Off the Hook tackles hookup culture

Student organization takes stand against casual sex on the basis of health


A new organization on Grounds — “Off the Hook” — is part of a nationwide effort to examine the adverse psychological effects of “hookup culture” and work to combat the prevalence of “casual sex” in the University community.

Part of Princeton university’s Love and Fidelity Network, the local chapter is led by second-year College student Danny Pluta. Pluta said he is interested in how hookup culture impacts student health.

“We believe this issue touches every facet of life,” Pluta said. “Yes, I do think hookup culture is unhealthy because sex is an incredibly personal thing.”

A 2006 study at Queens University found more than half of sampled students engaged in sex without romantic involvement with a partner. Though males reported a higher incidence of casual sex than females, both sexes admitted to being fully aware these were casual sexual encounters. A positive correlation was established between casual sex and other risk behaviors, including alcohol and drug use. Participants who engaged in casual sex also displayed a higher incidence of clinical depression.

Pluta said Off the Hook is working to promote “sexual integrity” at the University.

“We think the healthiest relationships are those in which the other person is respected,” Pluta said. “We’re trying to reach the people who are caught in between — first-years and girls especially, who need the emotional and social strength.”

A 2007 publication from Planned Parenthood surveys various studies that highlight different ways sexual activity can be health — citing increased immunity and heart health, sounder sleep, increased fertility and relief of pain, muscle relaxation and relief of menstrual cramps in women. The document does not distinguish between casual sex and sex in relationships.

Off the Hook hosts gatherings and speaker events to address the issue from both a social and academic perspective. Most recently, Politics Prof. Steven Rhoads made an appearance to discuss gender-based differences in people’s approaches to sex.

Pluta said he is committed to promoting healthier student lifestyles, but he is uncertain how the group will be received by the larger University community.

“There’s a temptation in college to think that any rule against what you want to do impinges on your freedom, but there are a lot of people hurt by this,” said Pluta. “We want a socially-driven organization where we can have an awesome time without sex.”

Second year College student Gloria Marino said that the issue may vary from person to person.
“I don’t disagree that casual sex can be unhealthy and some people can get caught up in it,” Marino said. “But for others it may relieve the strain of commitment. People can find safe ways to practice casual sex if that’s what works for them personally. I don’t think it’s necessarily dangerous or unhealthy for everyone.”

Published April 27, 2014 in Health and Science

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