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To give a sense of how prices have fallen, in seventh grade 20 years ago, “someone I know” paid a friend for a small picture torn from a magazine of a woman who was only topless.The wider availability of porn could plausibly have a variety of follow-on effects.n 1960 came the Pill, which disconnected sex from childbearing.In the 1990s and 2000s came widespread Internet connections, which facilitated easy access to both pornography and dating sites.But so far, at least, the trends don’t seem all that significant for Americans who’ve made it past early adulthood, either.The General Social Survey provides an easy way to investigate questions like this.It might make sexuality more “plastic” or malleable by exposing people to a wider assortment of stimulation, and there’s some evidence that porn users are more supportive of gay rights.Troublingly, it may reduce men’s incentive or ability to find real, live romantic partners (which could help explain why sex-partner counts are more stable than you might expect).
My results are broadly consistent with CDC data since 2002 covering a wider age range.) Basically, sex might be easier to get than it ever has been, and the modern mating market may be dysfunctional in any number of ways — but it’s not clear that the typical person has become more promiscuous, notwithstanding the best efforts of Tinder and Ashley Madison (former slogan: “Life is short. It’s especially surprising not to see more movement in reported sex-partner counts given that Americans are spending a lot less of their young adulthood married than they once did are more socially accepting of promiscuity than they used to be.
An important possibility is that while kids these days are waiting longer to get started, they’re catching up during an extended “early adulthood” that lasts until age 30 or so.
(Twenge’s core finding is that teens are growing up more slowly than they used to, and Regnerus tells us of a 32-year-old subject who didn’t lose her virginity until age 22 but has had about 20 sexual partners since.) Those born in the ’90s and later — ’s focus — won’t start hitting 30 for a few years yet.
And this is one topic where Regnerus does have a plausible longitudinal comparison.
A 1992 survey suggested that 29 percent of men age 18–24 masturbated at least weekly, while the (roughly) comparable number from Regnerus’s survey is 49 percent.
And to paint his picture of the modern mating market, Regnerus draws extensively from the 2014 Relationships in America survey, which he helped to create, as well as from detailed interviews that he and his team conducted with young adults from around the country.