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Unhooked: How Young Women Pursue Sex, Delay Love, and Lose at Both

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An eye-opening examination of the hookup culture, seen through the personal experiences of high school-and college-age women who confront the hard lessons of dating, love, and sex. We're living in an increasingly sexualized world, and it's the young-particularly young women-who must deal with the consequences. Kids are having more sexual contact than ever, and at an earlie An eye-opening examination of the hookup culture, seen through the personal experiences of high school-and college-age women who confront the hard lessons of dating, love, and sex. We're living in an increasingly sexualized world, and it's the young-particularly young women-who must deal with the consequences. Kids are having more sexual contact than ever, and at an earlier age. They call it "hooking up." But what is "hooking up"? According to Laura Sessions Stepp, a reporter at "The Washington Post," hooking up eludes a neat definition. It can be anything from an innocent kiss to sexual. In "Unhooked," Stepp follows three groups of young women (one in high school, one each at Duke and George Washington universities). She sat with them in class, socialized with them, listened to them talk, and came away with some disturbing insights, including that hooking up carries with it no obligation on either side. Relationships and romance are seen as messy and time-consuming, and love is postponed-or worse, seen as impossible. Some young women can handle this, but many can't, and they're being battered-physically and emotionally-by the new dating landscape. The result is a generation of young people stymied by relationships and unsure where to turn for help. "The need to be connected intimately to others is as central to our well-being as food and shelter," Stepp writes in "Unhooked." "In my view, if we don't get it right, we're probably not going to get anything else in life right."


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An eye-opening examination of the hookup culture, seen through the personal experiences of high school-and college-age women who confront the hard lessons of dating, love, and sex. We're living in an increasingly sexualized world, and it's the young-particularly young women-who must deal with the consequences. Kids are having more sexual contact than ever, and at an earlie An eye-opening examination of the hookup culture, seen through the personal experiences of high school-and college-age women who confront the hard lessons of dating, love, and sex. We're living in an increasingly sexualized world, and it's the young-particularly young women-who must deal with the consequences. Kids are having more sexual contact than ever, and at an earlier age. They call it "hooking up." But what is "hooking up"? According to Laura Sessions Stepp, a reporter at "The Washington Post," hooking up eludes a neat definition. It can be anything from an innocent kiss to sexual. In "Unhooked," Stepp follows three groups of young women (one in high school, one each at Duke and George Washington universities). She sat with them in class, socialized with them, listened to them talk, and came away with some disturbing insights, including that hooking up carries with it no obligation on either side. Relationships and romance are seen as messy and time-consuming, and love is postponed-or worse, seen as impossible. Some young women can handle this, but many can't, and they're being battered-physically and emotionally-by the new dating landscape. The result is a generation of young people stymied by relationships and unsure where to turn for help. "The need to be connected intimately to others is as central to our well-being as food and shelter," Stepp writes in "Unhooked." "In my view, if we don't get it right, we're probably not going to get anything else in life right."

30 review for Unhooked: How Young Women Pursue Sex, Delay Love, and Lose at Both

  1. 5 out of 5

    Meredith

    Our culture assures both young men and women that sex without attachment or boundaries is healthy. This author, through hundreds of interviews with tweens through college co-eds debunks this myth to prove that sex without responsibility is not only unhealthy, but will set these young people down the slippery slope to emotional and psychological disaster. Young men, and especially young women, aren't wired to enjoy sex without connection. Feminists got it all wrong, yet again. It us our daughters Our culture assures both young men and women that sex without attachment or boundaries is healthy. This author, through hundreds of interviews with tweens through college co-eds debunks this myth to prove that sex without responsibility is not only unhealthy, but will set these young people down the slippery slope to emotional and psychological disaster. Young men, and especially young women, aren't wired to enjoy sex without connection. Feminists got it all wrong, yet again. It us our daughters who will pay the heavy burden of the lie of "sexual liberation."

  2. 5 out of 5

    Mandi

    I strongly recommend this to anyone that has a teenage daughter. The "hook up" culture is shocking but oh so true. I think I escaped high school/college as this was beginning and I can vouch for it's awful truth. Our culture promotes girls to be "independent women" and concentrate on careers before love. What does that leave them with? The idea that "hook ups" and "one night stands" without feeling is power and makes them immune to hurt and distracting emotions with the opposite sex. Laura Sessi I strongly recommend this to anyone that has a teenage daughter. The "hook up" culture is shocking but oh so true. I think I escaped high school/college as this was beginning and I can vouch for it's awful truth. Our culture promotes girls to be "independent women" and concentrate on careers before love. What does that leave them with? The idea that "hook ups" and "one night stands" without feeling is power and makes them immune to hurt and distracting emotions with the opposite sex. Laura Sessions Stepp book explains the domino effect of this trend and how it prevents girls and women from learning important life lessons in the long run and leave them feeling empty and confused when it's time to pursue romantic relationships....not to mention the STD's. I think it's a good idea for high school girls to read this too. It's a great look into the everyday pressures that adolescents and hormonal teens are faced with in the 21st Century.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Katie

    So far what I have learned from this book: rich, overachieving white people treat other people like objects, want to control everything, wonder why they are lonely and loveless. Film at 11. Now I have finished the book and the initial impression remains. The choices these girls are making are extremely distressing, but I have to wonder just how many people the scenarios in the book apply to. While clearly some young women are able to use their bodies as "currency," this never was the case for me- So far what I have learned from this book: rich, overachieving white people treat other people like objects, want to control everything, wonder why they are lonely and loveless. Film at 11. Now I have finished the book and the initial impression remains. The choices these girls are making are extremely distressing, but I have to wonder just how many people the scenarios in the book apply to. While clearly some young women are able to use their bodies as "currency," this never was the case for me--even if I had for some reason wanted to choose to behave like these girls, I doubt I would have been able to, I've just never been *that* attractive or high-status. I found myself feeling not pity but disgust and annoyance at these protagonists, as a result. So they're pretty and desirable and choose to act like vapid, promiscuous fools--this isn't my problem exactly, is it? I also kept wondering, in the chapters about high school girls, where are the parents? It shocked me that they seemed to be aware of how their daughters were behaving but didn't feel moved to do too much about it. Sure there were summary "groundings" but when that didn't seem to change much why not make a more severe move, like pulling them out of school and putting them in a single sex academy or something? Surely money was not an object for most of these folks. I can only guess that the parents, too, wanted to be "cool" and that meant not being too strict or restrictive--that's what those uncool prudish conservatives and religious nuts do, right? Overall I was left with the impression that these girls and the little culture they are part of are causing irreparable damage, and no one wants to be uncool enough to really care and put a stop to it. Very sad. The author, too, wanted to be cool and her "I'm so with it, they tell me EVERYTHING, girlfriend!" gushing writing style got very old very quickly.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Jeannel

    Comments: This is a book written by a conservative female and for conservative, upper-class females. It is written for Baby Boomers and their children, comparing "what dating/sex was like on campus then versus now" with "then" being the Boomers’ college experiences and "now" being the new generation. It ignores Generation X completely which is an important part of the history of sex on college campuses. But the bottom line is that this book is about privileged young women dealing with casual sex ( Comments: This is a book written by a conservative female and for conservative, upper-class females. It is written for Baby Boomers and their children, comparing "what dating/sex was like on campus then versus now" with "then" being the Boomers’ college experiences and "now" being the new generation. It ignores Generation X completely which is an important part of the history of sex on college campuses. But the bottom line is that this book is about privileged young women dealing with casual sex (which is treated as a new phenomenon by calling it "hooking up"). The focus of the book is on young women who behave "like men" insofar as they have taken on the bar and pick-up scenes and one-night-stands and made them their own. But Sessions-Stepp says that this partying and casual sex is a problem for these women. They do it, she says, because they crave love and attention. But the traditional veunue for finding love and affection is dating and dating is becoming extinct. So, says Sessions-Stepp, these women have no options but to have casual dalliances as a replacement for dating. And this acceptance by young women of casual sex without any sort of relationship (friendship or commitment) is a terrible thing because the women lose at love. And love is all that they really want. Therefore they are victims of modern culture. This modern culture demands of them that they succeed in their studies and careers. They have been told from early ages that their personal welfare as educated, accomplished women is more important than finding love. This message is ruining their lives. Women are biologically wired to need love and connection, says Session-Stepp, and so casual sex is bad for these young women. They need to learn about how to find a relationship but this is not happening because those terrible feminists have forced things like educational and professional success on these women to the detriment of their love lives. Sessions-Stepp prescribes that these young women admit that they are unhappy and want love and that they give up the bar scene to bake cookies. And if Sessions-Stepp's prescription were to work, these women would tone their ambitions down in favor of relationships (which would leave them less competitive in life and probably more dependent on a man, thus solving the problem of these women "losing in love" because of their ambition to win and control.) This book is just another conservative attack on feminist advancement. Its contradictions are endless: Sessions-Stepp lets the reader know how smart and amazing these women are, but then she tells us that these same intelligent, amazing women are too dumb to figure out the world of sex and relationships without the advice of their mothers. Sessions-Stepp tells us how great it is that women have gained equality with men, but then says that women mistakenly think that they can go to bars and pick-up guys, when this is not naturally a woman's domain but should be left to the men. And then we are told that young women are victims of the "hook-up" culture when they would really rather have other options (dating). But the entire book claims that women are the force driving the hook-up culture because they are too "busy" and too ambitious to bother with devoting their extra time to dating. All of Sessions-Stepp's proclamations apply only to upper-class, privileged women because the lower and lower-middle class women certainly don't have trips to Europe, the Mexican Riviera, and high-status internships in metro-DC taking up all of their time and taking them away from finding a husband. Sessions-Stepp says little to nothing about young men in this book. After all, this entire problem of casual sex replacing marriage is the fault of women and it hurts women. Even when Sessions-Stepp does introduce us to a few young men in this book, she doesn't take the time to do with the guys what she does with the women: describe their looks as carefully as possible. The most Session-Stepp wants to tell us about the men is that they are wearing shorts. This is certainly more than I need to know anyway, but her insistence on describing the women's hair (dark, blonde, long), eyes, bodies (thin, curvy, etc.), complexions, etc. reeks of tabloid-mentality analysis rather than an actual examination of current demographic trends. This book is not worth your time, but if you must read it, the first two chapters will suffice, as the rest of the book is repetitive.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Erin

    I thought this book was absolutely terrific. I read some of the other reviews where readers complained the author advocated going back to the 1950s where girls acted like demure ladies...I didn't get that all. Obviously this is a small (and mostly white, upper class) segment of young women, but I trusted her reporting. Her argument is that girls have completely misappropriated the term "Feminism" to mean sleeping around, and they've missed the point of it all. She believes (and I agree) that the I thought this book was absolutely terrific. I read some of the other reviews where readers complained the author advocated going back to the 1950s where girls acted like demure ladies...I didn't get that all. Obviously this is a small (and mostly white, upper class) segment of young women, but I trusted her reporting. Her argument is that girls have completely misappropriated the term "Feminism" to mean sleeping around, and they've missed the point of it all. She believes (and I agree) that the way most women used to act with men--waiting to become intimate when you know you have the man's respect and commitment--is how many found relationships that fulfilled them. Nowadays, that's not happening nearly as much, and women AND men are suffering from it. Reading it actually made me consider if working with young women who are confused, frustrated, and making poor decisions with little guidance in their personal lives is something I might want to consider doing. I thought it was a fascinating look on how young women have sold out to the idea that they SHOULD be behaving in ways that don't truly satisfy them because that's what everyone else is doing. Really good read. It sparked many an interesting conversation with my friends, family, and co-workers!

  6. 5 out of 5

    Skylar Burris

    This book was rather depressing to me as someone who must raise a daughter in this modern world. As a woman who grew up in the post-sexual revolution climate, I know what it's like to come of age in a world where women who believe in modesty or abstinence are, in some sense at least, outsiders. But even in the 90's, when I went to college, things were not as lax as they are described here: I was aware that "hooking up" went on in college, but it was easy enough not to be a part of that scene, an This book was rather depressing to me as someone who must raise a daughter in this modern world. As a woman who grew up in the post-sexual revolution climate, I know what it's like to come of age in a world where women who believe in modesty or abstinence are, in some sense at least, outsiders. But even in the 90's, when I went to college, things were not as lax as they are described here: I was aware that "hooking up" went on in college, but it was easy enough not to be a part of that scene, and I hardly think it was the norm. I believe dating was still the norm. It makes me wonder how much has changed since I graduated from college, and how much is simply exaggerated and sensationalized by journalists and nonfiction book writers. Either way, I am glad that more and more books like this are being written, books that sound a trumpet horn to young women to let them know that they are not "abnormal" or "prudish" if they are uncomfortable with or turned-off by the broader culture's sexual laxity. It's important because, unless they are a part of a religious subculture, there's almost no one telling young women that their powerful yearnings to link sex, love, and commitment are normal and valid. There's almost no one telling them that they're feelings of post-coital emptiness aren't a sign that they lack confidence or empowerment, but a sign that they aren't having sex in the right context. Overall, however, the book was far too anecdotal and didn't really offer a clear direction ahead. The author took a sort of weak, wishy washy middle ground that was essentially useless. A far better book on this topic is Girls Gone Mild.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Anne Holcomb

    I still don't know how I feel about this book. I didn't read it all the way through because she states her thesis on every page. The book is full of short synopses examining young women's lives in what Stepp calls "the unhooked culture," where one-night hookups take precedence over long-term relationships. She uses a lot of anecdotes to shock the reader right away, and then waits a little while to get to the real meat of her argument about how the hookup culture began and why she thinks it is ba I still don't know how I feel about this book. I didn't read it all the way through because she states her thesis on every page. The book is full of short synopses examining young women's lives in what Stepp calls "the unhooked culture," where one-night hookups take precedence over long-term relationships. She uses a lot of anecdotes to shock the reader right away, and then waits a little while to get to the real meat of her argument about how the hookup culture began and why she thinks it is bad for women. I found her views of the younger generations a bit off-kilter, and of the "society is coming to a rotten end" variety. I wanted the author to acknowledge that in the end it all comes down to the individual person and the decisions she makes. Upbringing, peers, media and society do play a role, but there is still such a thing as free will.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Heather

    This book falls a bit under the "self help" read. Not a normal book that I would enjoy, however one that should be read by all who feel as though they can't seem to get things right regarding love. More emphasis on the college era but still applicable to anyone who's every felt used.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Emily

    This book picks up right where Reviving Ophelis left off. Stepp does an amazing job of chronicling several subjects over the period of a year -- their hookups, heartbreaks and incredibly incisive questions about society and this disturbing trend towards physical involvement with "no strings attached." At the very end, she finally breaks journalistic professionalism and tells us what she thinks, and it's wonderfully cathartic.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Nicholas

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. This book was absolutely awful. It was written version of the Real World. Lets take the most emotionally immature people we can find and examine the inner workings of their social lives. Then lets blame everyone but the people in question for their own faults. Also lets discuss the "immorality" of my generation as opposed to the clearly superior way of doing things that our parents had. That worked out great for them didn't it.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Jillian

    Great read.Comes with personal stories from randomly selected highschool and college aged girls/women.Definately an eye opener, especially in this day and age when girls and women see themselves as the ones with all the power. This book shows how we are using that so called 'power' to only hurt ourselves in the end.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Emily Gordon

    Laugh if you like - SARAH - but I found this book to be refreshingly honest. How exactly DO young men and women in their 20s expect to fall into these wonderful hypothetical marriages when they spend their college/post-college years doing little more than screwing around? Has the feminist movement actually damaged women in that they now prize personal achievement and careers over lasting relationships? As someone who tends to be politically liberal but prone to conservative thoughts on gender ro Laugh if you like - SARAH - but I found this book to be refreshingly honest. How exactly DO young men and women in their 20s expect to fall into these wonderful hypothetical marriages when they spend their college/post-college years doing little more than screwing around? Has the feminist movement actually damaged women in that they now prize personal achievement and careers over lasting relationships? As someone who tends to be politically liberal but prone to conservative thoughts on gender roles, I found this book to be a fascinating exploration. What does it mean to be an empowered woman in the 21st century? Anyway, it's probably not everyone's cup of tea, but I'd recommend it to anyone who has ever fallen into the hookup culture and/or myth of "I'll just hook up until I have time for a relationship". Also, I HIGHLY recommend this to young ladies - it asks a series of thought-provoking questions that you really should ask yourself before entering into a relationship. I am going to give this one to my 16 year-old niece and hope for the best.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Tony Canas

    I picked this one up thinking it'd be an interesting look at the changing sexual mores in our society. Unfortunately she got it wrong, way wrong. Her research is based on a few interviews with college age women that went to school in the east coast during the exact same time I went to college. She came to the conclusion that women, especially high achieving ones with good grades, have given up normal relationships, and instead have decided to simply hook up with random guys to display their supe I picked this one up thinking it'd be an interesting look at the changing sexual mores in our society. Unfortunately she got it wrong, way wrong. Her research is based on a few interviews with college age women that went to school in the east coast during the exact same time I went to college. She came to the conclusion that women, especially high achieving ones with good grades, have given up normal relationships, and instead have decided to simply hook up with random guys to display their superiority to their friends and how guys are taking advantage of that. In my experience and that of the great majority of people I know she's completely wrong. While there is a lot of random hooking up in college it's more of the freshmen girls going crazy and then either failing out or maturing and looking for normal relationships. In my opinion this book completely misses the mark and become rather exploitative of college age women instead.

  14. 4 out of 5

    David

    The topic and findings of this author are important but the book was poorly done. She found that sex among today’s youth is as common as a cup of coffee and that young women are more promiscuous than monkeys. Unfortunately, the book consisted almost entirely of excerpts from interviews with these misguided, airheaded girls, and it became downright tedious after a short while. It was all antidotal, except for a bare smidgen of statistics and the occasional brief and shallow analysis. The reader i The topic and findings of this author are important but the book was poorly done. She found that sex among today’s youth is as common as a cup of coffee and that young women are more promiscuous than monkeys. Unfortunately, the book consisted almost entirely of excerpts from interviews with these misguided, airheaded girls, and it became downright tedious after a short while. It was all antidotal, except for a bare smidgen of statistics and the occasional brief and shallow analysis. The reader is alarmed, but given nothing else, and can do little else but to say , “Oh, my!” and then move on.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Travis

    It's good from a reporters prospect, but lacks a moral compass. Although the author laments the despair of the young women who knowingly or unknowingly debase themselves, she never attempts to help the women avoid their folly, and more seems to help them feel hopeless about "finding a good guy". I came away depressed about the fate of the college educated woman in a sick-to-my-stomach way, with less pity and more contempt than I thought I'd have for those so willingly abused.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Emily

    This book was definitely a worthwhile read for me. Though repetitive, Stepp's examination of the hookup culture is worthwhile and provides much food for thought. I definitely found myself nodding as I read some of the girls' stories. Her sample size is quite small, but that's how she got to be so in-depth. Certainly not the definitive word on the topic, but well done.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Ami

    Argh! This book started out so interesting, and I genuinely agreed with so much of what the author was saying, and saw her conclusions are interesting and true. And then her solution seems to be a return to good, old-fashioned 50s dating. So the book kind of feel apart on me there.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Anthea

    If you haven't heard my personal opinions on LSS, let's just say I recommend this to people who want to protect girls from stereotypes, gray rape, and the ability to make independent, informed decisions. And STDs... Her ideas are ridiculous, but she gets people talking.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Jessica

    DNF This book did not age well. Though it does acknowledge certain pitfalls in hookup culture, it fails to offer any serious solutions. Instead it derides “hookup” culture entirely and lauds the time when a woman’s chastity was more important than her bodily autonomy. Additionally, it is abundantly apparent fairly early on that the author cherry picks her data to support her forgone opinions. I know she is a journalist and not a scientist but such subjectivity rarely leads to any significant or ac DNF This book did not age well. Though it does acknowledge certain pitfalls in hookup culture, it fails to offer any serious solutions. Instead it derides “hookup” culture entirely and lauds the time when a woman’s chastity was more important than her bodily autonomy. Additionally, it is abundantly apparent fairly early on that the author cherry picks her data to support her forgone opinions. I know she is a journalist and not a scientist but such subjectivity rarely leads to any significant or accurate analysis of society. Overall, this book is seriously outdated and mildly offensive even if it masquerades as a progressive take.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Doug Clark

    I first heard of this book in reading a review of it in The New York Times Book Review. It sounded very interesting, and after looking in bookstores everywhere, I finally found a copy in Waco TX. Unhooked, by Laura Sessions Stepp, is her new book on young women and the culture of hooking up. Essentially, hooking up is the practice of finding and pursuing men for the purpose of kissing, fellatio, cunnilingus, and intercourse with no emotional commitment involved. Stepp is a journalist who special I first heard of this book in reading a review of it in The New York Times Book Review. It sounded very interesting, and after looking in bookstores everywhere, I finally found a copy in Waco TX. Unhooked, by Laura Sessions Stepp, is her new book on young women and the culture of hooking up. Essentially, hooking up is the practice of finding and pursuing men for the purpose of kissing, fellatio, cunnilingus, and intercourse with no emotional commitment involved. Stepp is a journalist who specializes on writing about teens for The Washington Post. She became interested in this story in 1998 when attending a meeting with other parents at her son’s middle school. At this meeting, the principle announced that as many as a dozen eighth grade girls were performing fellation on two or three boys at the school. This disturbing news led Stepp to begin to investigate this problem. Unhooked, subtitled “How Young Women Pursue Sex, Delay Love and Lose at Both,” is a report of her research. Stepp’s book is mostly made up of case histories of young women, both in high school and college. The book consists of these women’s stories, along with various research studies into adolescent behavior. The majority of these women are either from Duke University or George Washington University. The high school subjects come from both public and private schools in the DC area. What does she learn? Many of the women whose stories she tells are generally upper middle class or wealthy. Their parents have given them everything they want and/or need except direction in love and relationships. The message communicated is that early relationships are impediments to future success. As such, these relationships are not worth the emotional content expended. The young women are told to maintain their focus, to be successful in the classroom, in sports, in their other activities. They don’t have the time to waste on a relationship. They have goals to achieve, places to be, careers to fulfill. Their lives are so filled with these activities, the time needed for a relationship is not there. Also, they are not used to being hurt, so if a relationship fails, they have no easy way to deal with the emotional fallout. Lastly, they are told they can do/be anything they want. One of those things is to be as sexually powerful as they perceive men are. All of this leads to the hooking-up culture. The hooking-up culture is a culture of parties, barhopping, going out, snagging guys or being snagged by guys with the evening often concluding in someone’s room having sex of some form. The next day, they often walk home alone and are not supposed to be emotionally affected by what has happened. At least this is the message the women are receiving. Unfortunately, this isn’t what actually is happening. Many of the women interviewed are not happy. Some are very affected by the behavior. One consequence is that the women become cynical and feel they will never be in a satisfying and fulfilling long-term relation. This book is a very interesting study of young women in our society in terms of their own views and the views that are being communicated to them. In reading many of these stories, I was saddened by what happened and how they resolved some of these issues. Stepp is equally disturbed. At the end of the book, she writes a letter to women with daughters offering advice and suggestions on how to talk to their daughters about these matters. I can only hope that many women (as well as men) read this book, and talk to their children. I found the book compulsively readable, but depressing. This is an important work on the youth in our culture. I’d like to see her anecdotal evidence expanded to the rest of the United States, as I’m sure this behavior is not restricted to the East Coast. I highly recommend this book for all people. We need to know what is happening with our children.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Sara

    Published a mere four years ago in 2007, this is one of the first books which addressed the “new” sexual revolution from the perspective of young women — the author notes in her introduction that the focus of her studies was sixteen to twenty-one year old, middle-to-upper middle class young women enrolled in four-year colleges. She finds young women who speak both candidly and with no little confusion about how they navigate interactions with young men. “Relationships have been replaced by the c Published a mere four years ago in 2007, this is one of the first books which addressed the “new” sexual revolution from the perspective of young women — the author notes in her introduction that the focus of her studies was sixteen to twenty-one year old, middle-to-upper middle class young women enrolled in four-year colleges. She finds young women who speak both candidly and with no little confusion about how they navigate interactions with young men. “Relationships have been replaced by the casual sexual encounters known as hookups. Love, while desired by some, is being put on hold or seen as impossible; sex is becoming the primary currency of social interaction” (4). Stepp begins in a Duke classroom, asking students to define hooking-up, how they feel about it, and how they see it transitioning to a marriage relationship, which most of them still wanted to have eventually. This leads to a number of conversations with young women who share their stories, including a few who have grown beyond the hookup culture. Yet even these find themselves confused and beleaguered by a culture which encourages casual encounters. The women also discuss their families, their upbringing, and how this has impacted their decisions in regards to hooking up. Stepp also looks at what happens as young women adopt the attitudes and lifestyles of young men, talking with one young lady who argues, “a new revolution of women is emerging…girls are retaliating against the boys who once played them by using them” (63). The author also talks with a few mothers of teenage girls, hearing their confusion and dismay at the culture in which their girls are growing up, and wondering how, and when, and if it is possible to combat this. She also looks at the role (or non-role) that colleges and universities have in encouraging, or at least, attempting to turn a blind eye, towards the damage which these encounters have created, as she researches the dangerous role that alcohol has in these sexual encounters, including multiple women who know they were raped, but were afraid to press charges because of the social repercussions. Stepp closes her research with a discussion of why studying, understanding, and making changes in this hookup culture is important, noting that the double standard is still alive and well. She points to the risks of STDs, the emotional depression, the self-esteem issues which often accompany girls in this culture. She notes that young adults are increasingly confused about how to build trust, respect, and other positive qualities which usually accompany a good marriage (which most of the interviewees still hoped for). One young lady, whose story is interwoven throughout the book, observes, “my generation — actually our society — is taking shortcuts… get rich faster. Skip this step. Win instant approval. Hookups are like the shortcut to intimacy, while dating is the long way around, the scenic route. We want to get there, wherever ‘there’ is, as quickly as possible, and I think we’ve lost the ability to enjoy the journey… I think some people are starting to realize that the intimacy learned from a hookup is no match for the intimacy from a relationship. However, they aren’t quite sure what the difference is” (253). This is an excellent book for anyone working with teens or young adults, in schools or colleges, and is definitely recommended for parents of daughters.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Richard Jeong

    I'm left with more questions then I had when I started the book, and perhaps that's a good think as it means I've been lost in thought and forced to examine more of my ideals and guides, yet I'm not convinced of this primarily given the multiple negative reviews of it. The latter half of my reading was somewhat tainted given that as a conversation piece, unhooked drew the ire of many when discussed. They seem to say that it is trying to redevelop the conservative values of old, the dating ritual I'm left with more questions then I had when I started the book, and perhaps that's a good think as it means I've been lost in thought and forced to examine more of my ideals and guides, yet I'm not convinced of this primarily given the multiple negative reviews of it. The latter half of my reading was somewhat tainted given that as a conversation piece, unhooked drew the ire of many when discussed. They seem to say that it is trying to redevelop the conservative values of old, the dating rituals in the past, where men courted women and the men had the power. I read reviews similar to this online, one particular one is the shredding that Ann Friedman gave the book. I don't think she's actually trying to revert to the older methods of dating, but rather putting this day and age of technologically adept and power hungry young university types into a framework that she & we can understand. I think it's a confused documentary on the station of sex, relationships, and feminism in the modern society. As others point out, there lacks a definite amount of useful data. She's lost in her own fiction world of both biology, statistics, and science. It was definitely not scientific in any sense of the word. Given my current dating/relationship situations of late, I find myself in both agreeing and denying much of what she is talking about in the book. It's a rational disgust for the lack of science or skewing of it, as well as an irrational identification of my own life or parts of it (much like listening to an astrologer). In this way I think it's perhaps useful as a point of discussion, not to take as a literal point of fact, but as a point to discuss how we can both begin to understand how our social existence is changing both because of the radical changes in the value and worth of women, as well as the radical changing of technology. If anything, books like this--anecdotal journalistic arguments based on insufficient information--are likely to become more common. We live in a world where it's virtually impossible for any single person to hold the wealth of scientific knowledge in their head, not to mention world history, a firm understanding of every culture, etc. Yet at the same time the amount of knowledge we are generating is increasing faster then we've ever seen before, it is actually exponential. With technological changes such as cell phones and internet being a large portion of what Laura Session Stepps talks about in this book, one can see how--in addition to the changes radical feminists--technological evolution has changed the environment in which this next generation lives. If this book is any indication, it indicates how quickly such changes can disconnect one generation from another and how hard of a time we are likely to have in the future, understanding our children, the children of other cultures, and the path of humanity as a whole...

  23. 4 out of 5

    Latoya

    "The wisest feminists say to young women: Listen to yourselves. There is no lasting satisfaction in taking a man to bed and leaving him at will, just because you can or because your friends tell you to. Very little good comes of sleeping with a guy, or even making out with a guy, you barely know. If you're interested in a guy, study him as you would for an exam. Spend time with him. Allow him to get to know you." --p. 218 Although I can't deem Ms. Stepp's work as the greatest insight into the ant "The wisest feminists say to young women: Listen to yourselves. There is no lasting satisfaction in taking a man to bed and leaving him at will, just because you can or because your friends tell you to. Very little good comes of sleeping with a guy, or even making out with a guy, you barely know. If you're interested in a guy, study him as you would for an exam. Spend time with him. Allow him to get to know you." --p. 218 Although I can't deem Ms. Stepp's work as the greatest insight into the anthropology of young women, the book does hold interesting little gems like the quote above. The thesis of "Unhooked" is superb; yes, let's discuss how women are using their sexuality as they grow into themselves, and why they choose "hooking up" to do so. However, I was a bit annoyed at the dichotomy between the subtitle of the book, "How Young Women Pursue Sex, Delay Love, and Lose at Both," and the subjects the author chose to interview/analyze. I was under the impression the work would focus on young women of various economic and social statuses, and not solely young women inhabiting prominent universities and coming from middle to upper class homes. All young women struggle in manuevering within relationships, sexual and otherwise, especially in the 21st century. It would have been nice to see the lives of women who don't have the same educational and financial opportunites as the young ladies in Ms. Stepp's book, but have similar experiences. Regardless of that annoyance, the book is a great discussion starter, and even forced me to look at my own sexual experiences in my early twenties, and how they've shaped the woman I've become.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Lacey Louwagie

    Well, everyone's got an opinion on sex, just some of us are important enough to get a whole book in which to expound upon it. I went into this book more-or-less agreeing with the author's premise, that the hook-up culture can be damaging to both women and men and that it bears some serious examining. But the bad science was the first turn-off. Stepp claims to be chronicling a "culture" when in actuality she talked to about 7 high school and college students, all on the east coast, and all from v Well, everyone's got an opinion on sex, just some of us are important enough to get a whole book in which to expound upon it. I went into this book more-or-less agreeing with the author's premise, that the hook-up culture can be damaging to both women and men and that it bears some serious examining. But the bad science was the first turn-off. Stepp claims to be chronicling a "culture" when in actuality she talked to about 7 high school and college students, all on the east coast, and all from very wealthy families and attending two particular colleges. More than an examination of a cultural phenomenon, this was a chance for Stepp to wax nostalgic about "the good ol' days when boys asked girls out on dates," to see young, long-term relationships through rose-colored glasses, and most of all, to wring her hands over whether any of these poor young women were ever going to have husbands and babies. Her condescension was obvious from the introduction ("Once you've read this book, you won't be able to judge these women for their choices. I mean, look at their circumstances! They're rich and coddled and independent and just don't know what to do with themselves!! Oh, the state of the world") but really hit a nerve in her epilogue, which was a "letter to mothers and daughters," which instructed women to wait for the man who would open the door for them. My question was why she really cared whether "this generation" ever got married and had babies. Antsy for grandchildren and security in old age, perhaps?

  25. 4 out of 5

    Ann

    I had a mentor recommend this book to me because I was going through a rough time with my boyfriend at the time. Truthfully, I felt a little awkward getting a book from the Self Help section, but desperate times called for desperate reading. On the brighter side, I appreciated it for the tales that followed other college students that were in situations that either my friends or myself found ourselves in. As helpful as it was to know that I wasn’t the only person in the country doing and feeling I had a mentor recommend this book to me because I was going through a rough time with my boyfriend at the time. Truthfully, I felt a little awkward getting a book from the Self Help section, but desperate times called for desperate reading. On the brighter side, I appreciated it for the tales that followed other college students that were in situations that either my friends or myself found ourselves in. As helpful as it was to know that I wasn’t the only person in the country doing and feeling things the way I did, it was also depressing know that I wasn’t the only person. The scenarios and stories that these girls told were all things that just seemed normal on a college campus until you read it. That’s when a little switch flips and you realize that whatever it is should NOT be considered normal because ‘we’re in college, its okay’. Some of my friends have read this and had many conversations regarding things in the book or situations of our own that are similar and we learn new things about and from each other. Since this book helped us be a little more vocal towards each other and more supportive, we’ve become better friends for it. Yet on the off note, if my mother got her hands on this book while I was still in high school she probably would not have let me leave the house or sent me away to a convent to prevent anything from happening to me. But thankfully she didn’t.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Miranda

    I reviewed this for a blog called Short & Sweet NYC (shortandsweetnyc.com). Here's the slightly longer, unedited version: Taking as her focus group young women between the ages of 14 and 22, Laura Sessions Stepp, a journalist for the Washington Post, explores the relatively recent culture of “hooking up” in Unhooked. Using a case study model, augmented by her own theories and those of “scholars,” “experts,” and at least once, simply “Science,” Stepp retells the sexual experiences of several mostl I reviewed this for a blog called Short & Sweet NYC (shortandsweetnyc.com). Here's the slightly longer, unedited version: Taking as her focus group young women between the ages of 14 and 22, Laura Sessions Stepp, a journalist for the Washington Post, explores the relatively recent culture of “hooking up” in Unhooked. Using a case study model, augmented by her own theories and those of “scholars,” “experts,” and at least once, simply “Science,” Stepp retells the sexual experiences of several mostly white, upper middle-class women at Northeast high schools and colleges and extrapolates a whole lot of assumptions about how all American women learn about and pursue their own sexual desires. While the landscape of gender, sex, and power is rapidly changing for women growing up in a post-feminist 21st century and certainly deserves attention and study, Stepp’s analysis is never nuanced, complex, or encompassing enough to offer a compelling argument. Ultimately, she suggests a reversion to traditionally defined gender roles as the only thing capable of restoring the balance of power between the sexes, and thus, at its core, Unhooked remains a treatise on gender essentialism. More worthwhile would have been an argument that offered new suggestions for the possibility of what gender, and the role sex plays in that construction, can be.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Brie

    Although I really liked this book and the message it told, I have to agree with what other people said about it in the reviews. The author interviewed a very narrow group of young woman, almost all of whom were rich, upper-class girls who's parents had little involved in their lives besides making sure their daughter's went to the best universities. After reading this book, I wanted to know if the "hookup" game was/is really as prevelant as the author protrays. Being that I didn't go to school m Although I really liked this book and the message it told, I have to agree with what other people said about it in the reviews. The author interviewed a very narrow group of young woman, almost all of whom were rich, upper-class girls who's parents had little involved in their lives besides making sure their daughter's went to the best universities. After reading this book, I wanted to know if the "hookup" game was/is really as prevelant as the author protrays. Being that I didn't go to school myself (I was home schooled)I asked one of my friends if she noticed this same trend in her large public high school. Wonder upon wonders, she said that it is common but mostly among the jocs and cheerleaders: "The students who were richer than the average families were the one's who practiced hooking up the most. These teens were obviously spoiled and got whatever they wanted with little or no appreciation for it. As a result, they seemed to treat sex, love and relationships the same way, with the notion that it's all about getting what they want..." So, I suppose she further proved my point about this theory. I also read the book "Loose Girl: the memoir of promiscuity". I heard the same resounding message in this book. A young girl given virtually all the freedom she wanted, little adult supervision and an education in an upper class private school in NYC. Sound familiar?

  28. 5 out of 5

    Bivisyani Questibrilia

    This book opened my mind so much. It gives me a glimpse of how teenagers and/or young adults in America behave. At first, like popular belief, I thought the hook up culture only applies to certain types of people or in the movies. It can't be true that people outside of that world do it too. But this book proved me wrong. Aside from that, it manages to expose this culture in great detail without demeaning it, the people involved in it and the experience they go through even for one bit. However, This book opened my mind so much. It gives me a glimpse of how teenagers and/or young adults in America behave. At first, like popular belief, I thought the hook up culture only applies to certain types of people or in the movies. It can't be true that people outside of that world do it too. But this book proved me wrong. Aside from that, it manages to expose this culture in great detail without demeaning it, the people involved in it and the experience they go through even for one bit. However, I do feel like Stepp only covers overachievers and feminists - with the exception to Victoria who refuses to partake in this culture. This book makes me feel quite sad for the future of the United States, with the people becoming increasingly cynical and incredibly technical about love. This explains why long distance relationship poses a greater threat in this country than anywhere else in the world, even Germany, where I feel like the people are incredibly logical and strict. Maybe about over 50% the people there are involved in long distance relationships, even after they're married, and they're okay (if not optimistic) about it. But this book is now probably somewhat outdated, so I'd really like to read the more updated version, where the digital age has risen considerably. It is definitely worth a read!

  29. 5 out of 5

    J

    This is another in the subgenre of books for parents who want to worry more about their young adult children: the journalistic tone is akin to that of 20/20--even if it wants, very very badly, to be seen as on par with the New York Times. She acknowledges that the young people studied (there are about ten interviewed in this book) are a limited sample (all are upper middle class, most are white, most go to Duke and/or a similar school). But parents could easily read this and think all girls are This is another in the subgenre of books for parents who want to worry more about their young adult children: the journalistic tone is akin to that of 20/20--even if it wants, very very badly, to be seen as on par with the New York Times. She acknowledges that the young people studied (there are about ten interviewed in this book) are a limited sample (all are upper middle class, most are white, most go to Duke and/or a similar school). But parents could easily read this and think all girls are hooking up, no students look for monogamy ever--(never mind that they all somehow magically get married at thirty). Yes, of course, some students live this lifestyle for part of their college experience. Many of her points are valid--young women often aren't getting as much out of these arrangements as they hoped or expected to. But it's difficult to consider this work to be something that speaks to members of the generation it studies. Perhaps it's meant to be generational warfare (see young cute girls of this generation in their most unflattering light) or, more likely, it's simply over-the-top as a means of to terrifying midwestern mothers buying the hardcover and feeling, as a result, like a good parent.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Chris

    This book addresses the massive shift in sexual and romantic behavior in today's youth culture. Laura Sessions Stepp investigates the phenomenon of "hooking up"--what it means, how it came to be, and what are its effects. As someone who works with college students this shift has been apparent (and somewhat confusing to me) for a long time. Stepp does most of her research through personal interviews spread out over time so that she hears the evolving perspective of those involved and can share th This book addresses the massive shift in sexual and romantic behavior in today's youth culture. Laura Sessions Stepp investigates the phenomenon of "hooking up"--what it means, how it came to be, and what are its effects. As someone who works with college students this shift has been apparent (and somewhat confusing to me) for a long time. Stepp does most of her research through personal interviews spread out over time so that she hears the evolving perspective of those involved and can share their stories in more complete detail. The result is that the book is more like a collection of personal accounts, interspersed with insights Stepp has collected from her research. I thought the book was excellently done--the research seems trustworthy and the conclusions helpful. Stepp does an excellent job of making critical observations without coming off as overly judgmental. Her purpose seems primarily to learn, though her personal concerns come through on the page as well. For me personally this book was somewhat harrowing to read. As the father of a 2 year old daughter I kept wondering about the future pressures she would be exposed to and how I might possibly help her with them. It was also a good read for that same reason.

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