If there’s one drum I’ve been beating for a minute now, it’s that I believe the pendulum with sexuality is going to swing, big time. And seriously, if you guys remember me for anything, have it be this.
Mark my words: Next financial crisis, we’re diving headlong into something that’s been simmering in the background since 2013-2014… sex negativity.
I believe these attitudes will be anchored in the middle and upper middle class, just like sex positivity is a middle/upper middle class issue. There are exceptions to this rule, but I mean in general.
Younger millennial women (b. 1992-1995) are going to be scrambling to have kids, but we’re also going to be hit with a cottage industry of Gen Z women advertising their “wisdom” vis-a-vis marriage/traditional gender norms. Many of these women will be making it up as they go along, but others will come from coherent, intact cultures that exist adjacent to the mainstream. That is, women who feel that tension. Likely not Mormons or Evangelical women because their media is for and by their own communities, and they also tend to work/go to university within their own communities. But possibly Jewish women, women of different diasporas—women who already know what it means to be part of a culture but are just out of touch enough to think following in the footsteps of what has always been expected of them is a form of rebellion because they’re caught between two worlds.
This is as much a problem of community as anything else. Eroded relationships have a lot to do with the fact that most middle and upper middle class people in the West lack any sort of identity, inclusion to a group they believe in in a real sense, and connections.
This will be as much a rebellion against the pod as it is anything else. People do not want to be atomized. They do not want to be neutered. Sex dolls are unsustainable. Nobody wants this dystopia. It WILL be painted as anti-tech but it is not necessarily “about” tech. THIS IS THE REAL CULTURE WAR.
Expect lawsuits against any and everything that contains endocrine disrupting chemicals and big, big scandals to start coming out. Many people will realize that as much as they want to rebel, they can’t rebel—there’s something wrong with them physiologically and it has everything to do with what’s in the water, what our mattresses are being made with, what’s in our food and clothes, etc.
Kiss your BBLs and fillers goodbye. Skepticism of obvious cosmetic surgery.
The complete and total death of the girl boss archetype.
People are going to rediscover the power of boundaries. You cannot define yourself against something forever, eventually your identity has to be rooted in the present tense, in what you are. To that end…
What I have been calling “reactionary childbearing” is going to become a thing—I’m not sure if this is net negative or net positive. It is going to be a trend to have kids earlier rather than later and more kids than these same people might have had they been born 10-15 years earlier. Again, remember I foresee this as being localized in the upper middle and middle classes, so it will feel like a form of rebellion. I am pro-natalist. When I use words like “reactionary” I am describing the mindset of the people engaging in these activities, rather than passing judgment on a specific behavior.
The lack of honesty surrounding all manner of sexual and gender issues, but particularly sex work, is going to bite us in the ass with an overcorrection. We are going to have a generation or more of women who feel incredible shame about their sexual histories and experiences. They may boomerang or they may stay the same and cope. But the “end the stigma” while silencing anyone who has anything negative to say? Great work! We’ve created a tinder box.
As I have been tracking on Twitter, women like ProfitFromTrauma will become more and more common. We have been lying and have been lied to about the realities of things like sex work.
More people are going to be open about romanticizing “wholesome” American cultures like LDS, Amish, etc. It is also about having a tradition to carry over, wisdom to bring from generation to generation.
Kiss the millennial obsession with getting as far away from your parents and family as possible goodbye! The more diaspora influencers we have who have real or imagined relationships with their extended family, the more mimetic this behavior will become.
New life will be breathed into traditional gender norms. The esoteric right wing lifter is not a sideshow attraction, it is a glimpse into something that is going to become a lot more common. Expect to see more people like Bronze Age Pervert. Teen Vogues will be replaced with more Evie Magazines.
Fertility tech will explode.
Who’s to say if Justin Murphy’s arranged marriage service will take off, but someone will do it. It’s not simply about bringing back matchmakers. It’s about reimagining traditional culture and refitting it for a modern audience.
It doesn’t matter what the truth is, or why things are the way they are or why things were the way they were. It’s not that trad LARPers will inherit the earth. It’s that they’re the canaries in the coal mine. This is a movement that’s been simmering for a long time now. The pot is about to boil over.
I have so much more to say about this, but I was going nuts keeping this all in. More to come…?
This is all but a natural civilizatory reaction to the low birth rates of Western society ... Self-preservation when faced with the looming, existential threat a diminishing population ... When push comes to shove, no matter which wing of the political spectrum the Western man adheres to, he inherently thinks of the West as superior to other civilizations ...
That would be nice. As long as its our choice. And not forced on us. Which is what red states are doing. Even to the point of carrying around in bellies the deadums. But I dont believe in any new baby boom. Myself. Because of climate change. I am a liberal. Because I want freedom. Not be hung by my cunt by guys who run the churches. Also the transgender thing right now is huge, in the young, they are testing and exploiting who they are, or why they even want to be alive, on this frigging planet. I disagree. I think the young people want freedom and modern medicine. Tho I do think the birth rate is going to go up in red states. Thats fine, red states have empty spaces and houses to fill. But here out in blue lands, we are the world. My city is dynamic, charged, a diversity that represents the world. It is full and vibrant and glorious. That said, I love the mountains small towns in mountains just as much. I really do.
I concur, Ms. Dee. The last time the atmosphere was full of so many markers was the early 1980s, which was followed by the most recent previous wave of sex negativity, during which right-wing fundamentalists and left-wing feminists found common cause to declare the majority of heterosexual behavior evil -- even those proclaiming all heterosexual sex to be rape were taken relatively seriously.
The avalanche is headed our way, and, as you hint in what you've written, it will be driven not just by gravity but by the hordes of young women who've been hypnotized into believing that cash payouts and potential status are enough to justify trading in (a)(i) the potential of lifelong pair-bonding for (ii) what essentially amounts to irreversible public sex prostitution, and/or (b)(i) the blessing of parenthood locking one into the web of humanity for (ii) justifying feticide in the process of elevating convenience over connection. Some will make millions and some will have tremendous careers with which motherhood would have interfered, but most will just lose the lottery.
And, because we are fallible humans, collectively we're unlikely to come to the proper conclusions and will instead blame the correlations instead of the causations.
The most identifiable correlation will be sexuality itself.
you have a typo! "form rebellion," rather than "form of rebellion"
So we can start to request scenarios that have affection and consent, without the humiliations?
As someone who considers themselves progressive, if wildly out of step with what the current actual political organizations for someone like me look like, talk about, think like, I regularly have to lie down thinking about the debt to be paid off wracked up by 2007-2018 liberals.
God I hope we have some space for talking about the importance of slowness and presence in sex. Hopefully there will be a huge backlash against the porn industry too, especially hard-core stuff
What about becoming a bhikkhu or bhikkhuni(meditator-male/female) as a lay practitioner(vipassana) or monk/nun (monastic) with foundation of sila(5/8/or more for monastics)precepts including (abstaining) from sexual misconduct(however one wants to define that-at any given moment)
I could not agree more, and when I was a single mom with 2 teen sons, I tried to instill in them that they don't want to get involved in casual sex either--they could fall in love with the wrong woman, who has no intention of fidelity, and sexually transmitted diseases aren't to be taken lightly. Their father, a man who I discovered ideated that he's a woman in 1992, when they were one and four, was no help whatsoever. I promoted the idea that sexual relationships are fuller and deeper if you go slow, and I was just not that cool mom. The Not Cool Mom was my identity after I told my husband that I'm not cool enough to stay with you through your "transition," after the two years of deceit.
I am very thankful for your voice, Ms. Dee.
Ute Heggen, author of In the Curated Woods, True Tales from a Grass Widow (iuniverse. 2022)
Who knew? Our sex lives and marriages are shaped by Federal Reserve policy and obscure chemicals in plastics. Lots of younger people have been misled and lied to.
Come the time, I will remember this article, Katherine. Thank you.
On the left I don't think there is sex-negativity per se, there are, however, beliefs about sex, power, and consent that as a consequence reduce sex because they make it, in practice, basically impossible to have sex in a way that upholds them.
I.e "enthusiastic consent" is so vaguely defined now nobody is sure what constitutes rape, which means everybody is afraid of a rape accusation, which means they have to be really sure that their partner won't make a rape accusation/believe themselves to be raped. This makes casual sex harder. Or even friendship sex. Also, there is this new awareness of power dynamics, and now the left doesn't seem to want them, like any relationship that is not between peers or that can be construed as having a power imbalance now has this taint of immorality.
However, life is complicated, and every relationship has some sort of power imbalance, which means every relationship becomes illicit! Or even worse, we have a de facto caste system for relationships. Only rich people can marry rich people, only smart can marry smart, etc.
This means everybody becomes ashamed about their relationships and casual sex again, just for different reasons. This is bad because now we can't use reason to talk about them in an intelligent way imho.
talking about a trad 1960’s here
I've mused for many decades that arranged marriages are not such a bad idea. I think that making the decision about who to spend THE REST OF YOUR LIFE with should not be made while in a hormone/ endorphin induced haze.
Have you heard of the Hajnal line?
More sex negative than today?! Please no! I'm astonished on a regular basis that this prissy little Western culture imagines itself to be 'sexually enlightened'. I suspect we're more relaxed about sex than during the Victorian age, but I still can't walk into a room of my dearest friends and just start talking out of the clear blue sky about my last masturbation session, or my first threesome. My dearest friends! Unlike any other ordinary human experience, it's still strangely taboo to talk openly about ordinary sexual experiences, never mind the really racy stuff. Help!
Those that refuse to have children will, when they are old, have no one to advocate for them when grifters try to hustle them and the State brings the final, unwelcome, jab.
of course people will start having children earlier-- after the collapse
I find this persuasive but think egalitarian moralism will play a greater role in mediating these dissatisfactions than maybe you give it here in these notes. Sex positivity flew in on the wings of egalitarian resentment at traditional constraints on desire, and the backlash so far, or the part of it that comes from the center to the left, is likewise filtered through that lens. (Sex positivity is bad because of misogyny and patriarchy, they say, not because of any psychological need for boundaries and connection that might smack of the old limits.) There can only be one villain, and that's perceived hierarchy. People will live with increasing trauma before they question this. The symptoms that you predict (the trad rebirth and the lurch toward new old community) fall in line with existing movements on the right, including some unfortunate ones (integral illiberalism among a few, a glib indifference to "classic" liberal norms more generally). On the left, the search for community has already taken the form of partisan solidarity, including various attempts at allyship, which is seen by pretty much everyone as transparently vicarious and suspect. That this is unsatisfying can be seen in the degree to which indignation is pursued as an opiate. On the left, the pot boiling over is probably going to mean a more intense search for systemic evils. The backlash on the left runs counter to the backlash on the right, so the culture war as currently understood is likely to remain the mask for the deeper troubles you've put your finger on. And it means that one side effect will be increasingly dangerous political polarization. At the heart of all this unhappiness, IMHO, is not only sexual psychology but a fundamental tension between the cosmopolitanism of liberalism and the longing for community, for which there is no resolution, only management. Have you read Allan Bloom's Closing of the American Mind? His brush strokes are broad sometimes but it has some good lines on all this.
A lot of this reaction will come from the failures of the current sex-positivity movements. Millennials that have bought intro his movement have developed serious mental health issues and are craving stability. Some will get it from the sources you mention, but others won’t be able to stomach such a shift and will simply become increasingly dysfunctional. Look for a rise in homelessness, addiction, and incarceration as a result.
I got 7 paragraphs down and still had no idea what sex negativity, and thus all 7 points made absolutely no sense lol.
Sex negativity has been around for years, decades, even. Ask Camille Paglia or Maggie McNeill.
I love my parents. But they didn't give me many boxes to fit into. I think that's a really high skill cap way to play the game of life. I'm not sure how well it worked for my brother that is 30 and lives at home.
I'm grateful for thinking freely, and had a phenomenal education, but there's a total lack of community and shared values. I did learn to be kind, and while I'd like to want to have children, I really don't. My partner doesn't either. I think it has more to do with not wanting to fuck up than anything else. Navigating a LTR in this age is so difficult.
I wish I thought you were wrong. Mix up the details sure but social justice is being fueled by guilt and convenience, not truly radical compassion. So much hatefulness veiled in the allyship (I hate that word).
The idea that people belong to one larger, human box, has kind of been lost. So tribalism it is.
I really like my folks. If I had kids I'd totally want them around. Maybe even in the same neighborhood, but I think they're less neurotic than most.
I waited until i was 29 to reproduce, glad i waited. Financially more stable, emotionally more willing to put his needs first. People will have children just because it feels like a proper next step logically, but it may just be a month you didnt have the car payment you expected and feel rich.
Sounds like a white pill OD to me.
A backlash might be hard as long as dating apps are popular I think.
I think I more traditional romantic culture for young people would have to go hand in hand in a decline in the usage of dating apps.
The illusion of limitless choice they give to their users deranged everything.
A world without sex work would lead to more violence and stupidity on the part of some men. If you don't like the term sex work you can say "sex surrogates", but there probably does need to be a vehicle for "incels" and adulterers to get their fix in an easy and safe way.
👶 👶 👶 *** F E R T I L I T Y -- R E P A R A T I O N S *** 👶 👶 👶
This is congruent to the seminal piece written in 2010 on the misandry bubble. https://www.singularity2050.com/2010/01/the-misandry-bubble.html
I am not buying the necessity for shame and sex-negativity to get earlier matching and natalism to rise because they go sex-positive just fine.
Regardless of sex positivity or sex negativity, it will be feminist.
I think there will be a backlash of some sort. It's hard to know what it will look like. People having kids younger seems unlikely as the economy is bad and no one wants to start a family while still living with their own parents.
My guess is that the backlash against "sex positivity" and the growth of the Latino community will end up happening at roughly the same time and we'll see a lot more Latin culture going mainstream. (which is fine for me, I'm not a Trumpist.)
I find this all very fascinating and think you may be proven right, to some extent. However, I feel like the term “sex negativity” always has a lot to unpack. From what I’ve seen, those who promote sex positivity these days often do so only nominally. They claim to be positive but their entire affect surrounding sex is contrary to that. They focus on assault, bad dates, sexual dissatisfaction, etc. Their views on relationships (at least hetero) are super cynical. So it seems we’ve already had sex negativity for a while now, though maybe not the kind you discuss here.
I miss you on twitter
I'm hopeful the pendulum will swing back toward tradition in education, as well. More parents seem to be homeschooling or finding charter schools. There is some truly bonkers stuff being taught (telling preschoolers to disavow their whiteness, etc.) which will probably contribute to the coming reversal. This matters to me since I work in education and see how bad even straight-A students at renowned private schools can be at basic skills like reading, writing, and critical thinking.