Dear Kate Taylor, Hook-Up Culture Is Not New At All

Kate Taylor, you wasted your time. Taylor, the author of the Girls-Have-Sex-At-Penn story that the Times published last month, worked exclusively on the piece from September to January. According to a study that’s being presented today at a conference in New York, she shouldn’t have: The notion of a widespread hook-up culture on college campuses–essentially unchanged since the 1980s–is wildly overblown.

By comparing national survey data on two waves of young adults who had completed at least one year of college—the first wave from 1988 to 1996, and the second from 2002 to 2010—[University of Portland sociologist Martin Monto] found that today’s young people are not having sex more often or with more partners. They do not report having sex with more people over the past year than earlier students did. And they were substantially less likely to have sex once or more a week.

You know what has changed? One, according to Monto, kids these days are more likely to report casual sex. Two, academics insist on writing about hook-up culture more often than they used to, giving it attention disproportionate to its influence. Expense accounts aren’t what they used to be; perhaps the Times should have its reporters milk them while ferreting out some real news.

[Chronicle of Higher Ed]