Come on Gen Z! Have Some Sex, it’s Fun!
Generation Z (everyone born after 1997) is 27% of the population, will be the largest consumer group by 2026 and they are refusing to have sex. 88% of Gen Z are exploring their sexuality, but either they have not figured it out or if they have, they are not doing much about what they have discovered. Perhaps it is because they drink less, smoke less and do less drugs than all the generations who preceded them.
Gen Z’ers are more connected than any previous generation but not in “that” way. They had their first smartphone before the age of twelve and spend more than 15 hours per day online. This has reduced their attention span to 8 seconds and 11% are reported to have ADHD. In the brief time you have their attention, 60% of them will tell you that they want to change the world and refreshingly, they see no lines of demarcation based on gender identity, ethnicity or race. They are open about their beliefs and they have no problem taking a public stand on social media and also in physical gatherings.
They are an admirable generation on very many fronts. Gen Z’ers are liberated, supportive towards each other and with a very strong sense of social justice and with so much entertainment available in the safety of their own home, they prefer to stay in rather than go out.
From 1991 to 2017, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Youth Risk Behavior Survey reported that the percentage of high-school students who’d had sex before graduating dropped from 54 to 40% This means that in one generation, the majority of high school students are moving on to university without having experienced sex. This is a good thing for teenage pregnancies which have dropped to a third from its high, but signs are gathering this generation is withdrawing from physical intimacy rather than being much more responsible that the ones that preceded it. In the recent US census, 60% of adults under 35 live alone and one in three still live at home. Such arrangements are not particularly conducing to an active sex life which explains part of the trend.
There is no denying however that Gen Z has a lower libido than the millennials or the
Baby Boomers. This has been blamed on environment, social and family factors that have been causing this generation much anxiety and for many even depression. Gen Z’ers themselves will tell you otherwise. They say that they are choosier, because they can. They don’t feel the need to be with anyone who does not fulfil their long list of criteria, but this does not explain the lack of sex for fun. It is telling to take a look at the top search terms for 2019 on Pornhub, the top pornographic website. In first place is “Japanese” and the runner up is “hentai” – Japanese cartoon porn, manga and anime. Sex with cartoons! Safe and totally uncomplicated…
Just as telling is the breakdown by age group. In the older categories, there is great interest in “large tits” and other traditional porn favourites. In the under 35 however, Hentai for men and Lesbian for women are at the top of their respective charts. So, women are interested in “safe” non penetrative sex with other women and men prefer a cartoon version of the real thing.
A nationally representative survey found that 64% of young people, ages 13–24, actively seek out pornography weekly or more often (The Porn Phenomenon: The Impact of Pornography in the Digital Age). Furthermore, a recent UK survey found that 44% of males aged 11–16 who consumed pornography reported that online pornography gave them ideas about the type of sex they wanted to try. It doesn’t take a genius to see the pressure these young people are put under to feel that they need to perform like pornstars in the bedroom. There can be little doubt that many would be unwilling to be judged with this sort of metric.
In anecdotal evidence many young people choose to have online relationships with people they have not met in person. These relationships which are described as intimate and fulfilling, satisfy the emotional need will thwarting the pressure to perform in bed. On top of that, there are unrealistic beauty standards made possible by the easy access to photoshopping apps. These can make even the plainest of Janes look like Hollywood stars which further contributes to Gen Z’ers unwillingness to meet in person and to risk bruising their fragile egos.
What to do to solve this? How can these Gen Z’ers end their sex recession? Perhaps we need to look at this “problem” with a different lens. Leaving sex for later, may actually be a very good thing instead of something to fret about. A dose of maturity in a relationship can go a long way towards teaching these kids how to build relationships that are both lasting and satisfying. Once they have experienced positive intimacy in a platonic relationship it is very likely that physical intimacy will follow. After all the power of love can move mountains and there is absolutely no way that Gen Z will be the first generation to not fall in love. They will just do it a bit later than their predecessors and quite possibly more successfully.