Pornography, Perry claims, is also degrading young people’s capacity for mutual pleasure. One young woman posts on Reddit’s relationships board about how her boyfriend can only reach climax by watching ‘blueberry porn’, a niche subgenre inspired by Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, in which women turn purple and become grotesquely inflated. Another poster complains that her relationship is faltering because her partner has desensitized himself through repeated masturbation to the point where he cannot orgasm at all — a phenomenon known among young men as ‘death grip syndrome’.
Aaron Sibarium, a 25-year-old American writer, describes this mercenary, violent and atomized libidinal landscape as ‘sexual disenchantment’ in which ‘free love’ becomes ‘a sterile spin-off of the market’. Perhaps unsurprisingly, this collective erotic ennui has coincided with what the Atlantic has called a ‘sex recession’. Between 1991 and 2017, the percentage of high-school students who’d had intercourse dropped from 54 percent to 40 percent. Today, people in their early 20s are twice as likely to be sexually abstinent as Gen Xers were at the same age.
The effects reverberate. According to the Institute of Family Studies, 26 percent of millennials aged 30-34 have not yet formed a family. This failure rate is double the 13 percent failure rate of the boomers at the same age. CDC data show that the American birth rate has been consistently below replacement since 2007 — something even the most liberal commentators acknowledge will have profound long-term economic and political consequences.