Monday, April 11, 2011

Much info still in the closet on sexual activity

Previously published in the Terre Haute Tribune Star, 7/28/2007


Seven rhymes with heaven.

Many consider seven a lucky number.

Seven is the average number of females U.S. males between the ages of 20 and 59 have had sex with, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

Seven and four, the average number of males U.S. females between the ages of 20 and 59 have had sex with, were about all that the media reported last month when this report was released. I thought I’d share my own take on these numbers.

First off, obtaining information like this is very difficult. The report discussed a new methodology that the scientists at the CDC felt improved the chances of accurate and truthful recall (truthful you wonder? Would men possibly exaggerate such things? Would women perhaps not want to report everything?) Indeed, these are difficulties in such research. And we are talking about sexual intercourse, no mistake about that given how the questions were worded.

Good news for the traditionalists, the double standard regarding sex appears to be alive and well. The wage gap may be narrowing, the education gap may be running in opposite directions these days, even the time spent on housework may be narrowing, but men still have an almost 100-percent advantage in terms of the number of sex partners. Or do they?

The CDC data breaks the data down by age cohorts. This data was collected in 1999-2002. So, the age cohorts consist of those born between 1941-1950, 1951-1960, 1961-1970, and 1970-1980. The biggest gap is among the oldest cohort, those born between 1941-1950. Those men actually were a bit above average, just a tenth of a percent, but the women of the same age were down an entire sex partner. So, something is going on, though the double standard appears alive and well, it, too could be narrowing. Women could be achieving equality in this most sensitive of arenas as well.

To me, it looks like the trend is up for both sexes in terms of the lifetime number of sex partners. Men born between 1951 and 1960 already have the exact same average as men born between 1941 and 1950. The 40-somethings (at the time the data was collected) still have 10 years to add to their score. Thirty-somethings, (born between 1961-1970) average almost one additional sex partner than the 40 and 50-somethings, with 20 years left. The youngest guys, are at just over five sex partners with 30 years left. So, by the time the 20-somethings reach their fifties, the average number of sex partners is likely to be higher.

Women, though, are catching up. The overall average for women was 3.7 sex partners. The 20-something cohort is already there, with 30 years to go. Women in their 30s have exceeded the overall average by a full sex partner. Indeed, the youngest cohort of men have reached 79 percent of the male average while the young women are already 100 percent of the female average. The 30-something cohort of men have exceeded the overall male average by 12 percent but the same cohort of women have exceeded the overall female average by 24 percent.

The report shows that 30.4 percent of the 50-something men reported having 15 or more female sex partners. Only 6.9 percent of the same-aged females did. And 30.4 percent of the 30-something men already report having had 15 or more female sex partners, with 11.3 percent of the same-aged females reporting 15 or more male sex partners. The proportion of 50-something men compared to 50-something women who have had 15 or more sex partners is 4.4 times larger. However, comparing 30-somethings, men’s advantage drops to just 2.7.

Women are becoming more like men — not a good thing for the traditionalists among us. And 16.9 percent of the 50-something men had sex for the first time before they were 15 compared to 6.4 percent of 50-something women. Among the youngest cohort, the 20-somethings, 21.6 percent of men had their first sexual experience before 15 compared to 18.7 percent of women.

What does it all mean? There is too much we don’t know. We don’t know the circumstances under which people are switching partners. We don’t know how many of the sex partners were wanted or not. We don’t know how much alcohol and drugs were involved with each sex partner. Until then, half of us can feel “below average” or “morally superior.”

No comments:

Blog Directory - Blogged The Steiger Counter at Blogged