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Blurred Lines: The Real Ethics of Hook-Up Culture

Updated: May 21, 2021

Hooking up - whether at a club, a party, a park in summer, the beach, on holiday, at a hotel … most teenage girls have been there. And why shouldn’t we? Some of our best experiences come from heading out in the evening, getting dolled up with our girlfriends. The excitement of meeting earlier to compare outfits and do each other’s make-up. There’s nothing like beauty enhanced by serotonin.

For some, it may involve getting slightly tipsy, or drinking to the point where the line between drunk and a walking disaster gets blurry. Some might have their first experience sneaking into a club, trying stronger alcohol than recommended for their age, even dancing with strangers, at the ages of 14 and 15, and I was one of them.

I had started to get very interested in the guys in the year above me, and my friends and I scrolled across an advertisement for a club event on one of their Instagrams. The age limit was just 16 if accompanied by an 18-year-old supervisor. For us, there was no question about it- the challenge accepted. So we got tickets online, altering our age and appearance. Soon it was the day, telling our parents our whereabouts, but not the specific details of the event.

I went to this party with my three best girlfriends. The club was in a part of our city we knew well, but not really a neighbourhood we would have fancied wandering about on our own, late on a Friday night

It wasn't even a surprise that with a short skirt and a bit of cleavage, we didn’t even get IDed.

Whoever just thought “that is actually so wrong” is absolutely right – and there you have lesson one of a girls night out, there is little that you can’t do but at the same time there is little that cannot happen to you.

One of us decided not to drink because of an event she had to go to the next morning – another good (though depending on your friend group maybe a slightly annoying) idea. It's always a good plan to have someone with a clear head in case of an emergency. “Coincidentally” half of the students from the year above were there too, as well as many, many men in their early twenties.

As we predicted, we had an absolute blast, dancing from 11 pm till 3 am, absolutely high on the fact we snuck into our first club and got to hang out with all these cooler, older people who seemed impressed at our devilish wit. It was very late into the night when I got reckless and started dancing with a guy much older and stronger than me. What started as loosely jumping around turned into very close body contact, touching and unconsented grinding. At some point, he had wrapped his arms around me, trapping me in full-body contact from behind. leaving me absolutely with no way out, and entirely helpless when his hands travelled to places I absolutely did not want them to be.

Two male friends of mine had been observing the situation and noticing that I looked uncomfortable, made an attempt to get me out of the situation. Although intoxicated himself, he realized this was going beyond what I was comfortable with. In a joint effort, one of my friends pushed the guy away from me while the other spun me around to bring himself between me and that dance partner. It took physical effort from both of them to restrain this guy from getting back to me and a lot of commotion on the dance floor.

My luck here was two strong guy friends who had an eye on me and came to my rescue. My girlfriends, even with their best effort, would not have been able to make a difference in this situation. To all the guys out there… use your privilege, and help when you can. You’ll never know what a difference it can make to someone.

That day, I managed to pretend I was fine. But the next day, I felt so violated and dirty that I showered three times, which still didn't rid me of the feeling someone had gone too far with my body. I did something I never thought I would do and opened up to my mother. I was terrified of the consequences and the judgement, scared I would get into trouble for going to such a party.

But this is where the rule "Momma knows best" really worked in my favour. They always know how to help, support, and protect their little girl. So rather than never being allowed to do this again I grew, learned, got wiser, and slightly more cautious – and succeeded to get over that experience but never forgot. To him it was fun with a random girl at a bar - for me, it was a permanent scar.

To anyone who says this was a product of my decision - it wasn’t.

Drinking underage was my decision, entering a club was my decision, being caught would have been a product of my decision. The transition from dancing to groping was not a decision I made and no matter my state, it was his responsibility to ensure that everything was consensual. To any person who initiates or advances into a form of intimacy - it is always your responsibility to ensure consent.

So what I am saying is - to anyone who shares my reckless, youthful inhibitions – yes we want to toe the line occasionally, experience things, try something new, and see what and how far we can get. That’s okay, it’s never something we should be judged for. This isn’t a story to warn you of clubbing this is a story to tell you that we have to watch out for the wellbeing of ourselves, our friends, and even strangers, always. We need to do this because there will always be situations when either you or someone else will need help and only the ‘victim’ will ever understand the significance of being looked out for in your most vulnerable.

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