I concede that poverty is not a very sexy topic to discuss. It’s right up there with dead kittens, crying babies, and Paulie Shore movies in terms of unsexy issues. However, it is worth discussing because, like it or not, poverty profoundly affects people.
I’m not just talking about starving kids in Africa either. According to the World Bank, over half the global population lives on less than $2.50 a day. That’s right. Half the global population has to survive on the price of a mid-sized latte from Starbucks. Even though we are getting better compared to several decades ago, it’s still a big deal.
So why am I focusing on poverty? Why am I, an aspiring erotica/romance writer, making a big deal about this issue? Well, there is a sort of kinky pragmatism to it. I understand that sexy erotica/romance stories aren’t necessities. You can’t eat it or pay your rent with it. That means a world full of poverty is also a world where nobody has money to by my books. In that sense, my concern is somewhat self-serving.
That’s not to say I’m of the Ayan Rand branch of philosophy when it comes to poverty. That’s why I made such a big deal of the Universal Basic Income, which I believe will become more and more appealing as we enter an age when machines do more work. However, there’s another reason why poverty matters to me and should matter to everybody with functioning genitals.
It’s true. Poverty affects people in profound ways. So naturally, it would also affect your sex life as well. Believe it or not, people do get paid to study this stuff. Research has correlated poverty with risky sexual behavior that leads to very unsexy impacts. However, the data gets even unsexier than that.
According to census data, birth rates plummet during recessions. That makes sense. Poverty causes a lot of stress and nearly every bit of credible research shows that stress is right up there with bloody rectal warts in terms of things that kill the mood.
Stress makes it hard for a man to get an erection. It makes it hard for a woman to get moist. It makes it hard to set a nice, sexy mood. Stress is the equivalent of kryptonite to sex and what causes more stress than concerns over money?
That’s not a rhetorical question, by the way. That’s a serious question that many people, who are much smarter than me, have asked and studied. According to the American Psychological Association, the biggest sources of stress involve money, work, and the economy. These are the top three and they’re all tied to poverty, both directly and indirectly.
The impact of stress and poverty on our sex lives is painfully obvious. However, the way in which that impact manifests in the modern world is changing. It’s still as big a mood-killer as it ever was, but it’s using an exceedingly flawed system to its advantage. If it were a super-villain in a comic book, it wouldn’t even need a master plan. It just needs to work smarter and not harder.
The current generation of young people, the Millennials as they’re often labeled, are at a severe disadvantage compared to previous generations and it has horrible implications for their sex lives. For one, they had the misfortune of becoming adults during the worst job market in a century. People are living longer, working longer, and not giving good-paying jobs to the generation that reveres selfies and Kim Kardashians ass.
Beyond fewer job prospects, there’s one other burden that’s crushing Millennials and their libidos. They are entering the adult world with crushing levels of student loan debt. At the moment, the average student loan debt it approximately $37,172. According to Pew, that’s a 352-percent increase since 1990. Other than stock in Apple, Netflix, and Amazon, few assets have increased that much over that span of time.
This is where it gets personal for me because this has impacted me directly. I went to college. I graduated from a major public university with honors after four years. I did have to go into debt and work a summer job to pay for college, but it was not $37,172. It actually came out to around $10,000. However, I worked my ass off, and lived at home for a few years, to pay that off. It’s as unglamorous as it sounds.
It’s also an option that not every student has when they graduate. Some students have parents who aren’t there to support them for whatever reasons, be they tragic or trivial. Even if they are, they may still end up getting a job at Starbucks to pay off that debt and that’s just not going to cut it.
When I was in college, I had classmates who had over $100,000 in debt, just to attend. That’s basically a mortgage and we still expect these young people to come out of college, get to work, and start making babies to keep the species going? Then, they have the audacity to wonder why some students end up doing porn on the side?
With all these burdens, is it really that surprising that Millennials are less sexually active than any previous generation before them? It has nothing to do with prudishness either. I’m sure many Millennials would like to have more sex, but how can they? Between the stress of a lousy job market and massive loads of student debt, how can they even get in the mood?
This is why poverty matters, both to starving kids in Africa and young people in America. These issues do have solutions. Europe already has policies that make college affordable, and even free, in many cases. There are also absurd legal practices like not allowing students to discharge loans in bankruptcy that can be changed.
Throw in other measures like a Universal Basic Income and maybe, just maybe, people will be less stressed and more inclined to get intimate with one another. More intimacy means even less stress. It also means stronger bonds, stronger families, and better lives in general. If it also means that people will be more inclined to read books by erotica/romance writers as well, then that’s just a nice bonus.