The hook ups of reality TV star "Snooki" (real name Nicole Polizzi) have made her a celebrity among MTV's Generation Y audience. But Christian family experts and polls say that a growing group of young adults are rejecting casual sex and embracing abstinence.
Polizzi, a cast member of MTV's hit reality show "Jersey Shore," is known for constantly stirring up controversy and laughs with her cast mates. Together, they partake in repeated displays of public drunkenness, partying and causal sexual encounters.
The pint-size reality TV star has used her celebrity status to publish a book, appear on late night shows and appear at Rutgers University recently for a $32,000 speaking engagement. During her March 31 talk at Rutgers University, Polizzi was asked what her parents thought of the MTV show she participates in.
She responded, "They don't like seeing me hook up on TV, but I'm 23 years old, they have to get over it."
Dawn Vargo of a millennial outreach affiliated with Focus on the Family says "Jersey Shore's" portrayal of casual sex and relationships is not something viewers should get over and disregard. Vargo, a spokeswoman for Generation Y outreach website Rising Voice, says the show spreads the lie that all young adults have casual sexual encounters.
"We owe it to them (Generation Y) to stand up and to speak up for the truth," said Vargo.
The truth is that many youths do not participate in casual sex and do not enjoy the "hook up" culture, said Chad Hill, Focus on the Family sexual health research analyst.
Urban Dictionary defines "hook up" as a verb meaning to engage in any type of sexual activity ranging from a make out (kissing) session to full out sex.
Vargo defines the hook up culture as "the mentality that sex anywhere with anyone goes, and that sexual relationship within marriage is an outdated idea."
Hill contends that sex only within marriage is not a dated concept. In fact, he says abstinence is making a comeback.
"There's a deeper hunger at our very core beings [which is] the way God designed us and the hook up culture is experiencing a decline," he explained.
Instead of hooking up, Hill says youth rebelling against the casual sex culture are bonding together.
"College kids are saying, 'This is junk. I don't want to be a part of it.' And they're actually creating clubs so that there can be a place of belonging for these kids that don't want to participate in this kind of thing," Hill told The Christian Post.
A survey of over 17,000 students from 20 colleges and universities released earlier this year found that 72 percent of both men and women reported having at least one hook-up. However, a National Center for Health Statistics study reveals that while a high number of young adults engage in casual sex, a growing number of youth are embracing abstinence.
Released in March, the study shows about one-quarter of both men and women ages 18 to 19 years old said they had no sexual contact with another person. The number is up from 17 percent of women and 22 percent of men in 2002.
Research by Donna Freitas, assistant professor at St. Michael's College and author of the book Sex and the Soul, suggests even more young adults are avoiding the hook up culture.
"The perception is that everybody hooks up all the time and loves it. But in reality, people are hooking up far less than they think others are," said Freitas in a 2008 interview.
In her book, Frietas surveyed 2,500 students at the campuses of seven different Catholic, evangelical, public, and private colleges. She found that students lie about how much sex they have and about liking the culture of casual sex.
"People lie about how much sex they're having and inflate what's going on because the social pressure to hook up is really enormous," she revealed.
Frietas said there are those who do genuinely enjoy engaging in hook-ups. During her research, Frietas found casual sex on all but the evangelical campuses.
"There are a few students who really do love hook up culture," she described. "They are the kings and queens of the school; the purveyors of hook up culture."
Vargo says it is dangerous when those purveyors are celebrated in the media.
"The dangers of having things like the hook up culture and casual sex on TV with celebrities is that it really glamorizes something that is in fact very risky from a psychological, emotional and physical standpoint," she stated.
Hill agrees, "What these young people aren't realizing is that sex is not merely a physical act. I mean, we've got your emotions, your ethics, your intelligence your social wellbeing, your spiritual wellbeing. Sex is much more than just a single physical act," he said.
"Jersey Shore" female cast members, including Polizzi, have expressed the desire to find a long-term partner. However, they have been met with cheating boyfriends, hook-ups and fights.
Snooki said in the Season 2 reunion show that she has given up on love.
"A lot of guys when we go out, all they wanna do is hook up and good bye and never see you again," she explained. "So after the first couple of guys I said you know what, whatever, I'm going to play that game too."
Hill believes women who engage in the hook up culture are selling themselves short. He recommends women looking for love after being in the hook up culture to get some help.
"I would hope that women who are exiting hollow, shallow, meaningless relationships that aren't going to lead anywhere will go get some counseling," he said.