By Gabriella Hoffman
Titled The Talk: How Adults Can Promote Young People’s Healthy Relationships and Prevent Misogyny and Sexual Harassment, the study polled 3,000 individuals aged 18-to-25 from across the country and asked them about their attitudes on sexual attitudes and relationships. It was conducted by Harvard’s Graduate School of Educationunder the umbrella of its Making Caring Common Project, which aims to “helps educators, parents, and communities raise children who are caring, responsible to their communities, and committed to justice.”
Moreover, the study examined two key facets: forming and maintaining healthy romantic relationships and dealing with widespread misogyny and sexual harassment. Here are some key findings from the study:
1.Teens and adults tend to greatly overestimate the size of the “hook-up culture” and these misconceptions can be detrimental to young people.
2.Large numbers of teens and young adults are unprepared for caring, lasting romantic relationships and are anxious about developing them. Yet it appears that parents, educators and other adults often provide young people with little or no guidance in developing these relationships. The good news is that a high percentage of young people want this guidance.
3.Misogyny and sexual harassment appear to be pervasive among young people and certain forms of gender- based degradation may be increasing, yet a significant majority of parents do not appear to be talking to young people about it.
4.Many young people don’t see certain types of gender-based degradation and subordination as problems in our society.
5.Research shows that rates of sexual assault among young people are high. But our research suggests that a majority of parents and educators aren’t discussing with young people basic issues related to consent.
One of the study’s authors, Richard Weissbourd, told ABC News said there were two pervasive problems that could be deduced from the study.
“One is, we are failing … miserably to prepare young people for romantic love, probably the most important thing they will do in life,” Weissbourd said. “The second is that there are very high rates of misogyny and sexual harassment.”
He also suggested that people wildly overestimate the amount of 18-to-25 year-olds engaging in casual sex or hook-ups. Here’s more from the official press release:
“We hope that this report is a real wake-up call,” said Dr. Richard Weissbourd*, Senior Lecturer at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, Faculty Director of the Making Caring Common project, and lead author of the study. “While adults, and parents in particular, wring their hands about the ‘hook-up culture,’ research indicates that far fewer young people are hooking up than is commonly believed. Unfortunately, we also found that most adults appear to be doing very little to address these serious problems.”*
While some of the conclusions of the study highlighted some serious problems, its explanation of sexual harassment and how to rid society of it is more muddled. Given current attitudes among Millennials, will they be able to differentiate an innocent compliment from full-fledged harassment? Can Millennials learn to differentiate fact from fiction and be more judicious with respect to their personal lives, given these findings? Let’s hope so.
Why the fallout over the hook-up culture? It was doomed to occur, as it has reached its apex. A March 2015 study found that 37% of Millennials polled view causal sex as morally reprehensible. Also, a study released in August 2016 found that Millennials—those born in 1990’s and early 2000’s—have fewer sexual partners than their predecessors. The hook-up culture of decades’ prior promised sex without consequences—with help from the entertainment and fashion sectors along with radical Leftist activism of the 1960s. And what has it rendered? Broken hearts, unsatisfactory romanic relationships, divorce, and cultural upheaval—just to name a few. It’s good to see studies from reputable institutions recognizing the problem with today’s dating culture.
A return to virtue and intentional dating is long overdue. Perhaps my fellow Millennials are willing to give real love a shot after dabbling in the hook-up culture.