The New York Times Magazine has a long (9 pages!) and in-depth article about hooking up, “Friends, Friends with Benefits, and the Benefits of the Local Mall”. The author basically talked with a bunch of teens at Hooters (a “family” restaurant), among other places, about hooking up. For the uninformed, hooking up is basically no-strings attached sex. Purely a physical encounter. No relationship, no friendship, just sex. Depending on your definition, hooking up can just be oral sex or it can be intercourse. Most teens find people to hook up with at a number of different web sites.
That article, along with some statistics I ran across today, is rather eye-opening:
- 46.7% of teens have had sexual intercourse at some point in their lives (the number is actually down from 54% in 1991, though experts argue it’d be up if you asked about oral sex).
- 34.3% of teens are sexually active (they’ve had sex at least once in the past three months).
- 63% of sexually active teens use condoms and 17% use birth control (which explains why 48% of new STD cases in 2000 were among 15-24-year-olds, but not why only 4.2% of teens have been pregnant or gotten someone pregnant).
- 25.4% of sexually active teens were under the influence of drugs or alcohol the last time they had sex.
- 9% of teens have been physically forced to have sexual intercourse (the study didn’t use the word, but I call that rape).
The article and the numbers presents a surprisingly cavalier attitude towards sexuality among teens. There’s little interest in long term, committed relationships, though many teens express an interest in (eventual) marriage. It’s not exactly the high school experience as I remember it — of course I wasn’t exactly in the hooking up crowd.