Jean Twenge, professor of psychology at San Diego State University led the research on the shifting landscape of sexuality in the US. The results were published in the Archives of Sexual Behaviour scientific journal.
Perusing the main points of the research which was conducted on more than 30,000 people in the US, one point stands out. Understanding and expressing sexuality and sex relations follow the rules of generational gaps and societal factors pertaining to a certain period of time.
Take for instance the generation born between 1901 and 1924. Their sexual partner count stops at a maximum of three throughout a lifetime. But connect that to what premarital sex meant at that time and you have your answer. Shaming, antagonizing and exclusion from tight and conservative communities was not the most desirable path to walk on.
Now, at the opposite pole, take the Millennial generation. In stark contrast to the Greatest Generation of America, the Millennials are looking at an average numbers of as high as eight sexual partners. The entire timespan of their active sexual life is not of course included, the results of the research being based on just the average so far. So why interact with just eight sexual partners on average? Mrs. Twenge explained that while it is true that the attitude towards premarital sex is comparably more relaxed with Millennials, the problem lies in the expressed individuality and the clear awareness of sexually transmitted diseases. Compared to other generations, the Millennials have an abundance of information available at their fingertips, thus the skepticism towards sexual relations. The scarce use of condoms and the relaxed attitude toward “friends with benefits” type of sexual relation contribute to the number.
What about what happened to sexuality between the Greatest Generation and the Millennials? Well, both the Baby Boomers and Generation X averaged a number of 10 sexual partners. It might be awkward to think that your parents had more sex than you. The reality is that sexual relations outside wedlock where only seen positively by 28% in 1972, 38% in 1978, then 41% in 1982. Yet, the liberalization of society beginning in the 60’s, coupled with very little knowledge of STDs led to a higher number of partners for these generations.
Does this mean that Millennials are the most responsible so far? According to Jean Twenge, not necessarily. The responsibility argument stands, but only to some extent. What drives the decrease in the average number of sexual partners is the value placed on individuality in contemporary society.
When it comes to how open-minded are Millennials, the answer is that so far it is the most acceptant and understanding generation. Their attitude towards same sex relations, premarital sexual relations or openly expressing one’s sexuality is at sky-rocketing percentages.
In 2012, the rate of acceptance of same sex relations was at 44 percent. According to Twenge’s study, the acceptance rate with Millennials is at 56 percent.
Image Source: NYU