Spitting Game: The College Hookup Culture

April 11, 2010


Over a year ago I had the pleasure of meeting Denice Ann Evans at Tufts University. She was there to screen her film Spitting Game, a documentary about college hookup culture. It was chock full of interesting interviews and information, and the students in attendance were very engaged in the Q&A session that followed. Students feel caught up in the peer pressure around hooking up, and if often feels like the only game in town. Watching the film provided a foundation for an important conversation, and allowed students to voice their real feelings about sex on campus.

However, what I’d really like to do is see Spitting Game shown to all parents of high school juniors as they embark upon the college search with their sons and daughters. I am constantly amazed to learn how ignorant parents are about what’s really happening on college campuses, particularly around drinking and sex. Although popular culture provides plenty of exposure to reality, parents often subscribe to a “not my kid” mentality, and blissfully embrace ignorance. Of course, the real tragedy of this is that it results in their children keeping secrets, afraid to communicate about what is really happening in their lives. I believe that good parenting in the 21st c. requires being willing to look at these issues honestly and without judgment.

Even after more than a year of blogging, there was plenty in this film that blew me away. Though I had seen the 35 minute educational version, this weekend I had to opportunity to view the feature-length DVD. It contained fascinating interviews with experts, and conversations with parents that were nothing short of shocking. Some of my favorite quotes:

When asked what they’re looking for when they go out at night, guys said:

“Penis in the vagina.”

“Hopefully, they’re good looking. Sometimes, hmmmm, you have to pick and choose.”

On binge drinking:

“This is not leisurely drinking a beer. You’re pounding beers faster than it’s hitting you.”

“I can drink twelve beers and I’m still fine. You start getting into that twenty range, and that’s what I consider binge drinking.”

“You can talk to so many more girls when you’re drunk.”

“If she says no, so what? Alcohol allows you to roll with the punches.”

On hooking up:

“I was insecure. Am I pretty enough? Am I cool enough? Am I smart enough? Sometimes, if you got attention from a guy, you would just do it.”

“I told myself, ‘If I’m using him too, it’s OK. But it’s not the case. I was disrespected the entire time.'”

“Even though we say it’s a lot of girls, it’s a group that everybody knows. College is big, but there is a group of girls that everybody has been with.”

“A girl will say, ‘I don’t care if you hook up with anybody else. That’s not true. They always care, especially if they like you.'”

“Frats will help you out, saying ‘This girl is a slut, this girl is prudish, so if you can get with her you’re the man.'”

About the Filmmaker

Spitting Game: The College Hook Up Culture dares to open Pandora’s Box and takes a penetrating look inside the college hook up culture. This provocative film examines and challenges the status quo by highlighting the risks, reasons, and realities students face within the college hook up culture.

In her award winning documentary, writer/director, Denice Ann Evans interviews diverse groups of students, experts, and parents who speak openly about alcohol & other drugs, peer pressure, sexual assault, and consent. Not only is this film a dynamic force for eliciting significant conversations, but it also raises crucial questions on gender politics, health education issues, and the sexual ethics on college campuses today

Denice Ann Evans, CEO of J’Hue Film Productions, is the writer/director and producer of Spitting Game: The College Hook Up Culture. Her documentary has showcased at festivals throughout the U.S. and most recently won “Best Social Awareness Documentary” at the 2009 Delray Beach Film Festival. She is also a mother of two, published author, national speaker, and graduate of Emory University where she received her degree in Creative Writing and Film, summa cum laude.

How You Can See It

1. Educational DVD’s are now available on Denice’s website www.collegehookupculture.com for the standard Institutional Rate. However, in honor of sexual assault awareness, during the month of April, you can redeem your “Fans of HUS” discount at the Home DVD price of $24.99. Please email Denice at jhuefilms@gmail.com for special pricing details.

2. If you’re in the Boston area, Denice will be screening the short version this Tuesday at Wheelock. I’ll be there!

Spitting Game: The College Hook Up Culture screening at Wheelock College on Tuesday, April 13, 2010 in the College Center from 4:00 PM to 6:00PM. Filmmaker, Denice Ann Evans will be in attendance for a Q&A immediately following the screening. Please contact Gail Dines for more information: Chair of American Studies, Professor (617) 879-2336 gdines@wheelock.edu.

3. The Director’s Cut feature length version will be released July, 2010.

Please email Allyson Brown at jhuefilms@gmail.com for special pricing details or to be added to the mailing list for advance DVD copies of “The Director’s Cut” feature version of Spitting Game: The College Hook Up Culture.

  • Athlone McGinnis

    Generational disconnect is a huge factor here, and I think you're right to point it out as a primary concern. A kid with some decent parental support/advice about what to expect in college could have an easier time dealing with it, but so few parents seem to truly understand it.

    Me and my mother have a pretty good relationship(its always been just the two of us) so we talk a lot. She can't fathom half of the things I let her know about what goes on in my social environment, especially on weekends. Now that I think of it, being able to talk about it with my mom has probably helped our relationship(and aided her in her efforts to keep me sane), but I'm sure that a lot of other parents must necessarily reside in that realm of ignorance.

    I mean, just judging from my own experiences with this culture so far, I kind of feel like an alien at age 18. I went out this past weekend(my friends wouldn't leave me alone until i left the room) and had the chance to really observe things closely while sober. It is kind of an awe inspiring sight. I can't really imagine what these parents must be feeling when they hear about all of the madness their children live with.
    I won't even get into the peer pressure and the problems that causes.

    • In the film, Denice Ann Evans interviews a bunch of different parents, and it's actually quite painful to watch. Of those who are somewhat aware of the culture, they all categorically deny that their child would ever participate. And they all feel totally confident that their children can talk to them about anything. These interviews are contrasted with kids doing outrageous things, implying that parents have their heads in the sand, which I think is mostly true.

      It's great that you are close to your mom, and can talk to her honestly about what's going on in your life. Parents who are involved, caring and non-judgmental are an important anchor in kids' lives. Every kid needs that unconditional love and acceptance, especially when the world is treating you badly.

      Interesting that you went out and stayed sober, observing things around you. Also, I'm glad to hear you have friends at school who won't let you get into a funk – that kind of peer support is great. It's the flip side of peer pressure.

    • Aldonza

      If it's any consolation, I felt like an alien until sometime in my late 20s. I never related well to my teen-aged and early post-college peers. It wasn't until they started getting married and settling down that I could have a conversation that didn't include at least one point where I looked at them like they were from another planet.

      I also don't think you're alone in that. In fact, you're probably in the silent majority. "We have news for the beautiful people. There's a lot more of us then there are of you."

  • greenfieldnews

    great post. i would love if my parents could see this video. I try and explain what life is like on campus, but they really don't get it. College is a strange place right now, compared to what i've heard it used to be like.
    Athlone McGinnis- i've been in your shoes, both being the sober one at the party and feeling like an alien on campus. I still feel like that sometimes, with my clinging to morals that others insist are quite out of date-like im listening to a tape-player instead of an ipod. But my advice to you is to keep meeting new people. Eventually, i'm sure, you'll find a group of people you do click with-and the way you describe it, it sounds like you have some great friends already. Good luck with school!

    Also, what was up with that blog entry earlier today? With the dancing video?

    • Haha, my bad on that earlier post. I inadvertently published when I was just starting work on a new post. Several hours later, it's up now. Check it out, Freaky Japanese Sexuality!

  • Sorry it took me awhile to comment on this, but I wanted to make sure and thank you for all the great comments on my documentary, Spitting Game: The College Hook Up Culture! I am very pleased with the response I have been getting from college and high schools students. I just got back from a presentation of the film at an all girls high school in Atlanta. The Q&A was a very lively and pro-active discussion! I hope to reach out to parents next. In fact, this particular school has already booked me for a parent presentation this fall.

    I am going to be doing a lot more with the hot debated topic of "The Hook Up Culture." I am preparing to do some hard-hitting PSA's and more student interviews, PLUS bonus materials for the release of my feature film this summer. I hope you will spread the word about my film and also remember the special pricing for "Fans of HUS."

    Stay tuned and you can follow me on FB & Twitter from my website:http://www.collegehookupculture.com

    Cheers, Denice Ann Evans

  • Cult Her Imports

    "Parents who are involved, caring and non-judgmental are an important anchor in kids' lives. Every kid needs that unconditional love and acceptance, especially when the world is treating you badly."

    Susan, a question: What's the point in parents knowing about all this if they are going to be non-judgemental and accepting of it?

  • Well, I am that parent. My daughter has always come to me for information and advice, knowing that I would not reject her and that I was willing to discuss anything at all. The unconditional love and acceptance is for the child, not the behavior. She knows that even when she makes a poor choice she can process that with me and still get a hug. As a result, she has made very few poor choices.

  • Posting for Cult Her Imports:

    Hippie parenting. This amongst one of the biggest social problems in the United States.

    So if your daughter sells drugs she’ll still get a hug? If she gets knocked up by a criminal she’ll still get a hug? Come on.

    In other countries parents lay down extremely strict rules and boundaries. Kids know if they cross them that they will be cut off from the family either socially, financially or both. Result? They don’t cross those boundaries.

    In the US, where there are no boundaries, young people are doing all sorts of bullshit and their parents hug them.

    Your daughter may have made “very few” poor choices (how many constitute “few” as opposed to “many”?), but that doesn’t neccessarily correlate to your “no boundaries hugging” policy. She probably would have made “very few” poor choices had you been strict with her as well.

    Some young people just have common sense and ethics regardless of their parents. Often IN SPITE OF their parents.

    • I wonder what your qualifications are that permit you to criticize my parenting? I am not a hippie parent, but it’s really none of your business. I believe in unconditional love for children, which does not mean zero discipline.

      My daughter may have made the same choices even if she were an orphan. I don’t take credit for her character. She does have common sense and ethics. What she also has is a very close, intimate relationship with her mother. That is important to both of us and is unrelated to the hippie movement.

      I don’t know your age, but it seems clear you have never been a mother. In which case, you should refrain from making critical comments of others’ parenting skills.

  • Robin

    Jeez – That was extremely harsh.

    My parents were fundamentalist Christians. The rules were extremely strict and because of that I started rebelling. My parents gave me a choice, get kicked out of the house when I turned 18 and they were no longer legally obligated to provide for me or they would sign guardianship over to my grandmother and I could move in with her.

    I decided to move in with my grandmother needless to say. She was like Susan. I knew that I could go to her with anything from questions about sex to drugs/drinking. She never deluded herself that I would drink, try drugs or have sex. My grandmother had a standing rule that if I was too drunk to drive that I should call her no matter the time. I only did it once, but she didn’t complain. She picked me up, thanked me for being safe and kept things moving.

    I lost my virginity in her home. I came down the next day and she said just looked at me and said, “I scheduled a Ob-Gyn appointment for you to get started on birth control.” I told her when I tried pot and she asked me how I liked it. I told her I didn’t and wouldn’t be doing it again. She laughed and told me a story about her younger years when she smoked a few times. My grandmother ended the conversation by telling me that she hoped I’d gotten the illegal substance thing out of my system.

    She was the 1st one to get me drunk off my ass so I knew my limits. I drank here and there, but I was always safe when driving. As a result, I’ve never been a big drinker. I had easy access at home, so why go out and do it?

    The style of parenting worked. The only time she got mad at me was when ended up with herpes and instead of telling her went to Planned Parenthood and hid it from her. She was more upset that I didn’t come to her than anything else. As a result, I’ve had my wild nights here and there, but never had the truly wild child moments that a lot of my friends had or that I probably would have had if I had stayed with my parents.

    You go Susan – As you already know, it sounds like you’ve got some great kids and a wonderful relationship with them!

    • Cult Her Imports

      No Robin, your grandmother’s style of parenting did NOT WORK. You got Herpes for God’s sake!!!


      Wake the hell up!

      • Robin

        Oh lordy did you just make my blood boil…

        Yes, I got herpes. With my 2nd ever sexual partner at the age of 17. I made a bed decision at a young age while in a committed relationship. BFHD. What should she have done? Kicked me out of the house? That would have made a bad situation worse. What made dealing with the shame, humiliation and self loathing was her unconditional support.

        It wasn’t her parenting that caused it. It was my poor choice in not listening to her when she told me that I should always engage in safe sex. Do not try to even remotely put the blame on her or her parenting. It was my choice and my choice alone and I have learned from that mistake. I did not know at the time that it is likely for people to carry with out ever experiencing symptoms. Do not judge when you don’t know all the facts.

        I would rather have herpes where the only possible health risk is that I will probably need to have a C-section when I have children as opposed to a vaginal birth to prevent passing it along to children. I could have gotten chlamydia which approx 3/4 of infected women never realize that they have because there are no symptoms and could possibly have ended up with cervical cancer. Or a myriad of other issues that could cause serious health problems.

        Does it suck to have to deal with it? Yes, but I learned a life lesson from it. A good parent knows that children have to grow and make their own mistakes. A good parent will still love and support their children when they do instead of trying to destroy what little self esteem/confidence they have left.

        Herpes is not the end of the world. Perhaps you should read the two recent entries Susan made on it. I’m honest with my partners and get tested regularly when I am outside a committed relationship to ensure my sexual health. The social stigma around herpes is due to the fact that people aren’t honest and most times afraid of what may come back when they are tested and they prefer to live in blissful ignorance. If more people were honest, upfront and conscientious when it comes to testing, herpes would die out.

        So please – now that you have more facts – How is my making a choice on my own a fault of her bad parenting? Unless you were the perfect role model child who never screwed a damn thing up, I’m sure that you at some point in time made a bad decision despite your parental figure advising against it. That is human nature. You hear all the time that in order to learn people have to make their own mistakes. That’s what I did. How did her being willing to be my sounding board when I screwed up cause my condition? How does her loving me despite what happened mean that she screwed up?

        Please – Answer that. I’m with Susan wondering what qualifications you have to judge parenting styles…

        • Cult Her Imports

          Robin, you are missing my entire point. That a teenage girl, still in school, who is living in the house of her grandmother would even THINK about bringing sex partners there to beginwith, that in and of itself says a lot about the way she’s being raised. And the fact that the grandmother “allows” it, and that this is somehow seen as “good parenting” says a lot more.

          Good parenting is not just hugs and fuzzy feelings.

          You just don’t get it.

          But how could you?

          Anyway………… moving on.

      • Cult Her Imports, you are totally out of line. One more comment like this and I’ll ban you. The whole point of my post on herpes was that anyone who has sex can get it. I do not have an abstinence agenda wrt sex or alcohol, so if that is your thing you’ll be happier elsewhere, and so will my readers. I won’t tolerate name calling and judgmental crap like you’ve been dishing out. If you want to be part of the conversation, be constructive. If you’re just trying to upset everyone, get outta here.

        You are ornery!

        • Cult Her Imports

          (Susan, there is still difficulty posting on your site)

          Robin, you are missing my entire point. That a teenage girl, still in school, who is living in the house of her grandmother would even THINK about bringing sex partners there to beginwith, that in and of itself says a lot about the way she’s being raised. And the fact that the grandmother “allows” it, and that this is somehow seen as “good parenting” says a lot more.

          Good parenting is not just hugs and fuzzy feelings.

          You just don’t get it.

          But how could you?

          Anyway………… moving on.

          I’m really suprised at your whiteknighting of Robin, considering you just recently wrote about the longterm DANGERS of Herpes and the women who are IN DENIAL about it.

        • Robin

          So instead I should have snuck around with my sexual behavior? Maybe gone to the guys house so you could say that his parents were bad parents? Or I know! Perhaps I should have gone and done it in a car somewhere and the police could have picked me up for public indecency! The whole point is that my grandmother fully accepted that I was going to drink, that I was going to have sex. The only thing she asked was that I was open and honest with her in regards to it and not sneak around with it.

          I’m not saying that I never got punished for doing something wrong. I skipped school on occasion my senior year and when she found out, oh LORD was I ever in trouble. If it was needed, she did mete out punishment. But children will be children and because she recognized that it allowed me to have a very open relationship with her that I enjoy to this day.

          I would also refer you to the following paper: Parent-Child Relationships and Honesty: Controlling for Social Desirability

          This shows that when a child and parent enjoy open and honest communication that there are positive benefits such as a child being more likely to internalize a message, be more honest over all and more respectful. It also helps promote open and honest communication at other points in the child’s life. When parents who nurture and are kind in dealings with their children, said child is more likely to be flexible and have better problem solving skills whereas when the parenting style is harsh it can negatively impact those same skills and trigger a negative response.

          You still have not responded to my questions at the end of my last post, nor Susan’s questions in regards to your qualifications to pass judgment on parenting styles.

          Re: Susan’s posts on Herpes. I just re-read both of them and I’m a bit confused where she wrote about the long term danger of Herpes. I see where she wrote about how it is transmitted, who is likely to contract it, the thought processes that many people have in regards to STD’s in general and what steps one should take to prevent or if you do end up with it deal with it. I see her rant talking about women who are so unhappy with themselves and their sluttiness that they want to pass it along to everyone. No where do I see her condemn people that contract it or write about dangers.

          Now, here is where your ignorance comes into play. What long term health risks are there for a person with herpes? Answer: None. In all likelihood, the person if they show symptoms will have a major outbreak the 1st time and several minor outbreaks that lessen as the years go by. Herpes does not cause things like PID which can cause cervical cancer. The risks of having herpes are solely on others. Risk 1) Passing it along to a partner. This can be counteracted by simple honest with an perspective sexual partner. Risk 2) If the virus is actively shedding at the time a woman gives birth and the woman has a vaginal birth, herpes can then be passed onto the child which can result in the child’s death. This is easily overcome by ensuring that a C-section is done.

        • Robin is not in denial! Sheesh, she was brave enough to come forward and tell her story. Let’s not put her in the stockade for it!

        • Cult Her Imports Vomiting Up The Koolaid

          SUSAN, by “denial” I did not mean she’s in denial about having Herpes, and thus deceiving people. I met “denial” of what it actually says about her character to have been a teen student who got Herpes while living in her Grandma’s house, and her thinking it’s “no big deal”.

          ROBIN, I’ll be honest – I’ve not read the entirety of your last two posts, replies to me, because they were just too long and I cannot bear reading nonsense past 3 or 4 sentences.

          For example: “So instead I should have snuck around with my sexual behavior? Maybe gone to the guys house so you could say that his parents were bad parents?”

          You just don’t get it, do you? If you were a properly raised teen student, having sex with some other kid (let’s hope not adult!!!) would not have even been on your mind or within your reach.

          You did so because you COULD. There were obviously no boundaries in that house. You simply were not supervised or properly guided enough.

          I’m assuming you must still be really young (early 20s?) only because you seem to think that the sign of “good parenting” is parents not “getting mad at” (setting boundaries) for their kids:

          “The style of parenting worked. The only time she got mad at me was when ended up with herpes and instead of telling her went to Planned Parenthood and hid it from her.”

          If she would have disciplined you more, gotten madder more, and set more boundaries, then perhaps today you would not be living with an incurable disease that has the possibility of damaging your future offspring.

          Ever hear the story about the jail inmate who’s mother came to visit him and he asked her to bring her face closer to her’s and then from behind the bars he bit off her ear? She was shocked and asked him why he did that. His reply: “if you would have disciplined me in my youth I would not be here today.”

          I am not intentionally trying to personally offend you or your Grandmother, both whom I’m sure are perfectly pleasant conversationalists if I were to meet you in person. It’s not about you or her personally, but rather about what you both are SYMPTOMS of.

          When a young woman can claim that she was “raised right” and avoided “going wild” and what they means to her is that she shamelessly without embarrassement had sex with boys/men/whatever in her own Grandmother’s house, that her Grandmother’s only reaction was to calmly inform her about an Ob/Gyn appointment so that she could get on birth control (which has serious side effects and messes with the bodies natural hormonal system), and this very same young woman gets Herpes while still being a girl-student and still living with her Grandmother, but she got it from “ONLY” the 2nd person she slept with (only? she was still a teen student!)…….. then I have to say that if this is the example of the “good girl raised right”……… this country has gone even further down the Rabbit Hole than I ever imagined.

          If this is the “good girl raised right”……. then what are the “wild girls” doing???

          On second thought — I don’t wanna know.

          Robin, you may be a “nice” person personality-wise, as well as your Grandma, in fact, I’m sure both of you are. But the way in which you were raised and your resultant behaviour as well as your attitude towards it all reads like one big social experiement gone terribly wrong.

          The proof of the pudding is in the eating.

          In other words – the results.

          Did you test positive or negative?

        • Robin

          I’ll try and put this in as few words as possible for you. I read your whole post and while I too cannot abide reading the nonsense people spew, I have enough respect for the fact that you responded to read your entire post.

          See, there is one simple point you are missing. You are trying to impose your moral code on my grandmother and myself. I had a ton of boundaries with my parents growing up. The home was undeniably strict. If I came home with anything less than perfect, it was met with disappointment and negativity. I rebelled against those when I was with my parents despite being forced to go to church every Sunday morning, youth group, the whole nine yards.

          It was based off of this that my grandmother set boundaries. I had a curfew that I had to respect. If I was going to be late, I had to call. I had expectations for my school work and grades. The point that you fail to understand or see, is that my grandmother accepted what was going to happen. I lived for years under a roof being told that I should not have sex before marriage, smoke, get tattoos, etc and being punished for minor infractions. IT DID NOT WORK.

          Instead, understanding that I was going to have sex, drink etc, she built her boundaries around that. She would rather it be under her roof where she knew about it instead of me lying to her about it, or it being in a place that she didn’t know was safe.

          I don’t know your background or the culture in which you were raised, but mine was apparently very different and I am not going to apologize for that. We will have to agree to disagree.

          I ask again for the 3rd or 4th time. What are your qualifications to analyze parenting styles? How many children do you have??

        • Sex Cult Kool Aid Vomit

          Thanks for reading my long comment yet keeping your’s short. I recently posted two comments on here that were way longer than I wanted them to be. Now I can’t even go back and read my own comments – they are too long! Sometimes we get carried away with writing.

          The opinions I have now are the same as the ones I had before I had children. My kids did not change me to the degree that I would revamp my entire internalized system of ethics and morals. I have heard other people, mostly parents, express that sentiment to childless/childfree people: “well, you don’t have kids therefore you are unqualified to speak about it”. Even though I myself am a parent, I don’t agree with that. Some things are just common sense and there are times when even a childless person has more parenting skills/common sense than a parent.

          Again, I think you are missing a point here and I’m probably not skilled at conveying it so I’ll pose it as a rhetorical question that anyone may answer if they can:

          What happened in the United States to make kids think something like this;

          “Instead, understanding that I was going to have sex, drink etc, she built her boundaries around that.”

          It wasn’t always the case that kids got boundaries built around their unhealthy and age-inappropriate whims.

          What happened to adults to make them give in to this b.s.?

          These are the larger issues and the important questions.

        • Robin

          I understand the point that you are trying to make. Some children internalize a parents teachings very well. My brother’s are very good examples. They are God fearing and adhere to my parents moral code. Somehow I ended up different. I rebelled against the norm.

          Is the fact that America has shifted over the last several decades where my rebellion is more common place a sad reality? Yup. But it’s not any different that how children acted in the past, the difference is the label that society as a whole puts on them. Children used to just hide the behavior where as today they are open about it. To give a pop culture reference, think Rizzo in Grease. The behavior was there, but just hidden from parents. I could have hidden my actions, but instead was open because I knew I could be. That type of open relationship with her has helped me be open with others in my life because I learned acceptance instead of disapproval.

          To answer your rhetorical question: This shift in parenting to match the shift in labels happened and I would point towards the sexual revolution as the cause. I don’t think we can pull away from it any more than the hook up culture is going to change.