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Episode 152: Sex Nerd Sandra
Hook-up Culture & History with Dr. Lisa Wade

Sex Nerd Sandra #152: Hook-up Culture & History with Dr. Lisa Wade

Sociologist Dr. Lisa Wade reveals the fascinating reality behind hook-up culture, what it is, and surprising ways to do it better. TOPICS: College Students Trapped on Campus, Choice vs Obligation, Expectation, Narrowly-defined Sexual Exploration, Orgies, College Parties, Paula England, Science!, Orchestrated Chaos, 1920s: The Crazy Years, Courting vs Dating, Heterosexual Socializing, Makeup & Dieting Origins, Slaves & Prostitutes, The Charleston, 1940s: Same Sex Experimentation, Richard von Krafft-Ebing, McCarthyism, Foreign Wives, 1950s: Lock it Down!, 1960s: Sexual Revolution!, Promiscuity, Value of the Masculine vs Feminine, Andro-Centrism vs Sexism, Emotionaless Sex, Broken Sexuality?, Resiliency, Respect-Kindness-Trust vs Desperate-Needy-Clingy, Rules of Hook-up Culture, Benevolent Casual Sex, Attachment Management and Friends with Benefits.


Lisa Wade is a professor at Occidental College in Los Angeles. She earned an MA in human sexuality from New York University and an MS and PhD in sociology from the University of Wisconsin, Madison. She is the author of over two dozen research papers, book chapters, and educational essays. Aiming to reach audiences outside of academia, Dr. Wade founded the popular blog, Sociological Images, and appears frequently in print, radio, and television news and opinion outlets.  You can learn more about her at or follow her on Twitter (@lisawade) or Facebook (/lisawadephd).


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  1. Katie says:

    I really enjoyed the history section, but I was troubled by some of her assumptions about modern hook-up culture. 
    First, hooking up isn’t a social imperative, it’s simply an option that has only recently gained wide acceptance. Just because some people are hooking up at parties doesn’t mean you can only attend the party if you want to hook up. That’s absurd. Since her research is only based on reading the diaries of 86 people on one campus, I don’t think she can make such broad claims about society as a whole.
    Second, she claims that people who want to be friends with benefits don’t understand that relationships take work, don’t allow themselves to show positive emotions surrounding sex, are rude to their partners, etc. I’ve had three long-term monogamous relationships as well as a few friends with benefits, based on what I wanted and needed at the time. You can have casual sex and still be kind, friendly, and respectful of the people you sleep with. I didn’t have casual sex to be cool and manly, I did it because I like sex, I was single, and I didn’t currently know anyone I would consider as a serious partner. It’s not always that complicated. 

  2. I agree for the most part, but Dr. Wade certainly doesn’t seem right on putting this on androcentrism Feminine values are *highly* valued, just only in women. Empowering women to explore everything isn’t putting masculine traits over feminine traits. 

    Drinking whiskey isn’t cool because it’s manly, its cool because it is a tough drink, not a male drink. We still have disposability of men in culture but we don’t have disposability of powerful women like we do of men. 

    Women can be whatever they want, whether they adopt a “male” or “female” sexual attitude they are still valued and defended in all cases. Women aren’t shamed for being feminine, they are glorified. We still have super heavy princess culture (have you seen a disney store lately? Its extremely princess oriented). We still have beauty contests and everything. And Molly Hatchet wasn’t doing what men did but still famous historically. 

    To me the androcentrism argument seems entirely cherry picked from the data available. It seems to me that each gender had their positions, women were empowered to do as they want, and men are in as tight a box as ever. Otherwise feminine values would not be valued, but they are INTENSELY valued, and STILL men are kept in tight boxes. We have more make up, more princesses, more everything, and more value to it now than ever before, and STILL men are kept in tight boxes. Androcentrism is an absurd concept. It doesn’t fit the data, but I can see how it arises from some of the self-contradictory and internally inconsistent logic of the more extreme branches of feminism. Normally I hear androcentrism brought up in context of all masculinity being wrong to counter it.

  3. Troy Brooks says:

    This really just comes across as slut shaming.
    Dr. Wade claims that because her students are doing something that means everyone is doing it?
    Then assumes that male and female sexuality is actually different?
    Then assumes that there’s something wrong with male sexuality?
    Or am I just misunderstanding this?

  4. Whitney says:

    I couldnt disagree more with what Lisa said about ‘american’ hookup culture. As a current student in Boston with an extremly active  social life, I can tell you that this is in no way ‘the norm’. She really shouldn’t assume this is an ‘american’ thing and admit that though the experience is the norm at her school… It deffinatly isn’t the norm in most schools. 

  5. even says:

    so true what she says about the hook-up culture. sad also that positive feelings are seen as something scaring. wondering where this culture will lead us to.

  6. Keith says:

    Really enjoyed the “history section”, can’t wait for the book!!

  7. Alice says:

    This has been one of my favorite episodes! Very interesting, and Dr. Wade is awesome 🙂