Luczon: The sexual Filipino (Part 1 of 2)

IN JAPAN, studies and surveys on sex and population have shown that their young adults of today are not much into sex, let alone having long-time relationship with a significant other or considering jumping into marriage.

This was backed by a survey in 2011 by the National Institute of Population and Social Security Research, which found that 61 percent of unmarried men and 49 percent of women aged 18-34 were not in any kind of romantic relationship, a rise of almost 10 percent from five years earlier.

Another study from the research and development wing of Japanese insurance company, Meiji Yasuda Lifefound, showed that a third of people under 30 had never dated at all (there were no figures for same-sex relationships). A survey in 2013 by the Japan Family Planning Association (JFPA) found that 45 percent of women aged 16-24 "were not interested in or despised sexual contact.” More than a quarter of men felt the same way.

In the United States, the country of which most Filipinos see as (sexually) “liberated” and “free,” the “Millennials” have less sexual engagements compared to their older generations.

According to Guttmacher Institute, between the years of 2006 and 2008, 11 percent of teenage girls and 14 percent of teenage boys reported having sex before age 15 -- compared to 19 percent and 21 percent in 1995, when “Gen X-ers” would be coming of age.

Jean Twenge, a psychology professor at San Diego State University, analyzed data from a survey of more than 33,000 adults in the U.S. to measure the country's shifting sexual landscape.

Twenge said that the reasons that millennials may be delaying sex could be practical, because today's young people are generally aware of risks of sexually transmitted infections and unplanned pregnancies, thanks to sex education and the Internet. Recent data from US government’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggested that there are more than 110 million total Sexually Transmitted Infections among American men and women.

Twenge added that while this generation brought attention to the idea of "friends with benefits," they (the Millennials) actually may be having "sex within a smaller circle of people," and not doing the serious dating that might actually lead to more partners.

Of course, sexual activities all across age groups will always be present in societies, but the figures of decline from Japan and the United States were a centerpiece of curiosity, especially that these countries both belong to highly-developed nations and in addition, have legal operations in the production of pornographic media materials.

And here comes the Philippines: a nation that prides itself to be the only Christian-dominated (if not highly religious and conservative) country in Asia, which is also the only country in Asia where the rate of teen pregnancies have increased in the last 20 years, while other Asia-Pacific countries seemed to have declined its figures.

In a recent report by the Associated Press, UN Population Fund (UNFPA) country representative Klaus Beck disclosed the agency’s data where girls aged 15 to 19 make up 10 percent of the country's population of 100 million and one out of 10 of them have already given birth. This fertility rate in that age group is 57 births for every 1,000 girls as of 2013 is in fact higher than rates found by surveys every five years from 1998.

Adding to this, the Philippines' total fertility rate was three births per woman as of 2013, falling at a slow pace of 1.6 percent per year from seven births per woman in 1960. But the poorest quintile of the population has a higher fertility rate of 5.2 births per woman as of 2013.

The data goes beyond the issues on morality, which Filipinos are fond of discussing about. This is something that we need to discuss under the spectrum of health and its allied sciences. This has become not just a social discourse but also a political narrative, albeit the general idea that sex is a pleasurable physical exercise.

[Email: nefluczon@gmail.com]
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