JANET STREET-PORTER: The more fantasy sex we see all around us, the less we want to actually do the dirty deed. But at least I know I’m not alone now!
I never thought I’d write these words but sex (a free way of having fun and cheering yourself up) is in recession. A serious study of 34,000 people reveals that less than half of the adult population in the UK have sex more than once a week, and almost a third haven’t had sex for a month.
Everyone wants more, but nobody seems to be doing much about it. For years, we’ve been brainwashed into thinking daily sex is ‘normal’ and that most couples bonk several times a week, definitely at the weekends and occasionally after a romantic ‘date night’.
The truth turns out to be very different. Sex is proving remarkably difficult to schedule into our busy lives between the school run, a trip to the supermarket, clocking in at work, doing the laundry, taking off our makeup, doing our exercise routines and setting the alarm for the next day.
Since the sex recession shock news I’ve been looking at my fellow passengers on the train with different eyes. If the statistics are true, it means the people I encounter are no different to me!
Since news of a sex recession I’ve been looking at passengers on the train with different eyes. If the stats are true, it means these people are no different to me!
Those perfectly groomed women on the way to an office, carefully applying their makeup, the on-trend gay guys with their neatly trimmed beards and fashionable trainers – all having no more sex than I am. What a relief!
For years, we’ve been brainwashed by boasting bimbos in women’s magazines claiming they do it ‘every day’, by sex therapists dishing out advice about how to ring the changes to keep partners interested by trying new positions and gadgets.
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Features about the best sex toys, the most alluring underwear, the juiciest lipstick and the most seductive bed linen. What a load of dog poo – none of this advice has had any effect on our sex lives, which seem to be vanishing.
The latest UK sex survey compared the changes in our sex lives over two decades, to 2012. The results were astonishing – fed a steady diet of sexual imagery on our television screens every night and porn readily available on smart phones, we have been steadily turned off the joyous act of exchanging bodily fluids and having physical fun with a consenting partner.
In short, we’ve turned into a nation of frustrated sex-starved workaholics, more intent on clutching our phones than any part of our partner’s anatomy.
How has it come to this? The UK survey confirms a trend already identified in Australia, Finland, Japan and the US – real life sex is going out of fashion. The figures are shocking – half of women and two thirds of men say they want more sex, a big increase from 2001.
The number of women having sex more than 10 times a month has dropped to 13%, down by a third. The figures for men show a similar drop. This decline is highest amongst people over 25, married couples and those in long-term relationships.
It begs the question – what has replaced a quick bit of nookie at night, a spot of mild exercise which generally guarantees (for me at least) a decent night’s sleep and a feeling of contentment?
One of the answers burst into our lives in 2007, billed as a life-enhancing device that would enrich our existence by making life so much easier.
The i-phone has turned out to be the technological equivalent of a bucket of cold water, a total turnoff if you want real (as opposed to two dimensional) sex.
Smart phones are good for filthy chats, horny pictures and sending distorted images of your body to people you would like to have sex with.
Sadly, the way we are enhancing these images has ruined real-life encounters – we can never live up to the airbrushed perfection that’s easy to create on a phone – smooth skin, cellulite-free bums and perky breasts.
In real life, we all sag in every direction – when having real sex, you have to get past all that and enter into the spirit of the moment, even if it means closing your eyes or squinting.
Phones let you process, plan and prepare for every experience (not just sex), so they suck all the life out of it.
Researchers say we may not in reality be having less sex than thirty years ago, we are just more relaxed and honest about it. I doubt very much that is true.
The number of women having sex more than 10 times a month has dropped to 13%, down by a third. The figures for men show a similar drop
Teenage pregnancies in both the UK and the USA have declined by two thirds. When asked about sex, millennials don’t rate it as important as previous generations. Maybe their emotional intelligence has been warped and blunted by online porn and sexting, who knows?
Maybe they value issues like saving the planet above getting laid? They also work longer than any previous generation, continuing to use their phones for business and networking after leaving their place of employment.
Millennial workaholism has become a lifestyle choice. Young people don’t check out at the end of the afternoon, they continue to bond with their peers and hang out in shared workspaces.
The ambitious millennial is a 24×7 hustler, seeking to get their ideas and projects off the ground. Success is more important than sex and scientists have found that people in their 20’s now have fewer sex partners than the two preceding generations.
Sexually transmitted diseases are declining amongst the young. It’s my generation, the baby boomers, who are having unprotected sex (when they can get it) and looking for one night stands.
Our over-scheduled lives have wrecked sex. It’s hard to initiate a fumble with anyone reading a book on their phone, listening to a podcast on their headphones, checking tomorrow’s weather and monitoring what’s trending on twitter.
Or they may be keeping up their Instagram feed, designed to inspire envy and loathing amongst rivals. Instaworld is utterly fake and gorgeous, a collages of happy snaps and inspirational images as far removed from sweaty sex under a grubby duvet with the dog looking on as you could imagine.
The people who love Instagram love pictures of cute dogs wearing knitted vests, babies with food on their faces, home made pies with the fruit all arranged in perfect symmetry, or a ‘clean eating’ whole grain salad strewn with pomegranate seeds.
At home, more twenty-somethings than ever live with their parents. With modern housing and thin bedroom walls, mum and dad won’t be encouraged to spice up their love lives either.
Popular television drama (Doc Foster and Killing Eve are good examples) shows exciting, almost violent sex, in which the women usually dominates. Which is very hard to emulate after a long day in the workplace and a couple of hours cooking a meal inspired by Masterchef.
We’ve decided to give up on sex, it’s just too much effort. At this rate, it won’t be long before bits of us start to wither and drop off.
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