June 30, 2022
Hookup Culture, Sugar-Dating & College Sex
- What’s sex like on college campuses?
- Who is having more sex/hookups?
- What role does religion play in college sex?
- Have college students bridged the orgasm gap?
Dr. Aditi Paul, author, researcher, and professor joins us to share the results of her research with college students. She shares insights on international students’ sex habits, sugar-dating, Greek life, and much more.
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This is a computer-generated rough transcript, so please excuse any typos. This podcast is an informational conversation and is not a substitute for medical, health, or other professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the services of an appropriate professional should you have individual questions or concerns.
Hookup Culture, Sugar-Dating & College Sex
You’re listening to the Sex with Dr. Jess podcast, sex and Relationship advice you can use tonight. Welcome to the Sex with Dr. Jess podcast. I’m your cohost, Brandon. We’re here with my lovely other half, Dr. Jess. Hey. Today we are talking hookup culture and the current collegiate hookup culture with Dr. Adity Paul, the author of the book by that same name, the Current Collegiate Hookup Culture. So we’re going to find out what is happening in college. I can tell you all about my hookup experience in college. What was that? It was nonexistent other than you that one night. That one night at one time you hooked up with me. There were people who hooked up with you before me? Very few. There was that exhaust pipe incident. There was a banana peel. There was. You used to hang out at a bar called Hooterville. I did what? Hooterville the Rock. And was it $2 drinks? It was. Hey, don’t knock the two dollar drinks. I’m pretty sure you worked at a place that was $2 drinks. Yeah, I bartended and no, I waitressed at a bar called My Apartment, and it was $2 drinks. And as a waitress, you could sell back then, like, $3,000 a night, and there were a gazillion of us waitresses. When it’s $2 drinks, people can drink. Well, you can waste drinks when they’re $2. You don’t care. You didn’t waste drinks. I didn’t waste drinks. I had no money. I’m going out tonight with $6. You drank people’s left and bridge drinks. Admitted, no, but I had a friend that did that. We had a friend that did that recently. Who? Did you remember? No. Where were we? Mike. Yeah, I know it’s Mike. We’re throwing Mike under the bus here. We were out, and now, in his defense, he accidentally grabbed a drink. He thought it was his drink, and he just started drinking it. I don’t remember. I don’t think he stopped drinking it. But he drank somebody else’s drink. Well, you know, two dollar drinks. All right, so two dollar drinks can often lead to other things, and that’s what we’re going to be discussing today. Before we get to that, a big shout out to Adam and Eve.com. They are still offering 50% off almost any single item, plus free shipping. Free. Goodies. So go get your vibrators, go get your latex wear, go get your sex pillows, go get your rotating butt plugs, go get your lube, go get your nipple clamps. Adam and Eve.com code dr. Jess. And now let’s get into it.
Joining us now is Dr. Diet Paul, a dating and relationship researcher, a professor based in New York City, she uses her dual background in technology and relationship science to examine how dating apps are transforming people’s personal and sex lives. Thank you so much for being here. Oh, thank you so much for having me, Doctor Jess. Now, how did you get into tech? And sex and relationships are you ready for the most uninspiring answer. People think that there’s going to be, like, this divine intervention. And one day it just came to me. It honestly didn’t. I started doing my research in online dating, and even for that, I chanced upon it. It was during my PhD program, and I just had to get a research paper out there, and I found out this big research data set that some other researchers had collected. And I crunched at the numbers, and I saw that online dating is all good, but people are it’s just a revolving door process. You’ve heard people go into online dating, get really dejected. You go into the talking phase, and you’re just so pissed off with the entire humanity, and then you’re like X out of yourself. But when you’re on the dating apps, you also do something called hookups. So I knew about this term. My students used it, but I didn’t know what the heck they’re talking about. So I did what every nerd would do, launch into a whole literature review. And I started reading books, and I progressively realized that nobody was talking about how dating apps have transformed this already existing success pool that we have in college campuses. And I wanted to examine that, that did apps like Tinder and Grindr add fuel to fire in the already existing hookup culture that we have in college campuses? Has it opened the gate of sexual exploration for populations that didn’t have that ability before dating apps? So that kind of made me progress into that area of sex and tech. You didn’t dream of it from when you were a little girl, but you’re in it now, your neck deep, balls deep, as Brandon would say, into it. Let’s talk about hookup culture. We know that we have a broader range of choices in terms of how we hook up, whether we hook up, how we date, how we have sex, if we opt to abstain. And we see oftentimes what I see in terms of the headlines as conflicting information, right? We see information that young people, let’s just say gen Z or gen Z for my Canadian folks, because I’m Canadians, are having more sex than ever, more partners than ever, but then we see headlines that they’re having less sex than ever. And so my conclusion is that some people are having a whole lot of it. Some people are having absolutely none of it. We have more, for example, 27 year olds who are abstaining from sex and have never had anything that they define as sex at the age of 27. And then we have young people who are opting in to hooking up. So what is the landscape of hookup culture in college today? This is something that I also grappled with that what is the truth? Are you fucking or not? That’s the big question that we had. And the idea behind hookup culture is also something called pluralistic ignorance. Where you think, I’m having sex and I think you’re having sex, but you’re not having sex. I’m not having sex, but because I think you’re having sex, I’m going to have sex. So the imagined peer pressure that you have sometimes lures us into or forces us into having sex, which we didn’t really want to have to begin with, but we thought that, I need to do this because everybody else is doing it, when in reality nobody is.
So I think there’s that going on in college campuses. When you enter a college campus, people think, oh my gosh, this is the time, the four years of departure, I need to cash in, because after that, it’s going to be nine to five. It’s going to be boring. So people buy into that idea and sometimes have sexual encounters that they really didn’t want to. And that doesn’t really change from generation to generation. It was there when we were young. It’s there when Gen Z is young as well. The thing that has changed with Gen Z that Millennials or Gen Xers or Boomers didn’t have is expressing their sexuality through means that we didn’t really have when we were growing up. So, for example, expressing their sexuality online or coming out online and opening that gate of sexual exploration, not so much as having sex. And the definition of sex has also changed. I mean, you have things like soaking. Is that even sex? Brand what’s? Soaking? Okay, am I going to be the person who tells you about soaking? I feel so happy right now. Oh, my gosh. I want to say something to Doctor sex with Doctor Just. That’s amazing. So this is something that Mormon kids do where because Mormonism professes that you should not have sex, just abstain from it. So there’s going to be a guy and a girl who are having sex, but since the guy cannot I don’t know, can I use the word pound? Penetrate? You can penetrate, but you cannot, like, go in and out. So there will be a third person on the bed that will rock the bed to simulate the action that we would do if we were having sex. So that is soaking. So you’re literally soaking your penis in your partner’s vagina while a third person is leaping on the bed, simulating the sexual act. So you’re allowed to penetrate, but you’re not allowed to go in and out. You’re not allowed to go in and out. So that simulation is done by a third person who’s just jumping on the bed and you’re going in and out. Well, first of all, that sounds super fun. I want to be the jumper. Obviously. I want to be the jumper number one, jumper number two, penetrator number three, I’d be the receptive partner. But anyhow, that’s my order. Is this actually happening, though? I could see it happening for fun, but is it happening in the religious abstinence sense? I am not mormon. I have not done my research on Mormon kids, but I have been on podcasts from Mormon Country or hosted by Mormon Country hosts in Utah. And it is a thing. It is definitely a thing. And all of this is to say that who defines what sex is? Kids don’t even consider oral sex as sex. So if you are thinking about did you have sex? They might have had it, but then they don’t qualify it as such. Which brings down the count of the number of sexual partners. Because we’re obsessed with that, aren’t we? We’re obsessed with having not too high, not too low body count. I don’t even like that language. But it’s there. And of course, sex varies from person to person, especially for those of us who are queer who are having sex that maybe isn’t there’s this old notion of virginity, the notion of, like a penis going inside a vagina? Well, some of us, that’s not how we so called lost our virginity. That’s not how we had our early or later sexual experiences. So you actually did research around religiosity and I think in your findings there was some suggestion that religiosity doesn’t affect sexual permissiveness or behavior or how liberal you are sexually. Can you kind of explain that? I hope I’m explaining that properly. Yeah, absolutely. Because then there’s conflicting research again, where people have found support for the hypothesis that if you’re religious, then you’re not going to have sex. And people have found the alternate hypothesis to be also true that religiosity or the extent to which you ascribe to your religion will have no bearing on the amount of sex that you’re going to have. And there’s truth to both sides of the story. I did not find in my research, I didn’t find that there was a link. Particularly there was a Washington Post article about sex positive Christians and 133 students in my data set identified as Christians. And I asked them a whole bunch of questions to measure their sexual permissiveness. Some of the questions were casual sex is okay. I would like to have sex with as many partners as I want. Having sex outside of marriage is okay. And more than half of the participants agreed or extremely agreed with these statements to show that their attitudes are highly liberal. So they’re sexually liberal. And I think I read this somewhere that even though there is this whole divide between the right wing ideology and the left wing ideology, overall, we are progressing into a society which is more liberal than our previous generations. So even the right wingers are more liberal than their predecessors, if that makes sense. So yes, you can be religious, but you can also be queer. You can be religious, but you can also have sex. They’re not creating that cognitive dissonance that we think it should create. Both of those ideologies can coexist. Well, I wonder if we’re rotting away at the notion that anything to do with sex also has to do with morality. And of course, there’s morality in sex because there’s human interaction. But for me, morality is about how you treat people, how you make people feel, how honest you are, not about the types of sex you’re having or the number of partners you’re having or how you’re having sex. I’m interested. So if religiosity isn’t necessarily holding people back sexually, and I guess also we should also acknowledge that just because you are sexually liberal in your attitudes doesn’t necessarily mean you’re sexually liberal in your behaviors. Right? And that probably applies regardless of religiosity. But you did find that membership in Greek memberships, what do you call them? Fraternities and sororities. Fraternities and sororities? Yes, I think they’re a bit more common in the States than here, but I’m sure we have them in Canada as well. That can affect attitudes towards sex, engagement, and sexual behavior and the likelihood of hooking up. What did you find there in terms of frats and sororities? Okay, here’s the story. I immigrated to the United States from India, and I mean, Canada is right up there from the US. But you do get your information of what the college campus culture is. If I have to ask you, what do you think a typical college campus culture is in the US. How would you describe it, and where are you pulling this information from? Oh, me? Yeah. I think I would be thinking about what I’ve seen. So just so personally, I didn’t have a typical university experience because I went to the University of Toronto, which is in an urban center. I didn’t live on campus. I certainly would never have considered a sorority or a fraternity just because it wouldn’t have been a fit for me. For example, I didn’t really go to any college or university parties because I was working at night. I worked in the bar. Those were my parties, but they weren’t college bars. So my idea is what I’ve seen on television to some degree, what I’ve heard from Friends, for example, I just watched HBO Sex in College, which I thought was kind of I really enjoyed that show, actually, or HBO Max story. So, yeah, I think my ideas are from the media. I picture people drunk, and I picture people some people hooking up, some people staying home. Obviously, I imagine, just like, practically speaking, that people are doing their own thing. Like, there are people who stay home and study, and there’s people who are out partying every night, and there’s people who are balanced. What are you looking at? Me? I’m looking at saying, do you not remember doing some work in Jamaica? And the spring break? Madness to me, that was representative of what I assumed american colleges and universities for at life was. It was madness. Like, how much booze can we consume in the shortest period of time? And what’s the craziest or most ridiculous thing that I can think of doing right now. And I’m going to do it and all my friends are going to encourage me. And that’s exactly what it was. It was a week of insanity. That’s so true, actually. And we were actually down there for a month, several years in a row working spring break. I forgot about that. And we would have interacted with, I would say, yeah, 5000 a week, 5000 students a week. And it was madness. Yeah. And that’s exactly what it is, right? I mean, when you are a part of a fraternity or a sorority, I had second hand information of what fraternities and sororities were because I used to be a graduate student in Michigan State and it’s a huge college party town and I used to teach a lot of these students who were part of Sororities, and they would always have things like socials and then some fraternities and some sororities were like sister and brother. So they would always like host parties together. And one of the reasons why the number of hook up partners that these kids who belong to Paternity and Sororities have is because they have more access to events. They have more access to places where, just like you describe, people are just drunk on alcohol. You have conventionally beautiful people, you’re thinking about size zero blonde women who are the stereotypical sorority sister. And then you put all of these hormone induced, alcohol soaked individuals with no modicum of rational thinking into a party pit. Like, what do you get? You’re getting what you see in movies. You’re getting just ridiculous number of sexual encounters and drunken hazed sexual encounters. So that is one of the reasons why the number of hookup partners that sororities and fraternity people had was higher than a non Greek member. And there’s a whole bunch of gatekeeping that happens in these parties as well. That is not everybody has access to these fraternity parties. Not everybody has access to the sorority party. So you need to know someone to get in. And it’s the same as getting into a club. If you’re a stag male, if you have four females, then your chances are higher. So that kind of hierarchy, that kind of social class does play out in these predominantly heterosexual, predominantly white spaces that is returned. So, yeah, more access to desirable partners ratio homophily alcohol, everything together gives rise to a higher number of hook up partners that these people have. Now I think I read in your findings that when people are hooking up with somebody they know, they’re more likely to practice safer sex. So presume that means condomin barrier use than if they meet online. Is that accurate? And with the Greek membership, does the increased number of hookup partners also come with increased use of barrier methods or safer sex or not?
So overall, what I have seen among Gen Z is the predominance of practicing safe sex that is overall, they are very conscious about their health, which I thought was extremely positive. That is okay. We have done a good job. And we cannot just give credit to gen. Z is cashing in on the fuck ups that we have done right. Like, we have fucked up. And we have given them advice that, hey, practice safe sex. And they’re carrying it forward. And it’s wonderful to see what I did see an online hookups. And this cues more toward the LGBTQIA plus community of having the predilection of having riskier sexual behaviors. And this is something that was very interesting. Out of people who didn’t practice safe sex, a percentage of them were lesbians. Now, if you are thinking about women on women’s sex or lesbian sex, what is our awareness about safe sex? Dental dams. I haven’t ever seen dental dams represented in main popular media. The only conception that I have about save sex is contraception and condoms. That’s all we know. So we cannot just brush everybody together into a category that okay, if you just meet online, then you’re going to have unsafe sex. Who are the people who are having who are meeting online? And do they have the knowledge or have we made it mainstream? Because for sure, I don’t know about you, but I have never seen dental dams represented in popular culture. And I was on a podcast with a sex therapist, and she showed me a dental dam. And I’m like, this is tricky to use. Right. And the reality is, for oral sex, many people are not using. You’re not using that. Yeah. And safer sex absolutely excludes queer sex. Right. We’re never talking about anything, almost never talking, especially in schools about anything beyond a penis going into the vagina. Reducing the risk of pregnancy. Yes, of course, reducing the risk of STIs, but we are leaving all the types of sex that so many queer people engage in out of the equation. There’s also, I think, the notion that oral sex is no risk because with HIV, for example, the risk is much, much lower. The Canadian AIDS Treatment Information Exchange will classify it as basically no risk for HIV. But that doesn’t mean that it’s no risk for I mean, it’s a negligent risk. So it’s not actually no risk, but there’s still risk for all the other STIs and then having another STI. And unbeknownst to many of us, because the most common symptom, of course, is no symptom at all, also puts us at greater risk for HIV. So we have to really, in the end, we have to go right back to improving sex education across the board and querying sex education because we’re leaving people out and we’re putting populations that are already at risk because they’re forced to the margins, or we’re forced to the margins at further risk. So that’s an interesting finding. Another thing I read in your findings is that career minded students are less likely to engage in hook ups. Are they like at home studying what is going on with them? There could be a couple of things, yeah. They might not go to those parties on the weekends and just be at the library because they have higher career ambitions. They could also be nerds like me, who don’t get invited to be honest with them. Yeah, invite me, I’ll go. And they could also not subscribe to the idea that I’m going to squander my time in casual hookups. Rather, I just have somebody to build a relationship with on the other side, people who have argued for the other end of the spectrum, that is career minded people will go for hookups because they think as relationships, as a distraction. So I’d rather satisfy my bodily needs and just keep it low key while going for my career than have this other element in my life to foster relationship with. So both things can be true. That’s the thing about social science research. Both things can be true. It depends on what you find to be true at that time. I do want to go back to having unprotected or risky sex. Something that increases our chances of having risky sex is sexting and sexting through Snapchatting. The Snapchatting is a huge thing about GMC where they’re trying to keep that consistency of communication with their hookup partners and like, just sharing banal things, but also sharing some sexy thurst traps, some sexy messages. So in my research, I saw that students who reported sexting with their hook up partners were 193% more likely to escalate their hookups from make out sessions to protected or unprotected sex. So that just goes to show the importance of acknowledging the role that digital communication plays among the Gen Z landscape, where they’re building their intimacy through things or through mechanisms without even meeting each other face to face. So that when they do meet each other face to face, they’re escalating it at a much higher speed. And that’s just the norm, isn’t it? Now, building connections online, whether they be sexual or business or social, so much so that you feel like you know the person by time you meet meet up in person. I know a lot of older people are freaked out by, and I’ll use that term broadly older by sexting, by sending sexy pictures, by sending sexy messages, by apps that have photos that disappear. But of course, you can always screen grab them. How do we, I think, reassure generations, anyone beyond Gen Z or Gen Z that the kids are okay, like, they’re doing okay? As you said, they’re practicing safer sex. We’ve got certain contingents that are more likely to perhaps engage in risky behaviors, and we can do a lot with that in terms of sex education. But we also have folks who are opting out, and also the language has shifted. So when we say we’re hooking up, it doesn’t necessarily mean that we’re getting drunk at a party and grabbing a partner. Oftentimes our hookup partners are people we know, people with whom we have many friends in common. So I’m curious if the behavior has always existed but the language has changed. Can you tell us a little bit about where we’re finding our hook up partners, what these relationships actually look like? Because although, as you mentioned Greek memberships increase your chances of having more hook up partners. It’s not like everyone’s just grabbing a partner and swapping them out each Friday and Saturday night. Yeah, something that the previous generation and this has happened with our generations as well, right where the previous generation always has this moral dilemma about us that somehow we are compromising the sanctity of what a relationship stands for. That I mean, a kiss meant something for them. Holding hands meant something for them. Right now it’s like nothing means nothing anymore. That’s the common vibe that we get from each generation. Gen Xers faced it from Boomers. Millennials faced from Gen Xers. Genesis are facing it from us. And it doesn’t change. Even Genesis is going to inflict the same trauma to the generation that’s coming after that. What is happening, though? And what I’ve found out through my research is it’s not that dates are becoming meaningless. They’re becoming more meaningful. I’ll tell you why. Because when we went out on a date that was our first instance of interacting with this person who we think we might build a relationship with. What they’re doing is they have a whole relationship face even before the date hit. So they have been hanging out, they have been chatting, they’re sussing this person out. So when they actually do go out on a date, that becomes a Hallmark experience for them. So dates have become not less meaningless but more meaningful because they have this entire other relationship face that and they’re keeping it low key. I’m just hanging out with you. And a part of that hanging out becomes sexual exploration. And why wouldn’t you do that? Because now we have medical advances at our disposal that enables us to practice safe sex. We have the social narrative shifting around sex that this is something that we do. It doesn’t have to define us. So when you have that freedom to explore, why wouldn’t you do that? So that freedom is freaking us out, not their sexual act. That’s really interesting. And so when we think about generations above us are older than us freaking out, I think we can’t ignore the topic of sugaring and sugar dating. This is something you also addressed in your book. You talked about the fact that sugaring is becoming more popular among college students with more than 10% of your sample living in a sugar baby type relationship to pay for kind of discretionary expenses. And some of them are hooking up. Some of them are having sex. Some of them are doing other types of things. Again, I know that sex means different things to different people, but can you tell us a little bit about what you found around sugar dating? Yes. This blew my mind, and I don’t know if she’s listening. Hopefully she is not. I got to learn about sugaring through one of my students. And she was a first generation Asian American student, and she would always come to class, like, highly dressed, and she was like, don’t fuck with me energy. And I was intimidated by her being a teacher. And then she was very straightforward with me. She said that I’m the first person who’s going to college from my family. My parents didn’t support my decision of going to New York. So she did take to sugaring, and her Instagram feed was popping. Like, she had Balenciaga, she had Gucci, she went to Aruba. And I’m like, what the fuck are you doing? And what am I doing being a teacher? I want your life. So she got that through sugar. And sugar is becoming more normal, and it’s working the way sex work works. That is, you don’t just bowl willy nilly into sex work. You see another friend doing it, and that friend ropes you in. And that’s exactly how sugaring works in college campuses where your friends, somebody has tried it, somebody has made, like, a quick $500 by sending their picture of their feet to their sugar daddies. And then you start off as a joke, and through that joke, it becomes a source of income. But here’s the catch. If you go to these sugar dating websites, they will position sugar dating as this thing of empowerment. That sugar babies are not young people who are just looking to make money. They are trying to build their relationships on their own terms. And sugar daddies are not just throwing money. You are the boss of your income.
So, like, you figure out so it’s got a very empowerment narrative to it. And another tactic that sugar dating sites uses, they cash in on the Crippling debt that American college students have. It’s in the trillions right now. You hear it in the news too, right? I mean, Debt Partnering Program. So sugar dating sites like Seeking Arrangement, and I think they might have changed it, they position it as a finance relief program for your college debt. But in reality, when I ask students, why are you doing sugar dating? A very small percentage of them said that to pay off loans, because their loans are taken care of by banks or their parents. But they are using these funds is to enjoy the finer things in life, to go out for drinks, to go out for parties. And in exchange of that, they’re giving their daddies and sugar mamas GFE or a BFF. That is a girlfriend experience or a boyfriend experience. And that could include having sex with them. That could include just texting them. That could include going to parties with them, et cetera, et cetera. But they’re making bank like one $500 per month is a pretty good sum of money. I have a question about that. What do you find based on your study? What’s the age difference between the sugar daddy or the sugar the two partners? Is there an average age difference? I didn’t ask that. But I’ll tell you this OK, this is another question because I always ask like I get into professor mode a lot. So if I have to ask you, Brandon, what do you picture a typical Sugar Baby looks like? What would you say? I mean, I only think of it now based on what you’ve experienced. I think somebody in their twenty s, like attractive, looking for somebody. That’s what I think in their 20s. Attractive? Yeah, that’s it. Okay. And describe a little bit more of their bodily characteristics. Like, what are you thinking about? I think of a woman who’s just very sexy, like, I don’t know, depending on what you’re looking for. Nice figure. If it’s a guy, I think he’s probably pretty muscular or jacked, something like that. So yeah, I don’t know. Am I going down the right lane here? You are partially. Because in my head I was also like, oh, it has to be this petite, young 1920 year old woman. Straight guys are also being sugar babies. Some gay guys are being sugar babies. So that is very interesting to me because that means that gay or bisexual or queer men are sugar babies for possibly older closeted men. That could be one way that they’re sugaring for sugar daddies. They are much older. They have possibly calcified their identity as a straight male with a family, but they also are queer on the inside, and they never had that on the real side. And they’re looking at sugaring as a way to explore that. We have Sugar babies who are gay men and sometimes even straight men. So I’ve known so many people who have sugared on both sides. Actually. I guess it was right when I finished college, there was a big group of young women who are just a couple of years younger than me, who are all sugar babies. And they took it very seriously. This was a career or part of their career. I mean, we have many careers now. They were very good at their jobs. They knew how to be charming, they knew how to be funny. They were very brilliant. So they could mix in a room of people and talk about a broad range of topics. Yes, absolutely. Sex was a part of it, partying was a part of it. And this is just one group. In fact, I interviewed at least a couple of Sugar Babies previously on the podcast, if people want to go back and listen to those interviews, I’ve also known on my end only straight men in there, I think mid forty s to mid 50s who have also had Sugar Baby relationships with younger women who are also college students. And so I’ve kind of just watched it play out. Obviously, I believe sex work is sex work, or sex work is work. I also believe people ought to do what works for them. And I’ve seen it work out really well for many people. Have I seen some unsavory stories? Of course. Just like I’ve seen some very sad stories in monogamous dating, marriage. Right? So there’s like happy and sad and everything in between in all types of relationships. But I’m glad you didn’t leave this out because this is a common piece of the equation. So you said that 10% of the students that you interviewed had tried Sugar Babying. You said that only three in ten of them had sex with their benefactors. So what were the other 70% doing? Just like I said, you’re giving them the girlfriend experience or the boyfriend experience. So this could be even just texting them or having a sexually charged interaction without so much as having sex or escorting them to parties, going on yachts with them. So it could be a myriad of things. I mean, I could go on a yacht today. That sounds pretty good. Although I don’t want to discount the fact that this is real work, right? Like a girlfriend. I think about how much work it is to be in a relationship, to be at someone’s side. No, this is real work. And you mentioned that some people kind of start and just send a photo as a joke, but this is no joke. Then they realize this is actually something that requires my investment. Now, one last thing I’d like to touch on. So you mentioned that you came from India. Did you come to go to school or you came prior to that? No, I came to go to school. Yeah. Okay. So you are an international student. So you did study specifically international student behavior, and you looked at international students and how they hook up and how it can be different than folks who were born in the States. And I think that for the Canadian listeners, the data is somewhat similar. We have some similar cultural crossover north and south of the border. But you found that international students mostly hook up with other international students. Why is that? Why might that be? It makes a lot of sense if you think about so I use the analogy of humans going to Mars, and then let’s say you and Brandon, you go to Mars and then you see Martians do something, and then you’re like, okay, listen, I think we need to do this to become Martians. So you do it with each other to become a part of the Martian culture. And that’s exactly what we did. That is, we come to the US. Thinking about or looking at or watching movies like Neighbors or I’m going to date myself very badly. But my idea of the American college culture was spring break parties that I used to see on MTV and American Pie. And I’m like, listen, forget about getting a fucking PhD. I’m going to go there for a party. And that’s what I see. That’s what you see. But right now, college students are getting their dose of what American college campus looks like through social media, where pretty much the vibe is the same. But when you come here, you realize that at first I was not just an international student, I was a graduate international student. So I just couldn’t go ham on partying and participate on the debauchery level because I was also a PhD candidate who had to teach undergraduate students. So I had that dual role. So I had to balance both. So the middle ground I chose the safe space to explore my sexuality and my orientation to the American culture was through dating apps. And that’s exactly what I thought would happen. That okay. International college students, they don’t have access to parties, but they want to hook up, so they are going to gravitate more towards dating apps that I didn’t see happening. Part of the reason could be because my data set was also very limited for international students. But also another part of it could be because when you come as an international student, you’re put into a group of other international students who are just as clueless in you and just as likely to want to assimilate in the American culture. So you see something people do and then you do it with each other. If you think in terms of like Thanksgiving dinners, if you go to any immigrant households, you’ll see that we all do Thanksgiving, but we’ll have our own dishes. We are not just bringing unseasoned turkey. I’m sorry, my mom jerks the turkey. We put our season on the turkey. It’s like, we’re going to have your turkey, but we’re jerking it’s. Jamaican turkey. We to jerk. Exactly. Yeah. That’s how you understand that we’re participating in an American tradition, but with each other to assimilate. Is it a matter of safety for some people that we feel more comfortable with international students or with other people who seem like us? Or is it just that we’re not invited to the other parties? I can see you’re sad you didn’t get invited to the parties, but very sad. That is one of the reasons why I’ve done this research. Now the truth comes out. But as a graduate student, even as an American or a Canadian, when you go to graduate school, that’s social suicide. Like, now you’re in the nerd zone. You’re in research paper mode. You’re in that track. So anyways, your social circle dwindles. Even if you’re an American or a Canadian student going to graduate school in a Canadian and American university. Now add to that that you are an international student, so your social circus has shrunk even more, and you don’t have those connections to go to parties. It’s completely different for college students who come here as undergrads because they have access. So my experience was painted by that framework of me being international, being in graduate school, and also playing the dual role of a teacher and a student in my PH. D. Program. Yeah, that makes sense. So let me ask you this what should we be doing about sex in college? So I think we have a bit of abroad. You might be listening, and you might be a parent of somebody who’s eventually going to go off to college, or you might be in college right now. We certainly have many Gen Z listeners. You might be Gen Z yourself.
So what’s the takeaway here? Like, what can we do differently? What can we do better? Should we keep doing what we’re doing? How do we support students to have fulfilling, meaningful pleasurable? However you define that sexual and dating encounters in college. Based on my research, this is for all straight women out there masturbate. Start with that. Explore yourself. Figure out your own sexuality. Figure out what you want to take away that shame or that perversion that media is just so adamant on making female sexual pleasures sound like that or portray like that. So start with selfknowledge, right? Explore yourself. Understand what you like, understand what you don’t like. Journal it, get confident. And then go out there and explore that sexuality with somebody else. Because, thank God we live in a generation right now where sex is becoming a topic which does not have a lot of shame. It’s becoming normal. When you were talking about sexting and the risks attached to it, there was a recent research study which shamed people who leaked nudes than the person whose nudes have been leaked. So we are living at a good time. We are living at a really good time. So first start with self knowledge and then have sex because you want to have sex, not because you think other people are having sex. Because guess what? Not everybody is having sex. Nobody is out there being Hugh Hefner or like Meghan the Stallion in their lives. People are very good at demonstrating something on social media, but don’t fall into that peer pressure. Take it at your pace, but make sure that you’re keeping your sexual pleasure as priority number one. Well, I’m glad you said that because you have such a rich body of data here. We didn’t get to talk about everything, but you mentioned that twice as many women report performing oral and faking orgasms. And so some of these gaps that we thought might have begun to narrow as we started talking more about sex, as sex toys became more accessible, as sex education has improved, but also not improved in certain areas, we’re still seeing these gaps by gender. Specifically, I would presume around heterosexual men and women. I think your data also said men are twice as likely to have an orgasm and women in these hookups. And so, yeah, we need to make sure that regardless of gender, regardless of sexual orientation, regardless of whether it’s a hook up or you’re in something long term, because many young people are still dating long term, let’s acknowledge that we need to focus on everybody’s pleasure, all involved. And when you mention move at your own pace and not fall into the pressure, that’s such an important piece because you brought up in the beginning the concept of pluralistic ignorance, right? The fact that many of us privately reject something, but publicly embrace it because we’re told that everybody is doing it. So whether you’re hearing that everybody is abstaining or everybody’s having orgies or everybody’s dating and falling in love or everybody’s hooking up, don’t believe the hype. Think about your own sexual values and what they mean to you. And I always go back to and I believe we did a whole episode on sexual values. But what does sex mean to you in terms of the emotional, the relational, the physical, the social, perhaps the spiritual? And there are no right answers. But if you can answer those questions, if you can know you know what? Sex is just something physical to me. It’s not about intimate connection. Cool. Then you know what you want. Or if you say sex is something that’s really spiritual to me, it’s about this human connection that takes time to development, then you can again guide yourself down that path that works for you. So thank you so much for your research. Thank you so much for your insights. It’s been really great chatting with you. Oh, thank you so much. And the way you’ve summarized it, I could have done it. I couldn’t have done it any better than that. So thank you so much, Brandon and Jess, for having me and having this wonderful conversation. I enjoyed my time here. Thank you. We’ve loved chatting with you. And hopefully people are going to check out your book, make sure you’re following along. [email protected], we’ll make sure we put the book link as well as the website links and all that jazz in the show notes. Thanks for being here. Thank you. And thank you for listening. A reminder that Adam and Eve is still offering that Dr. Jess 50% off almost any single item, plus free shipping, plus free gifts. Promo code Adam and Eve.com code Doctor Guest. I’m on the website right now, still looking for that rotating butt plug. There are rotating, but I know, I’m just saying I’m looking for it. If you look hard enough, you will find toys that rotate, toys that inflate, toys that curl, toys that vibe, all that jazz.com. Folks, thank you for being here. Thanks for opting to spend your time with us. Wherever you’re at, have a great one. You’re listening to the Sex with Dr. Jess podcast. Improve your sex life. Improve your life.