Gen Z: Sex an arm's length away?

Gen Z: sex at arm's length? 

Young people today are less sexually active than previous generations at the same age. In any case, this is what several studies carried out in particular in the United States and Australia seem to indicate. Sexologists from here are therefore trying to explain why… and issue a few nuances! 

The National Youth Risk Behavior Survey surveys conducted among 14-18 year olds in the United States United States, as well as those of the Australia Talks National Surveywhich are aimed at young Australians aged 18-24 both make similar observations. According to their results, the practice of sexuality with physical contact would be on the decline among young people compared to previous generations. 

In Quebec, on the other hand, there is still no scientific literature on the sexual practices of Generation Z.  

“As Generation Z includes young people born between 1997 and 2012, we would be talking here about an age group of people aged between 10 and 25 years old. I don't know of any founded source testifying to the sexual habits of this group of age, as it would inevitably be premature to draw a generational portrait that includes… children,” says sexologist Julie Lemay.  

The most recent survey carried out on this subject in the province dates back several years. This is the Pixel study, which documented the sexual experiences of people aged 17 to 29 in the 2010s. Its data, collected in 2013-2014, concerns people who are now aged 26 to 38. , but they already showed a certain decrease in sexual activity. 

Change of mentality 

To explain this drop, the experts contacted by Métroagree that today's young people are more educated in terms of sexuality, which means that mentalities have changed and the ways of experiencing sexuality too. 

“ We live in a time when, fortunately, we talk more and more about the importance of pleasure, of enthusiastic consent. Where we integrate more than the frequency of sexual relations testifies neither to the value of a person nor to the quality of a relationship, explains Julie Lemay. We increasingly de-stigmatize masturbation, particularly female masturbation. We talk more and more about self-partnership, therefore of this choice to live without a romantic partner and to live (or not) sexual relations…

Same story on the side of Estelle Cazelais, vice-president and director of the education program of the organization Les 3 sex* and sex therapist: “Young people are aware of the plurality of postures they can have when it comes to sexuality and this allows them to navigate according to their terms. They leave themselves the space to live a plurality of experiences which perhaps do not include sexuality. »

Young people today are indeed better equipped than those of yesterday, adds sexologist Véronique Jodoin. They will therefore be less likely to engage in a sexual relationship to please the other or because it's “cool”. “We attach much more importance to respecting each other, to listen to yourself,” she says.

A progress due to sex education which has enabled young people to better understand the risks associated with sexual relations (STBBI, unwanted pregnancy) and to open their minds to new conceptions of sexuality. 

< p>“Young people today also have a lot more knowledge about consent and the impact that it can have to take reproachful actions in terms of harassment and sexual assault,” adds Estelle Cazelais. 

A connected sexuality 

Much of this education and new knowledge comes from the internet, with the virtual world taking an important place in the lives of young people.  

Sex educators ” abound as much on Instagram as on TikTok, underlines Estelle Cazelais.  And the web is not only a place for young people to acquire knowledge, it is also a place conducive to exploration. 

“Young people often begin their first romantic or affective relationship via the internet,” says Véronique Jodoin. We send each other sexts, photos, we play role-playing before feeling ready to have sex in person, explains the sex therapist. 

But to say that young people are less sexually active because they live more reports virtually than in real life would be a mistake according to sexologist Estelle Cazelais. “Sexuality has changed and to ignore cybersexuality or to value it less is to miss the point,” she believes.  

Without minimizing the dangers of cyber sexual violence and the importance of taking precautions – “The Internet is not a private place,” she reminds – the expert is convinced that it is possible to live this type of sexuality in a healthy way.

With all these new paradigms, young people of Generation Z therefore have access to a much broader spectrum of sexuality than previous generations. To understand their relationship to sexuality, counting the number of sexual relations, in their classic form, that they have therefore no longer seems very relevant.   

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