The age at which young Americans start sex has been postponed, which makes many parents and educators breathe a sigh of relief. The CDC survey found that from 1991 to 2017, the proportion of high school students who had sex dropped from 54% to 40%. At the same time, the pregnancy rate of American teenagers dropped sharply to one-third of the highest point. This trend was popular in the 1990s, but now it is worrying. There are signs that the postponement of adolescents’ sexual life may be a signal, marking a large decline in physical intimacy, and this situation will continue until they reach adulthood.
In recent decades, San Diego State University psychology professor Jane Twenger has conducted research on how and why Americans’ sex lives have decreased. She said that compared with the previous two generations, there are fewer young adult sexual partners today; among young people in their early 20s, the proportion of people who are willing to abstain from sex is the same age as the X generation. 2.5 times the segment.
After communicating with sex research scholars, psychologists, economists, sociologists, psychotherapists, and young adults, I learned that the possible causes of “sex depression” are: “hookup culture”, economic pressure, Anxiety, mental weakness, widespread use of antidepressants, streaming TV, environmental estrogen released by plastics, declining testosterone levels, the digital porn industry, the “golden age” of vibrators, dating software, “helicopter parents”, smartphones , Information flooding, lack of sleep, obesity… In short, it seems that any modern ill can be related to it.
Some reasons are relatively positive and optimistic. For example, in recent decades, the proportion of child sexual assault cases has declined, and sexual assault may lead to precocious puberty and promiscuity. In addition, people who lack sexual desire may no longer have that much pressure. Maybe they just need time to carefully choose a life partner, or there are more people who value school and work more than love and sex.
| One’s Sex |
The phenomenon of “sexual decline” is not unique to the United States. Most countries have not seriously tracked and investigated the sex life of their citizens, but existing studies have shown a trend of delayed and decreased sex. The 2001 National Survey on Attitudes and Lifestyles in the UK concluded that the average British person between the ages of 16 and 44 had sex more than 6 times a month. By 2012, this number had dropped to less than 5 times. At about the same time, the average number of Australians in a relationship fell from about 1.8 to 1.4 times a week. The Finnish study also found that the frequency of sexual intercourse among Finns decreased, which corresponds to the increase in the frequency of masturbation.
In the Netherlands, the average age of first experience of sex has risen from 17.1 in 2012 to 18.6 in 2017, and other types of physical contact have also been postponed, including kissing. This news did not give people a sigh of relief as it did in the United States, but caused anxiety. An educator asked: If you skip this critical stage of development that includes not only flirting and kissing, but also facing sadness and disappointment, could these young people still be ready to deal with the challenges of adult life?
In 2018, a national survey initiated by Sweden showed that the sex life of Swedes has also decreased. As one of the European countries with the highest birth rate, Sweden is obviously reluctant to have a childbirth risk. “If the social conditions that are conducive to quality sex deteriorate, such as because of stress or unhealthy lifestyles, this is a political issue.” In this regard, the Swedish Minister of Health wrote.
In Japan, facing fertility challenges and population crisis, in 2005, one-third of Japanese singles aged 18 to 34 had never had sex. In 2015, this proportion rose to 43%. The number of people who declare that they do not want to get married has also increased. (Of course, marriage is not a guarantee for the frequency of sexual intercourse. A related survey found that 47% of married people have not had sex for at least one month.)
For more than a decade, Western media has linked the indifference of Japanese sex with the emergence of “grass-eating men” (in love with a pure heart and a lack of desire). In addition, the emergence of “stuck people” (without staying behind closed doors for more than half a year), “single parasites” (over 20 years old but dependent on their parents), and “otaku” (enthusiastic fans, especially anime fans) are said to have intensified. The so-called “single syndrome”. In the past, when everyone talked about this, the subtext was “Japanese people are really weird”, but now people are gradually realizing that this country should not be regarded as an isolated case, but a lesson from the past.
Japan is the world’s largest producer and consumer of pornographic films, and the genre of pornographic films continues to introduce new ones. At the same time, it is also a leader in the global high-end sex doll design market. Roland Keltz, a Japanese-American writer who lives in Tokyo, said: “This generation finds that real-world love is not perfect and not as attractive as virtual sex.” But what is more convincing may be that the Japanese are constantly introducing new ones. Genital stimulation mode, so traditional sexual lifestyle is no longer needed at all. An article in the British “Economist” magazine in 2018 mentioned a Japanese store where men pay for masturbation and female employees are watching, and explained that because many Japanese young people think that sex is boring, masturbation becomes The more enjoyable service is constantly prospering.
In 2005, one-third of Japanese singles aged 18 to 34 had never had sex. In 2015, this proportion rose to 43%.
According to statistics, from 1992 to 2014, the proportion of men who masturbated every week in the United States doubled to 54%, and the proportion of women who masturbated more than tripled to 26%. The easier viewing of pornography is of course one reason. In 2014, 43% of men said they had watched pornography in the past week. A study ten years ago showed that women who have used vibrators accounted for more than half, but now this kind of adult products will obviously only become more popular.
Considering that Western civilization has long opposed masturbation, this shift is particularly noticeable. In the book “Sex in America,” the author tells that the breakfast cereal maker Le’s urged American parents at the end of the 19th century to take extreme measures, including circumcision without anesthesia and the application of corrosive carbolic acid to the clitoris to avoid Their children are addicted to sexual desire. In fact, masturbation was considered taboo until the 20th century. When the book was published in the 1990s, masturbation-related text would still “cause nervous ridicule or cause shock and nausea,” even though this behavior was already quite common at the time.
Philip Zimbardo, a psychologist known for leading the Stanford prison experiment, has warned that procrastination caused by masturbation may cause young people to fail academically, socially, and sexually. Gary Wilson, an American who runs the “Porn in Your Head” website, also expressed a similar view, believing that watching Internet porn masturbate is addictive, can cause structural changes in the brain, and cause a pandemic of erectile dysfunction.
In Japan, the emergence of “herbivorous males”, “hinging people”, “single parasites” and “otaku” all exacerbated the so-called “single syndrome”.
The truth seems more complicated. Arguments to prove that there is an erectile dysfunction pandemic among young people and that pornography is addictive are scarce, but this is not to say that the proliferation of pornography has nothing to do with real-life sexual desire. Ian Korner, a well-known sex therapist in New York, said that although he does not think pornography is unhealthy (he recommends certain types of pornography to some patients), he does know that many men affected by pornography “will still be like Masturbation like that at the age of 17″, which leads to loss of libido and impaired sexual life. Korner believes that it is for this reason that more and more women have come to his clinic in recent years, complaining that they have stronger sexual needs than their partners.
|”Hookup Culture” and “Helicopter Parents”|
When I was in high school in 1992, the teenage pregnancy rate was at its highest level in decades, and the median age at which adolescents started having sex dropped to a new low at 16.9. Since then, the teenage pregnancy rate has begun to decline. This development is very popular, although experts did not agree on the reasons for its emergence. Proponents of birth control policies naturally believe that birth control is a credit. Yes, teenagers have been able to take contraceptive measures better, but this is not enough to explain the problem. Christian groups that support abstinence believe that this is the result of abstinence education, but the teenage pregnancy rate is also falling in places where asceticism courses are not implemented, and studies have shown that the “Declaration of Chastity” and asceticism education do not really lead to abstinence. .
This trend continues: each generation of teenagers will start sex later, and the pregnancy rate has been slowly declining. However, the “hook-up culture” that emerged in the 1990s perfectly concealed this fact. In 1997, the New York Times reported that casual sex on college campuses “seems to be close to a record high.” It did not give much data to support it, but for the first time introduced the term “hookup” to its readers. Since then, people have begun to overestimate the amount of casual sex by middle school and college students. In recent years, some studies have begun to correct this view. For example, Sociology professor Lisa Wade pointed out in her book “American “Hookup Culture”: A New Type of Sexual Culture on Campus” that about one-third of the “temperate” choose not to participate in the “Hookup Culture” at all. Slightly more than one-third of college students occasionally “hook up”, but they are conflicted. Less than a quarter of college students are keen on “hooking up culture”, and other college students are maintaining long-term relationships.
A 2014 study also found that college students of the millennial generation do not have more sex lives or sexual partners than their generation X peers. An online survey of college social life conducted on more than 20,000 college students from 2005 to 2011 also showed that the median number of “hook-ups” in four years of college life was 5, of which 1/3 only involved kissing and touching. Most of the college students interviewed said that they hope to have more opportunities to find a long-term lover.
In fact, in recent decades, the phenomenon of young people falling in love seems to be less common. A 1995 study found that 66% of 17-year-old boys and 74% of 17-year-old girls said that they had had a “special relationship” in the past 18 months. A 2014 study found that only 46% of teenagers said they had dated, “hooked up” or had a relationship with others, which sounded broader than previous standards.
So, what is it that prevents young people from falling in love? In the past 25 years, adolescence has undergone tremendous changes. Psychology professor Twenger wrote last year that for teenagers, not only dating, other activities related to growing up are also decreasing, such as drinking, paid work, going out without parents and getting a driver’s license.
This change coincides with another mainstream change: parents are increasingly anxious about their children’s education and economic prospects, especially the rich and well-educated people. “The baseball team starts training at 6:30, the school starts at 8:15, the drama club meets at 4:15 in the afternoon, and the volunteer relief service provides meals at 6 in the evening. By the way, you have to complete the movie script, so you It’s hard to have time to think about sex.” said a man who had been away from campus for a few years when looking back on his high school life. He said that the pressure was too great and he had to sacrifice his relationship and focus on his own development. Many young people in their 20s say that this pressure has continued throughout their entire college years.
Alexandra Solomon, a psychology professor who teaches the “Marriage 101” course at Northwestern University in the United States, came to the conclusion after talking to a large number of students: “Hookup culture” is not only a cause of social barriers, but also a result of social barriers. . A student once said to her: “We’hook up’ because we don’t have social skills, and we don’t have social skills because we’hook up’.” Her students found themselves having to choose between casual sex and no sex. , Because the third option-sex in a fixed relationship-is difficult to achieve and may end in irresponsibility. Many students accept the notion that love is not as important as academic and career achievements, and do not want to fall in love during college so as not to disrupt their career plans.
“Hookup culture” is not only a cause of social barriers, but also a result of social barriers.
| Porn and bad sex experience |
Sex research scholar Debbie Herbinick once pointed out in the “Washington Post” that the phenomenon of “sexual decline” has a special significance, and it is an escape from coercive relations. After all, just a few decades ago, marital rape was not considered illegal in many federal states in the United States. Therefore, frigidity may be a healthy response to bad sex, which means that some people no longer have sex that they don’t want to have, and they have the courage to say “No, thank you.”
There are data showing that young people today are more likely to try sexual behaviors popular in pornography than previous generations. Herbinick once calmly warned students of Indiana University: “If you are just with someone, don’t play suffocation games, don’t shoot in the other person’s face, don’t try to have anal sex.” She thinks all of this may scare some people away. , Leading to decreased libido.
Some studies by Herbnik have confirmed the prevalence of pain during intercourse. Moreover, most women do not tell their partners about it. We have reason to believe that pornography may have created some extremely unpleasant early sexual experiences. Studies have shown that due to the lack of high-quality sex education, teenage boys watch porn to help them understand sex, and sexual behavior that makes women feel painful is very common in mainstream porn.
In interviews, I heard too many young women say: “He did something I didn’t like, and later I found out that this is a plot in porn.” Choking games are the most common example. Some people do like the so-called “sexual asphyxia”. They think that hypoxia in the brain will bring about a stronger orgasm, but this behavior is very dangerous and it is absolutely impossible to do it to others unless asked. Tess, a 31-year-old San Francisco woman, mentioned that in the past few sexual experiences, “I noticed that they tried to play a choking game, but did not discuss it with me in advance.” Another woman said that she was “suffered during sex”. “Suffocation” many times. At first, she even thought it was normal. “Many people don’t think they need to ask for permission first.”
Sex scholars William Masters and Virgenia Johnson pointed out many years ago. , Taking pornography as a reference for sexual behavior can lead to excessive worrying about your appearance and voice during sex, which is not good for sexual function.
Insufficient sleep can seriously inhibit people’s desires, and nowadays popular lifestyles such as watching electronic products at night can also greatly affect the quality of sleep.
In addition, studies have shown that casual sexual relations produce less physical pleasure than having sex with a fixed partner. Paula Ingeland, a sociologist who studies “hookup culture,” attributed this in part to the importance of “tailor-made sexual skills”, that is, knowing what your partner likes. Especially for women, sex preferences can be described as very different. A study found that only 31% of men and 11% of women had an orgasm when they “hooked up” with a new subject. On the contrary, if asked about the recent sexual life of people in a fixed relationship, 84% of men and 67% of women said they had an orgasm. Other studies have similar conclusions. Of course, there are also many people who enjoy wonderful encounters that have nothing to do with orgasm, and 1/3 of “hookups” do not involve sex.
Some people said they are interrupting sex and dating. Studies have shown that even young adults who have already started sex often have a long break. Some people said it was due to depression, and others talked about abstinence decisions, as if they were preparing to take a vacation and stay away from an unsatisfactory job.
|”The Ascetic Generation”|
”Millennials hate being naked. Everyone under the age of 30 in the gym wears underwear under a bath towel. This is a cultural change.” Jonah Dissend, founder of the brand consulting company Redscout, said in an interview in 2017. The evolution of the suite-style master bedroom design is also due to roughly the same reason-“People want their own dressing room and bathroom, even if they are a couple, they have to be separated.” Gyms across the country are renovating locker rooms to satisfy young customers Demand. A gym designer said: “Older people over 60 can take a shower together, but millennials need privacy.”
The less time a person is naked, the easier it is to feel uncomfortable with nudity, and may be naked to oneself. Looks worried. According to Herbenick’s research, people’s feelings about their genitals predict their sexual function, and about 20% to 25% of people—maybe affected by pornography or plastic surgery advertisements—are dissatisfied with their bodies. This is not good for sex. The market for labiaplasty is becoming more and more profitable.
Most people believe that abstinence is not their active choice (for example, because of their religious beliefs), but a situation they fall into after being traumatized, feeling anxious, or depressed. Encountering sexual violence is the reason why many women decide to abstain from sex. In recent decades, the proportion of anxiety and depression among Americans has been increasing, especially among young people in their teens and twenties. Anxiety suppresses most people’s desires, and antidepressants and depression themselves reduce sexual desire.
About 80% of young people who have not had sex at the age of 18 have had sex by the age of 25, but young people who have not had sex at the age of 25 are much less likely to have sex in the future—— According to a 2009 study, it is more likely to remain in a sexually inexperienced state at least before the age of 45. The true single state of adulthood is much more stable than we think. Only 50% of heterosexual single women in their 20s will start dating within a year, and older women are less likely to do so.
Other causes of “sexual decline” are closely related to our current lifestyle. For example, lack of sleep can seriously inhibit people’s desires, and current popular lifestyles such as watching mobile phones at night can also greatly affect the quality of sleep. Studies have shown that for women, an extra hour of sleep increases the likelihood of having sex the next day by 14%.
How can such small things as lack of sleep affect basic human needs such as sex? One possible explanation is: our sexual desire is easy to disappear. Humans need sex, but people as individuals don’t. Sex educator Emily Nagowski said that no one will die of frigidity. “We can die from starvation, die from dehydration, or even from lack of sleep, but no one will die because of lack of sex.”
2017 The birth rate in the United States has hit a record low, and the number of newborns is 500,000 fewer than in 2007, although the number of women at the optimal childbearing age has actually increased at the same time. If this trend continues, it will have a huge impact. One direct impact is the political consequences of loneliness and alienation, such as those “involuntary bachelors” who create hatred on the Internet and commit violence in real life. Moreover, lonely young people are easily affected by all kinds of extreme thoughts. The populist dissatisfaction that is disrupting Europe today is partly driven by adults who have never really grown up: in Italy, for example, half of young people aged 25 to 34 are still living with their parents.