OK, Boomer: Our Sex isn’t Your Sex
“OK Boomer!” is a common rebuff from the younger set when they think the older generation doesn’t understand or respect them. Like every generation before them, the Millennials have their own views, preferences, and lifestyles, and that of course extends to sex.
However, there are a lot of misconceptions about what Millennials are actually thinking, doing and feeling in the bedroom. In a January 2019 Glamour article, psychosexual and relationship therapist Carolyn Cowan explained what she is seeing and how she is helping the first generations that were “born digital.” We review some of the ideas in her article below.
The Three Biggest Problems Millennial Couples Face:
Contrary to what many people believe, and Hollywood portrays, 20-somethings don’t spend all their time getting into each other’s pants, dining in upscale vegan cafes, counting up the millions from their latest IPO or lounging in their spacious SoHo lofts drinking craft brews. As a matter of fact, life in many ways is tough for the Millennials.
Indeed, their three biggest issues are:
· Lack of sex
· Differences between partners in level of desire
· How pregnancy would affect a woman’s career options
Cowan also lists additional problems that either one partner or both face:
– Painful sex
– Fear of oral, both giving and receiving
– Pressure on women to be sexual
– Men not feeling it
– Erectile dysfunction or premature ejaculation
– Boring sex
– Pressure to do anal
What about work…and stress?
“This (work) is definitely a problem,” says Cowan. “So many (young) people are exhausted, and have no time to spare.” This might not be too surprising in a hyper-competitive global economy that seems to only reward superstars, but Cowan notes how work stress aggravates other issues in the young Millennials’ lives, such as the pressure to always look and feel sexual, manage emotions, and keep up with social body image expectations.
All of this builds up to general feelings of anxiety, which may make it easier for GenY/Z to give up on either sex or relationships altogether, preferring porn, social media or other electronic distractions.
Cowan lists these outcomes as the result of anxious, work-exhausted, and stressed-out young lifestyles:
– Erectile dysfunction
– Pain on penetration
– Porn use
– Solo masturbation (replacing personal connections)
– Dating apps
– Sex with total strangers
– High-risk behavior (Anxiety and risk go hand in hand)
– Loss of desire
Real Sex vs. Computer Sex
From her research and experience Cowen informs us that Millennial couples are having sex only about once a month. Interestingly enough, that is a lower rate than even senior citizens, who reported having sex about twice a week.
Cowan says that young people, on the other hand, are spending a lot of time in solo masturbation and online porn. Others are engaging in high-risk behaviors such as sex with people whom they don’t even know.
Worst of all, despite the Me Too movement and Third Wave Feminism practically being a core component in Western universities, too many women are not clarifying their own desires, preferences, or even consent in sexual encounters.
A Millennial Rescue Plan:
Cowan outlines a multipart rescue plan to get GenY and Gen Z into happier, healthier lives. According to her, these 20 and 30-somethings should:
1. Go on dates
2. Make time for sex
3. Play with consent games
Cowan takes particular care to emphasize the role of consent in all sexual activity, particularly for the woman. Says Cowan, “Consent especially makes a massive difference, relationally, emotionally, physically and sexually.”
She continues, “Consent is all about working with 4 quadrants: Can I touch you? I would like to touch you. I would like you to touch me. Would you like to touch me? This can then expand into a million possibilities of expression of likes, needs, desire, arousal and more.”
Beyond the Penis
In addition, Cowan advises these Millennial generations to explore sex beyond penis-in-vagina intercourse. As she put it, “Sex is now largely considered to be penetration, and so is very penis-focused. This is not good for the female partner as her needs are less regarded or met. Many women have no idea of what they want and frighteningly, don’t know how to say no.”
As an alternative, Cowan suggests couples explore one another’s bodies (bounded by robust consent discourse), and exchange preferences in an open and honest way. This is especially important for women.
She is also focusing on teaching youth the rudiments of desire, saying, “With many clients I am running basic sex education and arousal cycle workshops for women so they better understand how their bodies work.” Cowan closes by advising the younger set to self-educate on sex, be it in a formal course, a book, and/or with a therapist.