Are We Truly in a Sex Recession? 7 Reasons Why Gen Z Is Having Less Sex
Maybe it’s human nature, maybe it’s being stuck indoors while the world seems to be ending (and therefore being extremely online). Either way, we all seem to be very interested in what Gen Z, those born sometime between 1997 and 2012, are doing. They’re well on their way to being the most well-educated generation yet, are more accepting of diverse gender identities and sexualities, and are the most racially and ethnically diverse generation yet. But what about these rumors of a Gen Z sex recession?
For all of their progress, Gen Z have been labeled “puriteens” — an online term defined by Urban Dictionary as “an online child who is deeply uncomfortable with the sense that people online might present sexual characteristics and who proactively demands that people curtail behavior that they interpret as sexually suggestive.” These Zoomers are also statistically having less sex than previous generations, and as a result are being labeled “puritanical” as well as “prudish.” In a 2018 article, The Atlantic declared that young Americans were in the middle of a “sex recession,” with the percentage of high schoolers having intercourse dropping from 54% to 40% over a 26-year period (from 1991 to 2017).
Very recently, GQ did a study on Zoomers’ attitudes toward sex to try to uncover exactly what the divide was. While some of them have certainly admitted to a “prudish” mentality, there are actually a number of reasons why Gen Z are having less sex than previous generations — and most of these reasons don’t revolve around morality or righteousness but rather seem to be a direct result of social circumstance.
Here are seven reasons for a Gen Z sex recession, straight from the mouths of Zoomers:
1. They live at home with their parents.
“It’s hard to have sex as a Gen Z if you’re living at home and the people you’re talking to are living at home.”
Lei Lei, a study co-author and assistant professor of sociology at Rutgers says, “The recent cohorts of young people adopt adult roles later in their lives and depend on their parents for longer periods.”
2. They don’t enjoy it.
“I’ve tried it just a little bit and it was not satisfying. I didn’t enjoy it, it was awkward and generally mediocre, so I’m not into it.”
3. Casual sex doesn’t interest them.
“I feel like having casual sex is a sign of being cool and desirable for Millennials and Gen X, [but] my Gen Z peers value it much less. The idea that casual sex could be purely enjoyable is pretty foreign to most people my age, I think — we see it as objectifying, pointless and not worth the effort.”
“We’re told that’s gonna make us feel empowered and feel good — that’s how we show them we’re in charge and we’re the cool girl, we don’t need to have feelings — and then afterwards it’s like, you’re still just being used.”
4. They’re living alone and marrying later in life.
Jean Twenge, a professor of psychology at San Diego State University, says of the Gen Z sex recession, “There are more people in their 20s who don’t have a live-in partner. So under those circumstances I think less sex is going to happen.”
5. They lack confidence or feel inadequate. “I think because [my friends have] waited for so long, they’re nervous about finally engaging with other people.”
“It was about being insecure about my body. I was like, ‘I don’t have [a pornstar dick], so I’m probably not going to satisfy whoever I hook up with.’”
6. Early, inappropriate sexual encounters online have been damaging.
“I would be 15 talking to men in their 20s on Twitter in a sexual context. I would Snapchat them from school in my uniform, and they would ‘tell me off’ for being on my phone in class … very much in a flirty way. When I think about it now, I get very angry about how blatantly they were grooming me.”
7. There’s a serious concern regarding unacceptable behaviors and trauma.
“I would say [my generation] is characterized as being exceptionally concerned with trauma and consent.”
“There’s a big fear of predators and pedophiles [and] a lot of very, very contentious debate about what behaviors, relationships and desires constitute pedophilia and predation.”