REALity March 2019
The Decline of Sex
Astonishingly, according to surveys, sexual relations between men and women seem to be declining. This is particularly true among young people; sexual activity was once reportedly carried out with great enthusiasm. This development is surprising, considering the sex-saturated culture in which we live today.
On the positive side, this decline in sex among young people has been one of the most significant reasons for the lowest teen pregnancy rate in decades. This is good news. The problem, however, is that there is a reason for the decline in sexual activity, which seems to indicate a sickness underlying the change.
For example, the decline in normal male-female sexual relations is mirrored by the enormous growth of child pornography and child sexual exploitation. The use of children for sexual purposes has become far more pervasive than most people are aware. The trafficking in images and videos that show the sexual abuse of children is alarming, according to the RCMP’s National Child Exploitation Coordination Centre. The centre received an estimated 55,000 online child sex exploitation reports in 2018, up from 9,371 in 2013 – bulked up, in part, due to recent legislative changes requiring internet service providers to report child pornography. It is disturbing that so many adults are finding sexual satisfaction in youngsters, rather than normal, adult sexual relationships.
This terrible exploitation of children for sexual purposes has been normalized by Amazon, which has items for sale such as child-like sex dolls, photography books with eroticized child nudity, pornographic magazines, clothing items, and more. Amazon’s Kindle e-reader is riddled with sexually explicit content that contains incest and babysitter and group sex themes.
There are several further explanations for the decline in normal sexuality:
- The easy availability of pornography has resulted in many young people using pornography and self-stimulation (masturbation) to avoid the messy relational aspects of having sex with another human adult. Pornography shapes how men see women, and when men are fed pornography, women become a sexually disposable commodity, rather than an equal partner in a long-term relationship. The substitution of pornography for a human relationship is also encouraged by the intense desire today for economic security and material success. That is, human sexuality is sidelined as being too time-consuming and demanding when pornography can satisfy the sexual drive and not affect the drive for financial security. This phenomenon is not only occurring in western countries. In 2013, the Japan Family Planning Association (JFPA) found that 45% of women, aged 16-24, “were not interested in or despised sexual contact”. More than a quarter of Japanese men felt the same way. As a result, the number of single people in Japan has reached a record high.
- The Hook-up Culture (casual relationships with no emotional involvement) has led to a decline in romantic, committed human relationships. Why would men undertake the encumbrances and responsibilities of marriage when so-called liberated women are willing to satisfy them casually, without emotional involvement or commitment? Men and women react differently to sex, and it is the woman who pays a price for a casual hook-up sexual act. These casual, sexual arrangements separate sexual function from the person, and women are merely a sexual commodity for males. This destroys a woman’s sense of self-worth.
- The availability of Tinder and similar dating apps has led to the diminishment of social spaces where young people can meet, such as in churches and in schools or on university campuses, as well as by introductions from family and friends. Searching for relationships, via Tinder, is now the new normal, even though it is frequently based on exaggerated physical descriptions, personality traits and interests. These factors are more readily apparent in more secure physical environments, where couples can also detect the chemistry between themselves. One cannot know someone by text messages and online dating.
- Women are now more leery of sexual encounters because some men have learned their sexual behaviour from watching hard core pornography which portrays rough sex, such as choking, humiliation, hitting and rape as enjoyable normal sexual activity. That is, sex has become more worrisome with hidden dangers not generally experienced by previous generations.
- Society appears to have lost an understanding of the purpose of sex. In the past, sexuality was understood to provide companionship, pleasure and children. However, today, sex is depicted above all as a pursuit of pleasure. A society dedicated to pleasure is one that has lost a higher vision of the good provided by human sexuality, which is the natural and rightly-ordered pursuit of family and children – the latter being the fruit of a life-long companionship. This requires a far more important context for sexuality than the Tinder, Hook-up scenario. That is, sex has now become, to many, an end in itself, with a disposable sexual partner rather than a person whom one marries.
This decline in sexual activity provides incontrovertible evidence that the experiment of so-called “free love”, without consequences, based solely on pleasure, has failed to provide human flourishing. We have lost the understanding that sex is a powerful force which, in order to be sustaining and fulfilling, requires a legally binding structure of a committed marriage, which unites a couple in a fruitful relationship.
Sex within marriage has enabled society to become more civilized and fulfilling in an always chaotic world. Casual sex for pleasure, without human connection, contributes much to the loneliness and despair in today’s world.