Half a century ago your parents were caught up in the psychedelic daze of the 60’s, decadently throwing themselves into the largest sexual revolution of recent history. Now it’s your turn.
It’s a new revolution, with new conventions of sexuality, which go beyond the infinite access to porn and readily available dating apps. This is more than the ‘hook-up’ and instead at the heart, is a debate about the abandonment of society’s pre-approved labels.
This is Generation-Y and the rules don’t apply to you. No clear-cut gender requirements, no rigid labels of sexuality. Generation-Y aren’t fussed about sharing their sex lives because it’s none of your damn business.
Amy Smith, 22, a Business Support Assistant from Reading, identifies as Bisexual, but won’t be ditching that label any time soon.
The problem with saying that you can live in a label-less society, is that people have faced the brunt of these things for a long time. You’re tormented for being Gay or different and now everyone is jumping on the f***ing bandwagon.
She continued: “I can see how it might anger people who would say; I’ve fought for this title, I’m not going to have someone turn around and say actually you’re nothing special.”
Jessica Howie, 21, a recruiter from Hampshire, stands at the opposite end of the spectrum, refusing to be categorised as Bisexual, Straight or Gay.
“When you’re growing up there are all the external factors, that say you should be straight.”
Sitting in her single-bedroom flat, decorated with delicate flowers and feminine touches, Jessica spoke about her non-binary sexual orientation, and the complexities of sexuality as a twenty-something in today’s world.
“Everyone wants to pigeonhole you. It’s quite difficult to take a step back and say, no this is who I am. Labels to me, are a source for people to hate.” Jessica said.
Jessica, like many of her fellow Millennials, believes that sexuality is fluid. This means that sexual orientation evolves over time, rather than having one specific attraction for a lifetime. The idea has become familiar with young people and last year a YouGov survey quantified this. Based on the Kinsey scale of sexuality, YouGov found that 43% of 18-24 year olds placed themselves in a non-binary area of sexuality. Meaning almost half of Generation-Y don’t identify as exclusively Straight, nor exclusively Gay.
For Will Dalhgreen, editor of YouGov’s UK news site, the results didn’t come as a surprise. “There is this sort of feeling in the air that something has changed. The labels have become blurred. They’ve become less important to people.” Will said.
“I don’t know if we are going to lose labels, they are useful for the minorities because it helps fight their cause.”
Amy, who has had relationships with both men and women, and is currently in a long-term relationship with her boyfriend Matt, explained how people misconceive Bisexuality.
“Bisexuality gets merged quite easily with Pansexuality. But if there is someone who has openly had lots of sexual partners of both sexes, instead of them being Bisexual, people just assume, oh well they’d screw anything.”
While the acknowledgment of fluid sexuality is becoming more popular with Generation-Y, the debate’s divide deepens when we ask, how does sexuality define a person?
Jessica said “People let it define them, more than it has to. I don’t have a description for my sexuality; I’m not going to restrict myself. But people let it determine the course of their life.”
The majority of people would still prefer their sexual identity to not be the single resounding feature of their personality. There is more to Generation-Y than the people they’re attracted to. Though, not everyone would agree with deserting sexual orientation entirely.
“Much like race, sexuality is something which does sculpt who you are. The way people get so touchy about it just shows that it has a huge implication on how people see you.” Amy said.
Sarah Berry, a psychosexual and relationship therapist, has worked with people across the spectrum of sexuality, with experience in counselling for a range of different issues such as sexual identity concerns.
“I find a problem with sexuality often falls into an existential area. Pressure to conform to society or a group can be internal as well as external” Said Sarah.
With sexuality playing a vital role in the human psyche, Sarah explained the negative implications when someone is detached from their true feelings.
People who feel at odds with their sense of sexuality may try to repress it and become anxious, aggressive or depressed.
Sarah continued “Many countries, cultures and religions hold sexuality as a defining force. The UK for example, is very hetero-normative, and falling outside the married-with-children situation can sadly affect a person’s sense of self.”
When it comes down to these interchangeable sexual attractions and definitions, Sarah believes that labels still play a significant role in the psychology of sexuality.
“Some people feel that labels provide a home and identity. It’s a very personal thing. Finding an individuality within these labels can be very important.”
The battle of the labels persists, but clearly is a personal journey, one that serves those who refuse to fit into cookie-cutter moulds of society, yet is equally important to people wondering where they fit in, because they aren’t like their parents. No matter what Generation-Y decide to call themselves, they understand that inevitably, labels stand on their own.
“There’s no reason why these things should be lumped together as much as straight people, vegetarians and cat lovers should be put together, they’re all just so different from each other.” said Amy.
For more on Sex and Generation-Y:
Watch – What it’s like coming to terms with your sexuality: Meet Jessica
Listen – Modern sexualities, defined
Learn – Is it important to label your sexuality?