April 22, 2008

What Do You Mean, 'Hooked Up?'

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Back in high school, on Wednesdays I would hook-up with my dad in front of my town’s local pizza place. You read it correctly folks — right in front of peers, little children and the elderly, I would happily hook-up with my dad. Confused? I’m sure you are. “Hooking-up” these days is used for a range of terms. Rephrasing my first sentence to say that I used to meet up with my dad at the local pizza place, you would probably rethink your hasty conclusions that I was some raving psychotic.
So really … what did happened? Did I hook-up with my dad? Or did you hook-up with that cutie from your English class after Dunbars? It seems to get pretty sticky. Since “hooking-up” is a seemingly hot topic these days, the Tatkon Center and the Schwartz Center brilliantly thought up the idea of organizing an interactive event titled, A Frank Look at Relationships, Love and Sex: Hooked-up… or Hooked-up Hooked up?.
From March 31 to April 13, the Tatkon Center instituted a clicker survey to generate conversation in which people were asked what they think the term “hooked-up” means and who they thought walks the walk of shame. On April 16, students and faculty gathered to talk about their personal views on those two topics before being broken up into three groups to create skits that analyzed the walk of shame. Despite the age differences in many of the groups, each of them talked freely about the topics at hand and put on skits that brought up new perspectives about how the walk of shame is perceived from multiple perspectives.
One of the skits seamlessly melded the misconceptions of hooking up and the shameful walk together: A disheveled girl wandered back to her dorm room and claimed that her and her date had “hooked-up” the night before, only to meet gossip about what that could mean. Observers questioned, “Hooked-up? What does that mean? Did they or didn’t they!?” As the girl arrived at her final destination she was confronted by her peers, “It’s so vague. Help us out!” to which she slyly claimed, “Maybe that’s the point.” The inconclusiveness of her statement left the room with an interesting thought: The power of the term “hooked-up” comes from the idea that nobody really knows what it means and that uncertainty gives us a cushion of privacy in our sex lives.
As we ended the skits and continued the discussion, one of the facilitators brought up a concept that many hadn’t considered: Walking home after a party without hooking-up (whatever it may mean) is, in itself, a walk of shame. While the next morning may be awkward or uncomfortable, people can re-frame these moments, not as a “walk of shame,” but rather as the “stride of pride;” going home alone usually means that the night was unsuccessful.
In the end we couldn’t find any conclusive facts; I can hook-up with my dad and you can hook-up after the bars and the both of us can still be content with our syntax. A walk of shame could be anything from sneaking out of a frat house in the same clothes you wore the night before, or it could be going home from Collegetown all by yourself. Everything depends on an individual’s perception of the situation. The context of being on a college campus makes us susceptible to groupthink and hasty conclusions. Hence the next time I see my dad, I’ll try and clarify a bit more for everybody.