Et tu, NPR? Moral panic hits public radio


Back in the good old days when no one – we swear! – had pre-marital sex.
I’m used to seeing moral panic “hook up” stories on Good Morning America (Is Oral Sex the New Goodnight Kiss?!) and Newsweek, but NPR?!

Sex Without Intimacy: No Dating, No Relationships
The hookup — that meeting and mating ritual that started among high school and college students — is becoming a trend among young people who have entered the workaday world. For the many who are delaying the responsibilities of marriage and child-rearing, hooking up has virtually replaced dating.

Here we go. Shit, there’s even the obligatory Sex and the City reference! The radio segment takes a more complex perspective, of course, than your run-of-the-mill sex scare stories. But I was still disappointed to see the myth that young folks only just started having pre-marital funtime perpetuated by NPR.
As I’ve written before, 95% of Americans have premarital sex, and this has been true for decades. Even for women who were born in the 1940s, nine out of ten had sex before marriage. This is not something new, it doesn’t come from the internet or texting (sorry, sexting!). What was also irritating is this thinly-veiled fear that young people are waiting too long to get married (the article is accompanied by marriage rate graphs) – yet another anti-feminist talking point.
But what struck me the most about the article that accompanied the radio segment was the poll they had at the end:

Talk about removing nuance from sexuality! As if “hooking up” was some sort of monolith. I imagine people’s sexual experiences run the gamut from “fun” to “degrading” to – gasp! - feelings not easily explained by an online poll.
Related posts: Moral panic visualized
Girls aren’t “going wild” after all
Spitting Game: A film about “hook up” culture
What’s wrong with casual sex?

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54 Comments

  1. timberwraith
    Posted June 11, 2009 at 9:00 pm | Permalink

    *yawn* I’d rather have a nice hike through a beautiful forest.

  2. Courtroom Mama
    Posted June 12, 2009 at 1:00 pm | Permalink

    This.
    It’s grammatically ambiguous and would be more clear if they said “responsibilities attendant to marriage and blah blah,” but I am quite certain they didn’t mean “the duty to marry and blah blah.”

  3. may wilkerson
    Posted June 12, 2009 at 2:48 pm | Permalink

    I am one of the token 20-somethings featured in this story, and my actual views are much different than were depicted in the piece. Please see my response, titled “‘It’s Complicated’: A Defense of Intimacy in an Internet Age”, here: http://www.takethehandle.com/interactive/?p=8777 , for a more nuanced and critical perspective on the subject.
    Thanks for reading!
    - May Wilkerson

  4. Fever 2 Tell
    Posted June 15, 2009 at 12:21 pm | Permalink

    It just cracks me up that people think “hooking up” is news. This idea has been around for a while now. Didn’t the boomer generation invent ‘free love”? Why are they so scandalized that their children are doing it now?

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