What the New York Times Will Never Understand About Millennials and Sex


Alright, New York Times, another article stating that millennials are a sex-obsessed, commitment-afraid group of people who hook up to pursue our careers. How many times do I have to say that we are not the only generation that has hooked up before? Please do not define our generation as the hook-up generation. It is far too soon.

Silly Times, did you forget the abundance of babies born from 1946-1964? With that many babies born, you have to remember what it takes to make a baby — that’s right, sex. So, all the randy soldiers came home to their wives (or husbands) and got it on. Granted, that is not the only reason why there are Baby Boomers. Soldiers were coming home to more prosperous times and many individuals wanted a sense of normalcy, so therefore wanted to start families. And we cannot forget about the sexual revolution.

The sexual revolution was defined by sexual exploration, birth control, and women’s rights. During this time, of course people were having sex. Many people believe that millennials are having more sex than people were during the sexual revolution. That is actually wrong. Elizabeth Armstrong, Laura Hamilton, and Laura A. England find that those born after 1942 (i.e. Baby Boomers) were more sexually active at younger ages than those born from 1933-1942, according to the National Health and Social Survey. Also, the Centers for Disease Control reported that rates of sexual intercourse among 9-12th graders (millenials) decreased from 1991-2007. So to say that millennials were having more sex than Boomers, would be quite wrong.

Plus, Laura England found that when surveying 14,000 people from 19 different universities, 72% of men and women hooked up at least one time by their senior year, but only 20% participated in 10 or more hookups by their senior year. The study also noted that 69% of students participated in a long-term relationship. So yes, while hooking up is prevalent amongst millenials, there are still plenty in committed relationships.

Again, the Times' use of anecdotes supposedly paints a picture of a millennial hookup. The girl only identified as “A” claims that she only hooks up with her beau when they are drunk, and and that "we don’t really like each other in person, sober," adding that "we literally can’t sit down and have coffee.”  "A" explains that careers are more important and that relationships seem to be too much of a hassle. Again, this is one point of view, from one campus, from one girl who doesn’t seem to have trouble attracting men. The article does feature another girl, Mercedes, a junior at Penn who decides not to opt into relationships at all and explains how she hasn’t kissed anybody by her junior year. At least they represented this aspect of relationships.

It's worth commending the Times' desire to survey students about female sexuality, asking 60 women from all types of backgrounds, socioeconomic statuses, and walks of life, but they limited it to just Penn. For a more general outlook on sexuality, one would need to survey multiple colleges ranging from Ivy Leagues to small private colleges to huge public universities. The attitudes you may receive on sexuality will differ at a small private Christian college, compared to a Big 10 university known for its partying atmosphere. And even at my alma mater, Michigan State, people make a huge variety of choices about their relationships. I focused on my schoolwork at the time but decided to have a relationship after college. I have numerous friends who met their love freshman year and are married, engaged, or in a long-term committed relationship. I was single for quite some time and now am in a relationship. I know people who have been always in a relationship and are recently single. 

So it just might be a little too soon to define how millennials deal with sexuality. Millennials, younger and older, are settling down. Millennials, younger and older, are hooking up. The point is that millenials are still continuing to define sexuality, and it might be too soon to talk about us as the “hookup” generation as if we're the first ones to do it.