As I was reading Kate Bolick’s article “All the Single Ladies”, I thought ‘what a ton of fodder for blogging … BWA HA HA HA HA!’
One thing which struck me about the article was the description of the ‘hookup culture’ in colleges. I wasn’t in college that long ago … and this ‘hookup culture’ is mostly alien to me. In fact, the only time I think ever heard of this ‘hooking up’ thing in college was when my sociology professor discussed it.
Sure, I knew some of my classmates engaged in casual sex … but as far as I could tell, they were outnumbered by my classmates who were married. It seemed the most common situation was to be in a steady dating relationship, with the second most common situation being celibacy (this is why I didn’t feel left out in college).
Now, maybe many of my classmates were secretly engaging in lots of casual sex. But if they were all doing it in a way that I wasn’t aware of, then it’s not exactly a dominant culture.
Then, the article claims that the ‘hookup culture’ is a consequence of a ‘crisis of gender’ … specifically, more females than males. And that was definitely not my college experience. I recall one class where I was the only female student, and it was not unusual for males to outnumber females in my classes. My classmates who were looking for boyfriends generally thought there were plenty of eligible males around.
When it comes to gender ratios, my college experience was an outlier, yet there was something I couldn’t put my finger on…
Then I realized that the article is referring to ‘the college experience’.
Mainstream culture depicts the ‘live-on-campus’ college experience as being ‘the college experience’, in spite of the fact that more than half of college students in the United States go to commuter colleges.
I went to commuter colleges. During the brief period I had part-time work, it was nowhere near my college. I had to take care of my of my basic living needs (housing, food, etc) with practically no assistance from my school. College was strictly about education, even though I met many cool people along the way.
In commuter colleges, the gender ratios are more equal … and less relevant. My social life was not totally dependent on college … if I were interested in getting boyfriend but didn’t find anyone satisfactory at school, I could have searched the rest of my social circle.
One of the most common reasons for celibacy/singlehood was being too busy with class AND work AND family to pursue a romantic/sexual relationship … so when I claimed that I was celibate/single because I didn’t have time, everybody accepted that.
I think mainstream culture privileges the on-campus college experience because it is, well, privileged. If you can afford to send your kids to live far away on an expensive campus, it indicates that you are middle class or above. Commuter colleges are for the working class.