Fear of Flying author Erica Jong argues that this generation of young people have grown bored with sex. She knows this because she hangs out with young female writers sometimes, and they're apparently gazing wistfully to the morals of the 1950's, back before Erica Jong and her ilk made pre- and extra-marital sex fun and exciting.
In her NYT op-ed, she opines,
Just as the watchword of my generation was freedom, that of my daughter's generation seems to be control. Is this just the predictable swing of the pendulum or a new passion for order in an ever more chaotic world? A little of both. We idealized open marriage; our daughters are back to idealizing monogamy. We were unable to extinguish the lust for propriety.
Here, it's important to consider the fact that the "young people" she's discussing aren't in their teens and twenties; Jong's daughter and her peers are in their mid-30's, some of whom are unmarried. Her perception that this demographic is collectively less enthusiastic about sex may be true, but her assertion that they're all bored with sex is off base. People who are in their mid-30's and unmarried aren't put off by the idea of sex because they're bored with it; it's because dating is exhausting, and they've been doing it for the better part of two decades, and reached dating age right about when the AIDS epidemic had everyone convinced that having unprotected sex was like playing genital Russian roulette. Most of the unmarried thirtysomethings I know are advanced enough in their careers that dealing with the trivial side of fledgling relationships seems petty and not worth the emotional toll it takes. Eventually, most of them would like to settle down with someone who understands them and doesn't annoy the shit out of them.
She's right to say that "punishing the sexual woman is a hoary, antique meme," but then goes on to invoke it on wait for it- sexual women! Starting with a tongue-in-cheek Cold War vision of the consequences awaiting the sexually liberated woman ("Sex for women leads to madness in attics, cancer and death by fire."), she segues into genuine contempt for the sexual woman who is now choosing to use sex to bear children. "Better to wear one's baby in a man-distancing sling and breast-feed at all hours so your mate knows your breasts don't belong to him." So Freud is once again calling the shots on women's intimacy in relationships in the context of motherhood? "With children in your bed, is there any space for sexual passion?" she intones, invoking another hoarier, larger meme for women: damned if you do, damned if you don't. Be "sexual," achieve intimacy, bear a child, let the child destroy the sexuality simply by paying attention to the child, lose intimacy. Don't be sexual, forego sexuality, never find intimacy. Okay.
Furthermore, in applying the term "young people" to a group of people who are closer to middle age than to teenagerhood, Jong betrays her disconnect with actual young people and ignores an entirely new generation's discovery of and fascination with sex. Rave culture, which is basically large groups of youths getting together to listen to Deadmau5, drop E and rub up on each other while having all sorts of weird youth sex, is experiencing a resurgence. More people under 30 are experimenting with oral and anal sex than ever before. A new smorgasbord of birth control options and effective medications against even chronic STD's, including a vaccination against HPV, has removed much of the danger surrounding sex in the 80's and 90's. It's a good time to be young and sexually active. Perhaps sex doesn't have the taboo novelty it once had, but just because sexual acts are no longer revolutionary doesn't mean that they're not enjoyable or sought en masse.