Most millennials have casual sex
Interview with Eva Illouz : Why do people have less and less sex?
Ms. Illouz, you have been exploring love for 30 years. How has it changed during this time?
At the end of the 80s there was still the romantic idea that a great love spans and shapes the whole story of life. That idea has disappeared, I would say. Hardly anyone expects to stay with the first person they fall in love with forever.
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The way of life was already out of date at the end of the 80s, at least here in Germany.
Yes. The ideals of feminism and the student movement had already severely affected bourgeois ideas at that time. Another big change concerns the importance of sexuality. It has almost become the central feature of good love relationships. Today love grows out of sexual acts - and not the other way around.
The great removal of taboos was already 50 years ago. Is it even possible for sex to become more and more important and important?
Sigmund Freud has already placed the sexual act at the center of the human personality. The struggle for women's rights and the homosexual movements have made sexuality the main arena in which they demanded equality. Paradoxically, however, people have less and less sex - if a study recently published in Atlantic Magazine is correct. Because sex is most common in stable relationships, and it is becoming rarer.
According to a study by the University of Leipzig, couples between 60 and 70 are more active than singles between 18 and 32 in Germany. The scientists suspect that the reason for the listless youth is the availability of pornographic material on the Internet. Do you share this assessment?
The influence of digital technologies is immense. What I find particularly serious is that the Internet is destroying the traditional places where people socialize: restaurants, cinemas and so on. Everyone is demonstrating against the destruction of nature. I would like a little more resistance to Amazon and Facebook breaking the core of our civilization.
And what do you think this core is?
The old art of negotiating face-to-face relationships is being lost. People sit alone in front of their digital devices and count the likes on their profiles. Pornography itself also virtualizes itself. As a rule, it is still based on interactions between human actors. In my opinion, sex robots will gain in importance in the future.
There are always new couples to be found, also through dating apps.
Sure, of course! I'm just describing new trends. That doesn't mean there is no more romantic love. It is merely endangered by the constant networking that has encroached on all areas of life.
- Eva Illouz
Eva Iloouz, 51, professor of sociology at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, has dedicated herself to a topic unusual for her discipline for decades: love. With her thesis that the capitalist economic order changes people's emotional lives, she also became popular outside of university operations. Newspapers call her “chief theorist of love” or “interpreter of modern love confused”. Illouz was born in Morocco. She grew up in a devout Sephardic Jewish family. At the age of ten, she moved with her parents to a suburb of Paris. Her doctoral thesis, published in 1997, entitled “The Consumption of Romanticism” became a standard work. In her most recent book, “Why Love Ends” (Suhrkamp), she examines the failure of love relationships.
Eva Illouz is already sitting in the foyer of a hotel next to Leipzig Central Station before the agreed time. She doesn't have a lot of time. In the evening she will speak about emotions in politics at the Federal Congress on Political Education. In June she will come to Germany for a longer period: then she will take on this year's Niklas Luhmann visiting professorship in Bielefeld.
And yet the selection of possible partners on the Internet is greater - especially for people who do not live in cities.
Contacts in the digital world are fleeting and varied. To be in love means to focus on someone who is unique. During my research, I came across a partner exchange whose concept I find particularly clever: You can only write to one candidate per day. You have to think carefully about who you want to get in touch with. I think more comes out of that than with the portals where you just go to the supermarket.
In your most recent book, “Why Love Ends”, you analyze relationships that have been mediated by dating sites. The most successful platform is currently Tinder, on which sexual contacts are made. Has the app significantly changed people's mating behavior?
It helps locate sexual partners and offers convenience. If you're trying to find someone here at this hotel we're talking about, Tinder brings you someone around who wants the same thing. This is how the rituals that precede sexual intercourse change. Sexuality becomes a need that has to be satisfied. My fears are more fundamental: the lack of commitment in social media gets in the way of bonds - I call it “negative relationships” that it promotes.
They also use the term "situationship" - a couple has sex regularly, but explicitly no relationship. The word is already appearing in German women's magazines. Is the cliché true that women are more interested in these topics than men?
Yes, historically love was especially important for women. She was the only area of life in which, when a man adored her, they were equal to him. Otherwise they were denied equal participation in society.
That can no longer be the reason in 2019.
A stable partnership is still crucial for a woman's economic survival. The statistics show that when children come, women in particular go part-time. That means their salary will be capped. In order to be able to pursue their careers at all and not to become impoverished, they are dependent on the support of men. Feminism has only made femininity more complex.
What do you mean by that?
The message that women should be free and autonomous goes hard with the role that they still have to look after their families. After 150 years of women's movement, they are still oppressed through their sexuality - on the other hand, a joyful sexuality is the main arena for their liberation. I remember doing an interview with a woman who complained that she kept getting "dick pics" sent through Tinder ...
... photos of erect penises. The practice became known in Germany after it was found that the husband of Hillary Clinton's campaign manager sent such pictures to women. In your book you cite a survey among freshmen in which a third of the respondents stated that they had already sent such sexting photos.
The woman I spoke to found "Dickpics" disgusting. She felt degraded by it. But at the same time she felt that as a feminist she should be above it. Because of the women's movement she got into a deep dichotomy.
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