OPINION | COVID-19 manages to worsen hookup culture

Anna Dixon, Contributing Writer

Hooking up in the age of Coronavirus is just as toxic, if not worse. (Ela)

Long gone are the days of the post-night-out hookup, when one could find validation from a complete stranger after their true person of interest ignored them at the party earlier that evening. COVID-19 has changed every aspect of college life, including Tulane University’s hookup culture.

Hookup culture has always been problematic. In the heteronormative realm, it is founded upon the hypocrisy of shaming women for participating while simultaneously congratulating men for the same behavior, all the while stigmatizing the development of feelings. 

For those who form an emotional connection with their sexual partner, a lack of reciprocation can be detrimental to their self-esteem. Questions of “Am I good enough?” and “What’s wrong with me?” become all-encompassing. 

Defenders of hookup culture often cite that it is empowering for women to take control of their own sexuality. In practice, however, they rarely do so. Pleasure, especially for women, is not purely physical nor is it common in hookups. Women are told to gain empowerment by acting like men, by treating sex as a meaningless act. This thought is inherently sexist. Women should be able to act however they wish to — have sex, abstain from sex, only have sex with people they have a connection with — they should not have to mimic men to gain power. 

Although when partners are on the same page their exchange can be mutually beneficial, frequent lack of two-sided communication often results in one party feeling disrespected and exploited. While the alternative is to not have a hookup, it appears that the fear of solitude outweighs the fear of being used. 

Nonetheless, with the restrictions to social gatherings imposed by the coronavirus, the ability to meet new people, and thus new partners, is limited. Regardless, with little else to do on campus, hookup culture by no means has disappeared. Like everything else, it has been forced to adapt to our current world 

The newest question for sexual partners seems to be “when was your last negative test?” In a time of social cohorts and restricted gatherings, students must restrict the number of people they spend time with for safety reasons. These factors have manifested into a push for hookups to be monogamous, a concept foreign to college hookup culture. 

The coronavirus shifted the way that we view relationships in general. Individuals are able to spend time with fewer people, causing the relationships they have to hold more gravity. With the added necessity for monogamous relationships, this intensifies what could previously be a casual situation. 

However, as was the case pre-COVID-19, when the emotional involvement is unbalanced, one person is bound to be hurt. The altered state of our world has added an intimacy to an aspect of college life that severely lacked it. Then the alarm comes back on in their head, alerting them of the danger of their behavior. In an instant, as one person’s fear grows, the mood shifts, and the exchange is over. 

Consequently, the psychological ramifications of this rug-being-pulled-out-from-under-you feeling are greater than they were before, as the weight of relationships has increased, and general mental health has decreased. 

COVID-19 could have been a positive force for hookup culture. It could have been the motivating factor to transform hookups into a mutually respectful and beneficial exchange. It could have even shifted hookups from entirely physical interactions to those involving emotional components as well. 

However, these relationships are still just as they were pre-pandemic: meaningless hookups. 

Regardless of how much time or energy one spends, it is still just a hookup with the same patriarchal principles and lack of mutual respect. But, now, students have to take into account the additional risk factor of getting sick just for sex.