Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Escape from Hookupville

In the world of casual sex, it counts as news.

Salon blogger Tracy Clark-Flory has escaped from Hookupville. Susan Walsh offers an excellent account in her blog, Hooking Up Smart. I will merely provide an outline.

Clark-Flory had championed casual sex. She had defended it in print, and, not surprisingly, had practiced what she preached.

You cannot very well tell young women to go out and hook up when you are not trying it out yourself.

In 2008 Clark-Flory outed herself:

I’m a 24-year-old member of the hookup generation — I’ve had roughly three times as many hookups as relationships — and, like innumerable 20-somethings before me, I’ve found that casual sex can be healthy and normal and lead to better adult relationships. I don’t exactly advocate picking up guys at frat parties and screwing atop the keg as the path to marital bliss. It’s just that hookup culture is not the radical extreme it is so frequently mischaracterized as in the media. There is sloppy stranger sex among people my age, sure, but sometimes hooking up is regular sex with a casual acquaintance; sometimes it’s innocent making out or casually dating or cuddling, and, oftentimes, it involves just one person at a time. In a sense it’s all very old-fashioned — there’s just a lot more unattached sex involved.

Three years later, writing for Elle, Clark-Flory outed herself again. She confessed that during all of those hookups she had been faking orgasms. She was so good at faking it that her partners were totally convinced.  

She did not say that hookups did not provide any pleasure at all, but she could never get completely involved in the act. And she came very close to saying that women who hook up are playing by men’s rules.

In Clark-Flory’s words:

Around this time, I wrote an essay titled “In Defense of Casual Sex,” about how hookups had helped me explore my sexuality—and they had. But it was exploration through the eyes of men: I was focused on how my partners saw me. I didn’t mention that I’d faked it during nearly all of my dalliances. It seemed embarrassing to admit, and personally inconsequential. I just figured that I was one of those women for whom orgasms are extremely difficult, but even without them sex was a physical rush. Which is not to mention what a blast it was to date or become otherwise involved with a rainbow array of men—from a Muay Thai kickboxer to a big-deal lawyer.

It appears that feminists have been telling women to allow themselves to be sexually exploited by men, and to pretend to be equal to men by faking orgasms.

For Clark-Forny, faking orgasms became something like an addiction:

I vowed to my indignant, sex-positive friends to cease my fraudulent behavior—but always with an impish smile, because deep down I knew I wouldn’t, couldn’t stop putting on a show. It had just become too automatic, and I was too afraid of failing. My roommate even developed an ingenious system of punishment: Every time I faked it, I would, on the honor system, have to buy her a piece of fancy cheese. This worked out very well for her but not so much for me.

At some point, Clark-Flory fell in love and, lo and behold, began to enjoy her sexual experiences fully:

Right around the time I first told him I loved him, I started having real orgasms with Steve. It was like my climactic circuitry had been plugged in and electrified: The peak experience could be mine, though still not easily. 

Apparently, the relationship with Steve did not work out. We do not know why, but it is worth underscoring Walsh’s observation: exposing your sexual escapades in public does not enhance your relationship prospects.

Now, however, Clark-Flory has broken the chains that tied her to a type of sexual behavior that was ultimately unsatisfying and that did not give her what she wanted:

But, yes, as I’ve gotten older, casual sex has lost some of the luster of freedom. It isn’t that I’ve forsaken the delights of no-strings flings, but rather that I’ve tired of hookup culture’s dictatorial reign over modern courtship. It doesn’t feel so free when it doesn’t feel like an intentional choice….I’ve often had no one but myself to blame — especially when going after boys literally wearing warning signs in the form of tattoos reading things like, “I am what I am” or “forgive me.”

Sometimes, tearing off your clothes is just a pathetic attempt at taking control of the uncontrollable: love. It took me a while to realize that I wasn’t always getting what I wanted from hookups. As a friend recently told me, “It’s a terror to put your heart on the line and ask for what you want. You don’t have to be naked to feel naked.” My M.O. has often been getting naked to not feel naked.

Having learned from her mistakes and having escaped from Hookupville Clark-Flory still considers herself a card-carrying feminist.

It is fair that she holds herself responsible for her behavior, but since she had been conducting her life according to feministically correct principles, her favorite cause deserves some measure of blame.

It's good that she escaped from Hookupville. Now we await her escape from Feministland.


Susan Walsh said...

I like your take on this, Stuart. Thanks for the link.

Nick Carter M. said...

"Escape from Feministland" sounds like a pretty scary movie.

Anonymous said...

Great take on this...
As a woman who could have grown up a "feminist" (I am 43, can fully support myself financially, and in a traditionally man's career), I am completely appalled by behavior of women like this.
These are the women that make the rest of us resist EVER attaching ourselves to even one element of feminism...
To exploit herself, she devalued herself to zero, even below zero. I don't want to claim a woman like this, just as much as I don't want men to claim Don Draper or Jeffrey Daumer as one of theirs...

Sam L. said...

Gee. Sounds like cult behavior.

Anonymous said...


Dahmer was a homosexual cannibal, murdered in prison, Draper a fictional character. The woman in question is real, and while perhaps misguided, isn't murdering and eating her dates. Try a different analogy, perhaps a real rock star or movie star?

Anonymous said...

Anon 6:27
Are Tiger Woods, Wilt Chamberlain, and Jesse James, Arnold Schwarzenegger any better analogies?