If you’re reading this, chances are you’re in college. Or you were once in college. Or you wish you were still in college. And being in college, you probably did college-y things. Go to class looking like shit. Get drunk off of well liquor. And, of course, hook up with people. Maybe all you did was kiss. Maybe you had sex with every guy in every fraternity and made them wear dog collars. I don’t know. But chances are, what you did is very different than what your roommate did, your best friend did, and what your friends at other schools did.
So New York Magazine decided to do some digging and find the good, the bad, and the ugly in “the hook up generation.”
Ready for a fucking plot twist? We’re not the most crazy-sexual generation. According to the series (which is a combination of accounts from student photographers from around the country who are documenting their experiences), our generation isn’t the most horny. Or the most “free.” Or the most slutty. Hear that, mom? Looking over the fact that out of 700 students polled, 40 percent were virgins, the rest of the people were all over the place in what they do, and don’t do, at college.
From New York Magazine:
A decade ago, for a progressive college student to break ranks and say anything negative about hookups — that they could be used to reinforce gender imbalances, that it’s hard to shut down emotions, that sometimes they just felt shitty — meant she (or he) was aligning with the out-of-touch tsk-tsking adults. Now it’s fine for a forward-thinking college student to admit she finds the ritual “problematic,” to use a current-favorite campus term. Still — whether because of hormones, the impossibility of moving backward, the difficulty of making sense of your own feelings (let alone another person’s) at that age, the fear of being left behind — even those students who had rejected hookup culture for themselves wouldn’t go so far as to say that the entire system was flawed.
Some of what we learned was unexpected: It appears to be the case that, faced with either hookups or nothing, many students are simply opting out of college sex. Nearly 40 percent of the respondents to our poll were virgins. For some, it’s simply too disheartening to imagine your first sexual milestones achieved with someone whom you don’t know well (the problem with “backwards dating,” as one person calls it). Perhaps, too, there are fears at play: Both men and women said “rejection” was their greatest sexual fear; but for women, that is followed closely by “coercion.” But the general feeling among virgins and nonvirgins alike was that they were having less sex than their friends.
So what about you? Do you embrace the hook up culture, or are you shying away from it — waiting for something special? Here’s part of the gallery that goes along with the story. Real students documenting their real experiences proving that there is no one “right way” to have sex in college.
Addison and Sarah really like each other. Just don’t tell them they’re in a relationship. ADDISON: My relationship with Sarah … it’s casual. I’d say it’s more like a pretty close friendship than an actual relationship. We hooked up one night after a drag ball on campus. I was still in the remnants of my drag makeup. SARAH: He was wearing my glasses that made him look exactly like a lesbian with lipstick and eyeliner. ADDISON: The way we specifically set it up was we’d be exclusive, but we wouldn’t act like people who are exclusive. Like, if I were going to hook up with someone else, I’d run it by Sarah. SARAH: At first I was kind of worried about it holding me back, but because of the type of person I am, and the type of person Addison is, it’s not keeping me from doing anything. I’m still in the loosey-goosey first-semester college mentality. ADDISON: We both got out of relationships with people before entering college, and I think that’s a large part of not wanting to be in a relationship. If it were explicitly a relationship, I feel like there would be this level of pressure. But at the same time, it’s not really a situation where I think either of us really wants to see other people. I just happened to get lucky and connect with someone on a fairly intimate level very quickly. Read what campus sex is really like in 2015, through the lens of student photographers around the country, in the latest issue of #nymag. See link in bio to read more. 📷: Lula Hyers, Bard class of 2019.
Ethan broke up with his girlfriend to fully experience college. "I cheated on my ex-girlfriend. It was just a drunken thing. I made out with another girl at a party. I was too scared to tell her about it. I just brought up the question 'Where is this going?' I was like, 'I'm only 20. I have to figure out myself before I can commit myself to someone.' I wanted to experience college in a full, holistic way. There were a few months with a lot of drinking and a lot of parties. And I was very active. Not sexually active — I would just make out with a lot of girls. I only slept with a few — just like two or three." Read what campus sex is really like in 2015, through the lens of student photographers around the country, in the latest issue of #nymag. See link in bio to read more. Photo: Brendan Hunt, Bard class of 2016.
Tyler and Sea are best friends exploring bondage. TYLER: I saw a documentary called Fetisheson Hulu with Sea, which opened our eyes to the world of BDSM. Then I met a girl at a rave last spring who makes a living as a dom. Since meeting her, I’ve been experimenting with my limits. I like to try new things in general, so I never really have a bad time. That said, I haven’t participated in a real session. When I’m with Sea, it’s more of a role-play. SEA: Freshman year, I was a dominatrix for Halloween, inspired by Agent Provocateur campaigns. I wore black lingerie, heels, a fiery-red wig, and carried a riding crop. You have to start somewhere. For my last birthday, Tyler gave me The Mistress Manual: The Good Girl’s Guide to Female Dominance as well as a dog leash. I gave him a dog collar and gag mouth opener. TYLER: We like to pretend we’re a couple to spice things up. One of the fantasies we play out is the professor-student relationship. Or I play the businessman and she plays my trophy wife who spends too much money. We also like to go to leather stores and sex shops to learn about all the tools and bondage gear. We’ve taken a rope-tying class. When I am bound properly, I feel at peace. SEA: We document on Instagram. I like being dominant with him, because in most of my actual sexual relationships I don’t have that role. It’s just hot. Read what campus sex is really like in 2015, through the lens of student photographers around the country, in the latest issue of #nymag. See link in bio to read more. 📷: Elliott Brown Jr. NYU class of 2016.
Caroline blacks out, then makes out. "This party was titled 'Bday Blackout,' and I definitely accomplished that. I started with some red wine straight out of the bottle. My go-to bottle is Apothic red. It tastes so good that before I know it, the bottle is empty and I'm taking shots. Generally, I consider myself a straight woman, but it is normal on a drunk night to be kissing my friends." Read what campus sex is really like in 2015, through the lens of student photographers around the country, in the latest issue of #nymag. See link in bio to read more. 📷: Libby Danforth, IU class of 2016.
Nina is over the scene. NINA: When I first got here, it was just like this never-ending parade of jocks trying to get laid and just everyone trying to do college. “No boundaries! Hook up with everyone!” Boys think it’s enough to, you know, roll up to the bar, hand you a drink, and be like, “Hey, you look pretty.” I went through this phase where I got really annoyed, because I felt like I could literally say, “Yeah, I’m a pregnant Martian from Japan, and I have ten nipples,” and they would just be like, “Wow, yeah. Want to come back to my place?” Once I hooked up with this boy. It was on a whim. I was kind of drunk. We went back to his dorm room, because his roommate was gone. We fucked, and then I didn’t really think anything of it. I wasn’t the type to be like, “Now we’re dating!” I didn’t give a fuck. But later I saw him hanging out with all his friends, and I waved to him, and he just stared at me and turned to his friends and went, “Who is that?” And they were like, “I don’t know. Who is that? Why’d she wave at you?” And I was just like, “Okay. I get it, that’s chill.” What I’ve found is that no one really wants a relationship as much as they just want a person. And pretty much since I kissed Hunter, we’ve only been with each other and haven’t been with anyone else. Read what campus sex is really like in 2015, through the lens of student photographers around the country, in the latest issue of #nymag. See link in bio to read more. Photograph by Andrew Lyman, SCAD class of 2016.
Elliott gave up Grindr for real life. ELLIOTT: The first sexual experience I had with a man was in the Ramble in Central Park my freshman year. I was doing a photo project on cruising. So I started going there, and I had my share of encounters with men that weren’t necessarily for artistic purposes. When I found out Grindr was a thing, I was like, Oh, so this is just a virtualized platform for what men were doing like 40 years ago. I definitely can recall times when I was using it more fiendishly. I had begun to use it when I felt rejected, by anything. I didn’t feel good about it. I took a year off from NYU, and during that time I made gay friends who I could actually confide in and, specifically, black gay friends. I am seeing someone now. The first boy I’ve ever dated. We met in person. I decided that I wanted to meet more people in person as opposed to meeting people online. I just didn’t feel like I was giving it my all in real life. Read what campus sex is really like in 2015, through the lens of student photographers around the country, in the latest issue of #nymag. See link in bio to read more. Photograph by Elliott Brown Jr., NYU class of 2016.
Henry likes to make out with his girlfriends. HENRY: Tulane is a hyperheterosexual campus. Last year, I was definitely struggling. Just feeling like I’m missing out on that aspect of college, where I’m, like, having the best sex of my life or whatever. But I’m here practically for free, so I made do. My girlfriends are the way for me. And as far as dating on campus, are there gay men? No. I have my own relationship with the gay community, just because I’ve never had to go to the community to find solace at all. So I never felt satisfied by engaging in any of the few opportunities that were presented — which I engaged in, because I thought that would make me feel better. Never did. Just hung-over and bad decisions, horrible. My girlfriends are all really hot. I have girlfriends who I am in love with, like that I love and want to marry, but who I cannot satisfy in the ways they need to be satisfied. Many of them have boyfriends, and I hate it, and it’s like the worst. But for the most part, when I’m out and I’m drinking and I’m dancing, because dancing is, like, my thing, I guess — I don’t know, it brings something out of me — I make out with all of my girlfriends. It is, like, an appreciation of their beauty. But it doesn’t go beyond that ever. And it’s really just like a quick release of whatever is pent up. I probably would’ve left Tulane last year had it not been for my girls. Read what campus sex is really like in 2015, through the lens of student photographers around the country, in the latest issue of #nymag. See link in bio to read more. 📷: Marisa Chafetz, Tulane class of 2017.
Darcy and Leor don’t want to label their relationship. DARCY: We met the first week of orientation, which was like two months ago. We went from friends to really good friends to very good friends but also with a physical relationship. LEOR: I “liked” her, in a romantic way, I guess. We think in a similar way. And we tell a lot of jokes. DARCY: I used to consider myself straight, but since Leor is nonbinary, I’ve been thinking about that more. Like, using the correct pronouns is obviously very important. And little things, like you don’t want to say “You look so handsome today” because it implies male gender. LEOR: I mostly slept with people who identified as women because, I don’t know, I think high school’s a really hard time to be queer. People associate being nonbinary with, if you have male “parts,” that you would be attracted to more masculine people. But I think I’m attracted to all people. We don’t have sex. It’s more like kissing and cuddling and hanging out. DARCY: We consider ourselves to be exclusive, but we haven’t put any label to the relationship yet, we haven’t defined it. They [Leor] are a very monogamous person, so I feel comfortable with that. It is definitely nice to have somebody that I feel safe with. Read what campus sex is really like in 2015, through the lens of student photographers around the country, in the latest issue of #nymag. See link in bio to read more. Photograph by Lula Hyers, Bard class of 2019.
Selby loves being single. SELBY: I don’t know if I’d call myself promiscuous, but I’m not a relationship type of person. For me, it’s a lot more about the chase. I’m surrounded by frat guys — and whatever, they’re fun to look at. But wow, I’m ready for my mid-20s. A couple of weekends ago, I’m lying in bed with this guy, and I’m so bored. It’s 7 a.m. He’s so cute, so I don’t want to wake him up or anything. So I text my friends who are in the house. And three of my housemates respond and they’re like, “Yep. So bored. Boys in bed. What do I do? Let’s hang out.” So we all went into the front room, four of us, so hung-over, drinking Gatorade, talking about our night. And these guys are still in our beds. And I’m like, “I’m hungry. Let’s go get breakfast sandwiches.” So we leave them in our house — most of them are one-night stands, so we obviously don’t even ask them if they want anything. I was thinking of leaving one of them a sticky-note on his head, but I was like, Nah. They’ll figure it out. We finish our breakfast sandwiches, we go back inside, and we fall asleep and then we wake up with our boys again. It was probably one of my best mornings. You eat your breakfast sandwich, you have morning sex, and then like, Adios. Read what campus sex is really like in 2015, through the lens of student photographers around the country, in the latest issue of #nymag. See link in bio to read more. 📷: Marisa Chafetz, Tulane class of 2017.
Kids these days. To read more about college sexuality, and keep up with the series, click here. And in the meantime know that whatever your preference is, it’s probably totally weird and your friends can’t relate. Which is cool. Because otherwise what else would we inappropriately gossip about when we’re hungover at brunch and talking way too loudly?.