So, as I said, young people are having, more or less, about as much premarital sex as ever. But that’s not really what the hookup culture is about. The hookup culture isn’t just about the amount of sex people have and the number of people having it. It is about the kind of sex people have and the attitudes toward sex people hold. And this where I think the Univ. of Portland study really does support concerns about the hook-up culture. The second part of the study shows that young adults are more likely than their older counterparts to have casual sex with strangers or friends and see casual hookups or “friends with benefits” as a substitute for marriage instead of a potential path to marriage as previous generations at least tacitly did.Then I saw something else on sex in Japan. That is another sexually permissive culture. What has happened there? Sexual activity has gone way down. Why? There are a bunch of theories. The bottom line is marriage and children have become unattractive options, especially for women. It takes time for that to sink in but once it does then a lot of young people just stop dating.
I meet Eri Tomita, 32, over Saturday morning coffee in the smart Tokyo district of Ebisu. Tomita has a job she loves in the human resources department of a French-owned bank. A fluent French speaker with two university degrees, she avoids romantic attachments so she can focus on work. "A boyfriend proposed to me three years ago. I turned him down when I realised I cared more about my job. After that, I lost interest in dating. It became awkward when the question of the future came up."There is this notion that if religion would just get out of the way then everyone would have tons of sex and life would be great. Yet we see two counterexamples here. Permissiveness leads not to more sex but rather to worse sex in one case and to what is called the "celibacy syndrome" in the other case.
What Japan tells us is that Dr Popcak's concern is well founded. When marriage is removed as the goal of sexual relationships then they ultimately become boring and people lose interest. People eventually see the emptiness. They learn what Catholicism says is actually true. There are two vocations, marriage and celibacy. There is no other kind of sex life humans can find peace in. If you throw away all the rules that help young people find marriage that won't lead them to happiness. It will simply mean a longer, more painful road to marriage or celibacy.
It is something that is hard to fix once it has broken down. In Japan they are very concerned that adult diapers are out-selling baby diapers. Yet the number of children born in 2012 was the lowest ever. So government wants to fix it but it just keeps getting worse. Decisions about marriage and children are made at a deep level and governments just don't impact people at that level very often. They need hope. Not sure where you get that other than religion.