It’s a myth that young women 18-25 are hooking up like crazy, says a new Harvard Study.
The new report, called “The Talk: How Adults Can Promote Young People’s Healthy Relationships and Prevent Misogyny and Sexual Harassment”, found that girls are so turned off by disrespectful behavior from boys that they don’t want to hook up!
“Making caring common” is a brilliant project of the Harvard Graduate School of Education that methodically interviewed over 3,000 high school and college students about their sexual experiences.
“Parents and other adults often fret a great deal about the “hook-up culture,” says the study, “But that focus ignores two far more pervasive troubles related to young people’s romantic and sexual experiences. The first is that we as a society are failing to prepare young people for perhaps the most important thing they will do in life—learn how to love and develop caring, healthy romantic relationships. Second, most adults appear to be doing shockingly little to prevent or effectively address pervasive misogyny and sexual harassment among teens and young adults—problems that can infect both romantic relationships and many other areas of young people’s lives.”
The key findings are:
–“Teens and adults tend to greatly overestimate the size of the “hook-up culture” and these misconceptions can be detrimental to young people.” (“This overestimation can make many teens and young adults feel embarrassed or ashamed because they believe that they are not adhering to the norms of their peers. It can also pressure them to engage in sex when they are not interested or ready.”)
— “Large numbers of teens and young adults are unprepared for caring, lasting romantic relationships and are anxious about developing them.” So what exactly do 18-25 year-olds want to know? (Specifically “how to have a more mature relationship” (38%), “how to deal with breakups”(36%), “how to avoid getting hurt in a relationship” (34%), and “how to begin a relationship” (27%). 65% of respondents to our survey of 18 to 25-year-olds wished that they had received guidance on some emotional aspect of romantic relationships in a health or sex education class at school.”)
We are in desperate need of sex education in this country.
–“Misogyny and sexual harassment appear to be pervasive among young people and certain forms of gender based degradation may be increasing, yet a significant majority of parents do not appear to be talking about it.”
(“87% percent of women reported having experienced at least one of the following during their lifetime: being catcalled (55%), touched without permission by a stranger (41%), insulted with sexualized words (e.g., slut, bitch, ho) by a man (47%), insulted with sexualized words by a woman (42%), having a stranger say something sexual to them (52%), and having a stranger tell them they were “hot” (61%). Yet 76% of respondents to this survey had never had a conversation with their parents about how to avoid sexually harassing others”).
–“Many young people don’t see certain types of gender-based degradation and subordination as problems in our society.”
(“About 58% of respondents had never had a conversation with their parents about the importance of “being a caring and respectful sexual partner.”)
–“Research shows that rates of sexual assault among young people are high. But our research suggests that a majority of parents and educators aren’t discussing with young people basic issues related to consent.”
(“Most of the respondents to our survey of 18 to 25-year-olds had never spoken with their parents about “being sure your partner wants to have sex and is comfortable doing so before having sex”(61%), assuring your “own comfort before engaging in sex” (49%), the “importance of not pressuring someone to have sex with you”(56%), the “importance of not continuing to ask someone to have sex after they have said no” (62%), or the “importance of not having sex with someone who is too intoxicated or impaired to make a decision about sex” (57%).”
THE GOOD NEWS
This awesome study has brought awareness to these sexual issues, and the study’s authors have made some recommendations going forward. The study concluded that “A high percentage of people 18-25 want guidance.” Specifically they say that adults should answer these questions from their kids: “What’s the difference between attraction, infatuation, and love? How can we be more attracted to people the less interested they are in us? Why can we be attracted to people who are unhealthy for us? How do you know if you’re “in love?” Why and how can romantic relationships become deeply meaningful and gratifying? How do they contribute to our lives?”
Also, they recommend that parents of young men “engage in discussions about romantic and sexual relationships, misogyny and harassment, and address ethical questions about their obligation to treat others with respect.”
Instead of encouraging the “destructive” nature of the hook up culture, where “the bros over ho’s” mentality is rampant, the study says, “the recommendation is that we all focus on treating each other with mutual respect.”
The study concludes with the hope that everyone will continue “The Talk.”
“We all need to talk more about romantic love.”