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Sexual assault on campus and the curse of the hookup culture

By Jonathan Zimmerman

Los Angeles Times (MCT)

Published: Thursday, May 8 2014 10:55 p.m. MDT

But we also need to change the hookup culture itself, which replaced one set of flawed instructions with another. We’ve gone from “just say no” to “just say yes,” from “don’t do it” to “everybody does it.” Actually, they don’t; remember that 40 percent cited above who didn’t? But there’s still a perception that college is about sex, and that you can’t have one without the other.

There’s also a feeling that sex should be devoid of feeling, at least of the emotional or romantic kind. That’s a formula for misery and, yes, coercion. If you don’t really connect with your partner, you won’t know what they want. And you might end up doing something they don’t want.

“Colleges and universities can no longer turn a blind eye or pretend rape and sexual assault doesn’t occur on their campuses,” said Vice President Joe Biden last week. “We need to provide survivors with more support, and we need to bring perpetrators to more justice.”

He’s right. But we also need to provide our students with an altogether different model of sex, one based not on impersonal hookups but on human intimacy. It’s not enough to say that no means no. What are we saying yes to, and why?

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ABOUT THE WRITER

Jonathan Zimmerman teaches history and education at New York University. He is completing a history of sex education, which will be published next spring. He wrote this for the Los Angeles Times.

©2014 Los Angeles Times. Visit the Los Angeles Times at www.latimes.com Distributed by MCT Information Services

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