April 12, 2011

Hookups and life of the mind not mutually exclusive

In response to "Nothing U of C about UChicago hook-up site" (April 1)

Last week, the Maroon published a letter from a U of C alum, Mark Meador, regarding the new website, UChicagoHookups(now known as eduHookups). Mr. Meador stated that it was “shameful and morally repugnant that such a site is being run by and for UChicago students,” and went on to lament the “debaucherous detritus” of a university that is losing its unique nature.

However, what Mr. Meador was really criticizing was not the website itself, but sex—or, rather, the fact that it happens. Since UChicagoHookups, due to all of the publicity and media coverage, brought attention to this fact, it became the object of his criticism. However, since Mr. Meador attended the University of Chicago, I hope he understands that hookups, in particular, and sex, in general, happen on any college campus, including this one. The University of Chicago prides itself on having unique, intelligent students, but those students, too, attend parties, drink, and have sex. By criticizing UChicagoHookups, Mr. Meador is acting as if this website has suddenly made sex possible where it was previously impossible, but this is clearly absurd.

This evidences a rather naïve, but widely shared, view towards sex. As a society, we have an immature attitude towards sex as an immoral act and a taboo on talking about it as a way of pretending it does not happen. Thus, when the fact that it does happen is thrust in our faces, we react in an immature way. And yet sex, like eating, drinking, and sleeping, is a perfectly ordinary human act. We aren’t afraid to talk about stuffing our face or sleeping for 20 hours–why are we afraid to talk about screwing? Sex does not prevent us from being rational, thinking human beings. Some of the world’s greatest thinkers have led promiscuous lives, and some of the greatest works of literature are full of sexual content. Yet while we admire these thinkers and consider these classics to be high culture, we pretend that the “low,” explicit aspects of them do not exist. Everyone considers Shakespeare a master–yet how many students in their high school classes learned about all the sex jokes in the first act of Romeo and Juliet, in addition to discussing love, hate, and fate?

Furthermore, if Mr. Meador is so concerned with the University of Chicago losing its status as a “unique” and “uncommon” institution, I doubt that the website endangers that status. UChicago appears to be one of the few universities with such a hookup site. In my experience, hookups often happen at parties, bars, or other social situations where the two parties may have been drinking or know little of each other. This website, however, offers a safer alternative in which two parties, both of them sober, work out what they want and give their consent. And if Mr. Meador is lamenting the downhill slide in quality, perhaps he would be interested to know that most of the people who are posting on the website are looking for someone who is intelligent and interesting, not someone who is “hot,” which he is free to interpret as a reaffirmation of the values of the University of Chicago’s students.

This entire issue is the result of an immature attitude towards sex. While I think that sex is a serious act for people who mean something to each other, I recognize that it is something people are free to choose to do or not to do, for whatever reason, and that choice does not make them any more worthless in other aspects of their lives. Mr. Meador should understand that his judgmental attitude towards the website is based on his evaluation of sex, and that evaluation does not do justice to the individuals who commit the act.

Anastasia Klimchynskaya

Class of 2013