Lisa Wade is the author of American Hookup: The New Culture of Sex on Campus. Shankar Vedantam interviewed her on a recent episode of the Hidden Brain, and her assessment of the state of American feminism is, for me, a game changer:
So part of the reason we see hookup culture on college campuses can be traced back to the sexual revolution and the women's movement.
The women's movement wanted two things for women, both sexually and otherwise. They wanted women to have the opportunity to do the things that men do and to embody masculine traits and interests. And they wanted everyone to sit up and notice that the things women had been doing all along and the traits and interests that they were believed to have were also valuable.
And we really only got half of that.
Feminists succeeded in convincing America, for the most part, that women should be allowed to do what men do and even have masculine traits. But we never really got around to valuing the things that we define as feminine. So a young woman who's growing up in America today is going to - she's going to be told by most - not all parents are like this. But most parents are going to encourage their daughters to mix in masculine traits and interests into her personality.
And they're even going to encourage her to do so and perhaps reward her more so when she does that than when she incorporates feminine personality traits. So we're excited when she likes to play with engineering toys when she's a kid. And we're excited when she chooses sports over cheerleading. And we're excited that she decides to major in physics instead of education. And so women have been getting this message. If they're paying any attention at all it's very clear that, as they say, well-behaved women rarely make history.
We reward you, we think it's great when you act like we think a stereotypical man does. So then when they get to campus, that's what they try to do. And it should surprise none of us that many women on campus decide to approach sexuality the same way they've been rewarded for approaching everything else in their lives, with this idea of the thing to do, the way to be liberated is to act in the way I think a stereotypical man might.