Category Archives: Hook-up culture

Not Open for Debate

The following is a letter written on behalf of the Harvard College Anscombe Society in response to the university’s recent recognition of the “Harvard College Munch,” a student “BDSM” sex club. It was intended for publication in the Harvard Crimson last week, but was not accepted by the Crimson editors.

The Anscombe Society is certainly not in the business of curtailing free speech, but nor do we believe that respecting speech necessitates recognizing student groups that take absolutely any point of view. While the administration does not endorse the views of any group, recognition of a group does send the message that the activities of the group make a valuable contribution to our campus. Thus, when a student group like “Harvard College Munch” gains official recognition, the effects reach far beyond the club’s own membership and bear on the lives of all Harvard students. The Anscombe Society sees this newly approved group for bondage and discipline, dominance and submission, and sadomasochism, or “kinky sex,” as a symptom of the hypersexualized culture prevalent in our own university and many others today. We believe that BDSM itself trivializes sex, promoting a selfish and anarchical sexual ethos that can be very harmful and destructive not only to those who engage in these practices, but also to all of Harvard’s undergraduates. While students’ personal sexual choices may be their own, they nevertheless form the basis of our campus culture and sexual milieu. The fact that such degrading sexual practices now have a recognized and university-funded group devoted to them will have a wide-ranging impact, profoundly effecting students’ daily lives.

These recent events also call into question the standards by which the Office of Student Life decides to grant recognition to student organizations. Clearly, there would be some groups that OSL would decline to approve because of a problem with their missions; groups professing racist, anti-religious, or otherwise bigoted views, for example, would not be constructive or worthwhile additions to undergraduate life. What constructive purpose, then, does Munch serve on our campus? Supporting the group’s approval in the name of fostering discussion of “kink,” as many have done, is only a smokescreen; clearly any discussion within the group will promote and affirm kinky practices, and outreach to other groups is impossible as long as the group remains completely anonymous. The decision over recognition ought to boil down to this: if you think that more violence and humiliation, especially where sexual practices are concerned, are good things, you should support the recognition of Munch. If you think that more violence and humiliation are bad things, you should oppose it.

The Anscombe Society, believing that the currency of academia is reasoned argument, has throughout its history engaged in debate and discussion with other groups and individuals on campus, including those with very different views of sexuality from our own. However, unlike every other student group, Munch is a group with whom we simply cannot have a debate. We believe that human sexuality is a thing of great beauty and dignity and have always assumed that other groups, even those with very different views from our own, share that common starting point. We have always been eager to discuss with these other groups our competing views of how best to honor the dignity and beauty of sex, but we do not even share this much common ground with Munch, which instead seeks to associate sex with violence, humiliation, and oppression. That is one disagreement that is not open for debate.

James P. McGlone, Harvard Class of 2015
Vice President, Harvard College Anscombe Society

This letter was originally posted by the Love and Fidelity Network here:


Register for the Intercollegiate Conference on Sexuality, Integrity, and the University

5th Annual Intercollegiate Conference on Sexuality, Integrity, and the University

Friday evening & Saturday, November 2 & 3, 2012
Princeton University
Princeton, New Jersey

Regular registration is now open. Register here!

Regular Registration will be open September 15 through October 5
Fees: Student Fellows – Fee waived; Students – $45; Non-students – $75
Refunds can be issued through October 22 for registered attendees who cannot attend the conference. Please note student fellows are individuals who have applied to become official fellows of the Love and Fidelity Network. Most are leaders of campus groups. For more information about student fellows, please visit the Getting Involved page.

The Love and Fidelity Network’s annual conference aims to connect college men and women to leading scholars and experts in order to equip them with the best arguments and resources in support of marriage, family, and sexual integrity.  Participants will also find ample opportunity to network with and learn from each other, and attend sessions to help develop leadership skills in bringing the “love and fidelity” message back to their respective campuses.

Conference Program

Conference attendees will hear from renowned scholars whose work spans from the philosophy surrounding the meaning of sex, to the connection between marriage culture and the economy, to the social effects of changing family structures. In addition, participating students will also have a chance to learn more hands-on techniques for branding their group on campus, using social media to advance their group’s mission, and building alliances with other communities on campus.

Friday, November 2, 2012

6:00 – 8:00 PM     Registration and Check-in

8:00 PM     Welcome and Opening Remarks
Dr. Paul Kerry, Brigham Young University

8:30 PM     A New Look at Home Economics:
How the Cultural Withdrawal from Marriage Contributes to Economic Weakening
Dr. Patrick Fagan, Marriage and Religion Research Institute

Saturday, November 3, 2012

8:00 AM     Breakfast

9:15 AM     Talking About Sex:
Its Nature, its Meaning, and How to Discuss it with Friends
Dr. J. Budziszewski, University of Texas, Austin

11:15 AM   Are the Kids All Right?
Lessons from the New Family Structures Study and the Public Debate
Dr. Mark Regnerus, University of Texas, Austin
Dr. Ana Samuel, Witherspoon Institute

12:45 PM     Lunch

2:30 PM       Why Knot? First Comes Love, Then Comes What?
Roland Warren, National Fatherhood Initiative 

4:30 PM    Winning the Campus: Breakout Workshops

A) Shaping How We Are Perceived : Branding Campus Initiatives
Patrick Dennis, Dennis Creative

B) Extending Your Reach: Communicating with Social Media
Mike Matthews, The Mobile Culture

C) Building Alliances on Campus
Dr. Robert P. George, Princeton University
Audrey Pollnow, Princeton University
Luciana Milano, Harvard University

D) Supporting Students in the Classroom and Beyond:
A Discussion among Faculty
Dr. Robert P. George, Princeton University
Dr. John Londregan, Princeton University

E) Linking Faith and the Language of the University:
A Discussion among Campus Ministry Leaders
Ali Smith, Christian Union

6:00 PM     Dinner

7:15 PM     Lessons from the Ground:
Student Leaders Share their Successes, Obstacles, and Advice

8:30 PM     Closing Remarks
Dr. Paul Kerry, Brigham Young University


The Love and Fidelity Network seeks to provide hotel accommodations in Princeton for undergraduate students participating in the conference on Friday and Saturday nights. Due to limited availability we will give preference on a first-come, first-serve basis. The sooner you register, the more likely it will be that we can provide accommodations for you and your group.

True Love Revolution officially renamed The Harvard College Anscombe Society

True Love Revolution is officially renamed The Harvard College Anscombe Society. We have renamed ourselves after Elizabeth Anscombe, a Cambridge professor and celebrated British philosopher of the 20th century. In her work, Anscombe defended many principles shared by our organization, including chastity and the importance of marriage and the family. Inspired by her intellectually rigorous support for our group’s beliefs and by her witness to those values as a wife and mother, we have renamed our organization in her honor. Our mission remains unchanged, but we think that this new name will be very important in continuing to build our club and further its mission on campus.

Parenting in a Hypersexualized World

The average age at which young people first have sex is 17 years old. This is usually before they even graduate high school. In our hyper-sexualized American society, kids are being exposed to objectification of sex and the body through a number of outlets, such as advertising, pop culture, and even the clothes and toys being marketed to young children. By the time they reach middle school, a lot of them are desensitized to the sexualization all around them. Kids who are still young enough to require parental permission to go on a school field trip are considering themselves old enough to have sex.

This whole scenario isn’t new, though. It didn’t pop up all of a sudden as the 21st century moved in. Rather, it is the result of gradual societal change over the last 50 years. In this article from The Wall Street Journal, writer Jennifer Moses looks at the way girls and young women dress as a reflection of larger social and moral values. Perhaps most interesting, though, is the way she discusses how this is all a product of the sexual revolution of the 1960’s and 1970’s. Parents who had the freedom to engage in what they considered to be sex without consequences are raising children who eagerly partake in that lifestyle, encouraged by their peers and the media. Even if parents regret their own choices, and want their children to be free from that suffering, feel they have no place to correct their kids and establish moral guidelines that they need. As a result, young privileged women who can have whatever they want are nonetheless growing up with the idea that their femininity and even their personhood only go so far as their sexuality.

As Ms. Moses points out, this doesn’t signal a call to restore antiquated standards of femininity or to make sex taboo. Rather, it should signal a call to parents, and all those who are hoping to become parents, to break this cycle of the hook-up culture. They have the responsibility to guard their children, especially their daughters, from the mindset that women are only worth as much as their body. Parents have the ability to instill in their children a sense of self-confidence and self-worth, starting at a young age. By providing a strong alternative to mainstream values of sexuality and forming a network of support as their children grow up, they have the chance to create a change in the way society values sex.


BU Underclassmen Waiting For Marriage

Teri Aronowitz, Ph.D. and Nurse Practitioner at Boston University’s Student Health Services, launched a random online survey last semester that found that 56 percent of a group of 237 BU freshmen and sophomores believed in waiting until marriage to have sex. About 15 percent said they believed “they are wasting their youth if they don’t have sex,” according to Aronowitz.

The survey sought to discover and evaluate risky student behaviors after the Sexual Violence Taskforce at BU cited an increase in sexual assault on campus. Aronowitz wrote in an email to a BU Daily Free Press reporter that the study served to  “more fully understand the social norms around sexual attitudes and behaviors on our campus so as to work with students to promote sexual health.”

How will they translate these results into effective campus policy? Should they?

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True Love Convenes at Princeton

TLR spent the weekend at Princeton University at the Sexuality, Integrity, and the University conference sponsored by the Love and Fidelity Network and Princeton’s Anscombe Society. About 200 college students came from around the nation to hear great scholars like Leon & Amy Kass, Robert P. George (a great defender of traditional marriage), Mark Regnerus, Pamela Paul (author of “Pornified“), and many others talk about everything from traditional marriage to families to the problems of porn in our culture, to even courtship (who knows – maybe that’s a taboo word now, but shout out to the Kass’ book Wing to Wing and Oar to Oar). The videos of their brilliant presentations will soon be online.

At the Saturday night banquet:

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ABC Covers Harvard’s Hookup Debate

ABC News covered Harvard’s Hook-up Debate today. Check it out.

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Newsweek promotes TLR

Newsweek publishes an article about TLR this week. Check it out.

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Something More

Rachel Wagley in the Harvard Crimson discussing the sexualization of the college student, lack of commitment, and abstinence.

Something More

Published On Monday, November 02, 2009  10:18 PM

Our school plays porn to students. To my knowledge, it’s pseudo-porn and only in “English 154: Literature and Sexuality” during shopping period, but it’s alluring enough to induce 481 Harvard undergraduates into enrolling in the class, despite liberals, conservatives, and faculty alike decrying sexual objectification. Our school delights in humanism—reason! Intellect! Achievement! But when it comes to sex, the pursuit of physical pleasure—as long as you’ve got a condom—transcends reason. Self-control is prudish, unenlightened restraint—down with the patriarchy! Away with gender roles! My body is my play toy.

We have descended into a paradox. Sex gives us meaning—but is a meaningless end in itself. Our very identities are sexualized. As illustrated by “Harvard FML,” our newest and most embarrassing confessional outlet, hookups are messy, and college romance is messier. One cyber-girl moans, “All the guys I like always stop talking to me after we hook up. I feel like a classic ‘wham bam, thank you ma’am.’” If we are perplexed with organic chemistry and philosophy, then we are bewildered by sex, lust, love, and the specter of marriage.

We wildly seek answers. By trial, by error, by reading, by debating, by daydreaming, by flirting, by midnight talks lounging on roommate’s beds, by dining -hall conversations leaving us wondering where all the good men or women have gone: Is there truth? Will it set us free?

It is in this whirlwind that True Love Revolution connects the fragments of our culture. The nature of the 21st-century academic relegates us to later marriages. We are destined to fall in and out of love—or something—again and again before we seal the deal. This open time window encourages sexual activity—with or without commitment. “Gossip Girl” features high-school students losing both their virginity and dignity, Cosmopolitan flouts sex tips, movies mock men who wait for marriage, and intellectuals call casual sex empowering. It’s difficult to describe the plot of a contemporary TV show without relating who slept with whom. If cultures speak, then our culture screams: “It’s normal, OK?”

But if casual sex is normal, why do culture and academia need to remind us? Better yet, why do some radical feminists save their virginity? Why do at least 42 percent of Harvard students not have sex? Some declare that we just can’t get any sex, but if a larger percentage of the student body wanted the hookup culture, odds would be pretty good that more students could find it.

Without declaring war, True Love Revolution draws a conclusion. Culture reduces us to the sexual, but being human promises so much more. The sexualization of people and relationships hinders our development as human beings. When we embrace the sexual culture that stretches its logic to render us servile, we find ourselves unfulfilled. Abstinence resists cultural messages about human worth. Unlike casual sex, abstinence is empowering because, instead of making sex and uncontrolled lust an end, it makes people the end.

English 154 grapples with this same idea. “Sexuality” has gradually displaced “soul,” “mind,” and “character” as the most essential and salient ingredient in modern subjectivity, as the “truth of the self,” reads the course description. Temporary physical pleasure now outwits the soul, reason, and virtue. Gone are the days when we place value on condemning its consequences, though many conspicuously refuse to participate.

The vast majority of college students seek marriage one day, but our perspectives on relationships do not always reflect this. It is as if commitment is a character trait developed instantly at the altar—once the ring is on the finger. But those of us addicted to endorphins, prone to procrastination, or disposed to overspending recognize that traits cannot apparate; they must be habituated. By trial and error, society found that cohabitation and increased number of sexual partners lead to higher divorce rates.

In this commitment-less environment, social connections wither away, as evidenced in Professor Robert Putnam’s sobering book, “Bowling Alone.” On our fast-paced campus, a dating-culture return may be distant, but a return to commitment habituated through abstinence to a future partner will both galvanize the dating scene and make people more deeply known—a longing so prevalent it is heartbreaking.

We are lackluster students—we believe what we learn. We willingly objectify ourselves, and our best foot forward is our sexuality, not our soul. When we embrace the sexualized college student role, we surrender our identities: The vibrant, beautiful, curious, winsome, self-controlled men and women that we are. Will we be slaves to sexuality, or seek out something more?

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Cellphones, Texts, and Lovers

David Brooks in the NYT discussing the breakdown of commitment, the compartmentalization of needs, and the loss of a guided approach to sexuality and relationships.

Cellphones, Texts and Lovers

Since April 2007, New York magazine has posted online sex diaries. People send in personal accounts of their nighttime quests and conquests. Some of the diaries are unusual and sad. There’s a laid-off banker who drinks herself into oblivion and wakes up in the beds of unfamiliar men. There’s an African-American securities trader who flies around the country on weekends to meet with couples seeking interracial sex. (He meets one Midwestern couple at a T.G.I. Friday’s.)

But the most interesting part of the diaries concerns the way cellphones have influenced courtship. On nights when they are out, the diarists are often texting multiple possible partners in search of the best arrangement.

As the journalist Wesley Yang notes in a very intelligent analysis in the magazine, the diarists “use their cellphones to disaggregate, slice up, and repackage their emotional and physical needs, servicing each with a different partner, and hoping to come out ahead.”

Often the diarists will be on the verge of spending the evening with one partner, when a text arrives from another with a potentially better offer. To guard against not being chosen at all, Yang writes, “everyone is on somebody’s back-burner, and everybody has a back-burner of their own, which they maintain with open-ended texts.”

The atmosphere is fluid, like an eBay auction. This leads to a series of marketing strategies. You don’t want to appear too enthusiastic. You want to invent detached nicknames for partners. “Make plans to spend day with the One Who Cries,” a paralegal, 26, from the East Village writes. You want to appear bulletproof as you move confidently through the transactions. “I have a Stage Five Clinger on my hands,” a TV producer writes. “He asks me to hang out again this coming Sunday. I do not respond.”

People who send in sex diaries to a magazine are not representative of average Americans. But the interplay between technology and hook-ups will be familiar to a wide swath of young Americans. It illustrates an interesting roadblock in the country’s social evolution.

Once upon a time — in what we might think of as the “Happy Days” era — courtship was governed by a set of guardrails. Potential partners generally met within the context of larger social institutions: neighborhoods, schools, workplaces and families. There were certain accepted social scripts. The purpose of these scripts — dating, going steady, delaying sex — was to guide young people on the path from short-term desire to long-term commitment.

Over the past few decades, these social scripts became obsolete. They didn’t fit the post-feminist era. So the search was on for more enlightened courtship rules. You would expect a dynamic society to come up with appropriate scripts. But technology has made this extremely difficult. Etiquette is all about obstacles and restraint. But technology, especially cellphone and texting technology, dissolves obstacles. Suitors now contact each other in an instantaneous, frictionless sphere separated from larger social institutions and commitments.

People are thus thrown back on themselves. They are free agents in a competitive arena marked by ambiguous relationships. Social life comes to resemble economics, with people enmeshed in blizzards of supply and demand signals amidst a universe of potential partners.

The opportunity to contact many people at once seems to encourage compartmentalization, as people try to establish different kinds of romantic attachments with different people at the same time.

It seems to encourage an attitude of contingency. If you have several options perpetually before you, and if technology makes it easier to jump from one option to another, you will naturally adopt the mentality of a comparison shopper.

It also seems to encourage an atmosphere of general disenchantment. Across the centuries the moral systems from medieval chivalry to Bruce Springsteen love anthems have worked the same basic way. They take immediate selfish interests and enmesh them within transcendent, spiritual meanings. Love becomes a holy cause, an act of self-sacrifice and selfless commitment.

But texting and the utilitarian mind-set are naturally corrosive toward poetry and imagination. A coat of ironic detachment is required for anyone who hopes to withstand the brutal feedback of the marketplace. In today’s world, the choice of a Prius can be a more sanctified act than the choice of an erotic partner.

This does not mean that young people today are worse or shallower than young people in the past. It does mean they get less help. People once lived within a pattern of being, which educated the emotions, guided the temporary toward the permanent and linked everyday urges to higher things. The accumulated wisdom of the community steered couples as they tried to earn each other’s commitment.

Today there are fewer norms that guide in that way. Today’s technology seems to threaten the sort of recurring and stable reciprocity that is the building block of trust.

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