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Boys on the Side: A Dangerous Dish


Let's face it. When it comes to casual sex, many young women don't claim the role of the duped and bewildered teenager, crying into her pillow because “she thought it was love”. Instead, some women willingly embrace the hook-up culture as a temporary replacement for more meaningful and long-term relationships to give themselves the time and energy to devote to starting their careers.

Hanna Rosin argues in her controversial article, "Boys on the Side", that this hook-up mentality has actually been a boon for women, stating that women perpetuating a culture of sex without commitment has fueled feminine progress. Rosin points to the increasing number of dry-eyed and desensitized women emerging from college who have had something akin to a "long and comical sexual journey" and are without committed relationships or wedding rings to "get in the way" of their bigger plans. She argues that these women are free from the burdensome restraints of monogamy and pursuing prestigious, well-paying jobs. But is emotional detachment from sexual attachment truly a sign of female progress?

The truth is, most of us see success and happiness having as much to do with love and intimate relationships as with career aspirations. In fact, in one survey cited by Rosin, 90 percent of college students who responded said they wanted to get married. Women may desire loving relationships and marriage in the long run, but the thought of navigating marriage and children could be daunting for a young woman preparing for a career. Thus, it may be enticing to buy in to the hook-up mentality, believing that we can be unaffected and disengaged from the intimacy of sex one moment, and then like a Jedi mind trick on ourselves, wave our fingers and suddenly know how to be emotionally available in the next.

Verily's Editor-in-Chief, Kara Eschbach, and I explore the dilemmas of Rosin's argument in our recent article on MercatorNet, A dangerous dish on the cultural menu:

None of this is to say that women should not pursue careers or that they need to “find a husband” early in life. But it is dangerous to believe that there aren’t long-term consequences to teaching ourselves to value our careers first and to use people for momentary sexual gratification without any promise of long-term commitment.

Can a lifestyle of self-centered sexual gratification really aid in a lifetime of successful relationships? You can read the rest of our response here.

Photo via flickr user kidoki

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Monica Gabriel

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