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Unhooked: How Young Women Pursue Sex, Delay Love and Lose at Both Hardcover – February 15, 2007

4.0 out of 5 stars 60 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In her second book, journalist Stepp (Our Last Best Shot) gets an inside perspective on the "hookup," which has become the "primary currency of social interaction" between the sexes in high schools and colleges. Though it's clear where Stepp, mother of three, stands in regard to "hooking up"-a no-strings-attached sex act that allows participants "the freedom to unhook" at any time-Stepp has a seasoned pro's ability to step back, examining carefully and sympathetically the "cultural shift" in its particulars, through the individual stories of interviewees, as well as in its broader cultural impact. Inspired by a series of articles she wrote on eighth-grade oral sex rings for The Washington Post in 1998 ("two years before the popularity of oral sex in middle schools percolated through the media"), Stepp avoids breathless sensationalism, preferring instead to explore the meaning of "hooking up," its fallout, potential long-range consequences for women and men, and the factors that have allowed such a shift to take place-wisely asking, "Where are young women's teachers?" rather than "What is wrong with these girls?" Though it would have benefited from a winnowing of interviews, this insightful study is vivid and engaging, and includes a practical conversation guide for mothers and daughters, making it a valuable text for parents that goes beyond the latest the-kids-are-not-alright headlines.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

"Hooking up" is a common phrase among young people today, but as journalist Stepp (author of Our Last Best Shot, 2000) discovered, the term is nebulous in meaning. Covering a range of sexual behavior, hooking up can mean anything from kissing to intercourse, as well as everything in between. Stepp conducted extensive interviews with young women in high school and college to find out how this casual approach to sexual encounters is affecting a generation. What she learned is that in large part hooking up had supplanted dating, with both young men and women eschewing deeper relationships for casual encounters with little or no commitment involved. Stepp looks at how the culture of today fosters these attitudes, noting that when young women are expected to excel at school and have numerous outside activities, many feel they don't have time to form a deeper bond with a significant other. Eye-opening and powerful, Stepp's book also offers empowering advice for women as they navigate today's sexual landscape. Kristine Huntley
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Riverhead Books; First Edition edition (February 15, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1594489386
  • ISBN-13: 978-1594489389
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 1.3 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (60 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #850,988 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I must admit that this book was sometimes very hard for me to read, because it hit way to close to home. I am a 37 year old black male and I have definitely seen a change in the landscape when it comes to relationships in today's culture. I was brought up overseas and in a home and culture where a man was supposed to treat a woman with respect and dignity, get to know her and know her passions and dreams before taking her to bed. When I came back to the United States in 1994, I realized that I was totally unprepared for the casual nature of sex and the way many women basically treated men as boy-toys who were just there to fulfill a need at that particular time. This is not to say thjat all women are like this, as the book eloquently shows, but most women are totally UNPREPARED and shocked when they do meet someone who shows chivarly and is old fashioned in their values and wants to actually get to know them. It is almost always assumed that to want to know someone is to try and "tie them down" and prevent them from being able to be emotionally free from you at any time. But this is the irony, and "unhooked" tells the story so well, being unhooked does not actually prevent emotional bondage, it actually increases sadness and creates a level of emptiness that surfaces later on.

This is a MUST for all especially if you are concerned about the way sex has become such a casual entity in our society. THere is enough blame to go around and is not simply a matter of "these kids don't have moral". Read the book and be sobered and humbled....
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Format: Paperback
I can't stress enough how accurate a portrayal this book is of most modern young women. As a 28-year old woman who has just finished medical school but never had a lasting relationship because I always felt my studies should come first (and so I've been told all my life), this book hit very close to home.

I always figured it was something wrong with ME. I wasn't able to take a step back and gain broader perspective on the messages that have surrounded me almost from birth. No, I'm not trying to sound like a victim, but it's crucial to know how many seemingly small factors can come together to form a larger problem.

And I know it's not just me... For example, my best friend (who recently got her MBA) was sitting a bar and chatting with this guy she was really interested in, both physically & mentally, for hours. He hinted that she should come back to his apartment with her, but she didn't take the hints (or says she didn't). The next day she came to me, asking, "Why couldn't I just have sex with him??" There is a lot of confusion in young women today... Not only in terms of balancing academic/career/extracurricular goals with personal relationships, but also the pressure to BE overtly sexual and treat men disposably while at the same time really desiring a deeper emotional connection.

I think Stepp is right... Some of us, through a combination of factors, aren't equipped with the tools (due to lack of experience, and being actively influenced away from experience with messages like "There'll be plenty of time to date after <college, grad school, whatever> is done.") to adequately integrate a loving relationship into our lives. There are quotes in this book, much like the above, that I have heard since early adolescence.
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Format: Hardcover
I give this book 5 stars simply for shedding light on the new way in which teenagers and young adults view sex and relationships. The author says that for many young people today the concept of courtship or dating is antiquated. It has been replaced by the hookup.

The essence of hooking-up, which can be anything from kissing to intercourse, is that there are no strings attached. There is no relationship, only instant gratification. It is suppose to be primarily a physical act, devoid of emotions. There is usually alcohol involved. The author is clearly against the hooking-up culture. She is no Puritan when it comes to sex, but for her, physical intimacy should happen within a meaningful relationship.

The author interviewed high school and college girls to learn all about the hookup culture.

So why do girls hookup? Isn't that exactly what men want, easy sex? So why are girls giving it to them? According to the girls interviewed, they feel a sense of power at being able to use the guy. They are also too busy being star atheltes, straight A students, and pursuing their dreams (or their parents dream for them). Who has time for a boyfriend? Not these girls. In addition, they have seen their parents' marriages break up and cause all sorts of misery. Real relationships can cause pain, hookups can't, right? Well, not exactly.

There are fairly serious consequences to the hooking up culture: don't learn how to have real relationships, after-the-fact-regret, unprotected sex, creates an ideal situation for date rape, low self-esteem, inability to trust, etc.

The author's solutions to keeping your child from engaging in the hooking up lifestyle are nothing new. Parental involvment is essential.
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