Despite the ongoing prevalence of sex positivity and liberation, studies reveal that teenagers and young adults have been experiencing a sex slowdown.
More than ever before, sexual intercourse has become a construct of human discourse.
Sexual positivity has become the norm in modern-day society. Birth control is more accessible to all demographics than it has been in the past. Apps such as Tinder and Grindr have normalized the prospect of casual sex.
Popular television shows, such as Netflix’s “Sex Education,” have opened important conversations about contraception and reality shows such as “Love Island” now revolve around titillating physical connection. Sex is on the tip of everyone’s tongue.
Sex has been considered a common coming-of-age experience that occurs during one’s high school years. However, it has been found that the majority of high school students are not having sex.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Youth Risk Behavior Survey, the percentage of high school students who had ever had sex decreased from 47.8% in 2007 to 39.5% in 2017.
This decline is not just found amongst high school students. Young adults aged between 18 and 24 have also experienced a decline in sexual activity in recent years.
The University of Chicago’s biannual General Social Survey, surveying U.S. adults between 18 and 34 years old, has revealed a drastic decline in sexual activity in both men and women. The survey reports that over 20% of men 35 and under had not engaged in sexual intercourse in 2021.
Similarly, 19% of women in the same age group did not experience sexual activity. This is a radical decline, as these percentages were reported as 8% and 7% for each group in 2008.
Why are teens and young adults engaging less and less in sexual intercourse, despite this generation’s optimism toward sex?
According to the authors of these surveys, it seems as though economic conditions are the common denominator.
Bleak economic conditions, which have persisted since before the COVID-19 pandemic, are at an all-time high.
According to a Pew Research Organization survey, adults stay home with their parents more than ever. The survey outlines that in 2020, 52% of young adults live with a parent due to current national economic downturns.
Living at home with family members can prevent young adults from engaging in sexual encounters, thus decreasing the percentage of young adults having sex.
The waves of sex positivity that are perpetuated by online circles, technology and social media may also play a role in this sex recession.
The use of social media provides instant gratification that is hard to match with real-life encounters.
In a scientific journal titled “Evolutionary Psychological Science,” it was reported that 80% of Tinder users had never actually had a sexual encounter through the app, even though 7 million Americans use the app frequently.
Although there is no overarching cause for the current national sex recession, there is no sign of this phenomenon stopping anytime soon.
As Americans continue to spend their lives working through an economic crisis, or living out a perfect life on social media, there is no time or space for anyone to get it on.