Sex in the 2000s: The top 10 changes in how we get down to business

By age 50, more than 80 percent of American women will contract at least one strain of the human papillomavirus, the most common STD. This virus is responsible for genital warts and a majority of cervical cancer cases. In 2006, the FDA approved a three-shot vaccine marketed as Gardasil and Cervarix, which is 100 percent effective against the HPV strains that cause 70 percent of cervical cancer cases. So why hasn’t there been a rush to get vaccinated? One reason is the price (around $375). Another is that some loons think this vaccination, which is recommended for 11- and 12-year-old girls, will transform young women into sex fiends who think they’re immune to STDs. [image-1]

Rise of Viagra: Ever since Bob Dole, and his creepy pen-gripping hand, introduced the world to ED and Viagra in 1999, millions of older couples' sex lives have been resurrected. In 2007, knockoffs Cialis and Levitra entered the billion-dollar industry along with the countless "herbal" imitations you've no doubt received emails for in your junk mail folder. It wasn’t long before the little blue pill found its way into the party scene. Now, instead of popping ecstasy or cocaine, many men turn to ED drugs to counteract WDS (Whiskey Dick Syndrome) and to enhance sexual pleasure. Why? The consequences of possessing Viagra without a prescription are virtually nothing compared to other illegal substances.

[image-2]Virtual dating:  The internet has yet to replace the bar scene as the premier way of schmoozing with random singles, but it’s at least become a kind of cyber café, a second place for potential love interests to casually converse before going on an actual date. Online dating has exploded in popularity with sites that are becoming so specific you have to spend as much time shopping for the appropriate site as you do for a date. Even if you haven’t ventured into the realm of online dating, you’ve used the internet to do a background check via Google or you’ve friended a love interest on a social networking site like Facebook so you can scan his/her photos to make sure you weren't wearing beer goggles when you first met. This digital dating revolution started with emailing, IMing and chat-rooms which were a slightly less direct way of flirting than a phone call, and which allowed users time to craft witty replies while in their PJs. Mastering the internet as a dating tool is slowly replacing other archaic forms of courtship: knowing how to dance or growing the balls to approach a stranger. While the internet may never replace a night of sloppy groping at a bar, it's better than stalking someone at their favorite hangout just for an “accidental” second encounter.

[image-3]: While the obsession with celebrity sextapes kicked off with Pamela Anderson and Tommy Lee in 1998, it exploded this decade, becoming a way to boost a celebrity's career. Again we have the internet and advances in digital recording equipment to thank. In 2004, Paris Hilton’s leaked sex tape, 1 Night In Paris, piggybacked off the premiere of her first reality show, catapulting her into super-stardom. In 2007, a tape of Hilton's pal, Kim Kardashian, with another minor celebrity, boosted the ratings for the premiere season of her first reality show. The result: Kardashian was the most Googled celebrity of 2008. Now, any murmur of infidelity or sexual deviance in public figures prompts sextape rumors.  But the golden rule is that sex tapes only boost the careers of quasi-celebrities who are both a)  a woman, and b)  an attractive woman (see the recent rash of beauty queen contestants: Kari Ann Peniche, Carrie Prejean and Anya Ayoung-Chee). Sex tape failures include Dustin Diamond (2006), Fred Durst (2005), Amy Fisher (2007), R.Kelly (2002), Kid Rock and Scott Stapp with four groupies (2006), and Vern “Mini Me” Troyer (2008).

[image-4]From Porn Star to Pop Star: Coinciding with the stream 0f celebrity sextapes came the celebritization of porn stars, best exemplified by Jenna Jameson. With the internet making it easier than ever to access porn, suddenly we began to recognize adult stars. And, just before the internet was flooded with a tide of new nude starlets and amateurs, Jameson was at her peak, founding ClubJenna in 2000, which quickly transformed from just a website to a production company. Its first release, Briana Loves Jenna, earned the 2003 Adult Video News award for best-selling and best-rented porn title. Her site grew as more and more women began following men onto the internet, looking for high-production-value porn geared toward female audiences. By 2005, ClubJenna had generated $30 million in revenue. Jameson increasingly traded in her g-string for mainstream appearances on Howard Stern, as a host and commentator on E!, doing voiceover work, and in reality shows. She also produced the 2004 autobiography, How to Make Love Like a Porn Star: A Cautionary Tale, which spent six weeks on the New York Times Best Seller list. Her success even gained her an AVN award named in her honor: the Jenna Jameson Crossover Star Of The Year award. But, as with the celebrity sextapes, so far this pop star status only seems to work for the women. Sorry fellas.

[image-5]Leading gay men: Hollywood has seen its share of leading gay men, like Rock Hudson and Cary Grant, but never before have gay characters burst onto the screen with the force they did this decade. Spearheading the charge was Brokeback Mountain (2005), featuring two characters who defied homosexual stereotypes in the media, playing tough cowboys who had more macho sex than most heterosexual males. Other notable mentions include Milk (2008) and even Bruno (2009), which offered a dick slap to anyone who’s even slightly homophobic. Gay-themed films have long been circulated in gay film festivals, but never have they been successfully marketed to such a wide audience. On the small screen, the decade also hosted the hit prime-time sitcom, Will & Grace (1998-2006), in which the characters' sexuality and dating life was the main focus.  Part of this trend had a lot to do with the rise of reality shows, which like Real World seasons, feel unbalanced without at least one gay character. And lest we forget, a naked gay man was the first winner on the mother of all reality shows, Survivor (2000). Design, fashion and modeling shows require eccentric LGBT contestants and judges.  As the World Turns introduced its first openly gay couple, Luke and Noah, in 2007. A gay couple even moved onto Wisteria Lane on Desperate Housewives. Members of the LGBT community are no longer just background characters; they're often the focus, offering the same universal storylines of love, loss and strife.

[image-6]Politicians take a wide stance on family values: Political sex scandals are nothing new, but you might think so with the frequency with which they appeared in the news this decade. Perhaps after Clinton became the first president nearly impeached for his extramarital affairs, the left wing media was hungry to catch Republicans in the act.  We could blame Bob Dole for pushing Viagra on his former colleges. Or we could point the finger at the electronic age, which makes it easier to both cheat and get caught. Regardless, politicians couldn’t seem to keep their sex scandals in their pants this decade. Notable mentions include: (2001) Congressman Gary Condit had an affair with an intern who was later found dead; (2002) Rudy Giuliani divorced his wife and married his mistress; (2004) New Jersey Gov. Jim McGreevey had a homosexual three-way after drinks at T.G.I. Fridays; (2006) Congressman Mark Foley sexted his gay page; (2006) Congressman Don Sherwood’s mistress called 911 from a closet after he massaged/choked her; (2007) Senator Larry Craig was arrested for his “wide stance” in an airport bathroom; (2008) New York Governor Eliot Spitzer spent over $80,000 on escorts, prompting his replacement David Paterson to admit to having an affair one day after taking office; (2008) Senator John Edwards had a love child with his mistress while his wife battled cancer; (2009) Senator John Ensign’s parents gave his mistress a $96,000 severance package; and (2009) South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford coined the phrase, “hiking the Appalachian Trail.”

Sodomites no longer have to sneak in the back door: In the 2003 case Lawrence v. Texas., the Supreme Court ruled 6-3 that laws prohibiting sodomy and other “deviant” sexual acts like oral sex were outdated and out of step with Americans' rights. Backing up their logic with the due process protections afforded by the Fourteenth Amendment, the court ruled that the government shouldn’t regulate sexual practices between consenting adults. While I doubt few people have ever refused oral or anal sex strictly because these acts were illegal, this decision was another sign of our society's increasing acceptance of homosexuality.

A boom in the gay wedding cake industry: With sodomy laws off the books, several states legalized gay unions. While the list is always changing, Massachusetts, Iowa, Vermont, D.C. and Connecticut have approved same-sex marriage and New Hampshire will swing the gay way on January 1. It may be some time before gay partners receive the same benefits as same sex couples across the country, but at least these states spurred the national conversation for equality in civil unions.

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Film as foreplay: There’s no better way to realize just how much of an amateur you are at sex than by filming yourself in the act. With our lives increasingly becoming digitized, no wonder shooting images of sex acts has become a kind of fetish and foreplay. There are a few reasons for this boom in homemade porn. A) No more sending film to a third party for development. B) Advances in digital technology continue to make recording devices smaller, faster, clearer, cheaper and more user-friendly. C) Celebrities keep getting caught doing it, so it seems only natural to try it for ourselves. Now anyone can be his own porn director, editor, and producer, uploading video from a phone to the internet in a matter of seconds. This shift has also led to the replacement of phone sex operators with Webcam girls, and dirt talk between distant lovers with sexting/Skyping. The compression of technology onto cell phones will only feed this trend of digitized sex, making it ever easier for couples to shoot, record and share illicit images of themselves.

The eradication of HPV, sort of:

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