We learned a lot of interesting things about sex in 2016. Some of it was surprising, like the fact that millennials aren't getting laid nearly as much as we thought we were. A study published in Archives of Sexual Behavior showed that the number of people between the ages of 20 and 24 who are sexually inactive has doubled in the past 30 years. We're just not having that much sex. Well, that's embarrassing.
There were some sexual revelations that weren't so amusing, though. We found out the amount of American adults diagnosed with an STI reached an all-time high, and that women are generally the first in a long-term relationship to lose their sex drive over time. When it comes to the former, it's an easier fix: practice safe sex and get tested. As for the latter, I'm afraid the solution will be different for every person.
As we move forward into 2017 with as much optimism as we can muster, considering all the, er, changes that are happening in our country, at least we know we have control over our sex life. Let's make it a good year for doing the nasty. Here are six ways sex will be different in 2017.
Our Definition Of Sex Won't Be As Rigid
"Penis-in-vagina" is not the definition of sex. As non-hetero people know, there are so many ways to have sex that don't only feature intercourse. You can give each other head. You can give each other hand jobs. In fact, you can decide whatever sex is for yourself and go about it in whatever you way you see fit, and that might not even include penetration. Here's hoping 2017 will be the year when we start to really break free from the P-in-the-V chains, and let sex mean whatever it means to us.
Conversation About Consent Will Be At The (Preemptive) Forefront
Early on in 2016 we were shocked and disgusted when college student Brock Turner was sentenced only to six months in prison for sexually assaulting a girl by a dumpster outside a fraternity house (and then released after only three months). Turner's attorneys, family members, and friends all came forward to put the blame on the 22-year-old woman, insisting her clothes and her consumption of alcohol invited a sexual attack from Turner, who actually laughed when he was caught raping her.
It infuriated us all, but it also got us all talking about what consensual sex really means. Of course, there has to be consent from both parties, but that's not all. Being coerced or pressured into sex is not within the realms of the consensual. Also, under no circumstance are we to blame sexual assault survivors for what they wore or how they acted before they were attacked. A short skirt and a few cocktails does not equal consent (cannot believe we are still even having this conversation).
The state of California actually expanded its definition of rape five months after the Turner case came to a close. State legislators passed Assembly Bills 701 and 2888, in which the former now considers rape as all forms of nonconsensual sexual assault, and the latter eliminates probation as a punishment for individuals accused of rape. At least the California courts will be putting more emphasis on sex being consensual this next year. Perhaps we can all continue to educate each other on what consensual sex truly means — because sex can only be enjoyable when both people are fully into it. Conversations around consent will hopefully continue to happen before tragedy strikes, not only after.
We'll Be Even Less Concerned With Labels
Gay, straight, bi-sexual, blah blah blah. Instead of subscribing to a certain category, more and more people are becoming more comfortable with being sexually fluid.
There have been some celebrities in the past couple years who have spoken up about their sexual fluidity. Miley Cyrus told Paper in 2015 that she was "down with any adult — anyone over the age of 18 who is down to love me." Last year, actor Nico Tortorella was interviewed on Access Hollywood Live, where he spoke freely about his sexually fluid life. "Look, it’s 2016, we live in a beautiful country," he said. "And I think that everybody has the right to do what they want and be the person they want to be — as long as it’s effecting positive change in the world.”
Alongside all this has been a surge of gender fluidity from the likes of Jaden and Willow Smith (remember when Jaden wore a dress to prom?), who are redefining what feminine and masculine even mean in our culture. With the genderless fashion campaigns comes a growing freedom to embrace a genderless understanding of sexuality, which will likely accompany us into our 2017 sexual encounters.
We'll Encourage Each Other To Get Tested More Often
Research from the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control last year taught us that STDs were at an all-time high. There were more than 1.5 million cases of chlamydia reported and almost 400,000 cases of gonorrhea. The rate that syphilis was diagnosed in women increased 27 percent between 2014 and 2015. We can't ignore these statistics anymore. Getting tested for STIs is a simple task, and it's more important than ever.
To demonstrate just how easy it is, Rihanna and Prince Harry teamed up (and fell in love, please and maybe?!) at the end of 2016 in Barbados to have a public HIV test done. It was meant to inspire people everywhere to go in for testing, because maintaining your sexual health is a significant part of looking after your overall wellbeing.
To make it easier than ever, there are some companies out there who developed at-home STD tests at the end of last year. For example, GetTested is available for $199 online, and it allows people to get screen tested for the seven most common STDs. So while we're getting down and dirty this next year, hopefully we'll also remind each other — whether you're partners or friends — to get tested in the privacy of your own home or at the physician's office.
Women Will Talk About Casual Sex Even More Freely
There ain't nothing wrong with having casual sex, even if there is still some stigma in our society about a woman who enjoys a healthy one-night stand here and there. We're becoming less and less ashamed to talk about our casual sexual experiences, especially since there's research proving that it's more common than ever to hook up without having a relationship. The Kinsey Institute, for example, found that many young people are reluctant to give up casual sex — and we shouldn't have to.
The popularity of TV shows like Broad City and Insecure, in which women are happily sleeping with someone (or more than one someone) without any long-term expectations attached to the act, also helps destigmatize casual sex for women. Seeing things like this in media give us permission to talk about our casual sex life — and not be ashamed of it. Fortunately, chatting more openly about casual sex also opens the door for the conversation of practicing safe casual sex.
G-Spot Stimulators & Pelvic Floor Exercisers Will Dominate
Every sex-loving human being deserves a goodie drawer of toys. But it's 2017, guys, and vibrators aren't what they used to be in your mother's days, so it's time to dream big. There are all kinds of wonders out there, like the Minna Ola, which has a memory mode so you can keep track of your favorite settings. Less effort and more orgasms, please and thank you. You can even practice your kegel exercises in a whole new way with pelvic floor exercisers (yes, that's a thing).
If you're looking for something different than an electronically-controlled device, get yourself a sex ramp, which allows you to experiment with different positions or improve your favorite ones. Butt plugs are getting an upgrade as well; you can now invest in chic, sleek silicone numbers, and even the cute vibrating ones that have rotating beads.
The JWT Intelligence Agency released a trend report for 2017 that predicted g-spot stimulators and aforementioned pelvic floor exercisers will be the most popular sex toys this year, and that women are taking the lead on developing and producing these toys.
Whatever your sexual needs or preferences are, there's probably a toy out there that can make you happy. Google it, play around with it, and have all the fun, because we declare that 2017 is the Year of Sexual Satisfaction.