Millenials are having less sex and Kate Iselin thinks she knows why.
Millenials are having less sex and Kate Iselin thinks she knows why.

Why you’re having less sex than ever

If you were born between 1981 and 1996, I might have some bad news for you: you're a millennial.

Yes, you and I are both members of the millennial generation and although we can congratulate ourselves on helping facilitate the rise of both avocado toast and the selfie, we're also frequently blamed for killing almost every industry to ever exist.

From marmalade to mayonnaise and Hooters to handshakes, the consumption habits of Millennials have apparently sounded the death knell for industries that were once a mainstay of our economies.

And now there's one more thing we can hold ourselves responsible for killing: sex.

That's right, sex.

Although a Saturday night stroll through the churning hormones of your favourite nightclub might convince you otherwise, an article in the December 2018 issue of The Atlantic puts forward that teenagers are "launching their sex lives" later than usual, the rate of pregnancy among teenagers is dropping, and that young people today are on track to have fewer sexual partners than those generations before us.

So while it might seem like there's a slew of sexual opportunities available to every millennial with a smartphone and a wi-fi connection, the cold hard facts are that we are having quantitatively fewer sexual encounters than our parents and grandparents and as the years tick by, our luck isn't getting any better.

But why?

You don't need to be overly clued-in to the goings-on of the digital generation to see that young people are frequently the ones spearheading conversations about sexuality, gender, relationships and consent; and they - or, we - are making them as accessible as we can.

Sex education is no longer limited to an uncomfortable chat with your parents about the birds and the bees and consent isn't an afterthought to that one lesson in health class where the teacher showed you how to put a condom on a banana.

We share web comics about non-monogamy, we tweet threads about consent and we make and share memes about our own needs for intimacy. Millennials may be the generation that older people mock for having an endless rainbow of different terms to describe and define our genders and sexualities, but the root of it all does seem to be a strong desire to simply help others feel comfortable navigating the often-tricky world of sexuality, partnerships, and the self.

But if we're so good at talking about sex, why aren't we having it?

Look, now is probably a good time for me to admit that when it comes to sex of the non-paid variety, I'm a bit of a prude.

If you were to ask me the last time I had sex, I'd have to consult a calendar - a 2018 calendar. I don't use dating apps, I don't go out with the intent to meet people and when friends hint that they have a great single mate who I'd get along well with, I generally react as though I'd been offered the chance to buy the Brooklyn Bridge.

Although I do sometimes crave those little intimate gestures that can only be found in a relationship (love, affection, someone to fetch you a glass of wine when you've just put a face mask on and can't move), it's probably fair to say that I'm suffering from the same thing as many other Millennials: a giant dose of world-weary stress and cynicism.

Look: life is hard, okay? Sure, previous generations might have had to walk fifteen miles in the snow every morning to read a thinkpiece about why Millennials aren't having sex, but things aren't exactly easy for us, either.

The rate of youth unemployment in Australia has dropped over the past few years, but it's still sitting around 11 per cent. Many young people who have jobs still struggle to make ends meet, and a lot of us - including yours truly - pay rent every week with the knowledge that unless we get a win on a scratchie, we may never be able to afford to own a home.

Attending university is a competitive and expensive exercise for many and plenty of us who receive a place in a course and can afford to study still worry whether our degree will be worth anything once we graduate.

Couple these life pressures with increasing fears and worries about the environment, the economy, and politics and it's no surprise that young people are feeling under pressure.

In fact, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the number of deaths by suicide in young Australians is the highest it's been in ten years - and it's our leading cause of death, too.

So with that in mind, is it any wonder that sex and relationships are becoming social luxuries, rather than necessities?

What is worth noting, though, is that the quantity of sex we're having is no reflection of the quality. We might not be rooting around as freely as the generations before us, but if we're taking the time to discuss sex and pleasure among ourselves, as well as fighting to empower those whose sexualities and genders are still considered minorities, then we have to be doing something right.

It might seem like the world is falling apart around us, but if we can cut through the stress and the struggle to have a caring and honest conversation with a partner about our intimate needs - even if it does involve the kind of buzzwords that the older generation might roll their eyes at - then I would say that for us Millennials, that's a win.

Kate Iselin is a writer and sex worker. Continue the conversation on Twitter @kateiselin


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