SHAPE leads discussion on hook-up culture

Ciara McCarthy

Northwestern’s Sexual Health and Assault Peer Educators held a screening of the documentary “Spitting Game: The College Hook-Up Culture,” on Wednesday at the McCormick Tribune Center.

The film addresses ‘hooking up’ in conjunction with binge drinking, peer pressure and sexual assault. Denice Evans, the documentary’s writer and director, was present at the showing and following discussion session.

“Our real goal (with this event) is to just start dialogue,” said Amanda Mather, SHAPE’s public relations chair and a Communication senior.

In line with SHAPE’s mission, Evans said she created the film also to start a conversation about sexuality.

“I wanted to bring it to the forefront of awareness to get people to start dialoguing about it and discuss whether hooking up is a perceived norm or a real norm,” Evans said.

According to Evans, the college hookup culture becomes increasingly problematic when sex and alcohol combine.

Besides erasing any emotional components of sex, she said, hooking up can also be linked to sexual assault.

“Sex is good. Sex is natural. I hope everyone has a good, happy sex life,” she said. “The concern comes from the mixture of alcohol, drugs and sex without addressing the emotional part.”

To create the film, Evans visited 12 college campuses and interviewed more than 200 college students. She also talked to professors and researchers about the relationship between alcohol, drugs and sexual assault for college students.

The original film is 82 minutes long, but Evans said she shows a special 35-minute version to college students.

Unlike Evans, whose film featured students with negative hooking up experiences, SHAPE members said they believe hooking up could be a positive interaction for students.

“I would never define hooking up as a problem,” Mather said. Instead, she added, the problem is in the ambiguity inherent in the term and the mixed expectations that follow.

SHAPE coordinator Laura Anne Stuart said hooking up is one of the many choices individuals make in their sexual lives.

“People should be free to make decisions on what is right or not right for them without outside pressure to conform to an idea which might not be true,” Stuart said.

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