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Hookup Culture with Lisa Wade

Hookup Culture with Lisa Wade

On Thursday, April 4 Lisa Wade PhD, professor of sociology at Occidental College, will be on campus to discuss the research that sparked her newest book, American Hookup: The New Culture of Sex on CampusWade’s discussion will be held at 7:30 PM in the Blue Lounge, located on the first floor of the College Center. 

Wade’s research on the hookup culture on college campuses was fueled by what she was hearing from her students in the courses she taught compared to what she was hearing in the media.  

According to Wade, when media outlets often discuss the behavior of casual sexual activity it is centered around “very sexually active white women” and the conversation is often “should she or shouldn’t she?” 

“It was really warped from the perspective of what was really happening on campus and it didn’t at all address the diversity of students on campus. By that I mean the demographic diversity, but also just how each student is just different from one another and they have super personality quirks and characteristics and values, and it was all just flattening hearing this conversation,” said Wade. 

In the courses she has taught, Sociology 101 and Debating Controversial Issues in Sexuality, Wade instructed her students to create diary entries throughout the semester. In the end, she collected data from 101 first-year students which added up to over 1 million words. 

When I got those diaries back, I knew. I just knew these student voices needed a platform,” added Wade. Between the need to intervene in the public conversation and the fact that I had students who could do so with such panache, I knew it was the right thing to do. 

After an unofficial count, Wade says D’Youville is around the 100th school she’s visited to discuss the topic and her favorite part about the travel is, not surprisingly, speaking with the students. 

“The students are great. They are interesting and engaged and have wonderfully smart things to say everywhere I go. My experience is that every school is full of amazing, fantastic students. I learn something everywhere I go. 

One of the advantages of these talks is I get a sense of how the research I have found applies to different places in the country and different types of schools. I get a greater understanding and nuance of how the culture has both spread across America in an amazing way, but also how each school is a little different than the next,” she explained. 

For her discussion, Wade wants students to walk away with one thing. “I want them to take away that our research shows that students, in fact, want a much broader menu of options. 

“Students mostly just think that their peers don’t want those things and so the desire is there to really diversify the sexual culture of college campuses and they just need to be more honest with each other about what they want. They can really change things for the better for a lot of people. 

When she’s not teaching or traveling across the country, you can find Wade on her couch, with a cat (and her laptop) writing her next book. 

“I stand by what I said about truth being stranger than fiction. The world around us is full of amazing stories, enraging stories, things that should make your blood boil but also inspiring stories and stories that are so funny you hurt yourself laughing and the quirkiest things you can imagine. I can’t think of any better material than real life to write about,” she said. 

Wade earned her PhD in Sociology from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, her master’s in Human Sexuality from New York University, and her bachelor’s from the University of California, Santa Barbara. 


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