Millennials’ Paradox

I scrolled through my Facebook newsfeed and found author Rebecca Solnit shared an opinion piece from the LA Times by Melissia Batchelor Warnke titled “Millennials are having less sex than any generation in 60 years.”

Screenshot of Google News search for term “hookup culture.” Screen shot taken on Aug. 3, 2016.

I read the article and decided type hookup culture into Google News. Several news stories popped up in the last 24 hours about a study published Tuesday finding Millennials have less sex. The study specifically focused on young millennials born in the 90s. The constant drone of mainstream media jumped on this finding and was quick to publish several articles.

However, what happened to the hookup culture? I thought we millennials were sex-crazed youngsters who posted enticing photos on Tinder to attract digital mates.

Warnke noted millennials are often treated as if they are an alien species being studied by the older generations.

Warnke said millennials are generalized as an ambitious generation, who view relationships as a hindrance to their career, opposed to common stereotypes of lazy and entitled millennials.

How can millennials be ambitious and lazy at the same time?

The millennial generation seems to be full of perceived contradictions. Part of this confusion could stem from conventional wisdom of young adults. The term “teenager” did not emerge until the 1920s, so the concept of a teenager or a person in between childhood and maturity is at most 100 years old.

Even though the age range from young millennials is 16 to 26, the duration of teenaged status is extending into the early twenties. These attributes include remaining at parent’s home and defining pop culture. The baby boomers of the 60s impacted the notion of what a young adult was.

Baby boomers were the free love generation. Consequently, it impacted an entire era’s generalization of young people. Older generations expected the younger one to have more sex, be rowdy and create social upheaval.

Warnke’s opinion article was a response to Tara Bahrampour’s article in the Washington Post “’There isn’t really anything magical about it’: Why more millennials are avoiding sex.

“Millennials have been called the most cautious generation,” Barhampour wrote. “The sense of caution sometimes manifests itself as a heightened awareness of emotional pitfalls. For example, some young people speak disparagingly of the messy emotional state love and lust can engender, referring to it as ‘catching feelings’.”

We are afraid to love and open ourselves up to deeper connections. We are a generation of social introverts afraid of emotional pain.

I am reading Rebecca Solnit’s Book “Men Explain Things to Me.” It is a feminist prose about the roots of sexual violence and male dominance.

The millennial generation contains many empowered women and liberated men. Feminism seems to be a concept familiar to many millennials, so they embrace relationship equality.

However, we fear ending up in abusive relationships. Barhampour paraphrased Helen Fisher, biological anthropologist at Rutgers University and chief scientific adviser to the dating site, that baby boomers were the free love generation, but had a high divorce rate.

At my high school, it was not uncommon for people’s parents, most of whom were baby boomers, to be divorced. My parents are divorced and the notion of a relationship ending in ashes loomed over my romantic prospects.

The fear of love shattering diverted me from perusing it. We avoid committing ourselves to something that could hurt us, but inevitably we end up alone and craving connection.

An acquaintance of mine said she would rather have a child than a romantic relationship because it is harder to lug around an adult you are committed to. She could have exaggerated or just left a relationship, but her notion struck me. A child would siphon more time and money from one’s professional life than a romantic relationship would.

My generation views love and lust, or the byproducts of it, as a burden on one’s professional life. They also are afraid it will terminate in the ugliest manner possible.

Love is a beautiful aspect of being human, but it does involve feeling uncomfortable from time to time. Millennials cannot always be happy. One must experience hurt and heartbreak to grow as a human.

We cannot spend our entire lives avoiding something we fear, but is necessary.

As touched in Barhampour and Warnke’s article, many millennials are afraid to cross the line of sexual advancements or are afraid to be sexually hurt. We are also the most educated generation, so much of this could stem from a desire to have all the details right before plunging into a commitment.

We grew up with consent and no means no. We were taught to talk with our partners about sex before we opened the doors of sensual pleasure.

Knowledge of consent and a healthy amount of respect is an admirable quality of my generation. However, with our knowledge of avoiding abuse, we must not be afraid to embrace life and all the confusing yet beautiful emotions wrapped within it.

It is not that we do not want sex; we realize its power, so we proceed, for the most part, with the utmost caution. We want love, but simultaneously do not wish to damage or be damaged.

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