- All Alone
Recently, there has been a lot of discussion about sexual and romantic desire in young adults (birth cohort ~1995-2002, referred to from now on as Zoomers), as Rod Dreher’s article on bisexuality among young women https://www.theamericanconservative.com/dreher/no-families-no-children-no-future-lgbt-30-percent-carle-c-zimmerman/
(which reports that 30+% of young women and 20% of young men self report as LGBT) struck a nerve among many people. Most of the commenters on his website dismiss all the concerns in his article as overblown. I would like to push him from the other side, as Handle’s Haus does on his recent book, https://handleshaus.wordpress.com/2020/10/06/review-of-rod-drehers-live-not-by-lies/ and note that this is only one of many concerning statistics with regards to sexuality and marriage among the young, which collectively portend disaster. The birth rate is plummeting. https://www.adn.com/nation-world/2019/05/15/why-are-us-birth-rates-plummeting/ Over a quarter of young American men did not have sex at all in 2019, even before COVID-19. https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2019/03/29/share-americans-not-having-sex-has-reached-record-high/ The marriage rate is at its lowest ever, with 70% of people under 40 being unmarried, and most young singles are not looking to get married soon. https://www.usnews.com/news/healthiest-communities/articles/2020-04-29/us-marriage-rate-drops-to-record-low As Dreher himself puts it, no marriage, no families, no future.
I write this essay as a Zoomer university student. In many ways, I am one of the most successful of my generation. I got a near-perfect SAT score, and earned a BS in a STEM degree from a major university in only 3 years. Although I am not an incel, I have had to give a lot of thought to the question of my generation’s sexuality in the past several years, because a large fraction of the guys I have met in high school and college seldom or never went on dates, had sex, or had girlfriends. Many of them still hung out with girls, but a lot of them never connected romantically or sexually. All of it seemed very ominous to me: if one guy can’t get laid, people can write him off as a loser, but if a large percentage of young men are sexually frustrated to the extent that they rarely get any attention from women, there is something very odd going on. So I found myself forced to theorize about what exactly has befallen us, and what are the roots and implications of mass sexlessness in America.
Why, overall, do men and women desire one another less?
As pointed out before, the girls were sexually uninterested in a large number of the guys. As I looked at the statistics and the boys in question, I came up with a simple first answer as to why the percentage of sexless men was so high: the average Zoomer guy is extremely physically unattractive relative to his ancestors. He suffers from both the highest obesity rate ever https://www.mlive.com/news/2020/09/us-adult-obesity-rate-tops-42-percent-highest-on-record.html and the lowest testosterone levels for his age (https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S1743609519315292). He is so physically weak that 30-year-old women have literally been measured to have stronger grip strength than him, and David French has mocked him for it. (https://www.nationalreview.com/2016/08/male-physical-decline-masculinity-threatened/) Moreover, if grip strength has anything close to a normal distribution, then a significant fraction (>15%) of young males are over a standard deviation weaker than that average! This physical and hormonal profile alone likely plays a large role in why no girls want many of these guys.
On the other hand, a few guys, even among similar demographics of people, got lots of casual sex. In other words, the inequality of the distribution of sexual partner count for men is high, likely higher than two decades ago: more incels, and a small class of players. (Proof of this is the fact that STD infection rates have gone up https://www.webmd.com/sexual-conditions/news/20191008/std-rates-continue-to-rise-in-the-us#1 , but at a far higher rate for women than men https://www.healthgrades.com/right-care/sexual-health/why-women-are-more-at-risk-for-stds, meaning that more women are having sex with a smaller subset of men.) But there aren’t that many attractive guys, so even if they have sex with many girls, on average people have less sex than before, since the majority of sexual encounters occur in relationships. https://www.cnn.com/2017/07/19/health/americans-less-sex-kerner/index.html In my opinion, this leads to worse relationships for everyone, as the girls see unreliable, disease-ridden c(h)ads on the one hand and sexually unattractive losers on the other and conclude that all men fall into one of these two boxes. (Observe how the same girls will switch from complaining about how men are cheating, narcissistic bastards to then hating on incels and virgins who should get out more, sometimes within the span of a few seconds. Obviously, the male virgin didn’t cheat on her, she’s just complaining about the men of both categories, even if she’s more willing to have sex with one type than the other.)
The main thrust of Dreher’s article is pointing out that a third of Zoomer women do not consider themselves straight. This matches my experience. However, it follows logically from the facts underlying the distribution of the number of men’s sexual partners. Because the average T levels have declined so much, it is likely that even the more attractive Zoomer guys are about as masculine as the average men of 30-50 years ago, and the somewhat below average sexual losers of today would have been considered total weaklings and freaks. (Researchers have had to adjust their baseline T level several times due to the continued decline in testosterone. https://www.healio.com/news/endocrinology/20120325/generational-decline-in-testosterone-levels-observed ) Since women have a higher baseline tendency toward bisexualism than men https://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-3209182/Women-likely-bisexual-men-change-minds.html , many women in this environment find other women about as attractive as they do the sexless soy boys around them. These women often then conclude that they are bisexual, having mostly platonic relationships with girls while friend zoning the average guys and occasionally having flings with the minority of hot guys, who both set the tone for relationships with the other guys and whom the girls disdain for not committing. Had the girls been around men who were more attractive on average (historically normal T levels) and had the marital institution been more intact, many of the women calling themselves bisexual today would likely have desired those men instead of women. Similarly, I suspect based on experience that much of the smaller increase in non-straight orientations among men is a function of both the same hormonal changes that lowered testosterone levels and incels going gay/trans because they can’t obtain sex with women. (I have seen the latter happen with people I know either physically having sex with gays or equally desperate incels just to get off, or else choose to express sexuality using easily accessible non-straight porn and fetishes over relationships with women.)
But the girls themselves are not very attractive either. Like the men, they have the highest obesity rate ever. Add to this the increase in unappealing grooming habits such dying their hair and cutting it short, having large tattoos and piercings, and side effects from antidepressants and SSRI’s (which are prescribed more frequently than ever, and which cause loss of libido and other behavioral changes) and you wind up with far less attractive women than before. The famous Billie Eilish picture (https://hollywoodlife.com/2020/11/30/billie-eilish-tank-top-photo-body-shaming/) is a good example of this: dead eyes, thin bleach-burned hair in a garish color, visibly overweight at 18, and no intention whatsoever to dress well. In short, many of them don’t care about pleasing men at all. Obviously, many young women are still attractive, but they are a far smaller percentage of young women than before, so the difficulty of attracting even a sub-30 BMI, straight woman of average looks increases proportionately. But overall, after having seen American Zoomer women, I predict that the visa officials of Hungary, Colombia, and Thailand are going to be awfully busy in the coming decades.
Another factor in all of this is the mental health crisis. It’s hard to attract a date when you are depressed and just want to lay in bed all day. Among the young, clinical neuroses such as depression and anxiety are being treated at record levels, often with libido-suppressing drugs. At many colleges, a third or more of students have mental health diagnoses, up to over 40% at the worst. It is also worse among young women. At some schools where the problem is worst, 48% of female undergraduates have been diagnosed with at least one mental health condition in their lives, along with 32% of males. 26% of undergraduates in the official survey have been diagnosed with two or more mental health conditions. (https://boynton.umn.edu/sites/boynton.umn.edu/files/2019-09/CSHS-2018-UMN-Twin-Cities.pdf) This is a major crisis, which has hardly received any attention at all. Attending many in-person campuses in America in this day and age is literally living in a mental asylum. This was true at the end of the last decade: it’s undoubtedly worse this year because of COVID, as universities imprison students in their rooms with no tuition discount. (https://www.nytimes.com/2020/09/09/business/colleges-coronavirus-dormitories-quarantine.html) When I visited my university, it was the only place I have ever seen where most people, including the students, wear their masks outside, terrified of death from the flu. The mental problems often lead to overeating, which makes people obese, cutting, which leaves terrifying scars on people’s limbs, and social withdrawal, which makes it hard to meet people. People are also more paranoid: a significant fraction of college-age girls interpret behavior as simple as basic compliments about their appearance as sexual harassment. Each of these changes makes the people of my generation less attractive and less willing to pursue. When you add them together you get a picture of sluggish, isolated, tortured paranoiacs, for whom sex and romance are the least of their worries.
Following this are the declines in social skills and common ground. 1/4 of people in their early 20s have no friends, and many even claim to have no acquaintances. https://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-7316089/A-QUARTER-Millennials-say-no-friends-study-finds.html One reason behind this is that young people are more awkward than older people were at the same age. In my opinion, this is caused by the decline in face-to-face communication, the advent of social media, and many of the previously mentioned trends like mental illness. When people don’t talk as much to one another, their conversation skills decline, and consequently they are less able to form relationships. But another factor is that social media radicalizes people. It allows them to go into their box and isolate themselves from people with other views. They are far less tolerant of others, far less forgiving of slights, so they will cut off friends and family over a single remark or vote. In my experience, this is what defines in particular the mindset of online progressives. On the other side, since beliefs as milquetoast as belief in two genders will cost you as many friends in this environment as something like Holocaust denial or wanting to repeal the 19th Amendment, many young right-wingers react to this pre-cancellation by being willing to go very, very far right, isolating them further from the rest of the population. On this note, the gender gap in political beliefs is more like a chasm among the young: young women vote left, men vote right. These trends have only accelerated in recent years, and as Americans continue to marry, if at all, later than ever before, it is unclear how and whether this divide will ever be bridged on a large scale. These trends should be included with the decline in in-person social skills, because social skills must be deployed within society, which these days is social media.
To boil these phenomena down to one general trend, the bleakness of the Zoomers’ current sexual environment stems from an across-the-board deterioration of the quality of the people of that generation, who are on balance fatter, weaker, uglier, less able to get along, and more neurotic than any recent generation. This is a very harsh assessment, but it is undeniably true. It is difficult enough for men and women to love and desire each other in the best of times, when the men are virile and the women beautiful; when neither sex can fulfill its role and the people of both sexes are slovenly and demented, it is almost impossible. Lest I sound cruel: I do not blame my peers at all for our general flabbiness. Rather, these are effects of the poor education of the society that created us, taught us lies from childhood, and set millions of us on the course for misery and disaster. The majority of my generation were raised by single or divorced moms and career women too busy to be around, and were shunted off, while being given junk food and often mind-altering drugs every day, to the supervision of teachers who were themselves the lowest performing students in college. https://magoosh.com/gre/2016/gre-scores-by-program-major/ Many of us were never taught how to work a basic job, how to take care of ourselves, or how to make friends, let alone advanced STEM skills or high culture. It should be no surprise that people who have no good role models, don’t have career skills, don’t exercise, and don’t know how to relate to the opposite sex don’t even leave their parents’ basement, let alone marry.
- Mouse Utopia
So what are the implications of all this? Something like mass male involuntary celibacy, or a correspondingly dramatic increase in female bisexuality is a canary in the coal mine. After having met my peers and seen how they act around one another, I am convinced that society simply cannot continue with this sort of unprecedented and aberrant behavior, and will collapse if these trends are not reversed. Weimar Germany has been overstudied as a comparison, so I went about formulating comparisons between what I saw and a known control group of affluent, mentally ill test subjects: the Mouse Utopia.
In both the famous experiment and the youth of my generation, all physical needs were amply provided for. The subjects never went hungry, they always had enough shelter and a soft bed, they were given opportunities to be around other subjects. But in neither case was there any need for struggle or work. The subjects, like my peers, barely needed to move around (or get a license to drive) https://www.treehugger.com/why-arent-young-people-interested-getting-licences-or-buying-cars-4857297 anymore. And because the stakes were so low, all kinds of perverse effects came about. Homosexuality flourished, even as the average amount of sex declined. There were many males, labeled the “beautiful ones,” who became obsessed with their appearance, even as they never actually mated. (Google “looksmaxxing.”) Females became more neurotic, even as the TFR plummeted. Eventually the colony died out because none of the mice were reproducing anymore. To compare this to America: a few years ago, 47.6% of women 15-44 had never had children, the highest ever. https://www.huffpost.com/entry/childless-more-women-are-not-having-kids-says-census_n_7032258 By 2030, I predict that this figure will probably be at least 55%. If anything, this percentage will likely be higher after this year, as everyone has lost a year of dating due to COVID. This is not good, though there is obviously still a long way until no one reproduces.
But people are not rats, and there is another factor besides the affluence in which we were raised that could serve as both cause and effect of much dysfunction. Almost without exception, societies have had beliefs in some sort of god or morality not rooted in the physical world. These common beliefs and values form common notions of morality and serve as anchors to what the society is and how people can promote it. In the past twenty years, there has been an unprecedented collapse of religion in America, so that we went from the most Christian developed country to one of the less religious ones. https://www.pewforum.org/2019/10/17/in-u-s-decline-of-christianity-continues-at-rapid-pace/ The churches are almost completely irrelevant, by and large having failed to pass on either faith (Gen Z is the most atheistic generation on record https://www.barna.com/research/atheism-doubles-among-generation-z/ ) or any sort of theological, biblical, or historical knowledge. http://magazine.biola.edu/article/14-spring/the-crisis-of-biblical-illiteracy/ Dreher himself has done a great job describing this with his articles. The result of this shift is that in modern America, young people are presented with nothing positive to aspire to, and no reason to live. But the desire for some kind of transcendence never goes away. Antiracism and antifascism are the closest thing to morality taught by schools and the media, and have done the most work so far at filling the void left by the fall of the church.
The problem is that these ideologies are clearly inferior substitutes for the Christian religion. They are merely negative identities: even in the names, they define themselves purely by what they oppose. No one and nothing is ever good enough for them. Self-proclaimed antiracists hate Abe Lincoln the Emancipator for something he believed about black people. Self-proclaimed antifascists disdain General Patton for something he said about homosexuals. Communism, bad as it was, at least presented a desirable equilibrium, a utopia that would occur after the revolution. Modern American leftism has nothing of the sort; it is mere entropy, fake ugly men dressed as fake ugly women saying fake ugly words. This is why self-hating and freakish progressives can tirelessly work to take over institutions and cancel people, but they can’t create, preserve, or even measure value, so they just run everything into the ground. Despite routing conservatives over and over, they are terminally unhappy because they can’t produce anything of value, they don’t know how to love, and they can never put enough effort in to please their vengeful and jealous god. This is why half of the most progressive young people have mental health diagnoses, over twice as much as conservatives. https://theothermccain.com/2020/04/22/study-56-of-liberal-women-under-age-30-have-been-diagnosed-as-mentally-ill/ And yet, this ideology is all the leftists were taught and all they know, so if they feel sad, many of them will just push harder politically, even as everything collapses around them.
In other words, the difference between people and rats is that people have souls. Widespread spiritual anomie leads to much more dangerous problems than ordinary physical softness. The dysgenic trends of mouse utopia led to perverted and anti-natal behavior, but the mice could not understand what was going on. They could all go insane on the individual level, but you would never see mass movements of mice working together to burn down the lab. My point is that it is no coincidence that one of the first major historical events in which Zoomers played a significant part was riots around the country where resentful young people burned down their towns. Like the rats, Zoomers don’t own anything but what others gave them. Unlike the rats, the Zoomers can sense that something is very wrong with this country and their lives. It’s why so many are political extremists. The statistically minded can see that Social Security and Medicare will go bankrupt decades before people born in 1995 retire, https://reason.com/2020/04/24/social-security-will-be-insolvent-even-sooner-thanks-to-covid-19-pandemic/ and that the median 30-year-old hardly has any assets after over a decade in the workforce. https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2019/12/03/precariousness-modern-young-adulthood-one-chart/ This means that not only are the Zoomers spiritually poorer than anyone before them, but they can see that they will be materially worse off, even than Millennials who will at least inherit what remains of Boomer wealth. No one has prepared them spiritually for struggle or hardship, and so I predict that amidst the spiritual emptiness, all kinds of cults and radical ideologies will continue to take root.
The population of the Mouse Utopia declined in a a clean curve with a peak and a smooth downward slope. I do not believe the Zoomers will continue population decline in this manner. Certainly, many of them, maybe even the majority, won’t have kids, as mentioned before. But the reason why Mouse Utopia could continue as long as it did was that the researchers were always giving the mice more water and cheese, whereas it is doubtful that the people of my generation are functional enough, on the collective technical, social, or even physical levels, to keep the lights on. (An example: 71% of American youth are now ineligible to join the military due to educational, criminal, and health disqualifications, https://www.ydr.com/story/news/2019/05/14/military-service-most-young-people-dont-qualify-careers/1185816001/ and the US Army has been forced in the past few years to allow bipolar and self-harming recruits just to meet the quota. https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2018/04/26/army-issues-waivers-1-000-recruits-history-bipolar-depression-self-mutilation/554917002/ There are obvious confounding factors, but the point stands that institutions are significantly lowering standards because there are fewer healthy candidates to recruit.) The quarantine alone caused a quarter of Generation Z adults to think about killing themselves, far worse than any other age demographic in America. https://www.politico.com/news/2020/08/13/cdc-mental-health-pandemic-394832 Just imagine what would happen if the pharmacies ran out of Zoloft. Like the rats in Mouse Utopia, Zoomers are trapped in a world of prosperity they did not create and do not understand. Unlike the rats, the artificial bubble constructed by society around the Zoomers will collapse as their elders retire and American prosperity declines.
To sum this up, the relationship problems of my generation illustrate two far greater trends, which will intertwine and play out in various ways over the course of the next few decades. The first, which played out in the Mouse Utopia, is that Generation Z on balance is the weakest generation, having been raised by a micromanaging and decadent society to be soft and utterly dependent on the system. The second is that they are thoroughly spiritually bankrupt, atomized, and lonely, leading to corresponding longings, confusion, and rage which will at minimum unbalance the system. Rod Dreher is one of the few mainstream thinkers to ever touch on these issues, and for this is met with consistent mockery and denial by his commenters that these constitute problems at all. I have witnessed, in both statistics and personal experience, the widespread destructive trends of poor mental and physical health, inability to socialize or pair-bond, and loss of faith and spiritual values. They are very real, and they have caused and will continue to cause such tremendous suffering and destruction that unchecked, they threaten the US’s ability to continue as a nation.
I will finish on a positive note, and state that I have hope for the future. For every trend described here, there are exceptions. There will be a core of Zoomers who will buck these trends, struggling mightily against all odds as the world falls apart around them. The future of America belongs to them and their heroic efforts. They must be supported and trained at all costs. (This is not very complicated to do: if a young person you know is less than thirty pounds overweight, has friends, is not on psychotropic drugs, and can hold a steady job, they are already ahead of the majority of their peers.) But altogether, this is a lost generation, and it will be one of the most important and arduous tasks of any serious political movement in America to rebuild these broken men and women to the extent that we can.