In their December 2018 edition, The Atlantic published an article asking the big question: "Why Are Young People Having So Little Sex?" The piece tried to address the fact that, despite the prevalence of hookup culture, superior birth control, and a generally sex-positive attitude among young people, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that the amount of people having sex is at an all time low in America. Author Kate Julian referred to it as a "sex recession," but what's causing it?
From 2007 to 2017, the number of high schoolers who reported ever having had sex dropped from "47.8% to 39.5%." This doesn't gel with the stereotypical idea of a teenager or college student on Tinder, participating in hookup culture. However, after talking with Lisa Wade, author of American Hookup: The New Culture of Sex on Campus, Julian realized that generalization doesn't hold true for many students.
In Wade's study, a third of students didn't participate in hookup culture, another third would have the occasional hookup, and only a quarter said they were hooking up regularly. The remaining students were in long term relationships. This statistical breakdown hardly makes for above-average numbers of sexually active teens.
And just because a young person is in a relationship doesn't mean they aren't feeling the effects of the sex recession! Julian posits that "online entertainment," like Netflix, Hulu, Instagram, and other social media, are drawing couple's attention towards screens and away from the sheets. Young couples who live together are feeling the effects of this change most prominently.
Another possible reason for the recession isn't all that bad! According to Julian, women are feeling more autonomous than ever before, and, in many cases, would rather turn down sex than have bad sex. In her piece for The Atlantic, Julian wrote:
"In my interviews with young women, I heard too many iterations to count of 'He did something I didn't like that I later learned is a staple in porn,' choking being one widely cited example."
Of course, it's important to note the entire idea of the "sex recession" may be a predominantly heterosexual phenomenon. Most research on sex habits tends to focus on heterosexual couples, and many articles have noted that the methods used to gather data on LGBTQ sexual activity are "comparable to those gained through research on different-sex couples 30 or more years ago," and are, thus, woefully inadequate.
Twitter wasn't too panicked by the recession:
Scientists will continue to study the sex habits of young people to determine whether this is a momentary trend or a long-term shift in people's relationship with sexuality.