Famous R&B duo Salt-N-Pepa once said, “Let’s talk about sex, baby…Let’s talk about all the good things and all the bad things that may be.”
Sociology professor Martin Monto would agree.
He will receive the Hugo Beigel Award for Scholarly Excellence by the Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality for his research on “hookup culture” next month, which has also been covered extensively by major media organizations. This award is meant to promote and reward research excellence in sexology.
Monto has taught the sociology senior project seminar for several years. Each semester, his students come up with research projects regarding societal issues. One of his students, Anna Carey, proposed to research the idea of hookup culture within today’s society. Together, they compared the hookup culture of two different generations of college students: students from 1988-1996 and 2004-2012.
“That idea of the hookup culture just took popular culture by storm, and everybody’s talking about how students today are involved in this no-holds-barred sexual playground,” Monto said. “So, I was talking with her (Carey) about this and I said ‘Let’s find out!’”
The idea for the project sprung from a seminar Carey attended about the subject on campus. Carey and Monto delved completely into the research of “hookup culture.” Their goal was to find out if college students these days were more involved in casual sexual activity instead of dating than past generations.
Monto and Carey compared students from the two different generations using statistics from the General Social Survey. On that database, there was a survey conducted each year with college students across the country that asked students various questions about their sex lives and sexual behavior in college. With this data, they were able to compare college students from 1986-1996 and college students of our generation.
“It became a project that we both put a lot of work into,” Carey said.
With Monto’s guidance, Carey wrote a thesis on the subject for her senior research project.
“College students today don’t have more sexual partners, they don’t have sex more frequently, they don’t have sex sooner than college students did in my generation or today’s parents’ generation,” Monto said. “Doesn’t that come as a surprise? That’s what is so interesting about it!”
Both Carey and Monto were surprised by their findings, and it turned out that others were, too.
“Initially I was disappointed to discover that my own observations and perceptions were not in fact reflective of the dating climate in general,” Carey said. “However, I have come to understand and appreciate that discovering the existing myths that exist within our culture about various social trends (such as dating/hooking up) can be very useful.”
According to Monto, their research astounded multiple researchers and contrasted popular belief of the media.
Their research was published in the Journal of Sex Research, which Monto explained is one of the best journals in sexuality research that picks the most important contributions to the field each year.
“Out of the 70 articles they published, it’s fairly selective. Ours was, according to the editor, the clear choice,” Monto said.
After their article was published, it went on to be featured on Huffington Post College, Women’s Health magazine and Time magazine. In November, Carey and Monto will be heading to Albuquerque, New Mexico for the Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality’s annual conference to accept the Hugo Beigel Award together.
Monto prides himself on taking his passion for social sciences beyond his work as a professor. He is involved with different sociological issues around campus and in Portland such as spreading awareness of sexual assault prevention and attending different rallies. Through his involvement, he hopes to improve the circumstances surrounding them.
“I really like taking advantage of the social diversity and unique, interesting things that are going on in the Portland area. If there’s something unusual or interesting happening, then I’m going to want to be there. If there’s the Shell protest under the St. John’s bridge, I’m going to go to that,” Monto said. “One of my biggest passions is sexual assault prevention. I work with the school’s sexual assault prevention program, Green Dot. I wrote the grant proposal that gave us a three year grant from the Justice Office of Violence Against Women to implement the Green Dot Program on campus.”
It’s this type of helping hand approach that Monto is known for among his colleagues, including fellow sociology professor Nick McRee. As the leader of the sociology department, Monto lends his advice and positive attitude not only to students, but to faculty.
“Martin is committed to working collaboratively with his colleagues. He tries to make sure that everyone feels included and comfortable to participate in making decisions. He’s also really friendly and easygoing,” McRee said. “It is rare to see him without a smile on his face. He loves working closely with students to help them reach their potential.”
–Story from the Beacon by: Natasa Kvesic