Even among college students, it’s defined differently from person to person and situation to situation.
It could mean anything from kissing to intercourse, with a crush, with a friend, or, yes, sometimes with a relative stranger.
It would seem to be a pretty confusing time to be a college student, at least as far as sex is concerned.
The sexual revolution has been won, and many campuses resemble great drunken bacchanals in which men and women can choose to participate in no-strings-attached, or at least few-strings-attached, experimentations in lust — sex without stigma or shame.
The apparent rise of rape on campus is more recent and more disconcerting.
A new generation of activists has raised awareness of what appears to be a crisis: Studies show that as many as 25 percent of college women report having been raped, and college administrations have been repeatedly criticized for their anemic responses to alleged assaults.
Some worry that the notion of “affirmative consent” — every step toward sex being explicitly agreed to with a “yes” — is overkill and unrealistic; others argue that it serves to protect both men and women in an environment where an unpredictable swirl of alcohol, hormones, newfound freedom, and relative inexperience can result in the best experience of a young life — or the very worst.And yet, at the same time, news about the high incidence of rape has reached a fever pitch — leaving students, not to mention their parents, worried about their safety. Hand-wringing over what has become known as hookup culture is nothing new, of course — the panicky-sounding term has been around for decades now.But a hookup is not always the blithe and meaningless sex with strangers that the term conjures.And yet, for all there is to worry about — and we old folks love nothing more than worrying about the sex lives of young people — campuses are still filled with college kids excited about one another and the thrill of a night that’s just beginning.To them, college sex isn’t a headline but something real.