From an article about sex and dating in the NY Times:
Navigating our love lives has always been difficult. But today, the general outlook among heterosexual daters has come to take on a less playful, more depressive tone — manifesting in what the writer Asa Seresin calls “heteropessimism,” a mode of feeling “usually expressed in the form of regret, embarrassment and hopelessness about the straight experience.” (Queer relationships, being less beholden to male-female gender dynamics, may present fewer issues — but they aren’t perfect either.) It’s an anesthetic posture, one that young people use to avoid fully feeling a sense of sorrow for their lack of control and repeated disappointment or fully acknowledging the pervasive awfulness of a sexual culture that’s not suited to their happiness.
This pessimism comes at a moment when we might expect the opposite. After all, one could say that we’re living in a golden age of sexual freedom. The average age of first marriage is rising; it’s more acceptable than ever to remain single or pursue a wide variety of relationship styles. A majority of the public finds premarital sex acceptable; birth control for women is widely available and, with health insurance, often free. Sex positivity is celebrated in progressive circles, with sexual adventurousness championed and inhibition often looked down on. We have breached the ramparts of repression, and the wall of silence that prevented us from expressing our sexuality has, for the most part, fallen.
Getting rid of the old rules and replacing them with the norm of consent was supposed to make us happy. Instead, many people today feel a bit … lost.
In the immortal words of the Hagakure, “this understanding extends to all things.”
For two hundred years, many Europeans and then Americans believed that sexual repression was at the root of all our problems, and the improvement of the human condition had to start with free love. I believe that this is now the most thoroughly refuted idea in the history of ideas.