Reporters: gender imbalances might foster hook-up culture

Gender imbalances on college campuses may contribute to a culture of sexual promiscuity, two journalists said.

Journalists Richard Whitmire and Laura Sessions Stepp interviewed college students and found hooking up as the preferred form of relationship on campuses with a gender imbalance.

“I’ve received several hundred e-mails from campuses all over the country saying that hooking up is the main way students relate to each other,” Stepp said.

Hooking up is anything from kissing to casual sex and the term “unhooked” suggests that a person is not attached to a sexual partner, Stepp said.

In her book, “Unhooked: How Young Women Pursue Sex, Delay Love and Lose at Both,” Stepp researched the hook-up culture among young women by following nine female high school and college students over the course of an academic year. According to the author’s Web site, the women were from varying ethnic backgrounds and from well-to-do families to dispel misconceptions that sexual promiscuity is particular to women from certain ethnicities or low-income families.

In his article, “A Tough Time to Be a Girl: Gender Imbalance on Campuses,” Whitmire said gender imbalances on college campuses played a large part in the hook-up culture. Whitmire defined hooking up as a competition in which young women have sex with men in an effort to gain male attention. Hooking up has become a trend on college campuses where the male to female ratio is imbalanced, Whitmire wrote in an e-mail.

According to Whitmire’s article, gender imbalances can cause universities to become female centric, when women lower their standards in an effort to compete for male attention.

Whitmire, like Stepp, conducted his research through interviews . Interviews generally do not have numerical values attributed to them, which makes it difficult to gather hard data, Whitmire wrote in an e-mail.

According to the 2007 TCU Factbook, female students make up 58 percent of the student population.

“Clearly there is an issue of gender imbalance on campus,” said Daniel Terry , coordinator of the Women’s Resource Center.

As to whether this imbalance in genders has effected gender relations on campus is unknown, Terry said.

“An increasingly promiscuous culture raises many issues,” Terry said. “The more common a hook-up culture becomes, the more there is the concern of safety and here on campus that is way up on our priority list.”