This 52INSIGHTS explores themes related to the youth perspective on sex and love, addressing questions like “what platforms are young people going to for sex/dating/love advice?” and “what are some of the trending conversations around youth relationships and sex?”
NETFLIX AND SEX
We put a spotlight on the widely beloved series “Sex Education” on Netflix last Valentines Day. This year, season two of the show is still gaining huge traction among younger audiences - so much so, it’s been renewed for a third season.
“Sex Education teaches young people so much about the complexities and nuances of various types of relationships. It doesn’t make a big deal about being different and tells people not to feel embarrassed or ashamed. I think it’s a really beautiful way to communicate to young people that they’re normal, without being patronising. It touches on important topics and educates in a really natural and subtle way which hopefully inspires similar conversations in everyday life.” Eleanor, 27
But there’s so much more on offer around this theme on Netflix - there’s even a cartoon called ‘Big Mouth’ - an animated series about puberty and a character called ‘The Hormone Monster.’
A non-fiction show that also has users of the platform talking about sex is the recently released ‘Sex Explained’, produced by online mag, Vox. Did you know that surveys have shown that most of us have sexual fantasies, and when we’re asked about those fantasies, the word “threesome” comes up the most?
“In five 20-minute episodes, we dig into why a third of women worldwide describe childbirth as traumatic, why we still don’t have male birth control, and why even your weirdest sexual fantasies are way more predictable than you think… We chose five topics — sexual fantasies, attraction, birth control, fertility, and childbirth — where new research has raised new questions and offered up surprising new answers.”
The series is narrated by singer Janelle Monáe (34), whose music addresses subjects of gender, sexuality, sex and love (because of moves like posing in underwear with pubic hair peeking out the sides in the music video “PYNK,” Monáe is seen as somewhat of a modern feminist icon). The ‘Sex Explained’ episode on birth control has driven arguably the most debate, many women learning about the effects of the contraceptive pill and male birth control options were shocked at how their health was being treated. These revelations generated outrage on Twitter:
“Watching sex explained the birth control episode has me LIVID. I’M GOING THROUGH PERSONAL HELL SO I DON’T GET PREGNANT BUT BC MEN EXPERIENCED THE SAME SIDE EFFECTS THAT WOMEN DID, THEY TOOK IT OFF THE MARKET.” @lilhunnny
PLEASURE & TECH
Empowering women through education around sex and female pleasure is a growing movement that is inspiring content creators and innovators alike. One of the episodes in Gwyneth Paltrow's Netflix show ‘the goop lab’ explores womens pleasure - ‘from real vulvas to true vulnerability’ - guided by sex expert Betty Dodson who promotes proven methods of selflove feminist-based sex education.
From a tech perspective, the ways that people are discovering and exploring pleasure is aided by educational digital resources and innovative inventions:
- OMGYES is now a well-known website, popularised by actor Emma Watson, purely dedicated to the science of women’s pleasure. It won a Webby Award for "a fresh perspective in thought and action strong enough to start a revolution, change a behavior pattern and advance old thinking."
- CES recently let sex-toy companies exhibit on the show floor for the first time in its 53-year history. Lora DiCarlo—who got a CES Innovation Award last year, only to have it revoked and then returned a few months later—was among them. Her company’s product is called Ose - a hands-free robotic massager designed for blended orgasms (of both the clitoral and G-spot varieties).
- Sex toys are getting beyond smart, now you can event get a vibrator that syncs and vibrates to your favourite songs. The OhMiBod Freestyle is bringing sexy back, so your favourite playlist can bring another layer of enjoyment. Long distance sex toys are also a thing “When you move your toy, the other reacts- enabling lovers to connect and play together regardless of the distance.”
- Hyper realistic sex dolls take sex toys to a whole other level - there are reports of Japanese men having intense relationships with ‘sex doll girlfriends.’
2020 DATING TRENDS & TERMS YOU NEED TO KNOW
Self-partnered: Singledom is officially ‘trendy.’ Youth are actively resetting the dial on traditional success measures, especially when it comes to sex and relationships. As more under 40s choose to remain single, a positive approach to singledom is on the rise. Actor Emma Watson popularised the phrase ‘self partnered’ late last year, while studies have shown that women are actually happier without children or a spouse.
“I think there’s a lot of pressure to live our lives in a certain way - from very young ages we’re taught to tick boxes in order to be ‘successful’. I think the dating culture has normalised codependency and being single gives you the chance to learn more about yourself as an individual, about what you like, what you don’t like, what you’re about. You also very simply have more time when you’re single, to spend with yourself and with friends and family, forming lasting platonic relationships that are just as important as romantic ones, but not prioritised in modern dating culture.” Grace, 26
Eco-Sexual: “Has The Ecosexual Revolution Begun?” asks Dr Caroline West. From body-safe, eco-friendlier materials to recycling toys, eco-sexuality is about green and sustainable sex toys/devices and promoting social development. There’s also a sexuality referred to as ‘Eco-Sexuality’ that involves having sex with the earth.
Conscious Relationships/Erotic Intelligence: Popular Instagram accounts like ‘Rising Woman’ (1.1 million followers) and ‘Evolving Man’ explore themes of relationship healing and ‘conscious relationships.’ They upload written posts of advice on topics like healthy conflict, inner child work and being a conscious partner. Podcasts like “Where Should We Begin” by relationship and sexuality Esther Perel provide people with the opportunity to explore and unlock ‘erotic intelligence’ too.
Only Fans page: Only Fans is an online social-media led platform where young people are sharing X-rated photos and videos in return for payment. It’s a form of ‘personalised porn.’ We’ve spoken about before on 52INSIGHTS, but we expect the trend around sex consumption via social media to get bigger. This ‘taking back control’ and utilising ‘sex’ for personal gain is also seen in the popularity of sites such as SeekingArrangement among young college students. Elsewhere, ‘Chaturbate’ is a website which allows the novice porn performer to take control of their sexual prowess and bank account at the same time. It’s a bit like Only Fans but more intense - when viewers pay money, sex toys vibrate for the performer. Talk about democratising the sex industry!
Fairtrade Pornography: In a world when you can get organic, ethically sourced almost everything - you can now get ‘ethically sourced’ porn. There are a few offerings set up by women working in the industry who - tired of poor treatment and exploitation - decided to take the power and control into their own hands creating a working environment with respectful and safe conditions. One such entrepreneur is Stoya - an activist, author and pornstar who challenged the industry in many ways; accusing one of its biggest male stars James Deen of rape - creating a cultural shift in the industry. Stoya has gone on to create a curated and thoughtful sexually explicit content medium, Zero Spaces. And she’s not alone - as other offerings provide a more ethical option to satisfysociety’s appetite for pornography.
Zombieing: A term that describes the return of someone who ‘ghosted’ you: “It’s where someone you previously dated (and very likely cared for) or were even in a relationship with, ghosted you, only to then resurface some time later, most likely in the form of some sort of social media interaction or an out of the blue text message.”
Ghostcrumbing: Breadcrumbing is getting meaningless forms of communication from a potential date or ex, sent to get attention but not actually carrying real meaning. Ghostcruming is “on the verge of Ghosting but still dropping small breadcrumbs.”
Draking: It’s widely discussed how the rapper Drake is constantly melancholic because of unrequited love or failed relationships. ‘Draking,’ in the context of dating, is the act of being depressed and moaning about a past relationship. Draking is largely specific to men who have experienced turmoil with a love interest and are emotionally Drake-d from it, continuing to miss their ex-flame.
Love and sex will always be topics that garner great interest from people of all ages. But young people especially, are seeking to understand and educate themselves as they rewrite the rules. How could you create unique learning opportunities for young people that invite minds to think differently about a theme or topic?
We know that inclusivity is a growing priority among youth in general, but it’s also hugely evident in the realm of love and sex, where personal values are shaping the industry and innovations within it. It is important to consciously ensure communications around this topic don’t perpetuate outdated norms or bias.
Common experiences in love and dating have a brilliant way of inspiring and influencing language in wonderfully creative ways. How could you create a new term or way of looking at something that’s commonly acknowledged in your own category/brand or organisation?