, and pop culture feminism is largely meaningless, encouraging girls to do things that center men for “empowerment” – such as hookup culture, sex work, and heteronormative practices of dating. Thank you for publishing a more radical feminist take on this subject, for nobody really is brave enough to say this and we women and queer folks who do try to speak about this get shut down for being “prudes” and “puritanical.” In a perfect world, shaking ass and pleasing men would be fine but we live in a patriarchal society where men (whether they realize it or not) implicitly assign sexually active women with less value.

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