The COVID-19 pandemic provided young adults with a positive respite from societal pressure, a Northeastern study says, giving young women a greater sense of independence and demonstrating possible healthier and more inclusive dating scripts.
Before the pandemic, contemporary sexual culture normalized casual encounters among young adults without clear distinctions between a hookup and dating. It offered contradictory risks and rewards for young adults, and young women in particular, says Linda Blum, professor of sociology in the College of Social Sciences and Humanity. COVID, however, upended the lives of young adults at a life stage when they usually shape their sexual and romantic individualities.
The pandemic created a rare case of a collective break for everyone, Blum says. She decided to investigate how this natural experiment would challenge contemporary sexual culture and its troubling gendered, abusive or exclusionary aspects. She found that the pandemic brought young adults a positive respite, particularly, for young women, and demonstrated possible ways of lowering the dangers of uneasy interactions, unclear consent, and sexual violence.