Feb. 20, 2013 - Issue #905: DOA No more - Trading in punk for politics
Stopping to think about sex
Survey raises questions about how love and sex go together
For the first time, iVillage included men in its annual sex survey (released on February 11), and the results are probably not what you would expect.
Before I go any further, some major disclaimers are in order. The survey was done through self-reporting on iVillage's website. The website does not tell us how many people responded to the survey or any demographic information about them. iVillage also did not print the actual questions from the survey that respondents were asked. This isn't what should be considered rigorous scientific research.
In spite of that, it's worth a look because some of the results don't jive with what we've always been told about men, women and marriage. For example, respondents were asked what turns them on the most. The top answer for women was feelings of love towards their partner. Of course, everyone knows that women need to feel loved to have sex. We've all heard that women can't separate love and sex like men do. Funny thing though, feelings of love was number two on the list of turn-ons for these married men. Seems that women aren't the only ones who think sex and love go together.
The enormous amount of self-help media claiming to teach women how to keep their men interested would lead us to believe that most married couples have dwindling, boring sex lives—leading men to look elsewhere for sex. That doesn't appear to be the experience of the married men who took this survey. Eighty percent of them said they were happy with their sex lives. The interesting twist is that only 55 percent of women thought their husbands were happy. This makes me wonder if all of this self-help does more harm than good, perhaps causing us to look for problems that aren't really there.
One thing we thought we knew for sure is that men want sex all the time and women not as much. Or do we? Only 55 percent of men in the survey said they were in the mood for sex within the last week as compared to 43 percent of women. If only slightly more than half of them were interested in sex sometime in the last week, they're not exactly raging sex maniacs. The numbers for men and women are pretty close, although 35 percent of the men said that they were in the mood while they were taking the survey, whereas only 11 percent of women did. Maybe sex surveys are more exciting to men than to women.
Also surprising was that the same number of men and women reported that they had had only one sexual partner in their lives. Our culture views someone who has had sex only with their spouse as extremely rare. In fact, this type of person shows up as an object of ridicule or pity in movies and TV shows time and again. Yet this is the reality for almost 20 percent of the people who took the iVillage survey. Perhaps it's much more common than we think.
Although, we can't generalize the results of this survey, I think it does give us cause to stop and think. Maybe the common wisdom about sex and marriage doesn't reflect what's really going on inside marriages. Maybe the truth is actually better than we think. V
Brenda Kerber is a sexual health educator who has worked with local not-for-profits since 1995. She is the owner of the Edmonton-based, sex-positive adult toy boutique the Traveling Tickle Trunk.
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