We recently posted a piece, “An Argument Against Hook-Up Culture at Princeton,” which presented writer James Clark’s assertions that “objectification” of men and women is corrosive to the development of meaningful personal relationships.

Today, instead of listing sociological or psychological reasons why “hooking-up” is full of fail, I offer a biochemical perspective.

As a truly independent-minded woman with a science background, the tenet of feminist propaganda’s “you can have it all” approach that galls me most is:

Women can “hook-up” exactly like men and suffer no emotional consequences.

I am going to delve into the chemistry-based realities showing that this canon is a complete lie. Before I begin, I would like to note that I am not addressing the morality and theology related to a “just say no” approach. I am sticking strictly to biochemistry.

Birth control and abortion options, which have expanded considerably in the past 40 years and are hailed by feminists as emancipating women, seem to give both sexes the mistaken notion that they can have brief sexual encounters with serial partners and face no consequences that can’t be handled by clinic visits.

For men, that remains somewhat true — or as true as it has been throughout history. However, for women, that is as untrue today as it has been since the first humans walked on Earth. The reason is oxytocin.

“Love is the drug” and oxytocin is that compound! When pumped into the bloodstream, oxytocin acts as a “neuromodulator,” giving people the warm-and-fuzzies and increasing the emotional bond between that person and the second individual (whose presence is stimulating the production of this hormone).

Oxytocin’s power is not to be underestimated.

During millions of years of human evolution, the female system has been designed to begin a cascade of oxytocin production during two specific events: 1) When being intimate with a man; 2) When breast-feeding an infant. On the other hand, human males have very limited oxytocin levels (and actually release some of the little oxytocin they produce during “extracurricular activities”).

Now, oxytocin is a wonderful thing. It energizes people, and makes them feel good about life. It enhances the immune system, as well as boosts other biochemical processes in the human body.

However, as with everything else pleasurable in life, there is a downside. Once a woman generates oxytocin, she will usually want to do everything in her power to keep up the production levels. For example, there are tales of women who nurse their babies past toddler-hood (until 3, 4 or 5 years in age). These women want to continue releasing oxytocin (even though they will have other rationalizations).

The same thing is true following intimate relations. Oxytocin production can be stimulated in a woman through her lover’s voice, scent, sight and touch. This fact explains a wide range of female behaviors that follow intimacy. For example, women will call up their new partner frequently. They will steal their lover’s shirts to enjoy the scent. They will invent excuses to see the man-of-the-moment. And the more oxytocin these women generate when with their lovers (or by talking to them), the more emotionally attached they get.

A few points to bear in mind, so that the role of oxytocin in human dynamics can be fully appreciated:

  • Though men do generate oxytocin, they don’t match the production levels in women.
  • Men can release small amounts of oxytocin into a woman (increasing her “rush”), thereby creating more of a bond between them.
  • Women will generate fairly substantial amounts the first time they are intimate with anyone (a biochemical basis for the focus on virginity), and increasing all the affects previously described.

These aspects are not necessarily bad, especially if a woman is involved with a nice man and is in a committed relationship. However, it can really complicate life if those conditions are not met. And, the bad thing about it is, the presence/voice of a lover or former beau can trigger oxytocin production in an affected female for up to two years!

Ever wonder why woman goes back to a man who beats and abuses her? Or question why supposedly smart women can’t make up their mind whether to dump boyfriends that impregnate someone else? How about ex-girlfriends who call endlessly? Then, there is the scary extreme of stalkers.

Whatever relationship path women travel, unlike “gender feminists”, I want my female compatriots to make fully informed decisions. I hope that they will weigh the information I have given and avoid mistakes that result in needless pain, heartache, and life-altering consequences. Thirty years of birth control and abortion cannot get around this basic biochemistry, designed to create strong bonds between a female and her mate and her children. To think otherwise is very foolish, indeed.

No, women cannot “hook-up” like men.

An intense biochemical bond is formed when women are intimate with men. To break that bond is exceedingly difficult, and places women in the position of having to quench biochemistry and in doing so, causing both physical and emotional stress that is unnecessary and unhealthy. Casual sex is devastating to women in so many different ways, and to pretend that women can have serial sex with many partners and not be physically and emotionally diminished by this is senseless.

I would like to commend noted lecturer, Dr. Patricia Allen, whose talk inspired my investigation into this topic many years ago. Please visit my Temple of Mut website for more information on oxytocin’s effects, including a video.