“The Plan to Reboot Dating” challenges the hook-up culture, ultimately dismissing casual sex while maintaining non-marital intimacy.
Emily Esfahani Smith goes up against Hanna Rosin and her 2012 article “Boys on the Side,” which argues that “The hookup culture is too bound up with everything that’s fabulous about being a young woman in 2012– the freedom, the confidence, the knowledge that you can always depend on yourself.” Smith counters: “As a young woman in 2012– and as a feminist– I think that the hook-up culture has the opposite effect as that described by Rosin.” Smith cites studies showing that “91% of women experience regret,” and “students who have casual sex experience more physical and mental health problems,” launching into a host of them, “than those who are in committed long-term relationships.”
Smith’s solution? First she states what the solution is not.
“This isn’t to say that early marriage or abstinence is the solution.” She goes on: “Is it possible to move beyond the hook-up culture? Not back to the 1950s-style courtship, parietal rules, and early marriage– but forward, to sex founded on friendship, dating, and relationships?”
(I’m confident that the 1950s is not when courting, rules, or early marriage originated or even became en vogue.)
Then she states what she thinks it is:
“There is a middle way: meaningful sex in the context of a non-marital relationship.”
To her credit, she’s transparent: “the solution is a dating culture, which still allows women to delay marriage and pursue their careers, and also lets them have those intimate relationships with men that they don’t want to delay.”
(I can’t imagine why marriage hinders a career and a relationship does not.)
She even quotes Immanuel Kant to complete her indictment of the hookup culture: “taken by itself…[sex] is a degradation of human nature.”
We all three agree.
But taken with ________, sex is beautiful.
What? Smith says non-marital relationships.
Smith explains that women are able to achieve this because they “hold the power when it comes to sex,” her proof being Lysistrata in Aristophanes. In the Greek play, Lysistrata ends the Peloponnesian War by convincing the women to stop having sex with their husbands until the men quit fighting.
Smith is right that casual sex leads to innumerable problems. But let’s discuss what led to casual sex. The solution for which Smith is arguing was actually the culprit. Non-marital sexual relationships led to casual sex.
Let’s also not forget that women didn’t set out for casual sex. They regrettably found themselves in the midst of it. Women have always desired intimacy within the context of a relationship. But the fact of the matter is when you set out for intimacy with a beloved while abandoning the marriage covenant, casual sex is the result.
Furthermore, freedom does not require dodging the marriage covenant. Covenants and contracts exist among employers, government, athletes, actors, and church members. Human nature flourishes under freely made covenants instead of flighty pursuits of daily passions.
Smith praises non-marital intimacy – as long as it is within a relationship. (I would push her to tell me why she believes a relationship is necessary.) However, women must place sex within the marriage covenant, or casual sex will remain rampant. The reason people squirm out of contracts to begin with is to hedge their bets. But Smith reveals women don’t want a one-night stand; they want a committed lover.