“Hooking up” — a no-strings sexual encounter that may range from kissing to oral sex to intercourse — is more common than dating for affluent suburban teen-agers, according to a New York Times Magazine story. Girls in eighth or ninth grade perform oral sex on boys. Kids don’t like commitment. Some go to online sites where they can “post profiles, exchange e-mail and arrange to hook up” with strangers.
The trend toward ”hooking up” and ”friends with benefits” (basically, friends you hook up with regularly) has trickled down from campuses into high schools and junior highs — and not just in large urban centers. Cellphones and the Internet, which offer teenagers an unparalleled level of privacy, make hooking up that much easier, whether they live in New York City or Boise.
. . . It’s not that teenagers have given up on love altogether. Most of the high-school students I spent time with said they expected to meet the right person, fall in love and marry — eventually. It’s just that high school, many insist, isn’t the place to worry about that. High school is about keeping your options open. Relationships are about closing them. As these teenagers see it, marriage and monogamy will seamlessly replace their youthful hookup careers sometime in their mid- to late 20’s — or, as one high-school boy from Rhode Island told me online, when ”we turn 30 and no one hot wants us anymore.”
Brian, a 16-year-old friend of Jesse’s, put it this way: ”Being in a real relationship just complicates everything. You feel obligated to be all, like, couply. And that gets really boring after a while. When you’re friends with benefits, you go over, hook up, then play video games or something. It rocks.”
According to a National Institute of Child Health and Development survey, “more suburban 12th graders than urban ones have had sex outside of a romantic relationship (43 percent, compared with 39 percent).”
Fewer teens are having sexual intercourse, but more are having oral sex, says the story. Which they don’t consider “sex.”
The story ends with a funny discussion of the base system:
The two got to only first base (kissing), which is about the only base that anyone can agree on anymore. ”I don’t understand the base system at all,” Jesse said, lying on the floor and staring at the ceiling. ”If making out is first base, what’s second base?”
”We need to establish an international base system,” Brian said. ”Because right now, frankly, no one knows what’s up with the bases. And that’s a problem.”
Jesse nodded in agreement. ”First base is obviously kissing,” Brian said.
”Obviously,” Jesse said.
”But here’s the twist,” Brian said. ”Historically, second base was breasts. But I don’t think second base is breasts anymore. I think that’s just a given part of first base. I mean, how can you make out without copping a feel?”
”True,” Jesse said. ”And if third base is oral, what’s second base?”
”How does this work for girls?” asked Ashley, the 17-year-old junior. ”I mean, are the bases what’s been done to you, or what you’ve done?”
”If it’s what base you’ve gone to with a girl, you go by whoever had more done,” Jesse told her.
”But we’re girls,” Ashley said. ”So we’ve got on bases with guys?”
”Right, but it doesn’t matter,” Jesse said. ”It’s not what base you’ve had done to you, it’s what bases you get to.”
Kate shook her head. ”I’m totally lost.”