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  • Hubert Marlin

#sexuality Technology and sex recession on young adults


The Millennial generation (also known as Gen Y or Generation Me, born after 1980) are the least sexually active generation in decades. Studies have shown that not only are millennials less likely to have had sex, but among those who are sexually active, they're doing it less often and with fewer partners. According to a 2017 study published in the Archives of Sexual Behavior, the large general social survey (GSS) found that American adults had sex about nine fewer times per year in the early 2010s than they did in the late 1990s. and the sex recession doesn’t strike only Americans but the whole western world and its area of influence like Japan and China, while Africa Seems to be out of this strain, with the birth rate that remain on the rise. Naturally, many are curious about what's going on? why aren't millennials getting it on, more often? A common refrain is that porn is to blame. Intuitively, this explanation makes sense.

If there's no doubt that millennials have more access to porn than any previous generation, it only seems logical that it's starting to serve as a replacement for sex. But unfortunately, rather than being linked to less sex, watching porn was actually linked to having more sex according to several studies. Beyond porn, another common-sense explanation is that it's due to changes in work-life balance. Working more should translate to a less active sex life. However, the Archives study also discounts this possibility finding that, unexpectedly, working longer hours (like watching porn) was linked to more sex. Instead, what we're seeing here likely has a lot to do with changing marriage patterns. Studies have pretty consistently found that married people tend to have more sex than single people; however, given that millennials are waiting longer and longer to get married (the average age of first marriage is now close to 30), perhaps that's part of the reason why they're less sexually active. In other words, if millennials are less likely to have a steady partner, that would help to explain why they're having less sex. There's more to the story than changes in marriage, though. Millennials are also more medicated than past generations, especially when it comes to anti-depressants. Young adults today are using these drugs at earlier ages and for far longer periods of time than ever before. It's well known that anti-depressants—especially Prozac and other selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs)—have sexual side effects. Notably, these drugs have a tendency to reduce sexual desire and inhibit sexual arousal. On top of this, of course, there's also the role of technology. More and more of people’s lives in the western world, both personal and professional—are taking place online. As we spend more time interacting virtually instead of in person, this necessarily creates fewer opportunities for sex. In other words, the more immersed we become in our phones and social media, the less likely it is that sex is going to happen spontaneously. A sociology professor at UT Austin blamed also the constant connectivity. Professor Mark Regnerus told The Verge: “Look around you — people out to dinner often seem more interested in the box in front of them than in the person across from them...Of course sex will suffer under such circumstances.” So, the paradox remains: in theory we can have more sex because of technology, but in practice, technology might be causing us to have less of it.

Narcissism of millennial for some is also to blame in this era where more recent pop songs contain more words pertaining to self-focus compared to 80s hits, and that more individualistic words and phrases, such as “I am special”, have been on the rise in books since 1960. They’ve even speculated that this same individualistic culture could be responsible for common names falling out of fashion with parents for their children. These scholarly debates are raging against a backdrop of rising of social media use, selfies and the habit of constantly updating everyone else with what you’re doing, thinking and feeling. It’s hard to resist the conclusion that this technological and cultural change may be fostering a rise in vanity and narcissism. Society as a whole, today arguably place greater value on young people’s individual achievement over their civic duty.

In Asia the trend remains on the same course with simply some local flavors. For nearly a decade, stories in the Western press have tied Japan’s sexual funk to a rising generation of soushoku danshi—literally, “grass-eating boys.” These “herbivore men,” as they are known in English, are said to be ambivalent about pursuing either women or conventional success. The new taxonomy of Japanese sexlessness also includes terms for groups such as hikikomori (“shut-ins”), parasaito shinguru (“parasite singles,” people who live with their parents beyond their 20s), and otaku (“obsessive fans,” especially of anime and manga)—all of whom are said to contribute to sekkusu shinai shokogun (“celibacy syndrome”). Japan is among the world’s top producers and consumers of porn, and the originator of whole new porn genres, such as bukkake (don’t ask). It is also a global leader in the design of high-end sex dolls. What may be more telling, though, is the extent to which Japan is inventing modes of genital stimulation that no longer bother to evoke old-fashioned sex, like sex involving more than one person. A recent article in The Economist, titled “Japan’s Sex Industry Is Becoming Less Sexual,” described onakura shops, where men pay to masturbate while female employees watch, and explained that because many younger people see the very idea of intercourse as mendokusai—tiresome—“services that make masturbation more enjoyable are booming.”

In China, people traditionally, are marrying early, therefore the race to find a soulmate before surpassing the sell by date is frantic. Singles fairs, where CVs are passed around, speed-dating, and lessons in the art of seduction are all examples of a booming westernized market. However, there is a massive imbalance in the sexes due to the penchant for male offspring since the single-child policy was introduced in 1980. Future brides are in short supply, and the men most likely to find a wife are those in a strong financial position. So, beyond the technology, logically the shortage of female has been also linked to less sex. Psychologist Jean Twenge, PhD analyzing the millennials sexual behavior asked, “Are they less happy and thus having less sex, or are they having less sex and therefore less happy? It’s probably some of both.” Meanwhile, location-based dating apps have taken over contemporary dating, and it's never been easier to get a date even for casual sexual encounter. Whichever apps one choose to kill time with during their commute, or while waiting for a friend, or on a rainy Saturday night, they all can produce results ranging from immediate sex, a casual date, or long-term romance. Technology is great when it brings people together, but just as often, it can tear people apart. Not only have social media and dating apps been linked to infidelity, there's that whole depressing phenomenon of "phubbing," which is the all-too-common practice of snubbing someone in their presence by being on your phone. .However, it's important to note that while technology might be partially responsible for the decline in sexual activity, technology is also creating new opportunities for sexual expression, such as through sexting and cybersex. So, when we're talking about millennials having less sex, we need to be mindful of the fact that what "counts" as sex is changing and evolving through a non-conventional diversity of expression at the same time.


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