Who knew that the slackers of yesteryear, swathed in their flannel shirts, busy constructing their homemade bongs, would one day become the conservative family men and devoted moms of today? Members of Generation X, known for leading aimless, cynical existences, have now been revealed as the most sexually conservative of the generations preceding and following them.
The Chicago University study, led by Professor of Sociology Edward Laumann, found that rates of adultery among those born between 1965 and 1985 (defined as Gen X by Laumann’s parameters) are lower, as is their number of sexual partners, than rates of Baby Boomers and members of Generation Y. Generation X came of age as divorce rates rocketed and the dark cloud of AIDS rained a damper on sexual adventure, thereby eliminating any notion of “free love” that Boomers, born between 1946 and 1964, so famously enjoyed. In addition, Generation Y, those born between 1977 and 1994, has gotten creative with its easy access to sexually explicit imagery via the Internet, and has placed less focus on the dangers of AIDS than its predecessor, Generation X.
“It’s clear that, while Generation X has sex, obviously, it’s probably not as much or as varied in styles as that of their parents or today’s teenagers and students,” Laumann told British online news source The Telegraph. According to study results, about one-third (30 percent) of Generation Xers reports markedly more conservative sexual habits than Boomers and Yers.
Laumann reported that members of Generation X experienced a “backlash, a crisis of confidence” regarding Boomers’ attitudes towards sex and relationships, most likely a result of their parents’ skyrocketing divorce rates.
Does generational cohort hugely influence real-life sexual practices? Not necessarily. “Dr. Laumann is a highly esteemed researcher, and I’m sure that he has captured a trend here,” certified and licensed sex therapist Aline Zoldbrod, PhD says. “The Gen-Xers I see in my practice in Boston, though, don’t seem to be especially repressed—or exceedingly moral—sexually. They have varied sexual practices, they fool around, they get divorced, they have one night stands, and they have affairs.”
Comparing sexual attitudes between the generations is inevitable, with the younger cohorts usually deemed more liberal in comparison to their predecessors. “I guess it’s all relative,” Zoldbrod says. “Compared to people growing up in the 1950’s, Gen Xers are sexually liberated. But compared to the current college age generation, with their ‘hook-up’ style of soulless, detached, ‘use-‘em and lose-‘em’ sexuality, Gen Xers are conservative.”