(Economist) No sex please, we’re millennials–A visitor from the 1990s marvels at the social conservatism on American campuses

The problem seems to be a profound anxiety about what the other party to a potential coupling might want and expect. The heavy stress that all the students laid on the importance of mutually agreeing the basis of any relationship, at every stage of its development, is probably both a cause and effect of this. Dating apps, which around half the students had used, can mitigate it at best. It is likely a response to increased female empowerment, the major change in sexual politics, and therefore further exacerbated by men’s dread of a #MeToo-style harassment charge. In short, young American men with rather poor interpersonal skills currently face a historically confusing mating-game, even as they worry a lot about their careers. No wonder many are opting to stick to their video games.

This is painful. But it does at least suggest that sexual relations are not so much hitting the skids in America as in flux. The forces that govern sexual behaviour are dynamic. Who could have predicted a little over a decade ago, when George W. Bush was splurging on abstinence schemes, that America would soon see a spike in celibacy fuelled by economics, technology, female empowerment and perhaps even casual sex? And that cocktail of circumstances will not last. The economy is strong. The currents in popular culture will shift. And once young Americans become more used to their more equal gender relations, they might re-embrace the degree of ambiguity and risk that romance entails. That is the hope, at least. Meanwhile, they might try putting down their phones, talking face to face a bit more, and even flirting.

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Sexuality, Sociology, Young Adults

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