by Todd C. Ream

And to Think It Is Happening on Mulberry Street

Preparing teenagers to cope with the "hookup culture" when they go away to college.

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Freitas admirably explains how the spiritual imaginations of college students help them see beyond the hookup culture. She implicitly underestimates, however, what is perhaps the most damaging effect of this culture—"gray rape," or what Stepp identifies as the "mistaken belief that when both partners have been drinking heavily, responsibility for what happened falls into a gray area." Both Freitas and Stepp argue that the effects of divorcing emotions from sexual practices are grave. However, Freitas' relatively limited sample misleads her into communicating that rape or "gray rape" is not a pervasive challenge facing college students. Stepp also worked with a relatively limited sample, but she cites data from a report generated by the United States Department of Justice indicating that "One out of five girls in college will be raped on campus." And these rapes only rarely are committed by strangers: "Between 85 and 90 percent of the assailants are known by the victim." This is what the hookup culture really looks like up close.

In order to see a way beyond the hookup culture, we must help young people to develop spiritual imaginations that will sustain them in their college years. We cannot be content to allow our teenagers to place their critical identities in a lockbox and simply practice daily life management. When students go away to college, these practices allow the extraordinary to parade as the ordinary. The price the hookup culture is asking college students to pay comes with horrific ramifications. Parents, educators, and clergypersons can ill–afford to turn away from what is now happening on Mulberry Street.

Todd C. Ream is the associate director of the John Wesley Honors College and assistant professor of humanities at Indiana Wesleyan University.

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