Much to Applaud
The End of Sex is a follow-up to Freitas's 2008 book, Sex and the Soul: Juggling Sexuality, Spirituality, Romance, and Religion on America's College Campuses. Much of the interview material and survey results in The End of Sex are taken from research done for the earlier book. Freitas conducted that research while a professor of religion at Boston University, motivated by student comments about their social lives that she heard during class discussion in her courses. Sex and the Soul focused on a contrast between the sexual conduct of Christian students who attend evangelical colleges and Christian students who attend secular or Catholic colleges and universities. Freitas found that without the social support provided by a campus community where widely shared values link sex with committed relationships, Christian students participated in campus hookup culture as frequently as their non-Christian peers.
In The End of Sex, Freitas ignores the evangelical college context and concentrates instead on analyzing and counteracting the hookup culture on secular and Catholic campuses. She briefly discusses some student groups that are striving to provide social support for refraining from sex until marriage. She gives such groups mixed reviews—endorsing their resistance to the hookup culture but finding their ideals too restrictive and discriminatory toward gays and lesbians.
What does The End of Sex have to offer the Christian reader who has already read Sex and the Soul? One answer is the insights contained in two chapters that examine, respectively, the "construction" of the "college girl" as porn star and the male "party animal." Chapter Four, "Learning to Play the Part (of Porn Star): The Sexualization of College Girls," explores the irony of theme parties which enact male pornographic fantasies in a post-feminist world. The payoff for guys in showing up to a "Doctors and Naughty Nurses" theme party is fairly obvious, but what are women who aren't being paid as escorts or actresses doing there? "There is a clear desire among many women students to dress in a certain manner that, outside of the 'safety' of a themed event, would garner them a permanent reputation as 'whore' or 'slut.'" Playacting, like alcohol, provides plausible deniability—"It was just a party." How many post-college Christian women have shown up for a lingerie party with the same kind of shrug and wink?