This is going to be a fun news peg for the day—researchers at Indiana University (where the Kinsey Institute is located), funded by Trojan condoms (a company I say actually does good work in tying its profit motive to the larger social good) have put out a new sexual behavior survey, the largest of its kind since 1994. They interviewed 5,865 Americans aged 14 to 94 about their sexual habits. A lot of what they found wasn’t surprising—most people have a combination of things they do in bed, the older people are the less they use condoms (in part, because they’re more likely to be married), the percentage of women who had sex with a woman in the past year is twice as high in the 20-24 age group than in any other, and while 8% of men identify as gay or bisexual, nearly twice as many as that have had oral sex with another man.
Thought I’d pull some of the findings out for comment.
According to the study’s findings, 1 of 4 acts of vaginal intercourse are condom protected in the U.S. (1 in 3 among singles).
This is a hard statistic to read, because the non-condom-using group combines people who have chosen to go condom-free because they’re in low risk situations. Two out of three single people going without a condom, for instance, includes people who ditch the condom during a one night stand and the people who are in long-term, committed, disease-free relationships that simply haven’t resulted in marriage. The researchers are right to say this means that there needs to be more promotion of condom use, but we need more targeted information in terms of who is not using condoms when they really should be. There’s nothing wrong with a two-pronged education strategy that suggests some people need to use condoms and some don’t, and helping people honestly and accurately assess which group they belong to.
This result is getting a lot of coverage:
When it comes to responsible sexual behaviors, condom use is higher among black and Hispanic Americans than among white Americans and those from other racial groups.
The AP suggests targeted public health campaigns have a lot to do with this. I would also point out that the younger people are, the more likely they are to use condoms, and the percentage of the population that is black or Hispanic is much bigger in the younger groups than the older groups. Age is one of the most important factors in whether someone uses condoms or not. Men over 50 reported the lowest rates of condom use. Again, this may not be that big a deal, since part of the reason is that these men are likelier to be in monogamous, disease-free relationships. Still, many aren’t, and the low rate can also be explained in part by older men having grown up in a world where looking after sexual health was deemed strictly a woman’s responsibility.
Now for the comedy section of the program:
About 85% of men report that their partner had an orgasm at the most recent sexual event; this compares to the 64% of women who report having had an orgasm at their most recent sexual event. (A difference that is too large to be accounted for by some of the men having had male partners at their most recent event.)
Despite the strenuous efforts of sex educators to get women to quit faking orgasm, we’re still facing a major problem here. Assuming that 7% of the men surveyed had sex with a man last, on average, we’re looking at a 14 point gap filled with ego-soothing lies. And that’s just the last time they had sex! How much fakery is going on if you ask about the whole last year? I’m sure I’ll offend some choice feminist who thinks that it’s unfair to criticize women who make the totally autonomous choice to flatter a man with a fake orgasm instead of working towards a real one, but I’m taking a stand on this one. It’s un-feminist to fake, ladies! I’ll quote Dan Savage on this one:
The boyfriend or husband you humor with fake O’s today may be some other woman’s boyfriend or husband tomorrow. He’s not yours indefinitely. When he lands between another woman’s legs, make sure you’ve done your part for the sisterhood—which is powerful, you know—by not giving him a false impression of his own meager skills, or false expectations about women’s sexual response.
On the flip side, if we start protesting the institution of the fake orgasm, watch the Tea Crackers rush forward to angrily defend it. I’m just sayin’.
And now for information that’s not shocking to anyone who isn’t a wingnut who uses condemnation as a cover story so you can titillate yourself by thinking of teenagers fucking:
At any given point in time, most U.S. adolescents are not engaging in partnered sexual behavior. While 40% of 17 year-old males reported vaginal intercourse in the past year, only 27% reported the same in the past 90 days.
Kids do have sex—and they’re three times as likely to use condoms than is the national average—but they have pretty meager sex lives compared to adults. Which makes sense—they lack opportunities for privacy, getting laid once is probably such a dramatic event that they can coast on that for awhile, teenage relationships are fleeting, and getting a partner is difficult when you have the social skills of an adolescent, which you are. Contrary to the fantasies concocted by anti-sex nuts and promoted by our mainstream media, adolescence is not a time of non-stop orgasmic bliss, but is still basically the same as it always was: fumbling in cars and occasional bouts where you work up the courage and find the opportunity to actually have intercourse. But they’re smarter than us about condoms. It doesn’t sell as well as the scare stories, but the truth of the matter is the kids are alright.