Arielle Pardes | Not hooked on Penn Hookups
The Screwtinizer | Shaming sex partners on the internet isn’t cool
March 13, 2013, 1:04 am·
Hooking up with your hot TA? Sleeping with a Quaker sex god? Penn Hookups, the newest addition to a string of similar pages, wants to know.
The page takes its form from Penn Compliments, the Facebook group which launched last November and allows students to post anonymous accolades to fellow students.
As soon as it hit Facebook, the page was a success — and then the spin-offs started. We now have Penn Secrets, Penn Admirers, Penn Laughs and various other pages in the same vein. Why wait for 34th Street’s semesterly shoutouts when you can post quips to the Facebook group right away?
I subscribe to each of the aforementioned pages, and although the posts flood my newsfeed each time I log into Facebook, I appreciate the feel-good nature of the commentary. In an age of cyber-bullying and internet cruelty, Penn’s community — like other college campuses that have adopted similar Facebook groups — is employing the net to build a sense of campus camaraderie.
But I just don’t see Penn Hookups doing the same.
Penn Hookups lacks the good vibes of its sister pages. While the other pages mostly praise our peers, Penn Hookups solicits strange commentary about our sex lives — especially things that we wouldn’t say offline.
According to the page, Penn Hookups modeled itself after a similar project from the University of California, Santa Barbara.
The UCSB Hookups page is both vulgar and debasing, including stories demonizing a girl who stunk of a “smelly seafood platter” when her partner went down on her and a recurring “slut of the week contest.”
For now, Penn Hookups hasn’t gained much traction. The page counts less than 300 friends and only 10 posts (for a point of reference, Penn Compliments boasts over 4,000 friends and thousands of posts). The sparse submissions to the page are actually rather boring — but some are unnerving, like the student who wrote about having sex with six guys in the past month without informing them that she tested positive for a sexually transmitted infection.
This is not the way that the Penn Hookups page should look.
Although the page claims that “nothing mean will be posted,” there has yet to be anything particularly praiseworthy. If the page aspires to the success of Penn Compliments and its other predecessors, then it needs to embrace the same trend toward encouragement and positivity toward our peers.
But even if Penn Hookups became an oasis of sexual endorsements, the nature of the page discourages us from discussing the issues in our sex lives with the very people we’re having sex with.
To the girl who posted about having an STI: your partners need to know — and announcing it on this Facebook page doesn’t count.
The internet defines the communication of our generation, and pages like Penn Compliments have proved that they foster a sense of kindness and solidarity on campus. The creator of Penn Compliments (who has so far remained anonymous) said that the “point of this project is to learn to do good and spread good.”
Penn Hookups would be wise to take a hint from this philosophy. In order to make the space positive or productive, we need to move away from a model that makes us feel worse about our sexual experiences — and I seriously hope there is never a day when the page features its own “slut of the week” contest.
If anything, we should be using a space like Penn Hookups to advertise particularly good sex (“to the College junior who rocked my world last night: any girl would be lucky to get you in bed!”) the same way that Penn Compliments praises our fellow students. Our sexual criticisms should be saved for conversations with our partners: offline.
Arielle Pardes is a College junior from San Diego. Her email address is email@example.com. You can follow her @pardesoteric. “The Screwtinizer” appears every Wednesday.