Gen Z are in a ‘sex recession’ — but they’re not the only ones A survey has found the under-25s are turned off by sex. Charlie Gowans-Eglinton, 35, explains why it’s not just the younger age group who aren’t getting enough

The annual Teens & Screens report from the Center for Scholars and Storytellers at UCLA reveals that Generation Z has a different perspective on sex compared to previous generations. Contrary to popular belief, they actually want to see less sex on TV and prefer more relatable content reflecting their own lives. According to the report, 44.3 percent of Gen Z participants felt that romance was overdone in the media, and they expressed a desire for more platonic relationships in television shows. This is a stark contrast to my generation, as I remember being fascinated by romance and even passing around books with explicit content among friends at a young age.

Not only are Gen Z less interested in watching sex on TV, but they also have less interest in engaging in sexual activities themselves. A study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in America found that in 2021, the number of teenagers who had engaged in sexual activity reached a record low of 30 percent. While the study doesn't reveal how they managed to measure this, as a 35-year-old, I can relate to this trend. Interestingly, Gen Z is not alone in this shift, as other age groups are also experiencing a decline in sexual activity and desire. The reasons behind this phenomenon are multifaceted and extend beyond TV portrayals of sex.

TV shows have become more candid and realistic when it comes to depicting sex, which can be positive in terms of reflecting the experiences of a coming-of-age generation like Gen Z. For instance, the Netflix show Sex Education provides a frank representation of sexual topics. However, it's worth noting that these explicit portrayals do not always align with everyone's preferences. Shows like Sex and the City, which were celebrated for their sexual liberation and fun during my teenage years, may now seem less appealing, as they often depict unrealistic and unfulfilling intimate experiences.

The decrease in sexual activity could be attributed to various factors. The pandemic may have influenced this trend, as many of us spent our time indoors, consuming news about the crisis and binge-watching TV shows. This constant exposure to pandemic-related content is likely to have dampened our desire for physical intimacy. Additionally, the accessibility of sex through dating apps and casual encounters may have contributed to a sense of disillusionment. When faced with a plethora of options and unsatisfactory experiences, it's natural to become more cautious and selective about engaging in sexual activities.

As society becomes more open and accepting of diverse sexual preferences, discussions around sex have become more matter-of-fact. There is less shame attached to expressing one's desires, and people are more aware of the importance of consent and communication. Nevertheless, the combination of unrealistic pornographic content, the rise of incel culture, the pervasive influence of social media, and the #MeToo movement has also created challenges in the realm of sex and dating. Men of my generation, in particular, may struggle with navigating these changing dynamics, leading to hesitancy in approaching women.

Ultimately, the declining focus on sex among Gen Z and other age groups may have implications for relationships, pleasure, and overall well-being. While some may view this change as a reduction in fun, it is perhaps indicative of a generation that prioritizes other aspects of life, such as socio-economic stability or emotional connections. As societal norms continue to evolve, it is important to have open conversations about sex and intimacy, ensuring that individuals feel empowered to make choices that align with their own desires and preferences.  

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