04 August, 2008

In defense of casual sex

I'm a 24-year-old member of the hookup generation -- I've had roughly three times as many hookups as relationships -- and, like innumerable 20-somethings before me, I've found that casual sex can be healthy and normal and lead to better adult relationships. I don't exactly advocate picking up guys at frat parties and screwing atop the keg as the path to marital bliss. It's just that hookup culture is not the radical extreme it is so frequently mischaracterized as in the media. There is sloppy stranger sex among people my age, sure, but sometimes hooking up is regular sex with a casual acquaintance; sometimes it's innocent making out or casually dating or cuddling, and, oftentimes, it involves just one person at a time. In a sense it's all very old-fashioned -- there's just a lot more unattached sex involved.

Like most 20-somethings, I've had online pornography and unregulated chat rooms at my fingertips since I hit puberty. But I also grew up during the Girl/Grrrl Power explosion, which taught me to demand respect, and play handball (and, later, hardball) with the boys. And it taught me that I didn't need to cake myself in makeup or teeter along in foot-disfiguring heels -- unless, of course, I wanted to.

From the very start, my love life has embodied that seeming paradox. I lost my virginity at 16 with my first love and best friend; it was all champagne and roses. It was also as-porn-ational sex: I enthusiastically guided us into nearly every position I'd long marveled at online. At one point, midcoital, I actually pinched my chin and asked aloud, "What positions are left?" Afterward, he observed: "That wasn't what I'd imagined, exactly." He had imagined: 1) the missionary position and 2) ceremonial crying...read on >>

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