THE MINDSET LIST OF SEXUAL REVOLUTION 2.0: Unhealthy Abstinence or Creative Improvement?

by Tom McBride


In retrospect Sexual Revolution 1.0 seems to have been a pretty simple affair. A revolt against Victorian standards, in alliance with the birth control pill, made increased sex, in or out of wedlock, more and more acceptable and less and less risky. People, especially he young, took their clothes off, and pretty soon “sex, drugs, and rock n’ roll” were the reigning triad in Europe and North America. In time, however, the bill came due. Sexually transmitted diseases weren’t all curable by any means, and sexual aggression was out of sync with gender equality. Thus, SR 1.0 came to a somewhat whimpering end. Now we are in SR 2.0 but unlike SR 1.0 it seems harder to define. It has something to do with a so-called “sexual recession,” but no one seems sure how much less frequent sex is, or why—is it a vote for quality over quantity, a sign of social immaturity and mild mental illness, a result of greater female equality or of virtual reality taking over our lives at the expense of intimacy? SR 2.0 is here, but no one quite knows what to do with it—or about it. Here, then, is THE MINDSET LIST OF SEXUAL REVOLUTION 2.0: forty items that capture a puzzling but fascinating time: ours!

1 Three years ago the prestigious Atlantic Monthly declared a Sexual Recession among young people.

2 Some observers think the “recession” is really an opting for quality over quantity.

3 One American survey found that from 1991 to 2017 sexual intercourse among high school students dropped from 5 in 10 to 4 in 10.  

4 For some this is a regrettable “retreat from intimacy;” for others, a welcome move to celibacy.

5 An Australian survey concluded that Gen Z is having sex as often as Australians 75 or older—about once a month.

6 A different study from Down Under: there’s been no appreciable decline in Gen Z sex and a small uptick in oral sex. 

7 An Australian psychologist has stated that there is “probably” a slight increase in anal sex.

8 Gen Z is more likely than any other cohort to report non-heterosexual identities and attractions.

9 A measurable decline in sexual activity seems to be an international trend in the general population—from 1.8 to 1.4 times a week in a survey that includes Japan and Finland.

10 Various explanations for this decline range from a greater willingness to tell untrustworthy partners “no” to an increased masturbation aroused by virtual internet images.

11 For Gen Z, it appears, sex is less sacred and more negotiable.

12 With greater tolerance for sexual diversity among Gen Z, slut-shaming may become extinct.

13 YouTube and Netflix are frequent resources for sexual information.

14 Young folks spend mammoth chunks of time on social media—more scrolling, less sex?

15 They are drinking less—more sobriety, less sex?

16 They are living at home longer—more mom and dad, less sex?

17 Rutgers reports a nearly 15 percent drop in casual sex among teens between 2007 and 2017—an index of delayed maturity?

18 One survey inn 2018 reported that one in four Americans had had no sex at all in the past year, with Millennials and Gen Z starring for the Celibacy Team.

19 Young people who live in cities and have advanced education are prone to marrying later in life, or not at all—a trend that may well promote less sexual activity.

20 Even those coupled up may spend their free time on Instagram and Netflix and less on what one of Shakespeare’s characters called “making the beast with two backs.”

21 For successful young women, no means no, and they have the economic power to make it real.

22 Digital matchmaking thrives but does not seem to be creating more fun between the covers.

23 Sex has never been less stigmatized; is that because sex itself, no longer the occasion for youthful rebellion, occurs less often?

24 An Australian study attributes the decline in sexual activity to the decline in long-term relationships.

25 The digital world of sex is a powerful source of information, images, and match-ups but has yet to find a way to supply intimacy.

26 Young women with economic power may well prefer no sex at all in the absence of deeper human connections.

27 Picture perfect images on social media may create deep body insecurity among the young—also a bummer for erotic pursuit and frequency,

28 Some experts think that the problematizing of sex can’t be separated from the problematizing of mental well-being.

29 Others think the real problem with sex among young people is that we keep obsessing about it.

30 Still others believe that frequency of sex is a poor predictor of overall happiness.

31. Economists all agree: a “sexual recession” is hardly comparable to a far more serious downturn in jobs.

32 During the period of the so-called sexual recession, divorce rates have fallen—go figure.

33. Outside of human reports, sexual frequency and quality are impossible to measure.

35 In another “go figure,” one study found that married couples who are professionally busy had more sex than couples who are less so.

36 Couples more equal in married division of home labor report greater sexual pleasure,  

37 The smart phone clever enough to improve our sex lives has presumably yet to be invented.

38 There is apparently no “normal” for frequency of either sex or bowel movements.

39 A best seller in 1929, IS SEX NECESSARY, was a spoof on Freudian theories of sex as the real driver of human affairs.

40 The increased vividness of virtual reality, combined with the genetic manufacture of sperm and egg, WILL make sex unnecessary—and, given overpopulation, unwise.  

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