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S1E18: Intimate Inequalities with Cristen Dalessandro

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Our third installment in a series of episodes exploring the part in between hookup culture on college campuses, and “failure to launch” narratives about Millennials living at home instead of getting married and starting families: those years when you’re an adult, working, and figuring out what you want in a relationship (if you even want one).

In previous episodes we looked at the “social sex revolution” championed by Cindy Gallop, the world of online dating apps and sexting with Katy Coduto, and now we turn to the less overtly sexy but just as consequential parts of Millennial sex: dating, attraction, relationships. What were the factors influencing how Millennials in their twenties and early 30s were selecting partners, ordering their relationships, and navigating relationship dynamics? Cristen Dalessandro, PhD, author of Intimate Inequalities: Millennials’ Romantic Relationships in Contemporary Times, joined the show to talk about her research into the ways Millennials intersecting identities around race, gender, class, age, and sexual identities influenced the choices they made about which people to sleep with, date, and form lasting relationships with. What she found is extremely interesting, sometimes hopeful, often a bit of a bummer, if only because unfortunately, Millennials were not going to save us from traditional gender roles and typical relationship dynamics. She also has some suggestions about ways to make things better – both on an individual level and a social policy level.

“What people do at the individual level really matters. If you are somebody who does care about making a more egalitarian gender relationship, then you do need to put in the work to be educated on what that looks like and check out research that people have done and ask your partner what they think, right? It’s just asking your partner what they think about something and then not being offended if they are critical of something that you’re doing. But at the same time, again, those sort of broader structural patterns, what’s happening at the policy level, that’s important as well. And so if we care about something in particular or we want to see a change in a certain direction, I think it’s helpful to get involved and to get informed with what’s going on and to be part of that conversation and not just sit back and let things happen.”

In The Demo, a podcast about how stories of groups are created, subverted and destroyed. On the first season, we pursue the origins of the Millennial Myth. Farrah Bostic is the founder and Head of Research & Strategy of, The Difference Engine, a strategic insights consultancy focused on helping business leaders make decisions. Adam Pierno, author and brand consultant and managing director of brand strategy at Arizona State University. Our host is voiced by Eliza, a robot created by

In the Demo is edited by Allison Preisinger and AMP Studio. Music by 0megaMan under the Creative Commons license. Learn more and find research and supporting materials at

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