Gendered Sexuality in Young Adulthood: Double Binds and Flawed Options

Hamilton L, Armstrong EA. Gendered Sexuality in Young Adulthood: Double Binds and Flawed Options. Gender & Society. 2009;23(5):589–616.


Current work on hooking up — or casual sexual activity on college campuses — takes an individualistic, "battle of the sexes" approach and underestimates the importance of college as a classed location. The authors employ an interactional, intersectional approach using longitudinal ethnographic and interview data on a group of college women’s sexual and romantic careers. They find that heterosexual college women contend with public gender beliefs about women’s sexuality that reinforce male dominance across both hookups and committed relationships. The four-year university, however, also reflects a privileged path to adulthood. The authors show that it is characterized by a classed self-development imperative that discourages relationships but makes hooking up appealing. Experiences of this structural conflict vary. More privileged women struggle to meet gender and class guidelines for sexual behavior, placing them in double binds. Less privileged women find the class beliefs of the university foreign and hostile to their sexual and romantic logics.

Last updated on 07/19/2022