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On Hanna Rosin’s “Boys on the Side,” or Why Hanna Rosin is not the second coming of Feminist Jesus

Hanna Rosin wrote a piece in the Atlantic on how hook-up culture isn’t victimizing women, but rather is perpetuated by them. Jezebel and Slate gave it good press. I’m giving it a mixed review.

Rosin’s piece makes women who hook up sound, quite frankly, like privileged, self serving assholes. The whole first page reads like something out of “I am Charlotte Simmons”–God forbid women laugh at a dumb photo of someone giving a snowman a blowjob. My 6th grade class was equally as ribald. Among other things, Rosin writes that women who perpetuate hook-up culture are “cannily manipulating it to make space for their success, always keeping their own ends in mind.” Of course, as the piece progresses, those other things that Rosin writes become more positive and praise-worthy, but there’s still something about the whole shebang that sticks in my craw.

Maybe it’s that Rosin is writing this as a preview to a book called The End of Men: And the Rise of Women (which sounds like the perfect Christmas present for your resident Men’s Rights Advocate’s entitlement complex). Maybe it’s that the words “I’m focusing on my career instead of my relationships” sound more callous on the page than coming out my friends’ mouths. I think it’s mostly that I resent that in order for people to make sense of unrepressed women’s sexuality, they have to make women into capital-M Masculine Men. And more than that, I resent that we accept without evaluation that male sexuality is ravenous and indiscriminate, and therefore the shift from traditional dating to hookups doesn’t need to be studied as a change in men. I am not at all trying to say that hookup culture is evil/immoral/terrible/whatever, but it does seem unfair and somewhat insulting that people assume that all men must be totally into it (or prefer it to being in a relationship) because BOOBZ and HORMONEZ and REAL MEN ALWAYS WANT IT.

Anyways, Rosin’s piece is worth a read, but I don’t know that it does much for feminism….I’m glad someone is out there trying to convince the world that women having sex doesnotequal the apocalypse, but it would be nice if women having sex = relatable human beings instead of that sexy-scary girl with short hair and a black pantsuit who intermittently steals Kathryn Heigl/Reese Witherspoon/insert romantic comedy heroine here’s boyfriend.

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