Richard Panzer ’73, founder of the Institute for Relationship Intelligence, condemned the “hook-up” culture in a True Love Week event that drew about 20 students Wednesday afternoon.
In the talk, sponsored by Undergraduates for a Better Yale College (UBYC), Panzer drew from studies in sociology and evolutionary biology to describe how romantic and physical intimacy have changed over the past several decades. He said a modern tolerance of casual sex has complicated the process of finding long-term relationshipsand caused many people to feel pressured to have sex.
“I feel like today our culture is kind of harsh, especially for women, who have to take the view that sex is meaningless,” he said. “But I don’t think most women view it that way.”
He said men have always had the natural tendency to accept casual sex, but it was not until the sexual revolution in the 1960s and ’70sthat women came to adopt this “immature view of sex.” The recent empowerment of women has had the negative effect of undermining the idea that women should avoid uncommitted sex, he said.
The portrayal of sex in the media has contributed to women’s sense that they must view sex with the same casual air as men, he said, who see sex as a “survival of the fittest” mechanism to dominate or even “humiliate” women.
Still, Panzer said while men often approach sex casually, studies show that most hope to eventually find a long-term relationship. He referenced a 2008 study by the Kinsey Institute, which promotes sexual health and education, which found that the majority of 28,000 men questioned said harmonious family life and a strong relationship with a partner contributed significantly to “quality of life.”
“To the women in the audience, this should be good news for you!” Panzer said. “In case you’re disappointed with the male race, I assure you they do grow up. Most of them.”
Panzer said modern long-term relationships tend to form from “shared interest and mutual happiness” more often than in the past, when marriage was more “about dividing domestic and economic duties.” Relationships begin in a “cloud nine” phase, he said, when people are still ignorant of each other’s flaws. Eventually, relationships “ebb” into long-lasting love based on “internal traits and a realistic view of the other person.”
In one of his responses to questions he fielded at the end of his talk, Panzer said the current sexual environment at Yale is similar to the climate he experienced as an undergraduate.
“When I was a student here, our attitudes were fairly similar because the 1960s and ’70s were the time of the sexual revolution, so the predominant view was not for waiting [to have sex],” Panzer said.
Grace Hirshorn ’15, who attended the event, said she appreciated that Panzer presented view that differed from many presenters of Sex Week 2012 events. True Love Week, sponsored by UBYC, is holding seven events between Feb. 5-14 as an alternative to Sex Week 2012, which is running from Feb. 4-14.
“I think these events fit into the larger discussion and intent of what Sex Week is,” Hirshorn said. “I think it’s important to hear both sides, and I appreciated his use of the science behind relationships.”
Eduardo Andino ’13, founder of UBYC, said he agreed with Panzer’s claim that society has reached an “age of ambivalence” about sex, and he was glad Panzer could share some of the “fruits of relationships and sex based on love.”
True Love Week’s next event, titled “The State of Marriage Today,” will take place Thursday in Linsly-Chittenden Hall at 4 p.m.