We’ve all been there. Your night out to Evol turned into a rough tumble with a stranger that looks very different after their Death of Glitter makeup is smudged all over your pillows. You hear your phone ping and groggily open Whatsapp. It’s your mom.
“Hello dear, just reminding you of Auntie M’s pre-Christmas dinner next week, we all hope you’ve found someone nice to bring with this year!”
You groan and wipe some glitter off your face and wonder if you’re cut out for hook-up culture.
Casual Sex: A Next Gen Epidemic?
Wikipedia defines ‘hook-up culture’ as “one that accepts and encourages casual sexual encounters, including one-night stands and other related activity, without necessarily including emotional bonding or long-term commitment”.
‘We’re not pushing ourselves to find the one or throwing ourselves into family making at 23’
Millennials are already pegged as “commitaphobes”, and it had me wondering about our generation’s unique relationship to … not having relationships.
“I meet them, I like them, I may even eventually love them. But then at about the one-year mark I suddenly realise that if I commit then I am – in theory – with them until I die or they die,” 30-year-old Hugo* explained to The Independent.
Whatever is behind our terrifying fear of settling down, I went out into the field (Endless Daze 2018) to ask the hard hitting questions from our locals on what they think about hook-up culture and the scary ‘M’ word: Marriage. The following quotes are what you had to say…
Two guys I chatted to were adamant that Cape Town (and particularly Stellenbosch) was fraught with one night stands. “Guys go out with the intention to hook up”, one pontificates. And girls, I ask? “Well they want you to take them on a date first!”
How does this work, I aimed at one. “Tinder”, they both agree.
“It’s become very easy with Tinder. I’ve met 3 girls with it and I’ve come right.”
I hesitate to enquire about what ‘coming right’ means in this sense, but it ticks my interview boxes.
But it’s not all Tinder and casual hooking up, as this person points out:
As much as everyone seems to stress that it’s all just good fun, there’s a bit of a razor edge- the idea that when you’re young it’s alright to experiment, but that there comes a time when we all have to get serious, get married and have a family. One quote in particular stuck out for me:
Asking about marriage seemed to suddenly change all the ‘free lovers’ radically:
BUT, key words: Not RN.
Quality over Quantity FTW
So basically, there’s a need for both the rough one night tumbles but also the feeling of ‘one day’ having a steady family dynamic.
I grabbed Alison* a 23 year old actress and asked her her opinion: “I think [hooking up] is an incredibly beautiful way to explore yourself and to explore being vulnerable and putting your guard down”, she says. “I personally can’t do it. I’m scared that the fantasy will be ruined. I have to really like and respect a person to sleep with them.” She hesitates, “I wish I wasn’t, though.”
Alison gestures me closer and explains that her friends say she should be having more sex. “These days with music and media- it’s pushing a free agenda. Going to the club and having sex is like, the topic of almost every song on the radio.”
‘People are less likely to consent when they do not really want sex’
Alison’s idea on saving her hook-ups for someone really special isn’t too far off, apparently. Millennials are having less sex in general, even though we’re hooking up more.
“There is debate as to why [Millennials] have sex less frequently,” Nicole Prause, PhD, Sex Scientist at Liberos Center, tells Bustle. “Data so far suggest that the quality of the sex tends to be higher, so that people are less likely to consent when they do not really want sex. This is consistent with increased egalitarianism, where women are feeling less likely to have sex just to be attractive to a male partner.”
After listening to all these young lovers share their views, I started to think that maybe the reason hook-up culture seems to be so prevalent is simply because Millennials have more time. Back in 1963 the average age of getting hitched was 21 for women and 23 for men! In 2015, this age had taken a hefty bump to 27 for women and 29 for men. That’s a lekker 6 years we now have that our parents never had. And what better way to use it than by sampling the local…culture. It means time to find ourselves, to settle down, and to explore our options.
By not having the same cultural ideas, norms and ‘time-constraints’ as our parents and grandparents had – you know, the old “werk, trou en kinders kry” – we’ve established years of down time where we’re not pushing ourselves to find the one or throwing ourselves into family making at the age of 23.
So, was that stranger from Evol worth your extra time? Completely up to you to decide. We’re making our own rules after all. Sorry, mom! – I.I.I
Words: Annette Kemp
Feature image: designed by Zoya Pon, images via
Article images: Annette Kemp
*real names have been changed