Sex Research: It Doesn’t Fit Me, It Must Be Wrong
A couple of people who joined the discussion on how women and men “do sex” questioned research findings I had cited because the data didn’t fit their experience.
There is reason for concern. Often, people want to look good, normal and acceptable, even when they are anonymous.
Prudish people are more likely to throw sex surveys in the trash. People who have more interest in sex are more likely to fill them out.
Men exaggerate the number of partners they’ve had, while women under estimate theirs.
Some people who are gay or lesbian may be in denial, or they may fear someone finding out, so their numbers may be underestimated.
Trying to look normal, most people say they have sex with their spouse once a week, since that’s the number they always hear.
At the same time, the data is based on a larger swath of the population than most of us interact with.
Most of us are friends with people who are like us, and who share our views. That’s why they are friends. And our group may not be typical.
One person who felt the studies didn’t fit his experience is in an open marriage, which constitutes less than 1% of the population. That’s not your typical group. Another is a feminist, also not typical of the population. A group of Southern Baptists would probably see things differently from these two.
Keep in mind that research reflects averages. You and your friends may not be typical.
We also tend to project our own views onto others. If we love sex, we don’t get that others don’t. If we think sex is dull, we have a hard time believing that others love it.
From the comments I’ve posted, it is clear that there is no one way that men or women behave. There is no one attitude.
But there are some strong social patterns:
- Surveys say men want, on average, 14 partners over a lifetime, while women say they want 1 or 2
- Women report enjoying sex less than men
- While prostitution finds plenty of male customers, female customers are in short supply. Gigolos are practically a myth
- Playgirl is perennially bankrupt, yet the male porn audience is huge
- Hooking up: College women get bored quickly and exit the scene, but college men want to continue casual sex even after leaving college
- Men are usually more enthusiastic about open marriage or swinging, and more often initiate the idea
- Male fantasies are more x-rated; female fantasies revolve more around romance
- For more survey data on how much women and men say they enjoy sex, see: DO Women Like Sex Less Than Men?
Is this conversation dated?
One woman commented:
- I came out of the feminist 70’s and this conversation seems a little dated. Really, we can do whatever we want to do and who cares?
Yet this issue still comes up with my 18, 19, and 20-something students. They still feel the conversation is relevant.
Another woman’s perspective:
- While we are free to do what we want, what good is the freedom when you feel used and discarded?