Male Sexuality In the 21st Century: Where Do We Go from Here?


Jun 3, 2003
Male Sexuality In the 21st Century: Where Do We Go from Here?
Sexuality issues change with each generation. In the 1950s and 60s, it was the development and increasing use of the birth control pill, making premarital sex increasingly widespread. This evolved into the free love culture of the 1970s. Sexually transmitted diseases were of no particular concern, because they could be controlled by ever more powerful antibiotics and other miracle drugs being developed. Anything was possible! Sex could be had without love or guilt. AIDS changed all of that. Suddenly free love was far more problematic. The 80s became a decade of increasingly sober attitudes toward sex, for both men and women. The miracle drugs were not all they claimed to be.

Other changes have gradually occurred over the past three or four decades. The divorce rate gradually increased. Fewer and fewer children grow up in families were both parents are present. Fewer still grow up in families where the parents are in a loving, caring stable relationship. What chance do these children have in developing loving, caring relationships themselves? Certainly less of a chance on average, than children growing up in stable relationships.

Other hot-button issues appear to be increasing concern. Despite the widespread availability of birth control measures, the abortion rate is still very high. Illegitimate births are up, even in states widely known for conservative values. The groups opposed to homosexual rights and the groups attempting to protect and increase homosexual rights under the law are shouting at each other. Religious groups that preach love and acceptance of every other kind of sin often appear to place homosexuality in a special place.

Ours is a throw-away society. Both parents increasingly work, and family meals consist of take-out pizza on paper plates. Instead of buying an automobile with the intent of changing oil regularly and keeping it in top running condition for ten years or more, automobiles are leased, and traded in after three years. The notion of stability and continuity is lost. The same is true of relationships. Instead of couples attempting to make repairs in relationships, they simply divorce and try again with someone else. Fragile relationships are consistent with a hedonistic, throw-away society with a focus on immediate fun rather than long term well-being.

Perhaps we should be encouraged that divorce in now considered to be socially acceptable not a negative mark. Perhaps many more couples in the 1950s and 60s were living in unacceptable relationships that were held together only because of the social stigma attached to divorce. Perhaps. But somehow, I doubt it.

As the millennium approaches, these issues are not going to go away. Some of them may actually increase in comparative importance. The issues surrounding abortion and homosexual rights, for example, have become so emotional on both sides that I see little potential for progress. And the rhetoric gets increasingly strident, as each group attempts to shout down the group they disagree with.

But there is hope. I am increasingly optimistic that adolescents are getting more solid information about sexuality than ever before. But I too worry about access to information that is inaccurate or misleading. When I set up this web site, I was somewhat concerned by the possibility that some teenagers would get access to information here that they somehow shouldn't have. I considered an elaborate system of electronic "gates" warning of the explicit content of some of the material discussed here.

But I finally concluded that there was nothing on this web site that was inappropriate for anyone to know. This site is not easy to find. To find it, you have to be proficient at using the internet and the currently available search engines. Anyone smart enough to find the site is old enough to read its contents. I know some parents worry about their children's access to sex-related materials. I've heard from them. But in many ways, the internet is a far safer and better way to learn about sex than the traditional sources. And the information is likely more accurate too.

So I'm reasonably confident that ever brighter teenagers will go into relationships better informed than ever before. Information leads to responsibility. Information is also valuable in developing understanding and reducing prejudices, regardless of who they directed toward or for what specific reason. So, in the end, I'm hopeful. And I'm hopeful that increased availability of frank, open information will be valuable in smoothing out the rough spots in adult relationships as well. We will see...
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