By Heidi Stevens
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) A fascinating new Atlantic article takes a deep dive into what author Kate Julian dubs “the sex recession.”
The good news is young people are having sex later and less frequently than previous generations.
The bad news is young people are having sex later and less frequently than previous generations.
A fascinating new Atlantic article takes a deep dive into what author Kate Julian dubs “the sex recession.”
“To the relief of many parents, educators, and clergy members who care about the health and well-being of young people, teens are launching their sex lives later,” Julian writes. “From 1991 to 2017, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Youth Risk Behavior Survey finds, the percentage of high-school students who’d had intercourse dropped from 54 to 40 percent. In other words, in the space of a generation, sex has gone from something most high-school students have experienced to something most haven’t. (And no, they aren’t having oral sex instead, that rate hasn’t changed much.)”
The statistics cut across race, gender and educational level.
This, despite the fact that sex has arguably never been easier to find (Hi, Tinder) or regarded with less shame.
The share of Americans who say sex between unmarried adults is “not wrong at all” is at an all-time high, Julian notes, birth control is easy to access and we toss around terms like polyamory, kink and BDSM with abandon. (Hi, “Fifty Shades”).
“These should be boom times for sex,” Julian writes.
The fact that they’re not is, in many ways, good news. The U.S. teen pregnancy rate has been declining since the ’90s and is at a third of its modern high. Some experts, Julian notes, say the statistics indicate that young people feel less pressured into sex they don’t want to have, thanks to shifting gender expectations, a better understanding of consent and growing awareness of diverse sexual orientations, including asexuality.