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Cheap Sex

Sex is cheap. Coupled sexual activity has become more widely available than ever. Cheap sex has been made possible by two technologies that have little to do with each other-the wide uptake of the Pill and high-quality pornography-and its distribution made more efficient by a third, the uptake of online dating. Together, they drive down the cost of real sex, have created a massive slow-down in the development of significant relationships, put women's fertility at risk, and have even taken a toll on men's marriageability. What the West has witnessed of late is not the social construction of sexuality or marriage or family forms toward different possibilities as a product of political will, but technology-driven social change. This revolution in sexual autonomy also ushered in an era of plastic sexuality and prompted the flourishing on non-heterosexual identities. This book takes readers on a tour inside the American mating market, and highlights key patterns that characterize young adults' experience today, including the early timing of first sex in relationships, overlapping partners, the hazards of online dating, frustrating returns on their relational investments, and a failure to link future goals like marriage with how they are conducting their current relationships. Drawing upon several large nationally-representative surveys, in-person interviews with 100 men and women, and the assertions of scholars ranging from evolutionary psychologists to gender theorists, what emerges is a story about social change, technological breakthroughs, and the unintended consequences of women's economic success. Sex and its satisfactions are becoming increasingly important in contemporary life. No longer playing a supporting role in enduring relationships, sex has emerged as a central priority in relationship development and continuation. But unravel the layers, and it is obvious that the emergence of <"industrial sex>" is far more a reflection of men's interests than women's.
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About the Author

Mark Regnerus is Associate Professor of Sociology, University of Texas, Austin. His research is in the areas of sexual behavior, family, marriage, and religion. He is the author of Forbidden Fruit (OUP, 2007) and Premarital Sex in American (OUP, 2011).


"A magisterial study of the changing sexual landscape today, which gives special attention to the impact of the digital revolution on sexual behaviour and relationships. Will become a standard work of reference in the field." -- Anthony Giddens, author of The Transformation of Intimacy: Sexuality, Love, and Eroticism in Modern Societies "Mark Regnerus has been a pioneer in the study of how sexuality is changing in modern society. This book is an utterly fascinating, sometimes disturbing, occasionally provocative, brilliantly thoughtful, and always informative account of what he has learned about sex in America in the 21st century. It offers a wealth of insights about changes in how love relates to sex and friendship, in how people form and change their sexual self-concepts, and in the directions of sexual trends. This is an indispensable read for anyone wishing to understand the sex lives of today's adults, as well as how the rapid changes in sexuality reverberate through the complex negotiation of romantic relationships." -- Roy F. Baumeister, co-author of Willpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength "Mark Regnerus shows us that when sexual access is plentiful and requires little effort, then sex is cheap--easy to get and not a big deal. The shift from expensive sex to cheap sex was ignited by the pill, fueled by the internet and dating sites and the ready availability of high-quality pornography. The consequences of cheap sex are profound and complex, and not all positive. Regnerus has a breezy, likable way of telling this fascinating and engaging story. A great read." -- Linda Waite, Lucy Flower Professor in Urban Sociology, University of Chicago "Too many young men in America are checked out from work, family, and community. Why are so many of our young men floundering? In this provocative new book, Cheap Sex, Mark Regnerus argues that the availability of low-cost sex and the decline of marriage have made it harder for young men to embrace adult responsibilities. Everyone concerned about the plight of young men in America should wrestle with the arguments in this important book." -- W. Bradford Wilcox, Director, National Marriage Project, University of Virginia

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