By the 1990s, the AIDS scare was over and everyone realized that the plague was confined to male homosexuals, needle drugs, and Africans. The sexual chill of the 1980s was over: the popular culture of film and music had continued to get more and more explicit – some would say “degenerate” – even while people’s actual behavior had become puritanical. The social shift was centered around the mainstreaming of condoms. The official story was that teenagers were going to have sex anyway so they should use condoms to avoid AIDS and pregnancy.
While the first sexual revolution of the 1960s still had double standards and jealousy, the second sexual revolution had shifted. If everyone was promiscuous, then no one was a “slut.” Since no one was getting married or having children any time soon, teenage relationships were by nature temporary and among peers partners were swapped: Jane dated Billy for a while, then Jane hooked up with Billy’s friend Mike while Jane’s friend Sally started dating Billy. The timeline simply got shorter and the number of partners increased.
So it was only a matter of time until the timeline of the relationships got shorter and the partner swapping more immediate. High school parties where couples would disappear into a bedroom simply evolved into high school parties where more than one couple would be in the bedroom, or on the same bed. Or where there weren’t couples as much as groups.
Still, there were some lines that were simply not crossed, at least in the 1990s middle to upper middle class Washington DC suburbs of the 1990s. The rules were essentially non-negotiable:
1. No coloreds. Maybe a half Korean girl would be in the mix occasionally, but like an Abercrombie and Fitch catalog, this was a very White affair. Washington DC, even in the 1990s, was most certainly a racially diverse area, but integrated schools had not led to integrated social circles, and rarely intimacy. All throughout the 1980s Black and White couples were lauded by the media (OJ & Nicole) and the United Colors of Bennetton had spent a decade trying to push a slightly less sexual version of the Abercrombie and Fitch orgy aesthetic, but to no avail.
2. No fags. Male homosexuality was simply not tolerated. This was an era when gays were “coming out of the closet” and TV shows like Friends made it clear that “homophobia” was uncool. Nevertheless, teenage boys, even if they talked the talk, were simply not going to walk the walk. They may not have been going around queer bashing but neither were they going to invited suspected gays, much less out gays, to their parties. And the occasional friend, suspected or known to be gay, that was invited to a social party were simply never invited to the after parties.
Of course “bi-curious” girls were not even considered “lesbian,” merely a form of exhibitionist foreplay.
3. No rape. This was the era of third wave feminism. It was not cool to do something to a girl who was passed out – that passed out girl was your friend. It simply was not considered manly and a rough form of “consent” was expected. Of course “peer pressure” wasn’t considered “coercion” and it would be another decade before concepts like “rape culture” would be popularized – quite possibly precisely because a decade or so of these attitudes created a backlash, and the teenage girls who organized these parties had to regain some plausible deniability.
4. No jealousy. Of course people did get jealous, but no one owned anyone and when people did pair off and form serious couples, they simply didn’t go to the parties anymore. This was in a sense, “sexual utopia in power” and F. Roger Devlin might say. Women – really, girls – were the organizers here. They decided which boys to invite and it was their consent that powered the whole culture.
The style was rave, baby doll dresses and neo-bohemian. The soundtrack was electronic dance music and alternative rock. The drugs were alcohol, marijuana, and MDMA. (LSD and mushrooms were quite often the initiation into the scene, but those aren’t party drugs.)
No one knew anything about “BDSM” or even what it meant, the blindfolds and bondage were simply party favors, a natural development. There was always a certain “switch” dynamic – both boys and girls could be the one being blindfolded and “worked,” but the few times when an actual male submissive would want some sort of humiliation play, it would skeeve the girls out; he would be labeled a “creep” and no longer invited to the parties.
The age to play? 16.
Of course, as always, standards began to slip after the first generation. LGBT became more militant. Consent became blurry. Jealousy, always present, became more pronounced as “experimentation” morphed into “lifestyle” and the window of opportunity to leave it all behind got smaller. It you’re in the scene from 16-26, you’ve had a decade of experience at temporary “relationships” and zero experience with keeping anything permanent. The color line started to blur, which ruined the entire concept of consent, as consent is a cultural norm, shared among those with the same race and culture. Little sisters were not rebelling against the sexual chill of the 1980s as their older sisters had done, thus had a “starting point” that was much further along than their older siblings.
The impact of internet pornography started to be felt. Before, the parties, the social scene, WAS the initiation – it WAS the porn. Once hard core internet pornography went mainstream, boys – and girls – already had expectations, and the expectations were no longer set by peers in their own social circles, but by professional pornographers and pimps from Los Angeles, always eager to “segment” a market in order to micro-market to fetishes with pin point accuracy.
There’s all the difference in the world between BEING the product, and watching a product being advertised.
What finally killed it off was camera phones and social media. Rumors can be denied, video evidence broadcast instantly to thousands could not.
As the Unabomber Ted Kazinsky might say, technology affects everything and society gets further and further away from the natural order. Only an industrial society would postpone marriage and family formation long past a biologically appropriate age in order to spend the youth’s most productive years learning to run the machines and push the paperwork. Feeding the machine becomes more important that reproducing the race; the machines become more important than the biology. So society will go back and forth between repression and degeneracy as long as it suppresses biology.
The Onion: Teen Wastes Prime Childbearing Years Going To High School