Healthy Relationships month raises conversations about college hookup culture

Etta Brooks

The 2009 documentary, “Spitting Game: The College Hookup Culture,” explores the dynamics of hookup culture and its relations to gender roles, sexual consent and coercion. The documentary was informed by students’ testimonies, experts, health professionals, school administrators and parents’ input. On Feb. 15, the Office of Sexual Assault Prevention Education and the Augustana Coordinated Community Response Team sponsored the screening of this film.

The film focuses on alcohol consumption as a primary motivation for engaging in hookups and shows that intoxication often hinders one’s ability to consent to sexual activity. According to Illinois law, someone who is physically or mentally incapacitated by alcohol cannot give consent. 

In the film, college students talked about how they feel or behave while intoxicated, the cultures around hookups, why they engage in it and their experiences. Generally, the film suggests that although engaging in casual sex may be perceived as liberating, it also involves alcohol abuse, unconscious decision-making, issues with self-esteem, peer pressure and the reinforcement of traditional gender roles.

While the documentary was filmed years ago, it is still an important conversation today. There has been increasing awareness on the topic, and according to Zachary Draves, program director for sexual assault prevention education, the purpose of this screening on campus is to raise awareness of the topic and provide a safe space for students to have these conversations. 

“It’s okay to talk about these things. We create space where we can open up, engage and learn about what a healthy relationship is supposed to look like, knowing the signs and symptoms of an unhealthy relationship,” Draves said.

Junior Saisha Bhandari is another person on campus who aims to create a more open forum for this issue. Bhandari is a peer educator for sexual assault prevention, and felt called to serve in this position given that she was also a global ambassador and is a CA. As a student leader aware of some of the incidents of sexual assault that happened at Augustana, Bhandari felt that it was important for her to learn about these issues and spread awareness. 

“Everybody should be aware of these things. I didn’t know all of these things until high school or the end of middle school, but I got to know about this properly in college,” Bhandari said. “It is important in every state of life, and learning about it is better late than never.” 

Films like “Spitting Game: The College Hookup Culture” are an important part of providing information and increasing awareness to sexual assault prevention. Draves and Bhandari encourage students to attend future sexual assault prevention education events and get involved in any way they can. Announcements of their events can be found on the campus calendar and student bulletin. Students can also get involved by becoming peer educators for sexual assault prevention.