Wednesday 12 December 2018

What's sex got to do with it?

It's for the best that younger people are getting more clued-up about sexual intercourse

'We have access to dating apps, which means we have more choice who we can date'
'We have access to dating apps, which means we have more choice who we can date'
Sarah Blake Knox

Sarah Blake Knox

What's the deal with millennials? If you type the word that refers to those born between the early 1980s and beginning of the noughties into an internet search bar, you will get some interesting results. And by interesting, I mean pretty insulting. Millennials are entitled. Millennials are pathetic. Millennials have no friends.

But, for me, the most grievous slander against this generation, (which, dear reader, is my own), is that we don't have enough sex. When I heard this news, quite frankly, I was shocked. As a narcissistic teenager, I automatically assumed that everyone was having more sex than me. However, that was hardly a major feat, as at that time, it was none.

Countless articles talk about how millennials are the first generation in over 60 years to see a decrease, rather than an increase in the amount of sex they are having. According to statistics, millennials have less sex and with fewer sexual partners than older generations. The phenomenon was recently described as a "dating apocalypse" by Vanity Fair, which calls me a snowflake (you wouldn't be the first), seems a tad condescending. Whatever concerns sex personally brings up for you, surely agonising over whether you are having as much sex as your parents should be one of the lowest.

One thing I will acknowledge is that the opportunities for close encounters of the sexual kind have never been greater. It wasn't so long ago that seeking a sexual mate required some genuine effort. In fact, by all accounts, it was exhausting. You had to brush your teeth, pick out some clothes and perhaps worst of all, go outside. Even after all that, who even knew if you would wind up at the same place. One of my school friends broke up with a guy because he never showed up for their dates. It turns out, he thought they were meeting at a pub called Reilly's, while she was nursing a sad little half pint at O'Reilly's across the road. Between his lack of attention to spelling and a fierce loyalty to Insane Clown Posse, I think she had a lucky escape on that one.

Nowadays, it's seemingly a lot easier. Sex can be secured from the comfort of your own home, eating a Pot Noodle and wearing trackies, while watching a Winning Streak repeat. Between Bumble, Tinder, Meetups and our social media-driven society, there are so many ways to meet up for casual sex. So why are we not doing that?

Well, what concerns me more, is the notion that just because we now have greater access to casual sex, that we have to take advantage of that. I once lived beside an ice cream parlour for a summer, but did that mean I went there every day after work to get an ice cream sundae? Well, yes it did as a matter of fact. But that was my choice and I stick by it (as does the 15 extra pounds around my torso).

Like any generation, it is naive to suggest that the millennial attitude towards sex has evolved through one medium. We are more educated than ever about sex: learning more about how to enjoy it, and how to resist the pressure to have sex when we just don't want to.

As someone who was once convinced that the term 'blow job' meant getting a haircut, I feel it's probably for the best that younger people are getting more clued in.

Sure, that knowledge has possibly dulled some of our curiosity towards sex. We now have access to numerous dating apps, which means we have more choice with regards to who we can date.

And sometimes too much choice can lead to nit-picking. Take Tinder as an example. If you see a photo on the app of a shirtless guy, you know he's only interested in getting the ride. A photo of guy holding a puppy? Probably a creep, fobbing himself off as one of the "nice guys". If he's wearing a fedora and rocking a chin strap? Throw your phone in the nearest bin and run.

And when exactly did it become such a negative characteristic to be picky when it comes to dating? A friend of mine recently went on a date with a guy who told her she wore too much make up, insulted their waiter and used his own knife to check out his reflection multiple times. I doubt she has lost any nights' sleep for refusing to 'knock boots' (his words, not hers) with him afterwards.

Even those people in content and loving relationships seem to be feeling the struggle. Given that almost three times as many young adults are living with their parents these days than in the 1970s, is it any surprise? Recently, one of my friends and her longterm boyfriend moved back in with her parents. A few weeks ago, after a drink-fuelled night in town, they snuck back home for a cheeky romp, only to walk in on her Mum's bridge evening. My friend has since taken a vow of celibacy until her parents' annual trip away in July.

On the off chance that it is already abundantly obvious, my own sexual timeline has, for the most part, been rather vanilla. Some may cite my own history as a perfect example of the decreased libido of Generation Y. I would counter argue that it has been such fun experiences as once being referred to as Chewbacca during a rare one-night stand (always carry a cheap razor, my similarly follicaly-challenged friends) or the time my ex once suggested we have a threesome with one of my oldest friends, are the culprits for my somewhat deflated sexual experimentation.

I'm in a couple now. I met him almost two years ago on (where else?) but my favourite, Tinder. Our first date was at a Bill & Ted movie marathon at The Lighthouse. So I knew he had stamina.

Yet luckily for me, I now get to live vicariously through a diverse group of friends, many of whom have stories that would make Samantha from Sex and the City blush.

Through their collective experiences I have learned about open relationships, identifying as gender fluid, what to wear when attending a mass orgy.

On the flip side, I have a few friends who have not had sex in years and are all the more satisfied for it. For me, this relaxed approach that millennials take towards sex really demonstrates a type of progress.

Perhaps it is true that we are having less sex than previous generations. But we also now live in an age where we have the freedom to take our own time to explore, remove the labels and enjoy whatever sex (or lack thereof) is able to turn us on... I will take that over being called Chewie the Wookie any day of the week.

Sunday Independent

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