But there is an increasing realization that young women are propelling it, too.
Instead, she enjoyed casual sex on her terms — often late at night, after a few drinks, and never at her place, she noted, because then she would have to wash the sheets.
Nationally, women now outnumber men in college enrollment by 4 to 3 and outperform them in graduation rates and advanced degrees.
At 11 on a weeknight earlier this year, her work finished, a slim, pretty junior at the University of Pennsylvania did what she often does when she has a little free time. Their relationship, she noted, is not about the meeting of two souls.
She texted her regular hookup — the guy she is sleeping with but not dating. “We don’t really like each other in person, sober,” she said, adding that “we literally can’t sit down and have coffee.” Ask her why she hasn’t had a relationship at Penn, and she won’t complain about the death of courtship or men who won’t commit.
Typical of elite universities today, Penn is filled with driven young women, many of whom aspire to be doctors, lawyers, politicians, bankers or corporate executives like Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg or Yahoo’s Marissa Mayer.
Keenly attuned to what might give them a competitive edge, especially in a time of unsure job prospects and a shaky economy, many of them approach college as a race to acquire credentials: top grades, leadership positions in student organizations, sought-after internships.They belonged to sororities (or would never dream of it), reported for the school newspaper, sang or danced in performance groups, played sports.Some spent almost every weekend night at a “downtown” (a fraternity party at a nightclub, where men paid for bottle service) or at a campus bar.Some had gone to elite private high schools; others were on full scholarship.They came from diverse racial backgrounds, and several were first-generation immigrants.In this context, some women, like A., seized the opportunity to have sex without relationships, preferring “hookup buddies” (regular sexual partners with little emotional commitment) to boyfriends.