Friday, January 15, 2010

"Unhooked" - Laura Stepp

A controversial title, literally - well, subtitle, anyway. "How young women pursue sex, delay love and lose at both." You wait a year to engage in an interesting conversation about books, and then find yourself unable to get past the cover of one. Ah well.

I landed here from Tim Keller's "Counterfeit Gods". His is a Christian book, about modern forms of idolatry - his thesis is that everybody places something in the "God-shaped hole" that they have in their lives, and sex/relationships is an example of such a modern idol. No, I don't intend to justify or refute that thesis here; that's for another post. In any case, having been written by a Christian, the thinking population will assume they already know what he has to say without reading it. The fact that he has established a church of thousands, with significant numbers of young professionals, pretty much from scratch, not in Hicksville in the Deep South but in New York City might challenge that assumption. But sometimes it can be hard to get the thinking population to think.

Keller referenced Stepp's book on several occasions. He was remarking on the fact that in certain sections of society, a "no-strings-attached" approach to sex - a "hookup culture" - seemed to have taken hold, and that people might argue that this represented an alternative model of relationships. But the impact of this relational model was often eventually pain, disillusionment and cynicism. It would be misguided, therefore, to assume that a casual sexual culture offers a new, exciting alternative to conventional relationship structures.

Since in conversations with friends and colleagues I had become increasingly aware of the hookup culture, and how radically different it seemed to be even from 20 years ago, and also how a recurring theme was dissatisfaction and frustration, I decided to read Stepp's book, and see what insight it offered into it, and what her conclusions, as a non-Christian feminist, were about it.

Time permitting, more to follow ....