Zhana is a researcher who works in two fields – one’s heterosexuality, the other is casual sex and promiscuity.
What does “casual sex mean?
“There are a lot of definitions of it. A broader one that I use in my research is, the sex you have when you’re not emotionally attached and/or there’s no romantic commitment to the other. Some people define it more narrowly, as intercourse you have with somebody you met less than 24 hours before, and lasts just for one night, a one-night stand.”
Do you feel that casual sex is something new in sexuality?
“No, I feel that people have always found ways to have sex with others without commitment, although nowadays it is probably more frequent and for more people, it is more visible and structured. Unfortunately, we have no accurate records of what people did a thousand years ago, so we have to figure it out based on images, literature, etc. You may think of prostitution throughout history as casual sex, adding the economic transaction. What is clear is that today we face the “hook-up culture”, people discuss it, and it’s in the open.
I’m not sure that has always been so. Wikipedia speaks of an average of 4 sexual partners during a typical life in the Western culture, so this “casual sex culture” you mention may surely be something new.
“The sheer scale of the phenomena is the new thing. Before it was circumscribed to a minority, it was taboo, you had no chance, you lived in a village, in a space where you felt the social and family pressures; and even though, people still found opportunities.
What has happened in our society for this change to become? Why are people more promiscuous?
“There’s a lot that’s happened! The sexual revolution, the penicillin that cured syphilis of WWII, contraception – rules started to mutate, it was accepted. In the 80’s, things took a step back after the AIDS explosion, only to regain freedom step by step, thanks to the Internet, the delay of marriage, migration from town to city…
“Even in the USA, sexual freedom is only available to a minority of people, it really just happens in the big cities and college campuses; meanwhile, in the small towns, things are still more conservative.
How did you choose promiscuity as a study subject?
“Sexuality is a very interesting matter. In our society, we’re taught to be sexy and sensual but just in a certain way, and there’s a lot of rules about it. It can be pretty bad. There’s one set of messages coming from your parents, from school, religion, preaching that sex is bad unless it’s within the confines of marriage, and a different one from friends, media and the Internet telling you: “oh, sex is great!” Just to say so, we’re living in a contradictory time”.