April 4, 2005
No one likes to do it
Don't worry, it's not just you. No one is having sex.
At a recent gathering of hot young women, ages 24-26, living the single life in Manhattan, the New York Times hosted a discussion of sex and dating. In the resulting article, the featured women are so averse to sex, serious relationships, dating, and pretty much anything other than maybe kissing acquaintances in a bar, that I can't imagine how anyone in this city is ever going to get any action ever again.
"It's not that people aren't dating," explained Jessica Rozler, co-author of The Hookup Handbook: A Single Girl's Guide to Living It Up (if by "living it up" you mean "going on a date or two then running home to worry if people think you're a slut.") She continues, "It's that there's this weird gray area. People still want to be in relationships, but they don't want to be settling."
OK, so single women in New York like to date lots of men and maybe aren't so into having serious boyfriends. Yet, these women also seem to shun having sex outside of relationships: "Most girls don't have one-night stands," one discussion participant said. "They might have one or two in their life."
"A lot of girls are not having casual sex," explained Andrea Lavinthal, the book's other co-author and (not surprisingly) an editor at Cosmopolitan, a magazine mostly notable for its advice on trapping rich men into marrying you.
So there's no casual sex, no serious relationships; the most these ladies seem to want is a few low-key dates here and there. Their alarming self-restraint is also well illustrated by their definition of the phrase "hooking up": "Most women at the club expounded happily on what a hookup meant for them. 'Late-night grinding on the dance floor, maybe a little groping' was one version, said Kate Kilgore, who is in public relations at Victoria's Secret Beauty. The few men who spoke up seemed to find the elastic nature of the term somewhat tiresome. 'There are so many definitions,' said Corey Zolcinski, a commercial real estate representative and disc jockey. 'Some people think that it means meeting for a drink.'"
I don't know about you, but when I was 24, "hooking up" to me did not mean meeting for a drink.
So what's the story with these people? Are those of us in the late-20's/early-30's generation just a bunch of licentious tramps in comparison to these Doris Days in their early 20's? And what about the recent trend among teenagers of having "friends with benefits", pretty much meaning random sex with casual acquaintances, often met online? ADM points out that the analog to teenagers' "friends with benefits" seems to be "boyfriends without benefits" among these early-20's people. It all sounds very bad.
In a piece about the sexually messed-up country of Japan in today's Guardian, we learn that there is a growing problem among Japanese married couples in which they don't have sex, ever. Like, not even one time. The Japanese birthrate hit an all-time low of 1.29 in 2003, and there are more and more women who complain that they have never had sex with their husbands, or do it less than once per year. Marriage rates are also falling, and the government is understandbly worried about what this will mean for the country's population in a few years.
[Note: I think we can all assume, as the article does, that Japanese men in these kinds of relationships are still having loads of sex with hookers. It's just the wives that get nothing.]
Unsatisfied with this deal, these women are starting to patronize a new kind of clinic in the suburbs of Tokyo, which offers frustrated wives a catalog of men for them to fuck. The guy who runs the clinic (I guess I should say "clinic", because it's really some sort of dating service) says, "The women who come to see me love their husbands and aren't looking for a divorce. The problem is that their husbands lose interest in sex or don't want sex from the start." After a counseling session, the ladies browse through photographs of 45 men, mostly professionals in their 40s, and pick one to go on dates with and then make regular appointments in hotel rooms.
"Mr Kim dismissed charges that his service was little more than a male prostitution ring. 'The men volunteer and pay half the hotel and restaurant bills, so legally there is absolutely nothing wrong with it,' he said."
I'm glad these Japanese women are finally getting some action, but it's a scary prospect for the chaste young ladies in New York: even after they get married and actually decide to put out, they still might not be getting any.
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