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I recently began reading Laura Sessions Stepp’s Unhooked: How Young Women Pursue Sex, Delay Love and Lose at Both, a book I am really only reading because of the final three words of the title. That young women are pursuing sex and delaying love is common knowledge, but it’s rare to find someone who is willing to declare that this causes women to lose at both. While I am not yet at that stage of the book, I am looking forward to her conclusions.

In the first section she discusses what young people mean by the oft-used phrase “hooking up” and seeks to figure out why girls are so quick to hook up and so slow to commit to significant relationships. She shares a conversation that took place between a college-aged girl named Shaida and her friend.

Girlfriend: and we layed [sic] in bed and talked for like four hours and like had sex during the whole thing; it was really like a moment; like he held me sooo tight for the rest of the night; i woke up really close to him; and i felt something…

Shaida: that’s incredible intimacy…do you love him?

Girlfriend: i am scared of loving him

Shaida: because of what being in love will do to you

Girlfriend: because of what does that say about me….i’m just a weepy girl who relies on someone….i want to be independent and i think that it is important for women of our generation but by saying i love someone and need him it’s like contradictory…hypocritical…but i also don’t want to give into love because i am scared he won’t call me…and I will be heartbroken and then feel like a stupid girl that should have known better.

Though she doesn’t say it awfully well and relies on the kind of IM-based lingo that makes English teachers weep, I think she says something important. I’ve often wondered how it is that girls can be so easily convinced that hooking up is both good and natural and this really helped me understand at least one dimension of it. Girls in our society are raised to be independent and to greatly value their independence. Many girls, as with this example, see love as a sign of weakness simply because it gives men the ability to break their hearts. It makes them vulnerable. Any kind of emotional need is seen as weakness. Love becomes something that proves incompatible with independence and empowerment. And so they act like men, giving and taking physically while believing that they are holding back their hearts. Yet it is not that easy. The heart is a tricky thing and can very easily and inadvertently become battered and bruised. And, from what I’ve observed, more and more young women are becoming older, more mature women whose hearts are hardened and, as I believe this author is going to suggest, whose find that they have given away their bodies and have lost their best chance at love. Feminism has encouraged women to act as they do today and, as I’ve said before, the real victims of feminism are women. But we all suffer the consequences.

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