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College Voices

College Campus Hookup Culture and Its Effects On Self Esteem and Sexual Expression In College Age Women

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College women discuss the effects that hookup culture has on their self-esteem on campus.
Source: Jerk Magazine.net

Hookup Culture is a phenomenon especially prevalent on college campuses that operates through heteronormative sexual scripts. Though at times sexually freeing, the non-emotional, one-sided rules of hookup culture can also be sexually oppressive and damaging to the self esteem of college women. 

Casual sex is a sticky subject, especially for college age women. At a school like the University of Michigan with 40,000 students, the prevalence of hyper masculine frat culture and alcohol is no small effect.

It’s no wonder many women aren’t always having their sexual and romantic needs met. Further, sexual stigma and heteronormative gender roles may be creating an oppressive culture for heterosexual women, as well as leaving women to blame and shame themselves. 

A casual sexual  relationship between two people in college is connected by one's self-esteem, especially in college women.
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A study was conducted of 91 college-age women ranging from Freshmen (22%) to Seniors (4.4%) and varying in sexual identity to get a sense of if negative experiences with hookup culture and self-esteem are typical for women on campus.

As for if women even want casual sex to begin with, collectively 71.4% of women surveyed were either excited to have casual sex going into college or were considering/curious about it. 

Casual sex, it seems, is having its own movement as young people are decidedly more sexually active than they ever have been. 

According to the American Psychological Association (APA),  the age when people first marry and reproduce has been pushed back dramatically, while at the same time the age of puberty has dropped. Changing social and sexual scripts along with these developmental shifts have driven the rise of casual sex.

College women, then, don’t necessarily have as much legroom in determining what type of sexual encounter they’re looking for. When asked if they’ve felt in control of the encounter the times they’ve had one night stands or recurring casual sex, 51.2% of the women surveyed said that at times they’ve felt unheard. 

Olivia, who is a Junior at the University of Michigan, definitely felt as though the hookup culture has a power imbalance in that men have the final say, and she learned to not expect anything after a casual encounter. Further, there does seem to be a lack of respect when it comes to women’s expectations and pleasure. 

Hookup culture can be a touchy subject for college aged women, so young women further examine how it effects their self-esteem.
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From the 91 women surveyed, when asked if they felt their needs were being met during casual sex, 50% answered “sometimes.” And that “they had to ask for it and were not completely satisfied” if their partner did try to address their pleasure.

There are several factors playing into why some college women are being left unfulfilled in the hookup scene.  Because the majority of women represented in the discussed survey are in sororities on the UoM campus, one aspect that may be driving this male dominance is the influence of hyper-masculinity in college fraternities. 

Hyper-masculinity characterizes the uber-macho, patriarchal and dominant aspects of manhood that, in the right environment, condition and pressure young men to validate their own masculinity.

Author Alexandra Robbins noted how the prevailing masculine characteristics include being expected to suppress emotions, desire multiple sexual partners, want to dominate situations and have control over women. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that the majority of fraternity men want to follow them. 

Robbins states that “most college guys don’t endorse traditional masculine norms, but believe that most other men do”. Fraternity men then overestimated aspects of masculine behavior such as how much their fraternity brothers use alcohol and other drugs, how much sex they actually have or want to have, and tolerance of behavior that degrades women. 

Another Junior at the University of Michigan, Ali, is also a sorority woman who has recognized the sexual power dynamics on campus. She noted a specific partner whose actions towards her were influenced by the hypermasculine narrative: 

“When I was hooking up with this guy, I remember the guys in his frat would make fun of him for being friends with me, but also staying loyal to me even though we were only f**k buddies. That definitely influenced him ultimately disrespecting me and hooking up with someone else because, according to his guy friends, he would be a ‘pu**y’ if he didn’t.”. 

Ali knew this partner as a good friend and knew that it wasn’t necessarily in his nature to hurt her as he did. Instead, she said “guys know exactly what they’re doing and do it in front of other guys. They’ll jab each other when it comes to girls, and it creates that dynamic.”.

So, what are all of these confusing standards and rules doing to women’s self-esteem? Hookup culture seems to do one of two things: it either empowers women in their sexuality and autonomy in making sexual choices or can have a judgmental effect that diminishes their self-worth. 

Out of the 91 women surveyed, only 6% said they had “never” felt bad about themselves after a casual sexual encounter. 21% of these women- a whopping fifth- said they felt bad about themselves “About half the time”. 

Collectively 94% of these women have had poor self esteem from one of these experiences at some point or another. 

Similarly, Olivia admitted she mainly has had boyfriends in college because of the poor self-esteem that hookup culture caused her. When asked to elaborate, Olivia touched on the mentality many sorority women have when it comes to monthly Greek Life “Date Parties”. 

Date Parties at UofM are events hosted by sororities and fraternities typically at a club in Detroit, in which sorority women or fraternity men invite a date and spend the night with them drinking heavily at the club. Olivia noted how, if you are asked to a fraternity date party, it is almost expected that you ‘hook up’ with your date. 

Further, Olivia recalled several mornings after a Date Party or night out and felt almost exposed when re-entering her sorority house. 

She noted, “People judged me when I would come back the morning after, and I felt terrible about myself. I would come back the morning after in a dress and we would all laugh as if it were a joke. But it actually really hurt me.”

Interestingly enough, Olivia found a college woman’s body count- or the number of people she has had sex with- is this “dirty little secret” that other women care about. Men, on the other hand, “don’t really care about body count”.

In analyzing this through Robbins’s lens, perhaps this is because a college man’s body count is essential to the validation of his masculinity. Whether or not this is universally true, it certainly plays a part in dictating the inherent roles female and male sexuality play in hookup culture.

Ali also noted that the notorious morning-after “walk of shame” can be a point of deprecation, but has actually used it as an opportunity for her to take back her sexuality. She said, “It can be empowering to do the walk of shame knowing it’s what you want and just being strong and ‘impolite’ with no mercy when guys do that to girls all the time and get no shit for it.”

Ali also found a strategy early on in her sexual experiences at UofM to assert her needs. Ali said, “I knew I had to be non-committal, as well as openly honest and brutal when it came to my expectations”.

Ali  “felt empowered” by taking control of her own sexuality in the hookup culture scene, and saw that this was the best way to protect herself and check imbalances of power.

Thus, casual sex in college can cut both ways. This is all not to say that casual sex is bad, or the availability and opportunity to express and experiment with one’s sexuality is always damaging. 

Casual sex can actually be extremely beneficial to one’s personal and sexual growth, especially at this age. The root of the problem is the collection of heteronormative, patriarchal, and hypermasculine narratives that dictate how partners should operate in casual sex encounters.

Moving forward, as pointed out by Ali, the most important thing in casual sex relationships is to “be upfront, confident, communicative, and unapologetic”.

College Voices

5 Surprisingly Easy Ways to Actually Keep Your New Year’s Resolutions in 2022

With 2021 finally over, and many making plans for a better year, these are some easy ways to stick to your New Year’s Resolutions.

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Fireworks above a city on New Year's.
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The year 2021 is finally over, and we have a new year to look forward to! 

If you’re anything like the majority of the world’s population, you’ve made New Year’s resolutions in the past—and broken them within a month.

But you keep making them, because you enjoy the optimism: beginning a new year on the right foot, promising to be a better, more fit and a more skilled version of yourself. 

Here are ways you can stick to your New Year’s Resolutions in 2022

  1. Tell people about your resolution

Usually, we’re told that peer pressure is a bad thing. But in the case of a New Years’ Resolution, it might be just what you need. Positive reinforcement (encouragement and support) from your friends and family can push you to learn the guitar, lose the beer belly, or whatever it is you want to do in this new year.

Disappointment (or the fear of it) can also push you to work harder toward your goal. If the cost of failing on your resolution is a whole bunch of awkward and sad conversations, maybe that’ll keep you on the straight and narrow.

  1. Break it down into manageable chunks

This is something essentially everybody tells you about anything, but it’s true. A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step—and continues, step by step.

A New Years’ Resolution isn’t accomplished all at once, but rather gradually. Don’t push yourself too hard, and don’t get down on yourself if your goal is still a long way off.

Set realistic markers along the way, and at each one check in with yourself. That way, you’ll get a sense of accomplishment as you go, and you’ll see your progress stack up.

  1. Care for yourself

Treat your New Year’s Resolution as what it is: a gift. When you accomplish it, not only will you get the benefit of whatever your goal is, but you’ll feel more confidence and pride in yourself.

This feeling of accomplishment is full of benefits: it makes you better poised to chase down the next opportunity, better prepared to be a positive influence in the lives of others, and can even make you live longer.

In making a New Years’ Resolution, and caring about yourself, you’re giving the best present you can give yourself, so don’t think of it as correcting something that’s wrong about you, but giving yourself another thing that’s right about you.

  1. Forgive yourself, don’t define yourself 

When a friend who’s made a mistake comes to you for help, do you immediately tell them that they’re worthless, that everybody knows it, and that they should just give up already?

No, but this treatment is something of the norm when it comes to yourself. Unfortunately, many of us treat ourselves this way; we are quick to criticize and slow to forgive.

Strangely enough, this negative self-talk often gives us permission to betray our resolutions. 

If you resolve, in 2022, to cut down on carbs and one night you give in to the urge to order a bunch of pasta on Postmates, don’t beat yourself up for it the next morning.

Accept the mistake and continue working toward your goal the next day. Don’t decide you’re undisciplined, gluttonous, and have failed.

Everyone messes up a few times and forgiveness is the best way to move forward. 

Penne pasta in a pot.
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  1. Use your resolution as a chance to explore new horizons 

We all have ideas about who we’d like to be, and we all face the realities of who we are.

While a person who wakes up every morning at 6 a.m. and works out in order to get a clean, fresh start to the day is certainly admirable, that person might not be you. In making resolutions, pick goals that flow organically from who you are.

If you don’t know who you are (because who really does?) then go into a resolution with flexibility. 

If, for example, your resolution is to get fit, don’t force yourself into a box with it. Instead, try different exercises, intensities, and intervals.

Don’t stick yourself in the gym for a 45-minute routine with weights when what you’d really enjoy doing is going to a yoga class or going for a run.

Realize that everybody is different, and rather than changing yourself into somebody new, your resolution can be a way of discovering who you might already be.

Think of it as an exploration. Let things develop, and commit to remaining open and focused.

A list of Woody Guthrie's New Year's Resolutions on a lined notebook.
Woody Guthrie’s New Year’s Resolutions — a good role model
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The year, 2022 will likely be another challenging year. You already know why, so there’s no reason to repeat it here.

But remember that you got through 2021, and if your resolution for 2022 is to just survive it sane, healthy, and maybe a little wiser—that’s totally fine.

It’ll take some doing, but you’re definitely further along than you think you are. 

THAT’S A WRAP! THIS POST WAS ALL ABOUT TIPS TO KEEP YOUR NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTIONS! WAS IT USEFUL?  SHARE THE LOVE ON SOCIAL MEDIA!

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College Voices

The Overwhelming Mental Health Impact of Climate Change

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Wildfire
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People across the globe are being affected by climate change. Global warming and climate change are having detrimental effects on the Earth such as increased flooding, hotter temperatures, wildfires, and droughts. Wildlife and ecosystems are being destroyed. Sea levels are rising. The list goes on and it can be overwhelming to take in the effects of climate change. This is why mental health is being greatly affected by climate change, particularly in teenagers and college students.

Climate Anxiety

Anxiety related to the global climate and fear of environmental doom is often referred to as eco-anxiety or climate anxiety. This anxiety is a legitimate reaction to a serious problem. A large population of Generation Z is burdened by climate anxiety. This is because they are concerned about their futures considering the state of the Earth and the fatal implications of climate change. 

A contributing factor to climate anxiety is the lack of action currently being taken by political leaders. Many leaders in positions of power are avoiding climate issues rather than solving them. This has prompted members of younger generations to step up and fight for change. Young activists like Greta Thunberg have taken the lead in protesting climate injustices. But watching older generations sit back while climate change is destroying the planet can lead to feelings of frustration and anger, which are common symptoms of climate anxiety.

The mental health effect of climate change
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Climate change can be a controversial topic and there is a fair amount of conflict surrounding it. Everyone reacts differently to the topic: many people shut down when climate change is brought up and they avoid the subject altogether. Others are fearful of the effects of climate change and want to help but feel powerless. And some people are eager to take action and do their part in combating climate change. 

Many teenagers and college students have made efforts to reduce their carbon footprint by making lifestyle changes. Going vegan, carpooling, and shopping sustainably are some of the many ways to cut down on carbon emissions. But unfortunately, big corporations are some of the main contributors to climate change. Greenhouse gas emissions––a major contributor to climate change––are the highest they’ve ever been. This leaves young generations as they have difficulty believing that they can make a difference. 

How Climate Change Affects Mental Health

Every continent on the Earth is now affected by climate change. Meaning, climate anxiety is a global issue and can affect anyone, regardless of location, wealth, or privilege.

A polar bear walking.
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Many people are mentally affected by climate change because they have been faced with natural disasters, such as wildfires, serious storms, or flooding. While everyone reacts and copes differently, many survivors of these environmental disasters have some sort of lasting psychological trauma. PTSD, anxiety, depression, and grief are some of the many mental health issues that people who have lived through natural disasters struggle with. 

But you don’t need to be directly faced with a natural disaster to feel climate anxiety or despair over the state of the Earth. Just witnessing and learning about climate change is enough to cause mental health issues. There’s a sense of impending doom or existential dread that can wash over you when reflecting on climate change and its effects. 

Why Climate Anxiety is Often Overlooked

Climate anxiety is often overlooked or brushed off. This is because it can be difficult to discuss mental health concerns because there are still stigmas surrounding mental health. Climate anxiety is also typically not taken as seriously as other anxieties or mental health issues. This is because many people do not understand the serious, detrimental impacts of climate change. 

What to do About Climate Anxiety

  1. Talk to friends and family about climate change. 

Listen to their thoughts on the matter and discuss your own thoughts. Talk about the negative impacts and grieve with them. It can be healing and helpful to share your concerns with others.  

  1. Become a part of the solution

It is important to stay informed on environmental topics and to use your knowledge for good. Join a climate justice organization at your school or in your community. Connecting with others who also care about climate change can ease your worries and fears about the Earth’s future. Climate organizations are making a difference in your community and educating others on climate change. 

An oil plant dispersing white smoke into the air.
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  1. Join protests. 

If there are protests near you, make a sign and join in. Marching with other people who care about climate injustices is empowering. Protests help spark change by informing others and raising awareness. 

  1. Do what you can to help the environment. 

It is important to do what you can to reduce your own carbon footprint, but don’t become overly consumed with it. Eat a more plant-based diet, bike or carpool when you can, and use reusable bags. But try not to worry about how each of your actions will impact the environment. Those who experience climate anxiety often feel guilty about taking part in activities that affect the environment, like driving. Just do what you can and that will be enough.

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College Voices

How Social Unrest America Mirrors Social Unrest Abroad

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A closeup of a man with a mask on next to virus cells.
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With all of America’s recent and pressing events, it is easy to inadvertently ignore major happenings abroad. However, the COVID-19 pandemic and social unrest are not limited to American soil. 

When the coronavirus began spreading across the globe earlier this year, world leaders reacted to the virus as they saw fit. Fast forward to today, and the virus continues to ravage many parts of the world, increasing the number of total cases to over 50 million people. With the addition of social unrest due to racial injustice, the world seems to have a daunting amount of crises. 

Throughout this difficult time, countries imposed restrictions and limitations on their citizens in order to curb the contagion. In certain places, these limitations persist today. Subsequently, people are growing increasingly impatient as the pandemic remains as present and dangerous as it was in March. Indeed, many experts claim that the feared next wave of the virus is now in effect.

The prevailing threat and restrictions put in place have led citizens in some countries to protest. In Spain, for example, citizens have flooded city streets touting messages such as “Stop the dictatorship” or “Madrid says enough.” Unfortunately, certain rabble-rousers have taken it upon themselves to escalate these protests into less peaceful demonstrations of social unrest.

A man holding his hands in the air while being approached by SWAT officers.
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In Madrid, rioters turned unnecessarily violent, setting fires in the city, smashing windows of local shops, and assaulting police officers. These riots do not appear to be the result of spontaneous action but rather a coordinated effort planned through social media.

If the story of peaceful protests being undermined by violent extremists sounds familiar, you may be remembering the various riots that took place in America. The George Floyd protests, unfortunately, broke down into senseless social unrest, resulting in property damage and theft to numerous cities throughout America.

Just as the coronavirus pandemic is not isolated to this country, public assemblies due to racial injustice have also formed globally. As protests advocating for social justice started in American cities, foreign citizens heard the rallying cries. Demonstrations from South America to Europe, to Africa, have echoed the message of the Black Lives Matter movement, demanding justice and equality for all citizens, regardless of skin color. A spokesperson for the Belgian Network for Black Lives, Stephanie Collingwoode-Williams reflected, “people think about how it was relevant where we are.” 

A march for diversity in Washington.
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Although American protesters set positive trends to confront one crisis, its leaders have not been as successful in combatting the coronavirus. Out of the roughly 1.27 million deaths suffered worldwide, 239,000 of them were American.

This is by far the largest death toll of any country; in addition, America also holds the record for the most cases, by well over one million. These eye-opening statistics naturally lead to critics pointing to this nation’s shortcomings in dealing with the virus. A recent study conducted by the Pew Research Center found that throughout Donald Trump’s presidency, worldwide perceptions of America have been in decline. Recent violent outbursts from police officers, coupled with the mismanagement of the pandemic, have exacerbated this fall.

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