Class and Status Differences in Moral Boundaries As noted earlier high status

Class and status differences in moral boundaries as

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Class and Status Differences in MoralBoundariesAs noted earlier, high-status women werelargely affluent, from out of state, and—with few exceptions—sorority members.Incontrast,low-statuswomenweremostly less affluent, local, and on themargins of campus life. Class differencesin conceptions of appropriate femininitywere at the heart of women’s sexual andmoral boundaries.The high-status view: classy versus tra-shy.For affluent women, a primary riskofsexincollegewasitspotentialtoderailprofessionaladvancementand/orclass-appropriate marriage. Hooking up,‘‘Good Girls’’109at UNIV CALIFORNIA IRVINE on October 9, 2014spq.sagepub.comDownloaded from
particularlywithoutintercourse,wasviewed as relatively low risk because itdid not require costly commitment (Hamil-ton and Armstrong 2009). When askedwho hooked up the most on campus, Nicoleresponded, ‘‘All . . . the people who came tocollege to have a good time and party’’ (Y1).Women even creatively reframed sexualexploration as a necessarypreconditionforasuccessfulmarriage.AsAliciaexplained, ‘‘I’m glad that I’ve had my one-night stands . . . because now I knowwhat it’s supposed to feel like when I’mwith someone that I want to be with. . . .I feel bad for some of my friends. . . .They’re still virgins’’ (Y1).High-status women rejected the viewthat all sexual activity outside of relation-ships was bad. They viewed sexual activ-ity along a continuum, with hooking upfallingconvenientlyinthemiddle.Becky’s nuanced definition of hooking upis illustrative. She argued that ‘‘kissing[is] excluded’’—minimizing this favoriteactivity of hers in seriousness. As she con-tinued,‘‘Youhavekissingoverhere[motions to one side] and sex over here[motionstotheother]....Anythingfrom making out to right before you hitsex is hooking up. . . .I think sex is inits own class’’ (Y1).This view hinged on defining a range ofsexual activities—such as ‘‘hardcore mak-ingout,heavypetting’’(BeckyY1),mutual masturbation, and oral sex—asnot ‘‘sex.’’ ‘‘Sex,’’ as women defined it,referred only to vaginal intercourse. Han-nah described herself as a virgin to bothresearchersandhermother,despiteadmitting to oral sex with a hookup part-ner. She joked with her mother abouta missed period, ‘‘Must be from all thesexI’vebeenhaving.Andshe’slike,uhhhh. . . .I was like, Mom, I’m just kid-ding. I’m still a virgin’’ (Y2). Hannah wasnot alone. Research suggests that manyyoung Americans do not define oral-geni-tal contact as ‘‘having sex’’ (Backstrom,Armstrong, and Puentes 2012; Vannierand Byers 2013).4Vaginal intercourse outside of relation-ships was viewed as more problematic.

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