BL17 FINAL - Page 21



TABLE TALK
G E TT Y I MAG ES , IL L U S T R AT IO N : MA RT I N KI NG D O M
S
ex is in trouble. Despite
its apparent ubiquity in
the media, from dating
apps to Love Island, we
are actually having less of it and
seem to be enjoying it less than
ever before. Strangely, that’s
especially the case among young
adults. In the States, research has
shown the proportion of
Americans aged between 18 and
29 who reported having zero sex
between 2008 and 2018 doubled
to 23 per cent – a bigger
proportion than the over-50s.
What’s true there is almost
certainly true here, too.
In a world in which dating is
now done almost exclusively by
app, the manoeuvring required
to turn digital profiles into flesh
and blood encounters has become
a running joke. More seriously, a
generation has come of age
programmed to ‘swipe right’
jadedly past face after face – and
it shows. It shows in the angry,
bossy or monosyllabic profiles
exhibited in the apps, in the way
‘ghosting’ (suddenly disappearing,
possibly forever) has become a
perfectly legitimate exit from
a developing relationship, and in
the apparent boredom or even
reluctance with which sex is now
greeted. In the US research, what
sent eyebrows soaring highest was
this: Far more young men were
going bonk-free than women, with
rates tripling to 29 per cent.
Young men, traditionally the
lustiest demographic, are either
declining sex, point blank, or are
too confused about how to
approach it to actually do so. Late
August saw the updated Englishlanguage translation, with much
fanfare, of Respect: Everything a
Guy Needs to Know about Sex,
Love and Consent, a manual
aimed at teenage boys. Its author,
Inti Chavez Perez, saw how sorely
the new generation of young men
need help, crippled as they are by
a mixture of physical insecurity
and porn-induced misconceptions
about real-life intimacy. No
wonder, in this climate of miserable
doubt, men in their 20s and 30s are
increasingly suffering from erectile
Society
TUNE IN, TURN OFF
Forget about the joy of sex. Netf lix
addiction, woke culture and dating
apps have made getting it on a chore
ZOE STR IM PEL
Wr i t e r, a c a d e m i c
and columnist for
The Sunday
Te l e g r a p h
dysfunction. Cosmopolitan
magazine noted this phenomenon
in a survey: “There are a lot more
millennial men experiencing [it]
than we all thought.”
Meanwhile, other recent
studies have suggested that an
addiction to the likes of Netflix
and Amazon Prime streaming
services, as well as the rise of
online gaming, is killing off action
in the bedroom. And while you
could hardly bemoan a remarkable
statistic, revealed last year, that
teenage pregnancy rates in Britain
have fallen by 55 per cent in the
last decade, the reasons given were
revealing, too. It’s not just because
kids are suddenly more judicious
in their use of birth control, but
because ‘lifestyle changes’ are
meaning they simply stay at home.
In fact, the nearest most of today’s
teenagers get to fooling around is
some illicit sexting from their
parents’ sofas (really).
21
BOISDALELIFE .COM
AUTUMN 2019
ISSUE 17
Who can blame them, when
they have not just the horrors of
the online dating world to look
forward to, but the havoc that
political correctness is reaping
on the joy of a hook-up? Sex used
to be shrouded in mystery and
excitement. Yet thanks to the
extension of wokeness into the
bedroom, combined with the will
to explore all predilections, the
erotic has become an exhausting
parade of skills and wants,
requiring ever-greater willingness
to break new ground, try new
things and push new boundaries.
Mainstream dating apps are
awash with people identifying
as ‘ethically non-monogamous’,
‘ethically polyamorous’,
‘monogamish’, ‘a-romantic’ (not
desirous of a romantic
relationship), pansexual (attracted
to all genders, sexualities and
sexual identities), sapiosexual
(turned on by intelligence),
heteroflexible (mostly or
sometimes heterosexual). It’s like a
clearing house of kink – whatever
happened to a sense of mystery?
Being able to pinpoint every
desire, need and gradation of
comfort may have streamlined the
orgasm process, and opened some
horizons, but it’s also terrible for
sexiness. Perhaps it’s unsurprising
that the endless chatter and
adjustment now required for an
enlightened sexual encounter, the
calibration of the needs and wants
of partners in real time, has taken
a toll on the erotic life. For this, a
certain amount of shutting up and
getting on with it is handy, but
increasingly impossible. Foucault
was right: Sex is the secret that is
never fully told. Never have we
tried harder and more
loquaciously to out its riddles.
Sixty years since the dawn of
the sexual revolution, today’s
generation find themselves lost in
a frosty romantic hinterland of
wants and taxonomies, animated
by power-play rather than passion;
kink rather than personality. That’s
for those of them who can still be
bothered. Unprecedented
numbers, as the data make all too
clear, simply can’t.





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