Opinion submission: The rotten fruit of hookup culture

By Koa Bartsch | April 30, 2018 10:49pm

Koa Bartsch. Photo courtesy of Koa Bartsch.

What happened at the Wallys was a complete shock for most of our campus community. Many people are angry, and rightfully so! I have great hope for the dialogues happening on campus in the wake of this incident. It is an important part of the healing process and a fundamental step in moving forward to better things. In these discussions, we find us asking ourselves: “Did this really happen? Why would anyone say something like this? How do we prevent this from happening again?” While these questions are important, I believe that the most important question that we can ask ourselves is this: “What is the root of this whole problem?” 

Many will say that it all comes down to a persistent sexist and misogynistic culture on our campus, and they may very well be right. Ultimately, though, I do not think this is the very deepest problem. We may attempt to cut out sexism and misogyny, and we may succeed. Through great efforts, we may never see an incident like this arise on our campus again. We may see sexual harassment and assault incidents go down. We may see sexual harassment and assault cases be handled with more care. That may be the case. However, of this becoming a reality I am very doubtful. These things will not happen until we acknowledge the biggest problem that is widespread not only across US college campuses but also in our modern culture in general. This problem, which has so widely infected our national psyche after the sexual revolution of the 1960s, is the idea that sex can be casual. This “hookup culture” runs rampant on university campuses. 

The hookup culture refers to this mentality that casual sexual encounters without deep personal relationship and emotional involvement are okay. In our culture today, promiscuity and having a collection of multiple sexual partners is celebrated. Sundaram’s whole act was predicated on the idea that sex can be casual. The statements he made are the epitome of the hookup culture. He even stated that his goal in college was ultimately not academic or even athletic, but sexual. His parents’ immigration would be worth it if he could “hook up with a white girl.” There needs to be a rejection of casual sex and the hookup culture that perpetuates it, if we are to make any progress in changing our campus culture and preventing this sort of lewd conduct. 

We go to a Catholic college, yet nobody bothers to draw from the Church’s rich tradition on human sexuality, which is a great weapon in fighting the hookup culture. In fact, many of these teachings are outright ridiculed by many here. Many students love to talk about the Church’s social teachings. We love to talk about social justice, the dignity of the human person, the care for the poor, etc. This is all well and good, but when it comes to sex and sexuality, nobody talks about what the Church has to offer because it is not what we want to hear. We don’t like to be told that sex is serious. We don’t like to be told that sex is sacred. We don’t like to be told that we can’t have sex with whomever we please. 

What Catholicism offers is a holistic and healthy approach to sex and human sexuality. Sex and love go together as intended by the creator of the universe. This is realized in the sacred bond between a husband and wife in marriage. When we separate sex and love, we find an alternative that is not fulfilling, an alternative that we were not made for, an alternative that is devoid of sacred meaning and fundamentally opposed to the order of the universe. What this all ultimately comes down to is self-mastery. We are called as human beings, endowed with dignity and rationality, not to act like animals who are slaves to their passions and instincts but to pursue the virtue of temperance. In the end, we have two choices, to govern our passions and find peace, or to let them dominate us and be miserable. 

Koa Bartsch is a senior Theology major. He can be reached at bartsch18@up.edu