I heard a very attractive 3rd year college student say she had ZERO dates (so far) during her time at university. She lamented that the options were hooking up for casual sex, or nothing. Her observation is that GenZ hooks up but doesn’t date.
How did we get here? How did we become a culture which has no interest in developing a truly transparent and lifelong relationship? A few generations ago, Together Forever was the norm, not the aberration. I've seen it disappear in my own generation, in Five Easy Steps.
WARNING: The following addresses sexual behavior, and includes some not-for-children language and descriptions. Reader discretion is advised.
STEP ONE, by age 8, the research shows most males have been exposed to some form of pornography. Masturbation is common, even normalized and encouraged at a fairly young age [Author’s note: BTW, our position on masturbation is that it’s a normal reaction to bodily urges, however giving in to those urges work against developing the skill of sexual self-control, a necessary ingredient to being successfully faithful in relationship.]
As a result of early exposure to porn, boys associate climactic pleasure with the sensation of their hand – which is very different from vaginal intercourse.
STEP TWO: “Comprehensive Sex Education.” Starting in middle school, children are taught that they can/should explore the pleasurable aspects of sexual behavior without guilt and with “protection.” Meaning, “Have orgasm, avoid babies.”
K-12 students learn that oral sex, mutual masturbation and anal sex are alternatives they can engage in as soon as they are “ready.” Again, with the goal of “having orgasms, avoid babies.” If a child follows this well-intentioned instruction (OK, that’s debatable), they will engage in multiple forms of sexual activity during their formative years. Because the neural connections which will last a lifetime develop during this time, they condition their brains and bodies to associate sexual fulfillment with acts other than vaginal intercourse.
In fact, many religiously-trained young people grow up believing they can do “everything else except vaginal sex” and still consider themselves abstinent-until-marriage. When they ultimately do consummate their vows, these young people report feeling guilty and disappointed that the One Act they “saved” for marriage doesn’t feel the quite like what their brains and bodies have come to associate with sexual fulfillment.
STEP THREE: Pressure adolescent girls, in particular, to engage in anal sex. Since the 1970s, girls have been pressured to give oral sex – because “It’s not real sex, you can’t get pregnant!” And, driven by a fear of being rejected, losing a boyfriend, to gain popularity, everyone else does it, etc. girls do provide this service as requested. [Interestingly, she is rarely the recipient of oral sex. Make of that what you will.]
Using arguments which persuaded her predecessors: “It’s not real sex, you can’t get pregnant!” Today's pre-teens and teens are exposed to social messages implying females who permit anal sex are “prized” culturally. Just one of many examples: In The Kingsman Secret Service, Princess Tilde (Hanna Alström) offers Eggsy (Taron Egerton) anal sex if he "saves the world." Lacking a convincing rebuttal and still in pursuit of the Sex Ed Goal (“have orgasm, avoid babies”) that is supposed to make her feel empowered, these young girls are reluctantly persuaded to provide this new sexual service.
So now, anal sex is the new oral sex. It is so common that alarmed pediatricians report girls are asking for their advice on “how to like anal.” [Imagine what has to happen in a teen girl’s psyche to ask her doctor that question!]
STEP FOUR: Make realistic porn ubiquitous. Unlimited amounts instantly accessible through any device - PC, phone, tablet, gaming console, etc. Virtual reality was invented to meet the demand for more realistic porn.
Porn is so available and so common that it’s produced “hikikomori:” a Japanese term meaning “the withdrawn.” These are typically males between 15 and 30, who never leave their room in their parents’ home. About 30% of Japanese males are hikikomori, and similar numbers are reported in other countries. It makes sense, if you think about it. Why bother to engage socially with actual people who can be demanding and/or confusing when you can experience a virtual world where all partners do whatever you want, whenever you want?
STEP FIVE: The advent of the “new” feminist. She is an angry, demanding victim of toxic masculinity. She proclaims her superiority and victimization simultaneously. She refuses to conform to traditional definitions of beauty or gracious behavior, and in fact, insists males find appealing whatever SHE determines ought to be attractive to him.
You might think I’m exaggerating, but my proof is the newest Victoria Secrets mode; Megan Rapinoe. This transgender lesbian (a bio-woman who identifies as male and is attracted to females) believes what is “sexy” about women to her, must therefore also be sexy to hetero-males. The predictable result of the belief that are No Differences in male-female sexual response systems. The New Feminist proclaims straight males ought to date the transgendered (bio-males who identify as female) to “combat hate,” and proclaims those who won’t are “bigots.”
Where does all this lead? Inevitably to the point where GenZ males see anything beyond hooking up is simply not worth the effort. Seriously, if vaginal intercourse, the one act which cannot be replicated in any other form is nothing like the sensation provided by masturbation or anal sex, and to boot comes with the fear of pregnancy, why would they? And if the person-with-the-vagina is a critical, demanding, high-maintenance victim of toxic masculinity and “the patriarchy,” who is likely to be awarded all his wealth, property, children and status should a legalized union fail -- well, only a fool would fall for that trap.
So GenZ doesn’t date. The culture says children don’t really need a mom and a dad anyway. A concept which requires constant suppression of mountains of evidence that fatherlessness is the root cause of crime, violence, gangs, teenage pregnancy, academic failure, incarceration, bullying, substance abuse, poverty and emotional maladies.
To be honest, I feel my generation (Baby Boomers) are responsible got pushing this big rock off the cliff when we pushed "living together is the same as being married" and The Pill. But the avalanche of consequences these Five Steps will produce will only pick up speed as it rolls toward us.