- The Washington Times - Friday, July 27, 2001

"The walk of shame." "Friends with benefits." "The talk." "Joined at the hip." Parents may not recognize these phrases, but they are well known to their college-age children who dwell in a brave new world of relationships on campus, says a study released yesterday by the Independent Women's Forum (IWF).
Most women — like their mothers before them — go to college seeking their "MRS" degrees, said the 18-month study, which involved interviews with 1,062 college women.
But today's coeds no longer find a social norm on campus that expects couples will meet, become friends, date and perhaps enter into a serious and exclusive courtship.
Young women instead are thrown into a whirlwind world of coed dorms, drinking parties and two kinds of sexual relationships, said the study, which was written by University of Texas sociology professor Norval Glenn and Elizabeth Marquardt, an associate scholar with the Institute for American Values.
One common kind of relationship is the "hookup": sexual activity without commitment.
Another common scenario is for a couple to become so entangled with each other — eating, sleeping, living together — that they are considered to be "joined at the hip."
Freshmen quickly learn the terminology associated with these relationships, the study said.
"Friends with benefits" are people who are available for "hookups." Lining up several friends with benefits may be considered "a booty call."
The "walk of shame" is the embarrassing early-morning exit a woman makes from the dorm room of her latest hookup.
College campuses retain a double standard on sex, the study noted. Men who hook up a lot are called "players," said Ms. Marquardt. "Women who hook up a lot are called something unprintable."
"The talk" is what women initiate when they have hooked up with a man several times and are desperate to know if they are now "in a relationship."
The talk is a risk because, with an average ratio of 79 men to 100 women on campus, the man has the advantage. So, "when she asks, he decides," the study found.
College women are both dazzled and baffled by this world of all-or-nothing relationships, the authors said. But in the end, neither kind of relationship is likely to lead to what college women say they really want — an intelligent, long-term, committed relationship that might lead to marriage.
The report suggested solutions: Recognize that young women aren't happy with the all-or-nothing choice they find on campus, and that college men are failing to take responsibility for dating.
It recommended that parents, college officials and social leaders realize that the absence of "social norms, rituals and relationship milestones" in the "courting and mating practices of the young" is a major social problem.
They also should take more leadership in helping to develop these norms, rituals and pathways, the study said, adding that such things as coed dorms "clearly help to facilitate the hookup culture."
At a Union Station event yesterday, IWF also introduced the study and its new Web site for college students, www.SheThinks.org.
The IWF also featured Dr. Drew Pinsky, host of MTV's "Loveline," in a lively but inconclusive discussion about campus relationships with 220 Capitol Hill interns.
In a question-and-answer period with Dr. Pinsky, a young blonde woman reported that the men she dated in college eventually would accuse her "of stringing them along." This made dating difficult, she said.
Both one-night stands and too-close relationships are unhealthy, said another female intern, who added that she would like to date. "But is dating appealing to men?" she asked Dr. Pinsky.
"Yes, but it's not as appealing as having sex," replied the physician, who is a married father of three.
Promiscuous sex is unhealthy, said Dr. Pinsky, adding that college women's unhappiness over casual sex is "what I've been hearing over and over again."
What's not widely understood is that young men and young women have different biological triggers for emotional intimacy, he explained.
Young women typically link intimacy to romantic or sexual encounters. In contrast, he said, young men are fighting a "testosterone storm," which overrides their triggers for intimacy.
The result is that young men are fully capable of having sex without an emotional bond, he said. Men's capacity for emotional intimacy develops as they mature and testosterone levels decrease. "We're not bad, we're just lame," he said.
College women don't help themselves when they watch sexualized shows like HBO's "Sex and the City," or read magazines like Cosmopolitan, said Dr. Pinsky.
The "sexually liberated" characters on "Sex and the City" are "pathetic," he said. "They're not liberated. They're sick."
College women should "stop complaining" and take more responsibility for what is happening on campus, said Tracie Snitker, a 1997 college graduate.
"Ladies, restrict the sex and get the dinners," advised another female intern.
Comments from the men in the audience were equally divided.
"Hookups aren't always that bad. Maybe the dating scene just doesn't work anymore and that's why no one does it," said one young man.
"Men are totally sexual animals. They don't turn it down," said another.
"Well, I'm a virgin and it hasn't killed me," a handsome male intern replied as the audience erupted in cheers and laughter.
"I think women want the norm — the dates and the ring. But I get passed over all the time for the players," he said.
"You don't know what you're missing out on," he teased the women in the audience. "I'll make you breakfast."

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