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Why sex will never be the same post-pandemic

How the coronavirus will likely have a permanent impact on our sex lives and society

Why sex will never be the same post-pandemic How the coronavirus will likely have a permanent impact on our sex lives and society

In March of last year, as the global pandemic brought the world to a standstill, it also halted the happenings of our sex lives in a way that would change things forever. As countries shut down, and we were all put into indefinite isolation for the sake of public health, many of us went into survival mode and scrambled in search of ways to ensure the fulfilment of one of humanity’s basic physiological needs  — sex

As the fear of the coronavirus became widespread, causal sex became out of the question for singles and those who weren’t living with their partners — 71% of singles in America reported they haven’t had sex since the beginning of the pandemic — so the most obvious solution lied in the gem of virtual sex and self pleasure. In fact governments advocated for this, and some like the State of New York even encouraged masturbation claiming “You are your safest sex partner”. 

The impact of this was shown in the numbers as countries like Italy saw a 57% increase on sites like Pornhub in March; Tinder recorded it’s record breaking 3 billion number of swipes on March 29th; Onlyfans went from 7.5 million users to 85 million; and sex toys spiked with some companies reporting 30-200% increase in sales. In New Zealand the sale of adult toys tripled within 48 hours before their lockdown and Emily Writes, a spokesperson for a New Zealand based Adult Toy Megastore, explained to The Guardian, “We’re selling a lot of beginner toys ... all our beginner ranges are very popular. It definitely looks like people are saying: ‘I’ve got time, I might try something new.’” This was also evident in a new research conducted by Kinsey Institute , that showed that 17% of a sample of 1,200 participants admitted they tried at least one new sexual activity since the pandemic began, the most common ones being sexting, sending nudes and sharing sexual fantasies with others.

Whether it was out of boredom, in search of mental escape, or from a genuine yearning for sex, millions of people across the world went a journey with themselves that opened a door to self discovery,

“At the beginning of the pandemic … a lot of people wanted to unpack why they haven’t explored new parts of their sexual identities. Some may have thought it was ‘wrong,’ but the isolation from society allowed them the opportunity to figure out what their desires are in the first place. Questions of where their attraction truly lies has come up for a lot of people, ” explained Maryland-based author and sexologist Donna Oriowo

The results of this collective long-term commitment to masturbation and self-fulfilment is something that we can and should expect to last a long time. The lessons we learned from our bodies from months of self-play will very likely influence the ways in which we interact with our partners in the future, and if it went all so well, some might even choose to continue their sexual abstinence for another year or so. It’s also important to note that the pandemic didn’t have this revelational effect on everyone’s sexual activity, but that it also had the reaction for some where it killed their libidos,

“There are people who are going to town and having more sex and buying more toys, and there are people for whom the stress of the pandemic is so great it has the opposite reaction, in particular because of stress related to family health or financial stress,” explained Rachel Braun Scherl, Female Health Consultant in article with Forbes.

The openness towards the conversation on masturbation and cyber-sex  in a societal scale may also open the floor for its destigmatization. During lockdown musician Lily Allen created a manifesto with the viral hashtag #IMasturbateDoYou?, American nursing students publicly admitted to creating solo content for Onlyfans profiles to sustain themselves, and the general media and health authorities approached the conversation of masturbation with new found enthusiasm. As things are (hopefully) winding down to the end of the pandemic, one can only hope that this open approach around masturbation and online-sex continues, not as something to do when you have no choice, but as a celebrated form of sexual self-expression.