I’m not making it up.
Y’all don’t believe me?
Fortunately it happens that this idea is one of the foundations of my dissertation, so I dug out the crusty old tome and got a pile of references. Then I dug out some of the references and got you a pile of statistics. What do they tell you? By every measure, by every methodology, this is a robust finding. Here we go:
In terms of number of partners
According to the big Chicago study, men are 3 times more likely to report having 5 or more partners in the past year (table 5.1A), almost 9 times more likely to report 21 or more partners in the past 5 years (table 5.1B), and about 5 times more likely to report having 21+ partners since age 18 (table 5.1C). Median number of partners since age 18 for men: 6. Median number of partners since age 18 for women: 2.
Indeed, in terms of the distribution of lifetime number sex partners, men have an order of magnitude more partners. (That’s a whole lot.)
Of course you’re not satisfied with that. You shouldn’t be. So here’s some more:
Less than 5% of women reported an overall “autoerotic score” of 5 or greater (out of 6), whereas about 20% of men did. This score has some problems, but the sheer scale of the difference minimizes the importance of those problems.
In the Chicago data, 26.7% of men reported masturbating once per week or more in the last year. Women? 7.6%. Are there cultural gender differences in acceptability of reporting masturbation? There are. Enough to cut women’s reporting by 70%? Taking into account all the other data I’m presenting?
In Kinsey’s original data, roughly 6% of men reported masturbating a maximum of 10 times in a week, while 2% of women did. Also, as an example, unmarried men between the ages of 21-24 reported masturbating on average about 1.5 times per week, while the parallel women reported masturbating .88 times per week. A bit more than half as often as the men.
In terms of reported desire
This one is a literature review that closely compared around a dozen studies to ask, Is there a gender difference in strength of sexual motivation. Their answer: “No contrary findings (indicating stronger sexual motivation among women) were found.” By multiple measures, multiple methodologies. This is a nice, cautious paper.
In a 2006 survey, “Men reported experiencing sexual desire more often than did women and, when asked to estimate the actual frequency with which they experienced desire, men’s estimated frequency (37 times per week) was significantly higher than women’s (9 times per week).”
That’s a sample of the evidence. There’s too much to show all of it.
Now. The first strategy of a fundamentalist when faced with contrary evidence is the say that either science can’t measure these things or that THIS science can’t measure these things. I am reporting 60+ years of research with the same finding, replicated over and over and in multiple research methods.
Also, I’m relying on the same quality of evidence when I say that only about 1⁄4 to 1⁄3 of women are reliably orgasmic from intercourse. You believe me when I say that, right?
It’s not male bias in science, though male bias exists. It’s not just differences and problems in reporting, though that exists too. The results are too robust to doubt.
I must add that I don’t assign much importance to this difference because individual variability is more interesting and, under many circumstances, more relevant. In other words, I hardly give a shit about all this data. I wouldn’t even be doing a post on this if people hadn’t said they don’t believe me.
Why am I writing it then? Because it’s important to me, on a personal level, that I know that you know that I don’t just make shit up (without making it abundantly clear that that’s what I’m doing) or buy into cultural stereotypes on the basis of nothing more substantial than that I reckon it sounds about right.
Okay then. Can we move on now?