It is a common phrase used every day: we hooked up. It covers all kinds of sins, all kinds of sexual acts and non-sexual acts, and it can even cover sleeping in someone else’s bed, even if it’s just sleeping.
With all of these different terms and connotations it’s hard not to wonder, what does the phrase “hook up” really mean?
When trying to uncover the truth behind this ambiguous term, a dictionary seemed to be the first step. Dictionary.com had many different definitions but the one that seemed to fit was: “A means of attracting interest or attention; an enticement.”
Although enticement and attracting attention seem clear cut, there are still many cobwebs.
The definition depends on the each individual person using it, who they are talking to and where they are talking. If you are not a sexually active person and are talking to a friend over a cup of coffee, you might say, “We hooked up,” meaning we made out. However, to a person sitting at the next table over, they might take it as you had sex.
This is where it starts to get cloudy.
“‘Hooking up’ was a term known in the year 2000 to almost every American child over the age of nine,” said Tom Wolfe, author of “Hooking Up” in an interview with the New York Times.
“Among the children, hooking up was always a sexual experience, but the nature and extent of what they did could vary widely,” Wolfe said.
Wolfe mentioned how baseball terminology, usually used to connect sexual acts to bases, has also changed because of this phrase hooking up.
According to Wolfe, back in the twentieth century, first base referred to embracing and kissing, second base referred to groping and fondling, third base referred to oral sex and home plate meant going all the way or having sex.
However, in the year 2000, the supposed era of hooking up, as deemed by Wolfe, he said first base meant deep kissing, groping, and fondling, second base referred to oral sex, third base referred to going all the way and home plate meant learning each other’s names.
Sound all too familiar?
If your answer is yes, you are in the same boat as many other college students who expressed this change in terminology.
“Pretty early on in high school I heard the term ‘hooked up.’ But then it was more like, ‘Oh, we made out at a party,'” said Caitlin Hubbard, a senior Spanish major. “In college, it definitely meant having sex as opposed to something else.”
According to Hubbard, the term “hook up” is more vague than coming right out and saying that you had sex with someone.
“It gets people off of the hook and is a little less disturbing,” Hubbard said.
So maybe this is why we use the term hooked up: to keep people wondering. No matter how much we all want to pour our hearts to everyone about ourselves, it might be empowering to keep people wondering.
This, though, is not true for Laura Sessions Stepp, who wrote the book, “Unhooked: How Young Women Pursue Sex, Delay Love and Lose at Both.” Stepp believes hooking up can be a dangerous place for men and women, but especially for women.
“Real power is not giving it away, but using it wisely,” Sessions Stepp said in an interview with the New York Times. “That’s when you’re liberated, really.”
Sessions Stepp said she thinks the best sex is with someone you love, not someone you just met in a keg line.
If this sounds like a normal Friday night to you, and hooking up has become your predominant sexual interaction during your college years, just remember the daunting percentage of sexually transmitted diseases among college-aged people.
According to the Kaiser Family Foundation Web site, among men and women between the ages of 15-24, 1 in 4 of them will contract a sexually transmitted disease each year.
“I definitely think hooking up is dangerous considering how many sexually transmitted diseases are around,” said Jim Griffith, an MCDB major who graduated from CU in December.
Griffith said usually when he hears the phrase hook up he thinks that person fully hooked up, meaning had sex with someone.
So why do we use this phrase hook up considering it seems to raise more questions than answers?
Maybe people use it to protect themselves and keep a little part of their life still secret while trying to come off as being open to anything. Or maybe people use it because people regret the decisions they made the night before and wonder about what the boy or girl they hooked up with are telling their friends. Or finally, maybe it is as simple as having the phrase be embedded in our vocabulary from society. Maybe we are all just reading into it too much.
Whichever definition best fits you, it’s best to not jump to conclusions when you hear so-and-so hooked up because maybe they just made out. Maybe this phrase just brings out a little detective in all of us and makes us hungry for information and details because it is so ambiguous and cloudy.
In the long run, a hookup one night will not necessarily guarantee a call back the next day, no matter how far the hookup went.
Contact Campus Press Staff Writer Elizabeth Stortroen at email@example.com.