Waning Passions: Are We Truly Heading into a Sex Recession?
And if it is coming, can sex tech get our fires going again?
The subject has certainly been in the news lately, reports that people—young adults in particular—seem to be having less sex, especially when compared to how much previous generations apparently got into it.
The headlines, at their worst, read like yet another installment of a “Millenials are killing [fill-in-the-blank] industry” meme, putting the blame for this decline at the feet of a generation that, the horror, doesn’t want a fancy car, a house with a picket fence, or 2.5 kids.
Even worse, other places are saying that if something isn’t done, and fast, this looming lack of disinterest in the horizontal mambo could result in what they are saying could be even more devastating: an out-of-control economic recession.
Japan leading the way in not having sex?
All this is nothing new to those who might have been following a similar situation in Japan, where for quite some time there’s been an ongoing concern that younger men are having a challenging time finding partners.
This is especially troubling as Japan is also undergoing a birthrate decline, leading some to start to push the panic button: if there are no births, after all, then where will the next generation of employees, and consumers, come from?
The thing is, comparing the situation in Japan to what might be happening in other developed countries like the United States could be very more like Fuji Apples to the Granny Smith variety.
Japan’s issues, after all, also bring with them huge differences in culture. For instance, speaking to CBS News, Peter Ueda, from Tokyo University directly coupled this decline to employment, equalling marriage with sex.
Compared to men who had a regular employment, those with part-time or temporary employment were four-times as likely to be heterosexually inexperienced in ages 25 to 39, and those who were unemployed were eight times more likely.
But what of other industrialized countries, in particular the United States? Has there really been a drop in people’s interest in sex, or is this a failure to understand the continuing evolution of sexual pleasure?
No doubt, things are changing
“We are seeing pretty marked increases in the share of people who are not having sex frequently,” says the University of Virginia’s director of the National Marriage Project, W. Bradford Wilcox, talking to Today.
We have come to a day that is about 50 years after the sexual revolution and what we are seeing is a decline of sex among young adults. No one, including myself, could have predicted this.
Wilcox isn’t alone in this opinion, professor of psychology at San Diego State University, Jean Twenge, told The Washington Post that “There are more people in their twenties who don’t have a live-in partner. So under those circumstances I think less sex is going to happen.”
Often cited as a source for these kinds of comments is the General Social Survey, which found that somewhere around one out of four people reported having spent at least a year not having partnered sex.
The who is this is mostly young men. The why, though, is a matter of a great deal of contention.
Depending on who you ask, the cause has been leveled at everything from a simple matter of statistics, stemming from the fact that the greying of a large part of the population is skewing the numbers, to—we kid you not—social media and video games, in the case of that CBS News article.
The thing is, all this really doesn’t answer the question, or if there’s even a real problem: all these and other reports actually do is focus not on pleasure and how it’s changing, but on what could very well be an outdated definition of sex.
Acknowledging the sexual rainbow
Just look at Twenge’s comment. The entire point here is based on the idea that because you don’t have a live-in partner you don’t have ses.
This completely ignores the fact that many people have a healthy and active sexual relationship with someone they either don’t live with or don’t consider themselves partnered with.
This kind of flawed thinking is all over these reports, made even worse by only considering sex as an activity that can only happen between two people.
Some articles, back to CBS News again, even use the growing sexbot industry as evidence of a decline, as opposed to what it may very well be: a new way to consider what sex can be.
Let’s be clear: solo sex, or sex with a non-partner, is still sex.
If these reports are measuring sex only in the context of a relationship it may actually be more accurate to say that sex, overall isn’t in decline but that possibly outdated way of considering sexual pleasure needs to be reexamined to get up to catch up with our changing times.
Sex is NOT about money
What’s even more disturbing by these reports is how they far too frequently focus on how economically bad this somehow is, as opposed to how actually happy people may or may not be.
With this mindset, it’s no wonder why some people might be feeling less than aroused, what with commercialization being the only thing that seems important to our culture.
If we’re not being sold makeup, gym memberships, clothes, or memberships to dating sites, or a ridiculously unrealistic idea of what “good” sex is, we’re now being told that even the very act itself is only valid if it somehow makes someone, somewhere money.
The happy future of sex
This might sound hypocritical, to condemn the commercialization of sex with one hand but praising it with the other.
But in regards to sex tech, money is actually doing a world of good: by showing passion and interest with their wallets, many people are supporting a new view of sex and pleasure.
Which, in turn, is becoming a guiding force in female empowerment, the validation of self-pleasure, and changing what it means to be a happily sexual person.
If we are experiencing a downturn in arousal and not just one measured only by it being with another person, then sex tech could very well be the driving force toward restoring our passion and optimism for sex. It could help foster an all-important discussion about the right to erotic pleasure, and, best of all, opening our minds to new possibilities.
We may not be having the same kind of sex as people who came before us, but that doesn’t mean that physical pleasure is heading for extinction.
We just need, as a species, to open our minds to everything sex can be—and not exclusively when it lines someone’s pockets.