10 Things That Shaped Our Sex Lives Over the Last Decade
Sex might be one of the oldest aspects of the human experience, but that doesn’t mean it’s stopped evolving.
Over the course of the past 10 years, technological advances and cultural shifts have helped usher in a host of changes to the ways in which we have sex — how we meet our partners, what we do with them and how the things we do with them affect us after they’ve gone home.
To celebrate the end of the decade, we’ve highlighted 10 various things about sex (in no particular order) whose impact on the act of making love we most appreciated over the years.
Did any of ‘em impact your sex life over the past 10 years? Read on to find out.
1. Hookup Apps
When it comes to the way human beings sleep together, something that took charge over the past 10 years is undoubtedly the rise of the hookup app.
The launch of Grindr in 2009 absolutely revolutionized the decade that followed. No longer did you need to cruise bars or house parties in order to find singles looking to mingle. Now, there was a list of ones close to you in your pocket.
Whoever and whatever you were looking for, it could be found with a series of swipes, taps, and possibly, hastily composed nude photographs.
You can argue that hookup apps changed dating for the worse, but you can’t deny that they completely changed who we have sex with and how.
2. High-Tech Sex Toys
Human beings have been using inanimate objects to pleasure themselves for … well, probably as long as they’ve been pleasuring themselves.
Rubbing against things that were soft, pressing hard things into orifices and otherwise making use of the objects in their daily lives is not especially new to the human creature.
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It’s over the past 10 years saw that we saw plenty of revolutionary advances in sex toy technology. Improved battery life, smaller, more powerful motors, Bluetooth or Wi-Fi-enabled capabilities, proprietary apps, and the invention of air-sucking clit stimulating technology meant that if orgasms are what you’re looking for, they’re not hard to find — or especially expensive, either.
3. Anal Play
Like sex toys, anal play isn’t particularly new to human interactions. In the first decade of the 21st century for much of Western culture, anal was still considered somewhat taboo — that is, until things began to change in a big way in the 2010s.
It’s hard to say why exactly — a combination of factors like the normalization of queerness and shifting attitudes about masculinity probably helped — and hip-hop’s powerful role in modern culture can’t be denied when you consider the way lyrics about anal sex and eating ass helped propel the once taboo act into a position of relative normalcy.
It feels like young people are as likely to engage in anilingus now as they are in hand jobs, something that felt unthinkable 10 short years ago.
4. Consent Education
It’s common in post-Harvey Weinstein commentary to reference the #MeToo movement as evidence of our society’s changing attitudes towards sexual consent, sexual harassment and assault, but things were undeniably shifting long before stars started naming their abusers.
Laws in California and the rise of feminism helped propel what had once been a stunningly niche aspect of sex to the forefront of discussion.
No longer were we engaging in archaic discussions like whether husbands had a right to assault their wives. Now, conversations looked more like convincing people to believe accusers, exposing the insidiousness of things like rape culture and recognizing the unfortunate widespreadness of problems of sexual abuse.
Like consent, contemporary society’s understanding of sexuality blossomed over the course of the 2010s.
As the taboo against homosexuality, bisexuality, lesbianism and queerness generally slowly eroded, musicians, TV hosts, Olympic athletes, CEOs and presidential candidates managed to be out and proud.
RELATED: I’m Gay — Here’s What Straight Guys Taught Me About Masculinity
In addition to normalizing the validity and identity of those primarily attracted to their own gender, the rise of queerness meant that we started to recognize sexuality as a full spectrum — that it’s not only OK, but even normal and common for people to find themselves somewhere between gay and straight.
That’s not to say that it’s perfectly safe to be queer the world over yet, and it may never be as accepted as heterosexuality, but simply to recognize the enormous strides that were made in the past decade.
Many people aren’t fully aware of the devastation that HIV/AIDS wreaked upon the gay community during the 80s, particularly in the United States.
Aside from the actual disease and the way it stole young gay men’s lives, the fear of contracting HIV from a sexual partner left a deep and dark mark on gay people’s senses of self for decades.
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The adoption of PReP (Pre-exposure prophylaxis), usually taken in the form of the medication called Truvada, over the course of the past decade hasn’t eliminated that completely, but it’s hard to see it as anything but a miracle drug at the moment.
The possibility of nullifying HIV transmission by taking PReP, along with advances made in AIDS treatment, means gay men today no longer have to live with the threat of a death sentence potentially hanging over every new hookup.
If you were to describe the concept of Pornhub to someone from the 1970s, they would be absolutely blown away. That’s why it’s a wonder how normal Pornhub and fellow tube sites feel.
The idea of being able to access millions of hours of high-quality sexual video content for free at any time from anywhere on the planet is a revolutionary one. Pornhub has dominated the online pornography scene, serving its clientele with little add-ons to assist in skipping to a specific sex act within a video, promoting the careers of your favorite stars and tailoring certain recommendations to your viewing habits.
You could argue that Pornhub makes accessing porn too easy, but that’s another conversation altogether. The one thing we know? Masturbation will never be the same.
Before the ascendance of smartphones from futuristic miracle device to commonplace piece of hardware owned by almost everyone, if you wanted to see your lover’s naked body at any given time, it was either in person or by physical photograph.
Today, all you have to do is whip out your phone and ask them to send you a nude. Between the exchange of sexy pics, the exchange of sexy texts and the possibility of FaceTiming each other while masturbating, getting sexual together has been completely revolutionized by smartphones.
Half the world away? No worries. So long as you’re both up at the same time, you can have a damn sexy time together as easily as checking the weather.
9. “50 Shades of Grey”
“50 Shades of Grey” tells the story of a journalist getting wrapped up in a relationship with an extremely kinky billionaire. Its meteoric rise to popularity, meanwhile, tells the story of a culture that was starved for a little kink in its sex.
Is it odd that it took a literary trilogy (and subsequent movie adaptations) to help us get better acquainted with BDSM principles that had been popular and well-understand in kink and fetish circles for decades? Yes. Did “50 Shades” get a lot wrong about BDSM? Yes.
Are we all better off living in a world where people who like being tied up in bed have a better shot at meeting people who like tying people up in bed and feeling understood and sexually fulfilled together? You bet.
Whichever way you look at it, condoms are an imperfect solution to the problem of fluid exchange. While they’re very effective at preventing the transmission of STIs, they’re less great at preventing pregnancy if ditched in favor of the pull-out method.
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The surge in popularity of intrauterine devices (IUDs) in the past decade, going from one of the least common methods of pregnancy prevention to something approximately 12 percent of contraception-using women use today, has been a blessing for people who aren’t looking to get pregnant (and people who aren’t interested in causing a pregnancy) with a set-it-and-forget-it approach to contraception. Basically, stick a little piece of plastic or metal into someone’s uterus and boom, no pregnancy for five years.
While IUDs can still fail, and the insertion can often be somewhat painful, they’re incredibly reliable compared to other contraception methods, they don’t require taking a pill every day and many of them don’t even use hormones, meaning users don’t need to worry about mood swings.
IUDs may not be perfect, but they feel like the contraception that a society as advanced as ours deserves, at the very least.
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