This ‘grown-ish’ Storyline Exposes The Double Standard Of College Hook-Up Culture

Freeform/Byron Cohen

The phrase “hooking up” can have infinite meanings, according to Zoey and her friends, who debate over the definition on Freeform’s grown-ish. To answer or to not answer a 2:30 a.m. "u up?" text is the question and Zoey quickly learns on grown-ish that hooking up is, unfortunately, full of double standards.

Ironically titled “If You’re Reading This, It’s Too Late,” the 'grown-ish' episode begins with an anxious Zoey stressing over the late-night text she gets from her crush Aaron. But before answering, she does what any college student in that situation would do — she calls for reinforcements. Piled into a dorm room, the ladies of grown-ish discuss what Zoey should do and what exactly hooking up means to them. To Zoey, hooking up just means kissing and cuddling. Nomi, Sky, and Jazz are all in agreement that hooking up means full-on sex. While sweet Ana believes it could simply mean something like meeting an uncle for dinner — which warrants plenty of awkward stares from the rest of the group.

Though regardless of what definition they each subscribe to, the majority of them feel like Zoey would be seen as a "hoe" to Aaron for responding so late, or that she'd be sending a message that she'd want to take things beyond first base. The only person in disagreement is Nomi, firm in her belief that women — like men — should be able to hookup when and with whom they want to without fear of being judged for it. Though unfortunately, not everyone thinks like Nomi — not even in the real world.

Freeform/Byron Cohen

In fact, a 2016 study in The Conversation found that approximately 45 percent of college-aged men lost respect for a woman after a hook up, while only about 33 percent of women felt the same way about a man — meaning men more harshly judged women for their sexual activity than women judged men. This shows that even with all of the sex-positive movements and Amber Rose's SlutWalks, the majority of college students still subscribe to outdated norms when it comes to women's sexuality.

And the judgement for Zoey's hooking up choices don't stop there. After deciding not to take Aaron up on his offer for a late-night make out session, she is devastated to find that she's been replaced by a girl whom she describes as someone "who looks like me on my worst day." For a little while, she tries to play it cool, but this is Zoey we're talking about. Not willing to let Aaron go that easily, she embarks on a texting spree one night — discussing their future kids, finances and the works — that definitely sets off Aaron's stalker senses. So much for #Zoron becoming a thing.

To move on she turns to Luca — her other crush and classmate, who oh, also happened to be Aaron's sworn enemy. Don't you just love college? And soon she has Aaron back under her spell too, though her victory having the "juice" is short lived. A slip-up on a smartphone leads to the guys discovering she is seeing them both. And they both get all in their feelings. There's one big, glaring problem with this situation though: Zoey is single.

Freeform/Byron Cohen

For women this double-standard is nothing new. It’s a commonly known notion that it is okay for men to hook up and date multiple people — like how Aaron left Zoey sitting in class for another girl — but the minute a woman does she’s banished for "playing games." Now Zoey could've been more honest about what she was doing talking to both guys, but she didn't do anything wrong. Unfortunately, she doesn't stick up for herself and say, "Hey, I can do what I want, because I'm single," and instead decides to swear off men for the time being.

There's no telling if Zoey, Aaron, and Luca will revive their love triangle on grown-ish, or if Zoey will just find someone new to pursue all together. But either way, my hope is that on the next go round she takes Nomi's advice and does whatever the heck she wants to, screw the double standards, like all women should.

Editor's note: After publication, we discovered this article did not meet our editorial standards: There were portions that did not correctly attribute another source. It has been updated to meet our standards.