Alan Sillars of the University of Montana, was conducted on college students at a large public university. For a list of alternate euphemisms, see below.
Despite the ambiguity of the term "hookup," 84 percent of students reported that they had discussed theirs with friends in the previous four months. Over 50 percent reported at least one and a third reported at least two hookups during the school year, indicating that these liaisons -- however the students defined them -- were common.
Still, the students "greatly overestimated the pervasiveness of hookups within the general student culture," Holman wrote in her report on the study.
In theory, if all students adopted Holman's definition, they would all have a better idea of what exactly their peers meant when they reported a weekend hookup.
But is pinning down the definition actually useful? What if there are advantages to leaving the meaning ambiguous? It's a way for them [students] to communicate about it but without having to reveal details.
It seems the phrase offers a way of divulging information -- which, yes, could still be considered gossip -- but also provides an element of mystery about the encounter, which could protect privacy in some cases. And in today's social media-obsessed, oversharing culture, that's not a bad thing.
The fact that participants were divided along gender lines when it came to reporting their hook up experiences comes as no surprise. Holman sees this as a response to the increased pressure on men to exaggerate their level of sexual activity, she wrote.
Amanda Hess, writing for GOODgoes so far as to say that the vagueness of the term could help both What is the meaning of hook up and women dodge the judgments others might make about their sexual behavior:.
Since "hookup" serves as a catch-all for everything from intercourse to passing out while spooning, the term could help mitigate the gender-based social pressures and stigmas attached to sexual relationships In a sexist sexual climate, "we hooked up" could be the great equalizer.
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