On The Hookup Culture (And Other Great Reads)

hookup culture, girl looking out at mountain
📷: Kalisa Veer

The best part about reading, to me, is discovering myself on the page or finding someone whose thoughts resonate so strongly with my own. This week I came across a variety of #newreads (as I always do) but one in particular stuck out to me.

Something I’m always finding myself reading about, or fascinated with, is hookup culture. This, honestly, comes from my confusion surrounding it. I’ve always been firmly against it (personally) in protecting my own heart. In fact, I’ve written about my opposition to this cultural phenonomon quite often: “I Am Not A ‘Netflix N Chill’ Kind Of Girl,” “I Am Not The Girl You Take Home,” or “I’m Opting Out Of The Hookup Culture” etc. quite often. But it’s awesome to find other content written on the subject (from a variety of perspectives) so I can keep learning about my thoughts vs. others and why, as a society, we’re so interested in something.

Anyways, all that’s to say that this week’s #readinglist focus on hookup culture (and other reads, of course!) and I hope you’ll feel welcomed to comment and leave your thoughts and perspectives, too. After all, what’s a reading list if we’re not growing together?!

1. Okay, fair warning, this is a 96-page thesis, but the content is incredible. Anne Vetter’s thesis, “It’s Not You, It’s Hookup Culture” dives into the hookup culture, science behind it, and how it’s shaping our world.

This is a must-read. From personal reflection/narrative that captures you from the start, to factual information and evidence that looks at the why behind our draw to hookup culture, I feel like I’ve learned so much about myself and society in this thesis.

“So a hookup could be anything. The magic about the word hookup is that it is so vague; it’s a spectrum.”

2. In browsing through some fun pages, I found this unconventional story/essay about ‘Tweets I could have sent’ written by Kirkley Mehndiratta in the midst of her writing residency.

I founds this to be pretty fun, and interesting in it’s unconventional form. It’s written out more like dates and jotted, stream of consciousness notes. I feel like I’m getting a glimpse into the speaker’s mind, which is both interesting and strangely intimate.

Do you like reading pieces like this, ones where you feel like you’re in someone’s mind or a character in their story? Sometimes I love this closeness; sometimes it pushes me away. I wonder if it depends on the content? What are your thoughts?

3. So I stumbled upon this article called, “The Queer Act Of Reading,” and to be quite frank, I wasn’t sure what the heck it was going to be about.

What I appreciated, though, is that this piece talked about reading as “both an activity of self-discovery and an act of self-suspension.” And I thought that was really beautiful. We read to disconnect, yet to connect back with ourselves (and with others, too). The essay talks about the gay/queer experience and how we, as a society, are always searching for ourselves in pages. This is no different with the queer population, but perhaps even more pressing due to under-representation in literature.

“But reading is more than stumbling across yourself in the pages of books. After all, to see one’s self reflected in literature, or to “feel seen,” only creates bounded and frustrating categories of readers perpetuating the primacy of their own experiences and identities.

Queerness offers hope, however, to view reading as a means of dissolving the ego. We read to move past our limits of comfort, to engage with the world, to feel temporarily discomfited, and to exercise the muscle that is our imagination.”

This was a powerful read that made me acknowledge some privileges that I have perhaps overlooked. To open a book and identify with a main character with ease—that’s a blessing—and something I’ve definitely taken for granted.

4. On a darker note, this really poignant poem by Czeslaw Milosz, “Letter Beginning with Two Lines,” that talks about school shootings really made me stop and think.

“Did I say
I had “one” student who

opened a door and died?
That’s wrong.

There were many.
The classroom of grief

had far more seats
than the classroom for math.”

The lines “the classroom of grief / had far more seats” really hit home. As painful as it is to read these words, I’m thankful for people like Milosz who are brave enough to write on such a difficult topic, and, somehow with grace.

5. I’ve been subscribed to Ploughshares updates for a while, and I stumbled across this reflective essay about Lil Wayne’s book, Gone Til November, which was actually pretty interesting.
Before reading the essay, I’d never heard about Lil Wayne’s book at all, as the essay says, it wasn’t published with a lot of hype. The essay talks about the book’s content—mundane self-reflective letters that run as a stream of consciousness, describing the sort of numbness that is so apparent in prison. The essay is interesting, though, because it speaks to how we become desensitized by our environment, and how this boredom (especially in regard to imprisonment, in this case) can shape us in major ways.

Do you agree? Is there something we should, perhaps, take note of or change when it comes to isolation as a punishment—from as small as a timeout to as big as jail? #thoughtstoponder

6. As a writer, I’m so intrigued by other people who write for a living, or have this as a central passion. On LinkedIn, I found a powerful article on this topic: “If you want to do your best creative work, do it for yourself, not for recognition” by Srinivas Rao which brings up some intriguing points.
I’ve always felt that my creative work was central to me—a part of who I am regardless of whether I made a living from it or not. This article talks about writer Karan Bajaj who, though very successful as a writer, never quit his day job. It sheds light on how this might be a very important point for creatives to consider.

“It’s been very liberating for me to answer my deepest questions through my writing. I never write for my niche, my industry, my audience, my platform. In a sense I think that’s been the reason for the success of my writing.” — Karan Bajaj

Perhaps this is important to consider. If we choose to pursue our passions, we must create a boundary between what we are doing for work and what we are doing for fun, or even further, a dividing line between money and how financially dependent we are upon our craft. Rao says this perfectly, “We must learn to let go of our attachments and expectations if we’re going to derive satisfaction from our work and create art that we’re proud to put our signature on.”

And I think this is true. Making a living from your passion isn’t wrong, but you don’t want to become so obsessed with the financial aspect that you lose the love and drive. You don’t want to become obsessed with what others think, so much so, that you aren’t creating what is natural and inherent within you.

7. On the art of letting go, this is another awesome LinkedIn article I came across.
The author, Marla Gottschalk, Ph.D., describes what she thinks about letting go:

“Letting go isn’t a defeat.
It does not signal failure on your part.
It may mean that you have committed your best effort — and the outcomes/rewards weren’t there.
It is closure.
It is about shifting your energies to fertile ground…”

I love that this article looks at the topic in a positive light. Sometimes when we think of ‘letting go,’ we think of defeat when in fact it’s the exact opposite. In what ways do you struggle with letting go? (I know I do!) How can we all shift to a positive perspective on the topic, without giving up when things get tough?

8. I’m sure you’ve heard the mess surrounding leaving children/animals in the car. It’ extremely important for this not to happen, especially in hot temperatures, as this can be classified as neglect. But what about people who aren’t malicious or negligent? This article is from the perspective of a mom (Kim Brooks) who faced a two-year battle for one small choice.

It’s not about saying whether she’s a bad or good mom, but figuring out what to do in these situations.

9. I am a huge fan of metaphor, imagery, and stream-of-consciousness writing. This profound essay by has all of that, and talks about loss, distance, death, and divorce in incredibly beautiful and heartbreaking ways.

“Without him, our life together appeared to stop. Marriage is all about demands and expectations, and maybe that was what we had left to lose, the right to need each other. Grief is a taut song, pulling north and south, crescendoed climb, edges multiplying beyond ourselves. Not stoic tears, blinked and swallowed, but muscles of water, cheeks an altar.”

Wow. I truly have no words. This essay was riveting and regardless of what grief you’ve experienced, your heart will resonate deeply and painfully with the words.