some actual data on college 'hookups'

[UPDATE: I sat down and had a more detailed look at the data from the last fifteen years and wrote a Medium post about the, um, er, “shocking” results. Check it out, if you’re interested.]

So late to the party on this one because I’ve been busy with my actual job preventing sexual violence, but:

You have probably heard about the Carry That Weight campaign protesting college sexual assault.

New York Magazine’s big story about the original case included this interesting paragraph:

 

Is there a rampant hook-up culture on campus today? Of course there is. Does the promiscuity that third-wave feminists heralded as empowerment look a little less attractive when practiced by teenagers with little experience and less maturity? You bet. And frustration with hook-up culture is undeniably a part of the anti-rape movement. 

 

And I just want to take a moment to toss a little confounding science into the claim that “of course there is a rampant hookup culture.”

Here are some data from the American College Health Association’s National College Health Assessment (NCHA), which is THE college health behavior instrument:

Spring 2014 (PDF):  85% of women and 81% of men reported having zero, one, or two sex partners in the last year.

Spring 2009 (PDF): 87% of women and 81% of men report having zero, one, or two sex partners in the last year

Spring 2000 (PDF) (the first spring semester for which ACHA data exist): 90% of women and 82% of men report having zero, one or two sex partners in the last year.

 

So if what you mean by “rampant hookup culture” is “more students having more sex partners than 15 years ago,” then no. There is not a rampant hookup culture.

If what you mean by “rampant hookup culture” is “around 15-20% of college students having three or more sex partners in a year, pretty steadily for the last fifteen years,” then yes. Rampant hookup culture.

“Promiscuity.”

Sure.