Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Sex and the 20-something girl

Okay, I admit it. I don't completely know what sex is like for the 20-something girl/woman. Because I'm 49 (as evidenced by the technically incorrect title of this blog--yes, yes, it's really my 50th year). But I've had the opportunity to meet, talk with and email with a number 20-something writers in the past few weeks, and I'm deducing a few things:
  1. Life is very different for a 20 year old today than it was when I was in my 20s, in the 1980s and 90s. Much of life is lived and viewed online/on-phone. But you knew that.
  2. 20-something women are a tough breed when it comes to sex. This is the hook-up generation, after all, and it's not cool to admit to something old fashioned like wanting a committed boyfriend, or wanting someone to be monogamous.
  3. Yet, underneath that "I'm cool with the friends-with-benefits thing veneer" I think many of these women feel a little lost. They talk about sex like the guys do, they have sex like guys do--easily, casually, with no strings. But it seems to me that they are often left feeling surprised by the loneliness and disappointment afterward. They seem to want more, but be surprised at themselves for wanting more.
  4. A friend of mine compared the hook-up mentality to the "free love generation" of the 1960s--all for one and one for all in the bedroom. That credo kind of ended up better for men, too. Who knew that there was a sexual similarity between millennials and boomers?
  5. These women are having a hard time launching. Many are living with parents, or being supported by parents in one way or another. We knew that, but it's interesting to see how common it is. And they don't seem to mind that much.
  6. Perhaps this is related to #5, but I'm finding that many 20 something women are extremely tight with their parents--something I attribute to their being the cell phone generation. Many of my young colleagues, as I've mentioned here earlier, talk to their parents daily, to discuss dinner choices or boyfriends or major life decisions. When I was 23, all I wanted was to escape the feeling of being someone's daughter. I wanted to live my own life. I desperately wanted my parents' approval, true, but I didn't want them weighing in on the day-to-day minutiae of my doings. Last week, one young woman confided that her mother took her vibrator shopping when she was 16. Now, my mother was very open in terms of telling me the details of the birds and bees (about which I was extremely curious from an early age) but vibrators? Didn't happen.
  7. All in all, I sense an interesting combination of innocence and a complete lack of innocence. Then again, maybe that's not so different from how I was at 24 after all.
The cast of HBOs Girls. (I need to see it but don't want to pay for HBO!)

1 comment:

  1. Hubbie comments: one of the reasons that I married you, my lovely wife, is that you were exotic to me. Partly the Jewishness, and partly the NYC-ishness. I still often comment to you that NYC is not America. It is the New Yorker cover with Manhattan occupying most of North America, and with only a sliver of unknown territory west of the Hudson. Living mostly in Connecticut's Quiet Corner as I do, the only twenty-something women that I know are 1) my daughter, 2) a few of her friends, and 3) an occasional professional person in my field. As for 1) and 2), they don't hook up. They have been in committed, long term relationships since high school or early college. They are definitely NOT tethered to their parents. My daughter touches base maybe once a week. Her best friend has a volatile relationship with her mother that has involved much screaming and moving in with neighbors. These observations fit in with my broader experience with residents of my corner of the country, who marry early and, to my eye, in general exhibit quite traditional values. My point is this: as usual, NYC is one of the leading edges of social evolution (not that Californians would admit such a thing). I still think that you and NYC are exotic (even though I was raised in Westchester, not much further from the City than your home town in Long Island). Which perhaps leads to an inevitable conclusion that, despite the pervasive influence of HBO shows about NYC 20- and 30-somethings, much of the rest of the country is different . . . at least so far.