The problem with statistics on orgasms, and other sexual activities
A fair number of questions that are either submitted or that I stumble upon in my search topics to write commentary on here often involve statistics. People want numbers about what humans are doing with themselves and with others sexually. A lot of times, this is a mechanism for people to validate their insecurities about their abilities, natural assets, etc.
- “What percentage of women have never experienced an orgasm?”
- “What is the average penis size for men in their 20′s-30′s in North America?”
- “What percentage of women have had anal intercourse with men? What percentage of those declared that they enjoyed it?”
- The list goes on…
I’m going to be lame here and answer all of these questions without the desired statistics. I’m not going to tell you that statistics don’t exist for some of these questions, and many others like them. I wish to make a commentary on the nature of what you’re very likely to find when searching for these statistics.
Here’s the summary: this kind of sexual research hasn’t been done properly, recently enough to truly matter. There’s just not enough scientific data based on lab research or surveys, spanning a large enough population with proper representation of variance in things like age, ethnicity, health, etc… For worthwhile statistics to be drawn, you’d have to survey a large part of many populations.
To take the point further, let’s use the first example above, about women and orgasms. I hear it a lot.
Now you can go by surveys in magazines—Cosmo and the like love to run these kinds of surveys among their readers and publish them as “statistics”—but you must always understand that the statistics will be representative of a certain type of female that is drawn to that institution. If the same survey were run by a church, a popular women’s magazine, a popular men’s magazine, a university in the bible belt, a university on the east coast, a university on the west coast…you would see very different results because of the different demographics those institutions cater to and attract.
Until we get some hard data from good research that is as neutral on sexual subjects as possible, we won’t know. And for that to happen, we need scientists and other professionals who are open minded enough to do the research (less the problem) and the funding to back them to be open enough to finance it (definitely a huge problem).
Whenever I hear people trying to cite statistics in this field, I still hear a lot of people bringing up the Kinsey Reports, the Hite Report, and the research by Masters & Johnson. They definitely should not be completely dismissed. However, with the Kinsey Report in 1948, the Hite Report in 1976 and work in the 80′s, and the Masters & Johnson work happening between the 50′s and 70′s…these reports are grossly out of date. So many advances have been made since the 70′s, that new research really needs to happen. Womens’ cultural and rights movements, technology advances in adult toys and stimulation devices, new knowledge of female sexual anatomy to the masses, new ways of thinking and looking at the morality and ethics of sexual pleasure, sex and masturbation… It’s a whole new world. I don’t think those numbers hold.
And here’s some personal conjecture on one example reason I think this wonderful research is of questionable relevance today: Something that Hite found was this sense of shame that many housewives had in sharing their sexual experiences. It was pretty widespread across America, in fact. Today, I think you’d find a lot less cases of housewives getting themselves off in secret while the husband is at work and the kids are at school, and a lot more steamy stories of what America’s women are doing with their partners—married, casual, secret, professional or otherwise.
Those are great reports and pivotal moments in sexual research history. But not terribly useful in understanding where we’re at today.
So, while I don’t think I’m the one to dig up any and all existing data on the myriad of sexual statistical questions out there and post them here on Sex Is For Men, Too, I submit this commentary as words of caution when you do find the statistics that are available. Do your own research on the research, and make the distinction between research and “research”, and statistics versus “statistics”. The Scientific Method is a very important component of goo statistical research. Always be objective.
Featured image photo credit: “Chimica” by Zoe Brown on Flickr. CC, Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0).