The Greatest Generation?

Andrew Sullivan has an interesting debate on whether twenty-somethings are having awkward sex (“Is Twenty-something sex really that awkward?). Apparently a lot of romantic-comedies and TV shows are showcasing the dorkiness of young adult sex but there’s an opposing view that this is the “coolest” generation, sex-wise, what with all the easy access to sex toys … and easy access to people who want to use them. Sullivan quotes Ray Downs:

Think about it: interracial sex is totally cool, homosexual sex hasn’t been as publicly accepted since probably Greek times, and premarital sex is pretty much obligatory. All the boundaries that were set in stone merely a few decades ago are gone and we’re a lot freer than we were. And it’s my belief that we’re better at sex — not more awkward. How do I know we’re better at it? Because there are cool sex toy stores like Babeland that have helped make it acceptable and even praiseworthy to make sex better for you and your partner with the help of fun-colored inanimate objects. That’s progress!

Mr. Downs may be on to something, in my view, and I’m prepared to forgive him the amusing presumption that his is the first generation to discover hot sex, 14th century evidence notwithstanding:

Khajuraho temple

But I suspect that twenty-somethings are having both fabulous and awkward sex for the simple reason that this ‘coolest’ generation is having more unemotional, no-strings sex and, at the end of the day, if you need an elevated blood alcohol level and a big dose of irony to get laid, things can go in either direction.

I spend a lot of time with college students and the feeling of emotional emptiness comes up all the time in their conversation. They want to fall in love, especially the young women, or at the least they want to experience some semblance of romantic mystery and anticipation of the kind they’ve imagined and heard described by the grown-ups. But our “What’s your number?” sexual culture often pushes them to crass impulsivity. Most of them have already seen every bodily contortion imaginable long before they have sex for the first time. No wonder they need fancy sex toys to keep the thrills coming.

About ErikaChristakis

Yale Lecturer in early childhood education/Licensed teacher/Former preschool director/author. In possession of: unmarketable bachelor’s degree (Harvard, anthropology), semi-marketable graduate degrees (public health, education…). Rewarding career at the intersection of family, society, and schools (including long stint in parenting vortex). Forging a new path to connect all of the above.
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