Apparently, Millennials are having less sex than previous generations. Booo. Sex is good and more sex is obvs better. At least, since the sexual revolution did its thing, we’ve gone from a society that measures its virtue by chastity and treats sex as an icky animal urge to be suppressed or contained within a sexy covenant overseen by a neutral third party, to one which notches up its f-ck-numbers like a proud lothario. Because more of anything good is better, your sexiness is 100% a measure of your success as a person and you can only measure attractiveness by the number of times you have sex per square meter of your home.
If you’re not having sex you’re probably wicked or prudish or ashamed of your body or have welded your plastic undies to your body like a barbie doll. The moral failure of the millenials to bang each other’s instagram-ready bodies into oblivion like their parents before them has been blamed variously on the proliferation of easy access to video games and pornography (with the anxieties that arise from not being a greasy muscle-person with plastic-perfect genitalia willing and able to have sex upside-down on a table for three and a half hours.)
It’s also been blamed on the time drain of social media on the youthful calendar (failing to put reminders into their phone to make time for recreational f-cking), the fact you can’t convert orgasms into ‘likes’ and ‘favs’, playing angry birds too much and an app-induced Asperger’s type of inability to ‘connect’ on a complex emotional, unmediated human level (Appsberger’s?).
An article in Quillette has recently approached this topic, suggesting that all these tech-shaming explanations are deliberately skating the real underlying issue, which is that (according to the author’s chats with a couple of her clients) men are now afraid of sex. More precisely, young men are now afraid ‘rape culture’. The increasing (the author argues overblown) fear of rape by women has lead (in these young men’s minds) to a correlative willingness of women to accuse them of sexual assault or rape at the drop of a hat or a ‘no’.
Not, apparently, that these young gentlemen are afraid they might accidentally rape someone, but that they’re afraid they’ll be falsely accused of rape if they accidentally get a woman drunk or accidentally fail to ask for consent or accidentally rape them and then be accused of rape in a court of law or (worse) be labelled a rapist or harasser on Facebook or fired from their jobs ten years down the track.
Of course, this is a nasty turn for the books. Traditionally it’s women who are punished for sexual misconduct, promiscuity or recklessness. Now we are living in a world where if a man doesn’t approach a woman in control of her faculties who is absolutely willing to engage in sex with him, he might be accused of predatory behaviour and have his reputation ruined and be the subject of a witch hunt (coincidentally named after this old thing we used to do where we’d take women who were acting out, tie them to a stick and burn them to a grotesque public barbeque style death).
I mean. I understand it’s a stressful thing if you’re worried that the attractive person you might want to bang could be a potential threat to your future and wellbeing. That must be a horrifying feeling – that by engaging in sexual relations with someone, you might be putting your life at risk. That by putting yourself out there, you might be taking a genuine risk.
The reason I understand that is because I walk around the world shaped like a woman, and those are fears we also have. Except less about getting flack on Facebook and more about the possibility of being bludgeoned to death by the man you let into your house. Now, whether or not the statistics that Quillette suggests are overblown actually are or not, the fear is real. And so indeed, the genuine likelihood of someone actually being falsely accused of rape (commonly cited as anywhere from 1.5% in Denmark to 2–8% in Canada and the U.S.due to people’s differing definitions of "false accusation", and “rape” it’s hard to pin that particular statistic down.) becomes a moot point.
I mean, less pushy men and less (particularly reluctant and ambivalent grey-area) sex doesn't necessarily seem like the worst outcome to me. A drop in the absolute amount of casual sex seems like a morally neutral outcome to me, but then I haven’t got a horse in the game (and if I did, it would probably be the wrong thing to bring to the game. Never bring a horse to a sex-party, my granny always said. Though I think I’ve mixed my metaphors here, I’m going to stick with that joke because it made me giggle).
More, feminism doesn’t necessarily achieve its aims by having young women act like sexually charged young men. The capitalist accumulation of cock is not even vaguely related to the goals of feminism, at least in my mind. Slut-shaming seems to have been given some see-saw-balance by a weighing on of ‘empowered’ prude-shaming from the other side of the fence. Moreover, you don't have to shag great sweaty stacks of people to be into consent and empowerment, nor do women need to be identical to, to be equal to men. Have sex if you want to. But maybe Millenials are having less sex overall because more Millenials are having less of the sex they don’t actually want.
The point is, that young heterosexual men are feeling vulnerable, fearing that their sexual activity will lead to shame, negative consequences and social opprobrium. I’m sure I can’t think of an analogous experience anywhere.