Viva Magazine about being prudish, porn and escort
On September 5th magazine Viva published a piece about how in 2018 young people become increasingly prude. The article discusses what could explain this, such as dating apps and porn. Our high class escort service is also discussed. The original article was published in Dutch but an English (partial) translation can be found below.
How do we suddenly become so prudish?
Through dating apps, online porn and nude selfies, sexual morality seems so loose nowadays. A persistent misunderstanding: young people start having sex later in 2018, for example because of fear of being exposed online or not being perfect in bed.
In 2018, our sexual morality seems more confusing and contradictory than ever. On the one hand, we are rather over-sexed: young people often send each other genital selfies. Well, often… at least twice as often as five years ago. On the internet, a gangbang is only a keyword and mouse click away. Thanks to dating apps, a hook up is a few swipes away. Festivals are populated by women in very short pants and the male cleavage is still on the rise. There are sex tips in every women’s magazine. And erotic novels are readily available. Sex is everywhere.
On the other hand, we are getting more prude at other areas: high schools and in sports clubs often requiring showering in underwear. There are few topless women on beaches. Everything has become more and more prude on TV for years – in the nineties you could unexpectedly encounter German soft porn when zapping after eleven, nowadays you really have to go online. And to top it all off, we start with sex at a later age. What exactly is going on? Is our morality deteriorated or not?
More prude than your parents
Not really. We are in a prudish phase, says social scientist Linda Duits. She teaches at Utrecht University and specializes in popular culture, gender, sexuality and youth. ‘For years everyone has been concerned about the sexualisation of society and the looser morality. But young people are actually a lot more prudent than their parents, who grew up in a time when walking around naked at home was still normal. Those same parents have become a lot more spastic about being naked. With the rise of the internet, they began to worry more about their children and their sexual behavior. If they found it very normal in the nineties when children played doctor, they now see that game more quickly as a sign of abuse.’ Sexual morality shows wave movements, explains Duits. ‘The conservative fifties where followed by the free, happy sixties and seventies. In the nineties, everything was freer, but now there is a generation that is more conservative.’
But what about porn then? Youngsters get their sex education from the vulgar kind, as can be read regularly. With all the dangerous consequences that entails. ‘Yes, they watch porn. But that is a normal part of their sexual discovery. It is not that they are looking for hard porn immediately. We know from research that when young people come across pornography that is not their taste, they see it as offensive,’ says Duits. In addition: the online places where young people hang around the most, social media, are overly modest. Try to show a woman’s nipple there, you will not succeed. The youth is more goody-goody than ever.
The decisive proof of this is that young people start later with sex and everything around it – kissing, caressing, fingering. Large-scale study of Knowledge Centre Sexuality Rutgers, titled Sex under 25 shows that the average age at which young people have sex for the first time has risen from seventeen to eighteen years. Not only in the Netherlands, but also in the rest of the western world, people start with sex later. British research under 16,000 millennials showed that over 12 percent of 26-year-olds is still a virgin. In previous generations, that percentage fluctuated around 5 percent.
Do not bumble
Especially in this time when everything is possible and everything must be possible, from trios to courses vaginally ejaculating and from open relationships to spanking, there is a need for romantic sex. This emerged during interviews with Rutgers with 47 young people in focus groups. There too, they were curious about what caused this later starting with sex. Social scientist Duits: ‘Young people reject one night stands and link sex to a relationship. This makes the sex more special and gives it more value. That is why people usually wait with sex until they have a serious relationship.’
The focus groups showed that fear of failure and performance pressure play a role in the later start with sex. Young people grow up in a culture where there is a lot of emphasis on manufacturability and making the right choices to become successful. There is little room to take risks or make mistakes. Also when it comes to sex: you should not bumble, make a mistake and get pregnant or something like that, according to the youngsters. Uncertainty in bed, especially during the beginning of sexual development, is not new. But the feeling that everything you do is traceable through social media makes it more visible and therefore you are more vulnerable.
This reinforces the feeling that you can not afford ‘mistakes’. The performance society thus causes fear of failure in bed. And even those perfect women and men who youngsters see through social media or the images of sex in porn, lead to uncertainty.
Topless on your bicycle
The influence of social media is also noticeable in the escort world. Marike van der Velden owns high class escort agency Society Service. An agency that offers the so-called Virgin Experience for women and men aged 21 years with little or no sexual experience. ‘The clients who request this service are often pretty insecure. They constantly wonder how they come across to others. Am I tight enough, perfect enough, good enough? I think that is because everyone is busy with how they come across online and that influences their real life. They look at themselves through the eyes of others.’ Porn also has an influence. ‘They feel that they have to perform,’ says Van der Velden.
‘That sex is about skills and actions. In addition, the idea prevails that every imperfection is weird. The bulge on your stomach when you lean forward is no longer seen as normal. When they hire someone, they find it less embarrassing when it does not all go picture perfect.’ During sex, we are too busy with the outside world, says actress and theater maker Daphne Gakes. She made a performance about prudery: ‘We are no longer used to seeing imperfect bodies. Because of the abundance of perfect bodies – in glossy magazines, on billboards, on social media and in porn – we feel more uncomfortable in our own ‘normal’ body. Because of all these images, sex is cast in a certain, wrong form: you have to look like this, and do this and this. Then it becomes a ‘main’ thing. What is not conducive to having a nice time: because how can you feel good in your body and be happy during sex if you constantly wonder how you come across and what you have to do?’ Sex has become a performance with imagined cameras. Over the past two years, Gakes asked people in the street to get a better picture of our prudishness. ‘I spoke to an elderly lady who said: ‘When I was your age, I cycled topless over the dike.’ If you do that nowadays, you’ll see yourself back online the next day.’
Afraid of rejection
The online world promotes prudence. The fear that you are exposedkunt, making you think ten times before you bounce around naked through a meadow. For young people, online meetings replace face to face meetings. They do not know what to say, but only what to type. Social scientist Linda Duits: ‘In the past you actually had to meet someone to make contact, there was no alternative. That’s how you learned to deal with rejection. Nowadays, most people flirt online, through a complicated system: taking pictures on Instagram, posting comments, sending a message responding to a story. That way, you develop less skills to be with someone in real life. And this makes the step towards having physical contact, kissing for example, greater.’
That young people later start having sex and everything around it is of course no problem, says Duits. ‘What is a great pity is that young people have so much trouble with physical contact and avoid this for fear of rejection. It is precisely because of that initial phase of uncomfortable silences and fumbling with kissing that young people build up self-confidence and learn about themselves and relationships. This way they are prepared for later relationships. And they miss that.’
Theater maker Daphne Gakes also finds the increased prudery very regrettable: ‘During sex you have to dare to let go. Sex is like walking without a goal, nothing has to be done, you look where you end up. Being prudent means fear and shame for your body. And that stands in the way of a relaxed relationship with sex.’