[NetBehaviour] Online Dating as the "Third Sexual Revolution"

marc marc.garrett at furtherfield.org
Thu Jul 27 13:53:44 CEST 2006

Online Dating as the "Third Sexual Revolution"

The ability to meet potential sexual and romantic partners online 
represents what might be called the "third sexual revolution" of modern 
times, changing the fundamental ways that couples interact.

The first sexual revolution occurred in the 1920s, when the automobile 
freed young couples from the watchful eyes of their elders for the first 
time, disrupting age-old courting practices and attitudes. The mass 
availability of the automobile culminated at the exact moment when young 
men were returning from World War I, young women were reveling in a new 
wave of personal freedom, and scientific approachs to sexuality, 
spearheaded by Sigmund Freud and others, entered the mainstream .

The 1960s saw the second sexual revolution, with the advent of the birth 
control pill, the Baby Boomers coming of age, further liberation of 
women and the mobilization of the gay/lesbian community. In both cases, 
the result was a new era of sexual liberation and changed attitudes 
about gender roles (although both revolutions were followed by 
backlashes and phenomena that checked excesses, such as AIDS).

We are now seeing the third sexual revolution in the form of online 
dating, which is rewriting the rules for how men and women meet and get 
to know one another. The spread of the Internet is the most obvious 
catalyst, but online dating arrives at a time when the number of single 
people in the US and the world is growing while the number of married 
couples is shrinking. In 2000, the number of singles outnumbered 
households with couples and children for the first time (a figure that 
can partially be attributed to "empty nest" Boomers). These singles 
don't have the time or inclination to engage in "crap shoots" like 
singles bars, and might not have friends and relatives who can introduce 
them to other singles.


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