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The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

No second sexual revolution today


Now that I have your attention … well, actually, this really is about sex. So, read on.

Today’s society is undeniably sexual, especially regarding we millennials. It’s hard to look somewhere without seeing adult-themed ads, kissing on television shows and debates about sexuality on the streets.

However, the question isn’t whether or not we’re sexual.

Many people claim that we are in the midst of a new sexual revolution, a sort of repetition of the ‘60s. However, we are seeing not a revolution, but a continuation.

So, then, what prompted this claim? Why are we questioning this?

“It seems to be a reaction to the fact that marriage is no longer as central and critical to our notions of adulthood as it once was,” said Rachel Riskind, assistant professor of psychology.

With the recognition of hookup culture, which doesn’t necessitate any romantic attachment before a sexual relationship, those two have become significantly less intertwined. However, hookup culture isn’t something new.

“One common misconception is that casual sex and the ‘hookup’ culture have become so much more prevalent than they have ever have been before, and there’s some research to suggest that we should be cautious with those kinds of claims,” said Riskind. “Even though terms like ‘friends with benefits’ are relatively new, there’s evidence that those kinds of casual sex relationships have been around for much longer.”

That’s not to say that the trends aren’t continuing to change. According to the National Youth Risk Behavior Survey, college students today are less likely to report having a regular sexual partner than before, but they’re more likely to report having casual sex with a friend or random partner.

“Young, straight millennials may not be having more sex, (but) they are certainly having it differently,” wrote Alex Morris in the Rolling Stone article “Tales From The Millennials’ Sexual Revolution.”

But, what about the millennials that aren’t straight?

Kathy Tritschler, professor of sport studies, has heard interesting differences in her students’ perspectives on this aspect of the issue.

“I hear from many straight women and men that, while they want a significant relationship, they don’t want to get married,” said Tritschler in an email interview. “Meanwhile, lesbians and gay men are so excited about the prospect of marriage and having their relationships recognized by society.”

Some would see that as adequate grounds for calling this time period a sexual revolution. However, we must recognize that these desires, both of LGBTQA youth to have their relationships accepted and of young millennials in general to have casual sex, are not new. They have been around for quite a while, and the thing that might falsely imply revolution would be the fact that we’re simply talking about the matter more.

“In the past, what people were open about was different,” said Early College senior Anjali Kapil. “Things such as homosexuality and speaking of sex in general are just a continuation from our parents’ generation. It just seems very different because what we consider a norm now was not the norm when our parents were growing up.”

Riskind agrees, saying that the changes aren’t drastic enough for this to be labeled a revolution.

“What we tend to see more with sexual behavior is a continuation of trends that began before,” said Riskind. “We’ve seen a lot of changes in attitudes towards LGBTQA people … but in terms of general sexual behavior, I think that we’re seeing more continuation of past trends.”

Possible motivations behind these trends vary from one opinion to another, but media is one of the most common reasons given.

“Our generations and younger generations tend to be more liberal in general, but there’s more desensitization of sex, homosexuality and the like now, especially with media representation,” said Kapil.

No matter the reason, the trends are there, and they have been there for a while. The only thing really new would be the amount that people talk about it, and even that isn’t a very drastic change from years past.

It’s a borderline distinction, but an important one. We’re not in a sexual revolution, not today, but we could be headed in that direction. We have to see what tomorrow brings.

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