We live in a culture that is grotesquely focused on "hooking up." Couples rarely date anymore, and the days of nice dinners and chivalry are long gone. Instead it's become widely accepted to consistently have sex with someone, forego the romantic gestures and still consider the relationship mildly legitimate.

I may sound old-fashioned, but I assure you, I am not blinded to the shifting dynamics of modern affairs. In fact, I am well aware of this culture and I believe it leads to a much bigger problem.

The problem is sexual violence.

It happens every day all over the world. The more frightening fact: it happens all the time on our very own campus. Once a year, at Take Back The Night, an event organized as an open forum for survivors of sexual abuse to candidly share their stories, we realize the atrocity that our fellow students have endured. In return, the University of Richmond community touts its support through claps and crying. This event took place earlier this week and, as always, was an emotional whirlwind and a source of shock.

But what about the other 364 days of the year? Where is the support system then? When a drunken night at a lodge leads a "couple" into a twisted situation? The girl says, "No, it's only been a few weeks." The boy is too intoxicated to filter his actions. And the next morning it goes unreported, because, well, they were "hooking up."

This is exactly the problem with the hook-up culture we tolerate today. Casual sex is a thing: no gimmicks, no strings, just sex. In most bedrooms, the act is consensual and leaves no bad aftertaste. In other cases, it ends poorly for one partner involved. Suddenly, what was a fun and flirty make out takes a turn for the worst. Because casual sex is a thing, accidental and casual rape becomes a thing. Let's get something straight - it's not a thing.

I understand that full-blown relationships are simply unappealing to some, and I don't want to detract from what brings satisfaction to many. However, guidelines still need to exist. Omitting the fluffiness and all the feelings when entering into the agreement to just "hook up" does not give either party a free pass on respect. There must be a mutual ethicality in the way the unconventional relationship functions. No means no. If making out is all that will transpire, so be it. We cannot continue to expect sex from everyone.

I don't think the hook-up culture will dissipate any time soon. So, the remedy should be to proactively make the culture less psychologically draining. The symbolism of Take Back The Night should be felt every night. And sexual violence in the context of "hooking up" needs to end now.

Contact staff writer Stephanie Manley at stephanie.manley@richmond.edu