American Sociological Association

Hooking Up and the “Ritual Retelling”: Gender Beliefs in Post-hookup Conversations with Same-sex and Cross-sex Friends

Most scholarship on hookup culture has focused on college students’ sexual activity and has overlooked the post-hookup “ritual retelling” as a subject of systematic research. This study examines the impact of gender beliefs regarding sexual activity, particularly the recreational and relational orientations of men and women, respectively, as well as the situational context, namely, the gender of their conversational partners. Results from a survey of college students (N = 470) reveal that men and women would be more likely to share a hypothetical hookup experience with same-sex than with cross-sex best friends. Moreover, women would be more likely than men to share relational rather than recreational details, though details vary by situational context. Results suggest that women’s ritual retellings generally reflect gender beliefs, but men switch between a recreational and a relational emphasis depending on the gender of their conversational partners. This suggests that women face greater constraints than men in expectations regarding sexual activities.

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Carol J. Auster, Caroline L. Faulkner, and Hannah J. Klingenstein