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Is the Hook-Up Culture Empowering Women?

The premise of sexual equality is called into question.

For the last three years writer Hanna Rosin has been promoting the idea of women out-performing men in the post-industrial culture. Ms. Rosin maintains that part of the success women are enjoying is due directly to sexual liberation. She believes that the hook up culture practiced by single women in their 20s and early 30s that we discussed in this blog last week is not victimizing women but is instead being driven by women. Ms Rosin writes, "...the ability to delay marriage and have temporary relationships that don't derail education or career" have made this societal transformation of female dominance in the education and business worlds possible.

This development represents a triumph for feminism, which has equated what we think of as traditional heterosexual marriage with oppression or, as 1970s feminist author  and celebrity Erica Jong put it, "the slavery of Home." 1970s feminists joined with libertines like Playboy Magazine impresario Hugh Heffner and pornographer Bob Guccione to promote what was then considered the promiscuous lifestyle to  eliminate  what Germaine Greer derisively termed 20th Century women's  "dog-like devotion to men." 40 years later the feminists have put up the "Mission Accomplished " banners. Ms Rosin gloats, "The hook up 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." No more relying on men!

There are a few apostates to be dealt with. Author Barbara Dafoe Whitehead writes about what she describes as the chasm between professional confidence Ms. Rosin lauds and the romantic confusion many women are feeling, "There is something in the new single woman's professed desire for marriage that runs against the official story of women's social progress." As the character Carrie wonders in the "Chick Lit" favorite Sex In The City about the hook up culture, "Have women evolved into not having any feelings?" Writer Emily Esfahani Smith warns that the "empowerment" of the hook up Ms. Rosin rhapsodizes about "is using someone else as a means to his/her own sexual pleasure."

Regardless of the pros and cons of the hook up culture and whether it is truly "empowering," one thing is certain: It is happening and it is changing America.

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