Casual sex and the single college girl

Young single women are more educated and successful than the men they “hook up” with, writes Hanna Rosin in Boys on the Side, an Atlantic teaser for her new book, The End of Men: And the Rise of Women. “Sexual freedom—the ability to delay marriage and have temporary relationships that don’t derail education or career” makes it all possible, writes Rosin.

For college girls these days, an overly serious suitor fills the same role an accidental pregnancy did in the 19th century: a danger to be avoided at all costs, lest it get in the way of a promising future.

About three-quarters of college women “visit” the hookup culture, often during freshman year, Rosin admits. They experiment — without shame — and move on.

In 2004, sociologists Elizabeth Armstrong and Laura Hamilton began studying the “sexual careers” of women living in a “party dorm” at a state university in the Midwest. For middle- and upper-middle-class students, hookups delayed a serious relationship that might interfere with their career plans.

“The ambitious women calculate that having a relationship would be like a four-credit class, and they don’t always have time for it, so instead they opt for a lighter hookup,” Armstrong told (Rosin).

. . . Almost all of the college women Armstrong and Hamilton interviewed assumed they would get married, and were looking forward to it. 

Of course, they may have to marry a less-educated man. Some of the women quoted in the book assume that they’ll be high flyers while their husbands stay home with the kids. 

While the women-love-hookups thing is mostly hype, the diminishing percentage of college-educated men is troubling. Women are outpacing men in higher education around the world: Iranian women are doing so well, the mullahs have created 77 all-male majors.

My daughter, a literary agent, gave me an advance copy of The End of Men. I said, “But I like men!” I’d hate to see women turn into cold-hearted careerists and men into beer-chugging babysitters.

Against breast feeding

Breast-feeding may be a little bit healthier, concedes Hanna Rosin in The Atlantic’s The Case Against Breast-Feeding. But it’s not so wonderful that “breast-feeding fascists” should make formula-using mothers feel like trailer trash.

While thousands of studies link “breast-feeding with healthier, happier, smarter children,” they share a flaw, writes Rosin.

. . .  breast-fed infants are typically brought up in very different families from those raised on the bottle. In the U.S., breast-feeding is on the rise — 69 percent of mothers initiate the practice at the hospital, and 17 percent nurse exclusively for at least six months. But the numbers are much higher among women who are white, older, and educated; a woman who attended college, for instance, is roughly twice as likely to nurse for six months.

Rosin thinks breast feeding makes life too difficult for working women and should be seen as nice but not essential.

I thought it was easy, free and healthy, but I had a six-month maternity leave.

Of course, I also had a baby who spent 12 days in neonatal intensive care, while I frantically pumped in hopes that someday I’d be able to feed my baby.  And hold her and watch her grow up. I did a lot of pumping and crying. Then my husband rented an electric breast pump attached to a container big enough to milk Elsie the Cow. I actually laughed when I sat it, and those were not laughing days. Fastening that to my breast was an act of courage. So, once I could breast-feed a healthy baby it was a piece of cake — and a victory.

See 11D for more.