U.S.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez: If You Think U.S. Spike In Celibacy Is Due To 'Female Empowerment,' You're Missing The Point

New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has hit out at the notion that a rise in celibacy in the U.S. could be connected to "female empowerment." 

"If you think your ‘celibacy’ is due to 'female empowerment,' maybe it’s because far too many people relied on the disempowerment and silence of women to not be ‘celibate’ in the first place," Ocasio-Cortez said, taking aim at the suggestion. 

Ocasio-Cortez appeared to be referring to a post from The Economist asserting that "America is seeing a spike in celibacy fuelled by economics, technology and female empowerment."

"Millenials in America are having less sex," a video published by the magazine states, noting that the "portion of Americans aged 18 to 29 who claimed not to have sex in the last 12 months more than doubled to 23 percent last year." 

Exploring what potential reasons might be driving what The Economist called a "sex recession," the magazine asserted that memories of the 2008 financial crisis have "led young people to prioritize work over romance." 

"This sexless lifestyle is concentrated among men," it said, noting that the portion of "celibate men under 30" had nearly tripled since 2008, while the portion of "celibate women under 30 only increased by 8 percent." 

In addition to the financial crisis, the magazine also asserted that an "over-reliance on technology and porn may have eroded young men's interpersonal skills." 

Finally, it said that the #MeToo movement had empowered women "while deepening male fears of harassment allegations."

The magazine then went on to say that the "sex recession won't last forever. Young Americans will adjust to today's sexual politics." 

"In the meantime, they need to put down their phones, talk face-to-face and start flirting," it said. 

Since The Economist's video on the U.S.'s celibacy "spike" went live, it has attracted a wave of criticism, with many echoing Ocasio-Cortez's suggestion that it misses the mark on a "complicated topic that deserves to be explored with all the nuances involved," as one writer and editor, Ellen Sheng, remarked. 

A recent article addressing the same question of "why are young people having so little sex" in The Atlantic appeared to hone in on the nuances of the role the #MeToo movement has had on creating greater awareness around sexual assault and harassment and the need for consent—and what that may have to do with a shift in views on sex. 

For one undergraduate lecturer, Laurie Mintz, who teaches a class on the psychology of sexuality at the University of Florida, the #MeToo movement "has made her students much more aware of issues surrounding consent," the article states. 

"She has heard from many young men who are productively reexamining their past actions and working diligently to learn from the experiences of friends and partners," journalist Kate Julian writes. "But others have described less healthy reactions, like avoiding romantic overtures for fear that they might be unwelcome."

The point branding the decision to avoid "romantic overtures" as a "less healthy reaction" appears to hit on Ocasio-Cortez's own suggestion that blaming "female empowerment" for a surge in celibacy misses the mark. Instead, Ocasio-Cortez states, perhaps it is because "too many people relied" on women's disempowerment to have access to sex in the first place.

GettyImages-1maybe it’s because far too many people relied on the disempowerment and silence of women to not be ‘celibate’ in the first place," O140614004 Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) prepares to speak at the National Action Network's annual convention on April 5 in New York City. She made comments that appeared to be referring to a post from “The Economist” asserting that "America is seeing a spike in celibacy fuelled by economics, technology and female empowerment." Spencer Platt/Getty

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