Although not all of us can have sexcapade stories as exciting as this one, we can now all read about other people’s (such as the one quoted above) on Men for Consent’s (MFC) new Tumblr page “How’s Your Hookup?” (howsyourhookup.tumblr.com). The page, which launched on Sept. 18, allows students to anonymously post a story about their latest hookup.
However, it’s not a gossip website. The purpose of the Tumblr page, according to a blurb at the top of the page, “is to provide a realistic snapshot of Williams hookup culture to inspire constructive conversation and work towards a healthier and safer sexual culture.”
MFC is a co-ed student organization that works, according to Co-president Henry Bergman ’15 “to prevent rape and sexual assault and [to] make people more aware of issues of masculinity, sex and dating.” The Tumblr page is MFC’s newest project.
“How’s Your Hookup” stems from an idea that Hana Tomozawa ’15 had last spring: She proposed that the group hand out “notecards to all of the entries that were to be filled with anonymous [first-year] conceptions of the Williams hookup culture,” with the goal being “to compile students’ thoughts on the hookup culture in one place, in a way that might shed some light on aspects of the hookup culture that people experience but don’t necessarily talk about.”
“The responses [they received last spring] were pretty thought-provoking,” Tomozawa said. MFC created the Tumblr page to open the project to the whole school and not just to first-years.
Through “How’s Your Hookup,” MFC shows many facets of the school’s hookup culture. There are posts on the page that represent all ranges of sexual encounters, from the disheartening, “…we aren’t as good friends anymore”; the adorably relatable, “Didn’t sleep too well since [the College] has tiny beds, but it was kind of nice having someone else there”; the romantic, “Beautiful and full of love, as always. But incredibly sad knowing it would be the last time for a long time”; the unfortunate, “It was uncomfortable and awkward and I hope I don’t see him again”; and for one lucky individual, downright awesome, “Absolutely explosive. Some of the best sex of my life, with the woman I love. So no, not too bad.”
Although still in its infancy, “How’s Your Hookup” has already shed light on the College’s hookup culture, especially issues not as openly discussed.
For example, one boy posted that he “couldn’t maintain an erection.” Another person posted that “I really don’t know what I’m doing most of the time though I try to act like I do.” According to Bergman, “How’s your Hookup” is “not to only post anonymous hookup stories, but to use the posts as a basis for thoughtful conversation.”
Bergman believes that there is a big difference between sharing something anonymously, which can lead to openness and healthy conversation, and sharing something with “the guys,” which can objectify people and turn hooking up into a competition. “Many people feel that their only options are to hook up at a party or be in a serious relationship,” Bergman said. “[But] it’s not completely black and white.” By depicting the full spectrum of relationships and hookups at the College, the Tumblr page is encouraging people “to define sexual happiness their own way, not according to the folks on their team or their friends.”
Although the openness allows sharers to be honest and readers to learn, there is a danger that something posted on the site will trigger a bad memory for someone surfing the page, which is why it is carefully moderated. Cole Townsend ’15, the page’s moderator, says that while they are “striving to have a snapshot of the Williams hookup culture,” they also “don’t want anyone getting hurt, so we do edit particularly explicit posts and will not include names.”
One dicey issue with the page is what to do if someone submits a story about rape or sexual assault. Bergman noted that they might not be allowed to post said story for legal reasons. Townsend echoed that stance, but hopes the site can provide a forum to discuss this issue. “The end goal is to ultimately educate people about the prevalence of sexual assault on campus, so it’s something we really need to figure out,” he said.
MFC’s mission is to educate people about sex and dating, ultimately helping students have fulfilling relationships – whether it be for one night or one year. As co-president, Bergman has found himself thinking that students have forgotten about their relationships – not just romantic ones, but friendships as well – in the craziness of daily life at the College. He felt that too often people searched for happiness in what they will get after graduation, not just in what they have at the College.
“Why don’t people define happiness as a great relationship, or making new friends, [instead of] doing well on one paper, or one lab?” Bergman said of his inspiration for highlighting the importance of discussing relationships for students. Hopefully, “How’s Your Hookup” will help answer that question.