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Unhooked: How Young Women Pursue Sex, Delay Love, and Lose at Both
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Unhooked: How Young Women Pursue Sex, Delay Love, and Lose at Both

3.55  ·  Rating details ·  898 ratings  ·  162 reviews
An eye-opening examination of the hookup culture, seen through the personal experiences of high school-and college-age women who confront the hard lessons of dating, love, and sex. We're living in an increasingly sexualized world, and it's the young-particularly young women-who must deal with the consequences. Kids are having more sexual contact than ever, and at an ...more
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published March 1st 2007 by Riverhead Books
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Average rating 3.55  · 
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 ·  898 ratings  ·  162 reviews

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Apr 10, 2009 rated it really liked it
Our culture assures both young men and women that sex without attachment or boundaries is healthy. This author, through hundreds of interviews with tweens through college co-eds debunks this myth to prove that sex without responsibility is not only unhealthy, but will set these young people down the slippery slope to emotional and psychological disaster. Young men, and especially young women, aren't wired to enjoy sex without connection. Feminists got it all wrong, yet again. It us our daughters ...more
Sep 09, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Teens/College kids and their parents
Recommended to Mandi by: randomly selected it at the library
I strongly recommend this to anyone that has a teenage daughter. The "hook up" culture is shocking but oh so true. I think I escaped high school/college as this was beginning and I can vouch for it's awful truth. Our culture promotes girls to be "independent women" and concentrate on careers before love. What does that leave them with? The idea that "hook ups" and "one night stands" without feeling is power and makes them immune to hurt and distracting emotions with the opposite sex. Laura ...more
Feb 02, 2009 rated it liked it
So far what I have learned from this book: rich, overachieving white people treat other people like objects, want to control everything, wonder why they are lonely and loveless. Film at 11.

Now I have finished the book and the initial impression remains. The choices these girls are making are extremely distressing, but I have to wonder just how many people the scenarios in the book apply to. While clearly some young women are able to use their bodies as "currency," this never was the case for
Sep 18, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: interpersonal
I thought this book was absolutely terrific. I read some of the other reviews where readers complained the author advocated going back to the 1950s where girls acted like demure ladies...I didn't get that all. Obviously this is a small (and mostly white, upper class) segment of young women, but I trusted her reporting. Her argument is that girls have completely misappropriated the term "Feminism" to mean sleeping around, and they've missed the point of it all. She believes (and I agree) that the ...more

This is a book written by a conservative female and for conservative, upper-class females. It is written for Baby Boomers and their children, comparing "what dating/sex was like on campus then versus now" with "then" being the Boomers’ college experiences and "now" being the new generation. It ignores Generation X completely which is an important part of the history of sex on college campuses.

But the bottom line is that this book is about privileged young women dealing with casual sex
Skylar Burris
Jun 02, 2008 rated it it was ok
This book was rather depressing to me as someone who must raise a daughter in this modern world. As a woman who grew up in the post-sexual revolution climate, I know what it's like to come of age in a world where women who believe in modesty or abstinence are, in some sense at least, outsiders. But even in the 90's, when I went to college, things were not as lax as they are described here: I was aware that "hooking up" went on in college, but it was easy enough not to be a part of that scene, ...more
Anne Holcomb
Sep 18, 2007 rated it it was ok
Shelves: nonfiction
I still don't know how I feel about this book. I didn't read it all the way through because she states her thesis on every page. The book is full of short synopses examining young women's lives in what Stepp calls "the unhooked culture," where one-night hookups take precedence over long-term relationships. She uses a lot of anecdotes to shock the reader right away, and then waits a little while to get to the real meat of her argument about how the hookup culture began and why she thinks it is ...more
Sep 24, 2007 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: all lonely females
This book falls a bit under the "self help" read. Not a normal book that I would enjoy, however one that should be read by all who feel as though they can't seem to get things right regarding love.

More emphasis on the college era but still applicable to anyone who's every felt used.
Apr 03, 2008 rated it did not like it
Shelves: psychology, lifestyle
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sep 29, 2007 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Anyone with a daughter or girlfriend under 30!
This book picks up right where Reviving Ophelis left off. Stepp does an amazing job of chronicling several subjects over the period of a year -- their hookups, heartbreaks and incredibly incisive questions about society and this disturbing trend towards physical involvement with "no strings attached." At the very end, she finally breaks journalistic professionalism and tells us what she thinks, and it's wonderfully cathartic.
Aug 18, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Parents, Teenage/College aged girls
Shelves: alreadyread
Great read.Comes with personal stories from randomly selected highschool and college aged girls/women.Definately an eye opener, especially in this day and age when girls and women see themselves as the ones with all the power. This book shows how we are using that so called 'power' to only hurt ourselves in the end.
Emily Gordon
Sep 21, 2009 rated it liked it
Laugh if you like - SARAH - but I found this book to be refreshingly honest. How exactly DO young men and women in their 20s expect to fall into these wonderful hypothetical marriages when they spend their college/post-college years doing little more than screwing around? Has the feminist movement actually damaged women in that they now prize personal achievement and careers over lasting relationships? As someone who tends to be politically liberal but prone to conservative thoughts on gender ...more
Tony Canas
I picked this one up thinking it'd be an interesting look at the changing sexual mores in our society. Unfortunately she got it wrong, way wrong. Her research is based on a few interviews with college age women that went to school in the east coast during the exact same time I went to college. She came to the conclusion that women, especially high achieving ones with good grades, have given up normal relationships, and instead have decided to simply hook up with random guys to display their ...more
Aug 09, 2011 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
The topic and findings of this author are important but the book was poorly done. She found that sex among today’s youth is as common as a cup of coffee and that young women are more promiscuous than monkeys. Unfortunately, the book consisted almost entirely of excerpts from interviews with these misguided, airheaded girls, and it became downright tedious after a short while. It was all antidotal, except for a bare smidgen of statistics and the occasional brief and shallow analysis. The reader ...more
Sep 13, 2007 rated it it was ok
It's good from a reporters prospect, but lacks a moral compass. Although the author laments the despair of the young women who knowingly or unknowingly debase themselves, she never attempts to help the women avoid their folly, and more seems to help them feel hopeless about "finding a good guy". I came away depressed about the fate of the college educated woman in a sick-to-my-stomach way, with less pity and more contempt than I thought I'd have for those so willingly abused.
Jan 04, 2008 rated it liked it
This book was definitely a worthwhile read for me. Though repetitive, Stepp's examination of the hookup culture is worthwhile and provides much food for thought. I definitely found myself nodding as I read some of the girls' stories. Her sample size is quite small, but that's how she got to be so in-depth. Certainly not the definitive word on the topic, but well done.
Jun 25, 2007 rated it did not like it
Argh! This book started out so interesting, and I genuinely agreed with so much of what the author was saying, and saw her conclusions are interesting and true.

And then her solution seems to be a return to good, old-fashioned 50s dating. So the book kind of feel apart on me there.
Oct 12, 2007 rated it it was ok
Shelves: thelibrarys
If you haven't heard my personal opinions on LSS, let's just say I recommend this to people who want to protect girls from stereotypes, gray rape, and the ability to make independent, informed decisions. And STDs...

Her ideas are ridiculous, but she gets people talking.
Aug 03, 2019 rated it did not like it

This book did not age well. Though it does acknowledge certain pitfalls in hookup culture, it fails to offer any serious solutions. Instead it derides “hookup” culture entirely and lauds the time when a woman’s chastity was more important than her bodily autonomy.

Additionally, it is abundantly apparent fairly early on that the author cherry picks her data to support her forgone opinions. I know she is a journalist and not a scientist but such subjectivity rarely leads to any significant or
Doug Clark
Nov 08, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I first heard of this book in reading a review of it in The New York Times Book Review. It sounded very interesting, and after looking in bookstores everywhere, I finally found a copy in Waco TX. Unhooked, by Laura Sessions Stepp, is her new book on young women and the culture of hooking up. Essentially, hooking up is the practice of finding and pursuing men for the purpose of kissing, fellatio, cunnilingus, and intercourse with no emotional commitment involved. Stepp is a journalist who ...more
Published a mere four years ago in 2007, this is one of the first books which addressed the “new” sexual revolution from the perspective of young women — the author notes in her introduction that the focus of her studies was sixteen to twenty-one year old, middle-to-upper middle class young women enrolled in four-year colleges. She finds young women who speak both candidly and with no little confusion about how they navigate interactions with young men. “Relationships have been replaced by the ...more
Richard Jeong
Jan 28, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: women
I'm left with more questions then I had when I started the book, and perhaps that's a good think as it means I've been lost in thought and forced to examine more of my ideals and guides, yet I'm not convinced of this primarily given the multiple negative reviews of it.

The latter half of my reading was somewhat tainted given that as a conversation piece, unhooked drew the ire of many when discussed. They seem to say that it is trying to redevelop the conservative values of old, the dating
Jan 20, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2012
"The wisest feminists say to young women: Listen to yourselves. There is no lasting satisfaction in taking a man to bed and leaving him at will, just because you can or because your friends tell you to. Very little good comes of sleeping with a guy, or even making out with a guy, you barely know. If you're interested in a guy, study him as you would for an exam. Spend time with him. Allow him to get to know you." --p. 218

Although I can't deem Ms. Stepp's work as the greatest insight into the
Lacey Louwagie
Nov 10, 2007 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: people who care too much about others' sex lives
Shelves: non-fiction
Well, everyone's got an opinion on sex, just some of us are important enough to get a whole book in which to expound upon it. I went into this book more-or-less agreeing with the author's premise, that the hook-up culture can be damaging to both women and men and that it bears some serious examining. But the bad science was the first turn-off. Stepp claims to be chronicling a "culture" when in actuality she talked to about 7 high school and college students, all on the east coast, and all from ...more
Jul 20, 2008 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: any girl in highschool or college
I had a mentor recommend this book to me because I was going through a rough time with my boyfriend at the time. Truthfully, I felt a little awkward getting a book from the Self Help section, but desperate times called for desperate reading. On the brighter side, I appreciated it for the tales that followed other college students that were in situations that either my friends or myself found ourselves in. As helpful as it was to know that I wasn’t the only person in the country doing and feeling ...more
Aug 15, 2012 rated it really liked it
Although I really liked this book and the message it told, I have to agree with what other people said about it in the reviews. The author interviewed a very narrow group of young woman, almost all of whom were rich, upper-class girls who's parents had little involved in their lives besides making sure their daughter's went to the best universities.

After reading this book, I wanted to know if the "hookup" game was/is really as prevelant as the author protrays. Being that I didn't go to school
Jun 04, 2008 rated it liked it
I reviewed this for a blog called Short & Sweet NYC ( Here's the slightly longer, unedited version:

Taking as her focus group young women between the ages of 14 and 22, Laura Sessions Stepp, a journalist for the Washington Post, explores the relatively recent culture of “hooking up” in Unhooked. Using a case study model, augmented by her own theories and those of “scholars,” “experts,” and at least once, simply “Science,” Stepp retells the sexual experiences of several
Bivisyani Questibrilia
Nov 07, 2015 rated it really liked it
This book opened my mind so much. It gives me a glimpse of how teenagers and/or young adults in America behave. At first, like popular belief, I thought the hook up culture only applies to certain types of people or in the movies. It can't be true that people outside of that world do it too. But this book proved me wrong. Aside from that, it manages to expose this culture in great detail without demeaning it, the people involved in it and the experience they go through even for one bit. However, ...more
Aug 02, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book addresses the massive shift in sexual and romantic behavior in today's youth culture. Laura Sessions Stepp investigates the phenomenon of "hooking up"--what it means, how it came to be, and what are its effects. As someone who works with college students this shift has been apparent (and somewhat confusing to me) for a long time. Stepp does most of her research through personal interviews spread out over time so that she hears the evolving perspective of those involved and can share ...more
Aug 28, 2007 rated it liked it
This is another in the subgenre of books for parents who want to worry more about their young adult children: the journalistic tone is akin to that of 20/20--even if it wants, very very badly, to be seen as on par with the New York Times. She acknowledges that the young people studied (there are about ten interviewed in this book) are a limited sample (all are upper middle class, most are white, most go to Duke and/or a similar school). But parents could easily read this and think all girls are ...more
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“Sex isn't good unless it means something. It doesn't necessarily need to mean "love" and it doesn't necessarily need to happen in a relationship, but it does need to mean intimacy and connection...There exists a very fine line between being sexually liberated and being sexually used.” 165 likes
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