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Audiobook Review: Unhooked by Laura Sessions Stepp

Audiobook Review: Unhooked by Laura Sessions Stepp post image

Title: Unhooked: How Young Women, Pursue Sex, Delay Love, and Lose at Both
Author: Laura Sessions Stepp
Genre/Format: Nonfiction/Audiobook
Year: 2007
Acquired: Library
Rating: ★★★½☆

Summary: Journalist Laura Sessions Stepp looks into the changing youth dating culture. Instead of the traditional dating to relationship to marriage path, more and more women (and men) are “hooking up,” creating a no-strings-attached sexual culture that lets participants change partners at will and without ever committing to each other.

Stepp gets at these issues by following a number of high school and college-aged girls and learning everything she can about their sexual lives. Rather than condemning the culture change, Stepp tries to explore what the causes are and what the potential implications for women and men might be in the short- and long-terms.

Book Review: I thought this book was fascinating, especially as a sort of cultural comparison to another recent book I read on youth culture, The M-Factor, which was about Millennials at work. In many ways, this book was an exploration of Millenials at play in the bedroom.

I hadn’t spent a lot of time thinking about the way dating works for people around my age, so Stepp pointed out a lot of things I hadn’t thought about. See, I dated one boy for many years in high school, then found myself in a series of shorter but exclusive relationships through college. I wasn’t the kind of girl that gets profiled in exposes on high school sex lives because I just wasn’t “sensational” like that.

But the idea of hooking up is more than just sex, and it’s actually much less sensational that you might expect. Hooking up implies a whole shift in the culture of dating and developing relationships. Stepp points out that women of this generation don’t get into long-term relationships because they’ve been taught to be independent, take control of their sexuality, and not put relationships before their careers. Because of those pressures, hooking up becomes a logical and even empowering choice.

I’m not sure that I agree with the logic of hooking up itself, but I think that’s the point Stepp was trying to make: hooking up might be the thing to do, but is it the right thing to do? I highly recommend this book for Millennial-aged women who want to think critically about dating culture and their own choices within it.

This would also be a great book to read for the Women Unbound Challenge because of the way it looks at changing sexual culture and the impact feminist rhetoric has had on young women’s sexuality.

Audio Review: This book was read by Ellen Archer, and I thought she did a find job. There were a lot of extended quotes from the girls Stepp interviewed, and Archer did a good job distinguishing them from each other and from the main text. I can’t think of anything that bothered me about it that I should mention.

Other Reviews: Curled Up With a Good Book |

If you have reviewed this book, please leave a link to the review in the comments and I will add your review to the main post. All I ask is for you to do the same to mine — thanks!

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Amy June 22, 2010, 5:37 am

    This is the book you mentioned at supper on Friday in NYC. I’ve had it on my wishlist since (the shorter buy soon list!) so I’m looking forward to getting a copy. It sounds really interesting!

    • Kim June 24, 2010, 4:29 pm

      Amy: Yep, it is. I’d love to hear what you think of it, given that you’re close to my age and so also supposedly part of the whole culture. It’s really interesting.

  • Jen - Devourer of Books June 22, 2010, 8:16 am

    Ooh, this sounds fascinating. I may have to check it out at some point.

    • Kim June 24, 2010, 4:30 pm

      Jen: It was. I learned a lot, plus it has some interesting critiques of feminist rhetoric that I’d love to discuss more. I’d need to have a book to reference though, since on audio stuff just seems to slip away 🙂

  • Melissa (Betty and Boo's Mommy) June 22, 2010, 9:47 am

    I hadn’t heard of this one until now, but onto the wish list it goes. Sounds really good and I think this would be a good audio. I agree, definitely a good one for the Women Unbound challenge!

    • Kim June 24, 2010, 4:31 pm

      Melissa: It was a well-done audio, especially getting to hear the voices of the girls — even if it was done by a voice actor. It’d be a great Unbound book because of the way it challenges discussions about relationships.

  • Carina June 22, 2010, 1:27 pm

    This looks good! I’m definitely adding it to my list of books to get to. 🙂

    • Kim June 24, 2010, 4:32 pm

      Carina: Awesome, hope you like it!

  • Iris June 22, 2010, 2:43 pm

    This sounds interesting. I’m not sure if I’ll read it because it seems to be about a sexual culture that I don’t feel a part of (although it is all around me). I’m not very comfortable with it. But that might of course be just the reason to read it.

    • Kim June 24, 2010, 4:33 pm

      Iris: I didn’t think that I was really part of the culture either, even though it’s close to my age and demographic. But I think even if I don’t actually do all the hooking up, some of the discussions about what young women think about relationships and balancing them with their careers are valid for anyone still working through that, whether or not it makes hooking up seem like a good alternative.

      Also, the idea of hooking up in the book is really broad, not just having sex, which was a misconception I had going into the book.

  • Jenny June 24, 2010, 4:55 am

    Whenever I hear about this whole culture, I feel a little out of step (not in a bad way, necessarily) with my generation. But I am interested in sexual mores and sexual ethics, so I’m going to have to read this one! 🙂

    • Kim June 24, 2010, 4:35 pm

      Jenny: I feel off too, like I’m too old-fashioned for it. I wasn’t sure if I’d find the book interesting or just sort of trashy, but it ended up being very informative and got me to think about relationships and sex and that the whole dating to marriage culture differently.

  • Jennifer June 26, 2010, 3:27 pm

    Wow, this sounds really interesting. It’s not something that I really think of on a daily basis, but definitely something that I noticed being an RA in the college dorms this year. I have been with the same guy since high school, but then again, my values seem to be really different from a lot of other girls my age who ditched their high school boyfriends as soon as they got into the dorms so they could explore. I’ll definitely check this book out.

    • Kim June 27, 2010, 9:16 pm

      Jennifer: I’d love to hear what you thought of the book based on your experiences as an RA — I’m sure you saw a lot. Plus, with your experience being so different, it’d be a cool perspective.