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Covid killed the Tinder Star: Has the Coronavirus made hook-up culture its victim?

If you’ve taken any entry-level biology course, you know how easy viruses spread. 

By Ana Salazar

We’ve always made our dates aware of our sexual histories. Talked about birth control before getting into bed with them. Used condoms to prevent any STIs. Bought Plan B to ease any doubts. We’ve even made sure to get tested after every new, casual encounter. Or, well, at least we’ve tried. 

When I saw President Trump declare a national emergency over coronavirus back in March, I, like many other Americans, panicked. Did I wash my hands after going out last night? Does this mean I have to stay home? How long is this going to last? Do I have enough food in my fridge?  All logical questions, or so I thought.

Little by little, my fear began to wear off. The idea of not seeing my friends or going to the bars saddened me. Social interactions and environments were crucial elements of my sanity. Which is when I realized I had forgotten to ask myself one more question in my moment of panic. Am I going to be able to keep hooking up with people?

 If you’ve taken any entry-level biology course, you know how easy viruses spread. A simple handshake can mean “game over.” That being said, casual sex is way out of the question. 

Whether you depend on Instagram DMs, Tinder, a “fuck-buddy,” or a stranger at a bar, we can all agree that hooking up in 2020 is easier than ever. Nowadays, a single, heart eyes emoji reaction to someone’s Instagram story can grant you entry to their bedroom. 

In the age of corona, “safe sex” has a whole new meaning. We no longer have the freedom to jump from bed to bed like we used to. Not because it could result in an unplanned pregnancy, a trip to the clinic, or even a broken heart. But because a moment of sexually-charged irresponsibility could result in sickness. Not just for you and your partner(s), but also for your roommates and family members. Not to mention the people you come in contact with at the grocery store, gas station, or pharmacy. 

Planned Parenthood recently released a guide to having safe sex during the outbreak. It starts by stating how the coronavirus isn’t an STI. Followed by a paragraph on how it can be spread through saliva, mucus, and even fecal matter. Researchers are still unsure as to whether or not it can be spread through semen or vaginal fluids. But as of right now, it’s deemed safe.

Despite how elaborate and informative Planned Parenthood’s delivery on the pandemic was, it still did not give me what I wanted – permission to have sex. Amidst the multiple paragraphs, one particular sentence stood out to me. “The safest sexual partners are those who already live with you.” So, if I don’t have anyone to hook up within the vicinity of my quarantine, why should others still be able to have sex? It seems a little discriminatory to those who actively participate in hook up culture. Perhaps, I’m just bitter. 

Hook-up culture took a massive hit with the outbreak. The act of messing around with a stranger off the internet today seems highly alarming. Even if you have an exclusive, sexual relationship with a friend, living with them can be risky. Not because of everyone’s health, but because it could damage the relationship.

While some of us might think hook-up culture has died, there have been some corona-appropriate alternatives on the rise: sexting, FaceTime sex, and masturbation. 

Some companies have used the corona outbreak as a way to glamourize masturbation. Bellesa Boutique, a sex toy website, is giving away thousands of vibrators in an attempt to keep people indoors and sexually satisfied. PornHub also made its premium feature free for all users for a week.

Masturbating can be amazing, don’t get me wrong. I’ve pridefully taken advantage of both the Bellesa Boutique and PornHub offers. However, masturbating can become habitual and lonely after a while. 

In terms of phone sex, it can help with the lack of action you’re getting. A former long-distance relationship of mine made me fall into the habit of it. From sending nudes throughout the day, to fully undressing on FaceTime. 

Though my phone-sex experiences are limited to my ex-boyfriend. I’m sure they can be established with Tinder matches or on-going lovers. Your sexual frustration might not vanish entirely, but I assure you it will diminish. 

  Hooking up is fun because of its ritualistic nature. There’s nothing quite like it. We often complain about the tediousness of getting ready for a date. But truth be told, we kind of love it. Getting dressed up and tidying up your apartment is exciting. 

 So has COVID-19 killed hook-up culture? Not entirely. It has just been paused. Human beings are highly visual creatures. It’s hard for us to understand the danger behind something we can’t see. Especially when it puts our socio-sexual lives at stake. 

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