Yesha Callahan

Black College Students Less Likely To Participate In “Hook-Up” Culture

Black College Students Less Likely To Participate In Hook Up Culture

College is usually considered a time for young adults to explore their freedom and possibly attend a few classes in the process.  When I look back on my own college years on the Raritan River in New Jersey, I didn’t do much exploring, but there was that one time I got drunk off of  Mad Dog, Boones Farm and E & J and fell down a flight of steps.  When it came to sex, I didn’t lose my virginity to a random drunken moment of passion, but to a long term boyfriend.  Participating in what some are now referring to as the hook-up culture that’s prevalent on college campuses just wasn’t something I was interested in.

A recent NY Times article described the hook-up culture that has emerged on college campuses, but isn’t being spearheaded by the men, but by women. The women written about in the article are all described as Ivy Leaguers from University of Pennsylvania who are, “driven young women, many of whom aspire to be doctors, lawyers, politicians, bankers or corporate executives like Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg or Yahoo’s Marissa Mayer”.

One student, who remained anonymous, wasn’t worried about the number of hook-ups she’ll have by the time she finishes college:

“I definitely wouldn’t say I’ve regretted any of my one-night stands,” she said.

“I’m a true feminist,” she added. “I’m a strong woman. I know what I want.”

At the same time, she didn’t want the number of people she had slept with printed, and she said it was important to her to keep her sexual life separate from her image as a leader at Penn.

“Ten years from now, no one will remember — I will not remember — who I have slept with,” A. said. “But I will remember, like, my transcript, because it’s still there. I will remember what I did. I will remember my accomplishments and places my name is hung on campus.”

Not everyone is like this anonymous Penn student and believes in the hook-up culture.  According to a recent study,  only 14 percent of students hookup more than 10 times in four years and these students are more likely than others to be white, wealthy, heterosexual, able-bodied, and conventionally attractive.


Where does that leave black students?  Needless to say, probably not running around campus humping and getting humped by every Rakeem, LaKeisha & Harold.

From Slate:

African-American students are less likely to hook up than white students. Sociological studies suggest that lingering racism plays a part: Black people have been traditionally stereotyped as hypersexual (trigger warning: see the “jezebel” and “mandingo” stereotypes). So, for black men and women, embracing sexual freedom can bring individual rewards, but also risks affirming harmful beliefs about African-Americans. In response, some black people feel the need to perform a politics of respectability. Rashawn Ray and Jason Rosow, for example, in a comparison of black and white fraternities, found that black men’s resistance to negative racial stereotypes sometimes involved being “good” and following mainstream social norms of appearance and behavior.

There are other, more practical reasons as well. Unpublished research led by USC graduate student Jess Butler, whose dissertation addressed hookup culture, suggests that there may be a separate African-American hookup scene on some colleges. However, hookup scenes often revolve around fraternity houses and, because of historic and ongoing economic inequality,black fraternities are less likely to have houses. Meanwhile, in general, black students are more strongly in favor of gender equality and drinkless alcohol than whites. Neither of these facts facilitate hookup scripts.

In my college years, I saw plenty of black women on campus getting the scarlet letter of being labeled  “ho”, as well as, other women being careful not to receive such a label or reputation on campus.  Where white people may applaud their counterparts for being “sexually” free, I didn’t see anything like that happen in my college circles.  You were pretty much shamed if your business got put out on front street that you were ‘easy’.

If you’re in the 30’s, like I am, your first mainstream exposure to the antics of black students on a college campus came from watching “A Different World”.  Although the campus setting was a historically black college, and not a predominately white institution, Bill Cosby seemed to make a conscientious effort not to portray a sex filled campus, but one where people were in relationships and not randomly hooking up with others. Now in the real world, stories I heard from friends attending HBCUs made it clear, that sure there was a lot of hooking up going on, but people were discrete.  Once again, probably because people didn’t want to be labeled negatively.

Is there anything wrong with the hook-up culture?  Maybe there is, maybe there isn’t. Who am I to judge? But I do hope these students participating in extra-curricular sex are protecting themselves.

What’s your opinion on the hook-up culture on college campuses? Are people making a big deal about nothing?


  1. July 23, 2013 - Reply

    Ironic that this be posted a day after that horrible hook up culture article on xojane. Then again def different target audiences they’ve done it all white girl wasted and acid.

    As a college student I’m not doing anything different from high school aka nothing but homework. I’m not really for hook up culture or sloppy behavior to imitate ‘adulthood’.

    • July 23, 2013 - Reply


      I think I like to read the articles on xojane just to remind myself of how different black women and white women view the world. Don’t get me wrong, some of the stuff is interesting and informative, but a lot of it just makes me shake my head. A few weeks ago a young girl on there wrote an article bragging about how she almost had sex with two different guys she just met on the same day. The only thing that stopped her was the fact that her thighs were too bruised-up from the encounter with the first guy and she didn’t want to have to explain it to the second one. The people in the comments section were giving her props, virtual high-fives and “you go girls”. Can you imagine if that appeared here on this site????

      • July 23, 2013 - Reply


        LOL I remember that article, foolishness I tell you.

      • July 23, 2013 - Reply


        Lol oh yeah I saw that one. I’m mostly on there for the good articles the black women make like the beauty ones ect some of the other ones are good too.

        I don’t think I could be on the site, get into too many arguments because being on that site made me realize even more that I don’t believe in sexual freedom.

        I believe in sexual responsibility. The movement was to be equal w men on sex but I don’t want a whore guy why would I want to be one as well?

      • July 23, 2013 - Reply


        LOL. Don’t get me wrong, y’all. I’m not going to pretend that there aren’t black women who get down like that (there are!) but I think what is different is the bragging. Most black women (and other women of color) who do it will probably only confide in their closest girlfriends and if it gets out to other people there seems to be social repercussions; the white girls just seem to put it all out there with pride. *shrugs*

  2. July 23, 2013 - Reply

    I can attest to this, I currently attend a predominately white college and you can clearly see the difference in social norms between the black and white students. I just think it has to do with the way we were raised.

    • July 23, 2013 - Reply


      I agree. I don’t think it’s because blacks don’t want to be viewed as hypersexual. I come from a family where even living together before marriage was looked down upon. Yet, shacking up is a rite of passage for many white people. I remember this one white guy where I interned was so shocked that one of our colleagues, who was Latino, had never lived with his fiancee before proposing to her. But they were Catholic. I’m a Christian and so were many of the blacks on the predominantly white campus where I attended college, so hooking up was never going to be a celebrated activity among us.

    • July 23, 2013 - Reply


      Exactly Misha.

  3. July 23, 2013 - Reply

    I was a commuter student so I really didn’t/want to engage in the hook-up culture.

  4. July 23, 2013 - Reply

    I am not going to say that a culture of “hooking up” does not exist among young Black collegiates, but I am inclined to think that Black ladies (and men) know the value of reputation – good or bad it follows you; something many Blacks have or are learning in high school -one fall from grace, one mistake, a hint or a whisper of questionable morality can ruin lives, destroy dreams, and blight aspirations.

    The truth is that a white girl who is indulges in the culture of “hooking up” may well gain a reputation for being a ‘free spirit’ of some such innocuous or neutral label while a black girl who does the same will gain a reputation with a an extremely negative label.

    Funnily enough, the average black student seldom discuss his or her sexual relationships, so if a culture of hooking up exits, it is indeed, very discrete.

  5. July 23, 2013 - Reply

    This has always been my thing about young African-American kids, especially at PWIs, in college AND IT HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH A FEAR OF LOOKING LIKE A WHORE TO WHITE SOCIETY. I know I was never into this idea of sexual freedom… especially as a woman. Am I crazy, or is allowing someone to enter you a privilege? I do not equate that with freedom. It should be the opposite, no? What the article should have said, is that white women and girls are inoculated from normative/cultural stigmas through their inherent white female privilege so they are free to misbehave… so they do, with impunity.

    The African-American girls, especially, when compared to their non-Black female counterparts, are like nuns on these campuses and it likely has more to do with THEIR cultural mores. If they were hooking up, it was with a boyfriend or some kind of monogamous relationship. It has always been that way, so a part of the stress of racism, a part of the reason for the impatience of Blacks when encountering it, is that it is based on lies that are TRUTHS for the “dominant” culture. Lies that we know to not be true of ourselves, but of those judging. Supposedly, we’re the drug users… Drug use? Google “White Kids Are Much More Likely To Be Using (And Selling) Drugs! ” data from the center for disease control, but who do this country make the face of drug use? Also Google – study-black-asian-kids-less-likely .. Also, we’re the whores…and shoplifters, huh? See the top 10 shoplifted items… hmmm…. they just don’t seem culturally identifiable to me, yet my black femaleness fits the profile of what they follow in the stores. America has made Blacks the “face of vice”… and that is just a lie.

    • July 24, 2013 - Reply


      I agree with your notion it is a privilege and to be done with care. I also agree with your points that America tends to label Blacks and other POC’s as the faces of vice. Quite frustrating when there is studies and empirical evidence to the contrary quite often.

  6. July 23, 2013 - Reply

    It’s also a gender issue and sexual politics. Black are the minority on campus which means in this case instead of ‘looking the same’ you stand out. As a black person on campus you already are friends with other blacks by association therefore a high risk of everyone knowing your business. For Blacks are generally more conservative and Black girls have less options when it comes to hook-up partners and anoniminity than their white counterparts. Black girls feel they have to stay within the pool of Black guys which is a small pool. Once you date/hook up with one you limited the chances with other coz they likely are friends it know each other. White are the majority and has several circles so hooking up with one doesn’t interfere with forming a relationship with another person from another circle. Problem is that Black girls are weary of dating/hooking up with white guys coz they might not be interested or he might be interested with coz she is exotic. Also a lot of Black girls are told to look for black men or fear being seen as a traitor for stepping out of her race. Or worse stupid for thinking white guys are sincerely interested in her – yeah he might date you but he won’t take you home to mama. Also there is this sense of being held to a higher standard that white girls by black guys. White girls are allowed to hook-up and even if they are thought of as sluts they are seen a fun and not as affected. When a black girls does that amongst the black community her shit gets out and she is labelled more harshly both by guys and girls. Black files on campus are stuck with pursuing relationships with primarily Black men in order to protect themselves. Problem it’s not an equal playing field coz Black guys have more options.

    That is not to say Black guys get attacked when they hook up with white girls etc. Many are seen as traitors too but it’s is not as scathing because if the fact thy are men and men are allowed to be sexually liberal. But a lot of those attacks from Black women comes from hurt and resentment and a history of sexual rejection due to racism. So when they see a black guy dating a white girls they feel betrayed and he agrees with the notion that black women are not attractive. Guys talk and black girls feel that when they mess around they get scathed but when a white girl does the same thing she might be considered a ho but its okay coz she is white. And black guys participate in this system in holding them to a higher standard, not rewarding them for that standard by saying black girls are difficult demanding in adventurous compared to white hirls when they won’t give it up easily, dating white girls then lasting black girls for doing what white girls do. Not that having a healthy sexual life is bad coz its just as insulting to say white girls are sluttier even if they are not as scathed. It’s like the Madonna and the whore. Your either one or the other and Black girls feel they have to be the Madonna to protect themselves from judgement.

    The disparity in hook-up culture between Black women and white women is driven by the larger agenda of diffusing negative racial prejudice but also by race-gender politics between black women black men,white men and white women. On the spectrum white guys are on top, white women and black men in the middle coz race and gender more or less even things out and black women are on the bottom for having the double negative of race and gender. Black women are raised conservatively, stand out on campus coz of their race, and have a smaller dating pool because of race. When a guy talks about a white girl being easy she is less affected coz she has a larger network to fish in. If a Black girl is talked about her already small pool is contaminated. Truth is that most girls on campus eventually want a relationship and guys want one to after having their fun. White girls just have more negotiating power coz her network is larger. If a Black guy taks shit she can tell him to fuck off and be fine. Black girls don’t have that luxury so they have to be careful with who they mess with. It gives Black guys the negotiating power coz she can’t tell him to fuck off for being an asshole.

    However that is changing. As more people are willing to date outside of racial lines that is evening out the playing field. Will there be less sexual politics. Will girls always have to worry about being labeled a hoe. Sure just less so. Actually I think if Black girls had more options it will increase the chances of more relationships than more hook-ups. A lot of girls feel they have to settle for hook-ups coz guys don’t relationships. Guys have options coz there are more girls than guys. Black girls dilemma is that she can’t hook-up co she will be a hoe. She can’t date coz white guys may not e interested and black guys have the option of “easy white girls” – again the Madonna and the whore thing why can’t white girls just be having a healthy sexual life why are they considered easier? Once Black girls are open to dating outside their race too Black guys don’t get to dictate as much relationships coz they have conpetiton.

    The tone of this article had undertones of white girls being sluttier and black girls forced to be madonnas. It comes back to men dividing women to Jackie’s and Marilyn with racial overtones. Even if white girls are allowed to be sluttier the problem is that they are considered sluts to begin with for having healthy sexual lives that Black girls can’t participate openly coz of their race.

    We think hook-up culture as a symbol of feminism etc but in reality it has allowed guys to still dictate sexual relationships. I get to hook-up with girls and label them as whores for the very thing am doing. I get sex without commitment but by still slut shaming girls i will ensure I will always have some less sexually liberated girl I can wife up to come home to, keeping my ego intact as a man. How different is that from the figures? Same thing just happening with Black guys wanting Blacl women to be madonnas and white women as the whores. And nobody is really rewarded not even white women coz they are still being seen as sluts. Black women get angry when they see a white girl and black guy together. If he is really with her coz she is white and easy not because he actually likes her it’s not something to be jealous of.

    Women just need to negotiate sexual relationships more. Coz hook-up culture is not as sexually liberating for women as we like to think it is.

    • July 23, 2013 - Reply


      Idk why you got thumbed down there’s some truth to what you’re saying. Maybe I need to reread since it was a lot.

      I’m a black female minority in my college so any male friends I have, have been white. When I do see black people its usually males idk where the females are at.

      • July 24, 2013 - Reply


        You don’t have to reread his post, it was lengthy, every paragraph was repetitive of the one before. But yes he did have a lot of truths. But also a lot of generalizing. A lot of black women are over being angry at seeing black men with white women; and some were never made angry at that in the first place. Some are just frustrated about it, cuz even if a woman scored a man because she was easy, he still might marry her and give her kids, and black women are frustrated why can’t she find that when she is a nice package who is not slutty.

  7. July 23, 2013 - Reply

    This doesn’t surprise any of us. We all know that it is a myth that blacks are more promiscuous than whites. Anyone who has ever attended a predominately white school (like I did) knows how white kids get down.

    The only people I’ve ever known to engage in this type of behavior are whites. That’s not to say that I don’t know of black friends who were promiscuous at some point in their lives, but the drunken, indiscriminate, lascivious college sex that is now being called “hook-up culture” I’ve only ever witnessed among my white peers. Most of the black people I went to undergrad with were only dealing with one person at a time – having sex with people they considered their boyfriends or girlfriends – or they were celibate. When one-night stands did happen, it was spoken of discretely.

    I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that the girls interviewed in the NY Times article are liars, or at the very least exhibiting false bravado. These girls are not liberated feminists. Many of them are extremely insecure, suffer from low self-esteem and are desperate to fit-in and be liked by boys. There is a lot of pressure among white college students to engage in this and many feel that if they don’t they are somehow not having an authentic college experience.

    It’s also very telling that heavy use of alcohol is almost always involved. That’s usually the only way for them to numb themselves and get courageous enough to have sex with someone they don’t know, don’t like and/or are not even attracted to. And the sex isn’t even good sex. Ask them if they remember what it was like and most of them won’t remember. So what’s the point? Sexing for brownie points, that’s all.

    • July 23, 2013 - Reply


      Yes! Took the words right out of my mouth. I also went to a predominantly White undergrad college and experienced the same things. Yet we’re the ones that get stereotyped for being promiscuous….

      And the girl from the NY times interview that claimed being a “strong woman” and a feminist, if she was so proud of her hookups and unashamed, why didn’t she take it a step further and give a number? Like you said, insecurity.

  8. July 23, 2013 - Reply

    Yea it was long sorry. Main point is that hook-up culture just perpetuates the long standing Madonna- whore complex that men divide women too and because of double negative of race and gender upbringing black women feel they have to embody the Madonna. It also has to do with double standards between black men and black women. Blacks are conservative so black men expect women to be less sexual. They still think white women are sluts just that they get a pass and white women have more options so a couple of white/black guys saying shit doesn’t hurt her as much. A black girl does it and she risks a lot since her target pool is limited primarily Black men. On campus you are automatically friends with other blacks coz it such a small community. Everyone knows of you and everyone talks. On top of guys want sex without commitment. Instead of respecting black girls for the standards they expect from women they get mad because she isn’t giving it up. That is how black girls are difficult and white girls are fun. When she does she is a whore. A white girl is a whore but its okay she is white therefore a free spirit. Plus she can tell a black guy guck off and not get hurt. A black girl does that and he will poison her name in black community. That’s it. It really the power dynamics between black guys and black girls on campus.

    Hook up culture doesn’t ‘liberate’ women as we think but reinforce Madonna-whore complex. Yes girls do want healthy sex lives which is fine-calling white girls easier than black girls is just as bad- but most want relationships and guys less so for longer. By slut shaming guys get to have uncommitted sex and virgins to come to. Not all guys r like these just the general culture around slut shaming. It’s just expressing itself between black men and women through racial politics. Women need to negotiate sexual politics better. For Black girls it starts with dating outside their race more. More options, more negotiation.

    • July 23, 2013 - Reply


      “By slut shaming guys get to have uncommitted sex and virgins to come to. Not all guys r like these just the general culture around slut shaming. It’s just expressing itself between black men and women through racial politics. Women need to negotiate sexual politics better.””!!!

      YES. I have read a comment so brilliant in a while.

    • July 24, 2013 - Reply


      You made a great point here. I recall in my 4th year women sociology course we discussed this issue. We talked about how the WOC were often held to a higher sexual standard. How we were expected to not have sexual partners outside of a relationship. How the perception of White women was sexual loose. It seemed to boogle the minds of our white female classmates that this idea was out there about them. Your comments bring it back full circle and that it really comes down to a sexual inequality and that it only provides freedom to the men and not very much to women.

  9. July 23, 2013 - Reply

    What do we consider promiscuous? Have more than 1, 5, 10 partners? I personally think its not great for either sex have too many sexual partners but what is okay or to many? Promiscuity is subjective to everyone. A lot of the comments here are like ‘yea white people are promiscuous’. Yes there are people bothe men an women engaging in unhealthy and high sexual activity but there are also many especially girls that are having healthy sex lives. When we say white girls are promiscuous only in comparison to black girls we are perpetuating that Madonna whore complex. Guys get to be guy but girls are one or other. Don’t fall into trap.

    • July 23, 2013 - Reply


      I don’t like any guy or girl who I consider whoreish so idk if I’m into the trap or not.

    • July 24, 2013 - Reply


      I guess promiscuous is not one number, because that would be relative to how old you are. 10 partners for a 50 year old is not like 10 partners for a 16 year old. I think it’s more about how often. Such as, how much do you do in a month.

  10. July 23, 2013 - Reply

    How about perhaps a lot of black folks live by a different moral code than a lot of white folks? They never consider that. The alleged hook-up culture is not a new phenomenon. I went to a white college in the early 90’s and white girls were doing their thing then, too. The difference is that because white women have more access to eligible men, they can Ho-it-up in college, move to a different state and start a whole new life with a whole new set of white people, just like in the movies. Black women, on the other hand, have it different. If you want to marry a black guy someday and be treated with respect by other black peers, you need to be on your best behavior because black folks don’t forget sh@t. And so many of us know each other and or knows somebody who may have heard about everything bad any black woman has ever done, even if she did it at a white college.

    • July 23, 2013 - Reply


      Let the truth be told!! and BeReal I think you misinterpreted what was meant by eligible

  11. July 23, 2013 - Reply

    And yet we are the dirty whores, smh

  12. July 24, 2013 - Reply

    I am a current college student at a PWI and black and white students get down the same way but its a matter of who gets to know. A white girl will brag about her hookup opposed to the black girl that will quietly make her way back home. Overall in the grand scheme of things black women do have a different view of things because we don’t do the same things. I find myself telling my white friends that they are crazy and that would not be me anytime soon. My white girls drink to get drunk whereas my black friends drink but don’t become drunk to the point where they can’t get themselves home. There’s a difference in culture but like I said, we all get down the same way its just a matter of who knows.

  13. July 24, 2013 - Reply


  14. July 24, 2013 - Reply

    Well I guess my HBCU was different, lol. As a recent graduate of FAMU I can say that there was a hook up culture and people were having sex with people they weren’t in relationships with. Unfortunatey, a lot of girls ended up catching feelings for some of these guys and had to deal with the disappoinment of knowing that they spent years hooking up with someone who was probably hooking up with other girls. It wasn’t the case at my school that men and women were more conservative for fear of being looked down upon as hyper sexual; if anything, being in an all black environment made people more comfortable because they could be themselves without being judged by the majority group. While it was a dry campus, there were no co ed dorms, and we all went to church every sunday, there was a lot of drinking and hooking up going on. But maybe my school was the exception…

    • September 11, 2013 - Reply


      The truth is that you would probably be shocked at the things going on with those students up the street at FSU. What you considered a lot may not even raise a eye there(lol)…

      You said that a lot of the woman caught feelings, which speaks to there mentality of looking at it as more than just sex.

  15. July 24, 2013 - Reply

    I am not surprised by this at all. I have two White girl roommates and when they talk about their college experiences I feel like a nun in a whorehouse… Their escapades are not only shocking by they way they so blithely recount these indiscretions is baffling…

  16. July 25, 2013 - Reply

    Uggh! Where was this article when I was taking Intimate relations last semester? I’m really not surprised by this. In undergrad my roommates (white) had multiple one night stands, which resulted in multiple trips to the health clinic for std and pregnancy checks. They believed it was a good way of “discovering themselves”. It just helped me discover that they were nasty as hell!

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