In 1991 a similar survey found that approximately 40 percent of young adults considered oral sex as "sex," Stacy noted. Researchers attribute the shift in sex-conceptualization to the Monica Lewinsky affair.
"Researchers point to former President Clinton's infamous statement, ‘I did not have sexual relations with that woman,' as the pivotal turning point in society's changing views about oral sex," Stacy said. "The attitude shift has been dubbed the ‘Clinton-Lewinsky' effect."
"Like President Clinton, adolescents and young adults often interpret these words with a degree of latitude, depending on whether they want to maintain an image of being sexually experienced or inexperienced," Jason D. Hans and University of Kentucky, Lexington colleagues stated in their report (also of note: "Less than 80% of participants considered penile-anal intercourse as sex").
And what sex study would be complete without a slap at abstinence education?
"Halpern-Felsher et al. found that adolescents view oral-genital contact as more acceptable than penile-vaginal intercourse, and suggested that this may reflect, in part, sex education programs' primary focus on penile-vaginal intercourse," the report said of an earlier study. "This line of reasoning may have merit for explaining the shift we have uncovered, especially considering that the shift paralleled a surging emphasis on abstinence-only education by the administration of President George W. Bush."
"Why the concern?" the CBS article asked.
"Experts say oral-genital contact can lead to sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). Such diseases include HIV, herpes, syphilis, gonorrhea, and the human papillomavirus (HPV), which has been linked to cervical cancer," Stacy noted.
So, according to CBS, the only reason to care that oral sex has been mainstreamed and made acceptable behavior for adolescents is the threat of STDs. Perhaps the "Clinton-Lewinsky" effect is more acute than previously thought.
Stock image via dancewithshadows.com.