The “60’s” and “sexual revolution” are synonymous. The 60’s generation nurtured children and taught the public the ways of the sexual revolution. The implications of that nurture and that teaching — that is, a generation of sexually liberated Americans — pervade our culture and it is hardly all good. Christian Smith and his team, in Lost in Transition, put it this way: “… for a significant number of emerging adults — especially but not exclusively women — sexual freedom is accompanied by real hurt, confusion, grief, anger, and regrets” (148).
What resources are available for emerging adults? What are churches doing about this?
The sexual revolution means casual sex; it means “amorphous and transient relationships”; it means hooking up. Some numbers: never-been-marrieds (71% oral sex; 73% sexual intercourse). The avg age for for first sex is 16 yrs old. “The typical never-married American 18- to 23-year-old has had an average (median) of 3 oral sex partners and 3 sexual intercourse partners” (149).
The cultural context of emerging adult sexual behaviors includes five topics, and these are the conclusions of Smith’s research over the years:
1. Tremendous optimism about their personal futures.
2. Smarting from hard lessons learned.
3. They profess to have no regrets about their lives. This does not match their own realities.
4. Hook-up culture is common. Not sure what hooking up means but it is common.
5. A new set of terms: sexiled, booty call, sexting, friends with benefits, and the walk of shame.
They observe, however, that there is a significant number of devastating romantic breakups. There is real emotional trauma.
Their next two sections deal with self-perceptions and behaviors, the first that they have “no problems” with their casual sexuality and the second that have problems. About half of emerging adults engage in casual sex and have no regrets.
But the focus of this chp is on the second group: those with hurt and regrets. Here are the major themes:
1. 75% of males have no regrets; 66% of females have regrets. Women bear the brunt of casual sex.
2. Their regrets are about early pregnancies, abortions, STD’s, sexual coercion, date rape.
3. Their regrets are also about a lack of enjoyment of sex and that it led to undesirable, complicated relationships. They knew they gave some of themselves away and it is irretrievable. Sex for some is meaningless.
4. Males have been problematized by pornography more than women; this complicates their sexuality.
The sexual revolution has created a culture of norms and expectations that are also creating a culture of sexual problems for emerging adults. There is then a deep and dark side to the sexual revolution.