When Society Isn’t Judging, Women’s Sex Drive Rivals Men’s
Yep. This is something I’ve blogged about before, please see the “Related Posts” section at the bottom of this post for more.
Christian (and I guess NonChristian) society is not comfortable admitting that women are not strictly interested only in emotional connect in a relationship, but also interested in having sex.
….In Clark and Hatfield’s research, both men and women were approached (always by volunteers of the opposite sex).
The crucial measure was whether they said yes or no. And you can probably guess the results: although men and women were equally likely to accept the offer of a date (about half said yes and half said no), the two sexes differed dramatically in how they responded to the offer of casual sex. None of the women approached took up the offer of sex with a complete stranger.
Three-quarters of the men did (yes, more than were willing to just go on a date with a complete stranger).
…The problem is that the participants in this experiment aren’t abstract representatives of all human men and women.
They are particular men and women from a particular place and time, who exist in a particular social context – university students in American society at the end of the 20th century. And our society treats men and women very differently.
So how about this alternate take: maybe men and women’s sex drives are pretty similar, but the experiment just measures behaviour which is as shaped by society as much as biology.
Taking out the social factor
This month, (Link): new research published in the journal Archives of Sexual Behavior, gives a vital handle on the question of whether women really don’t want sex as much as men do.
Two German researchers, Andreas Baranowski and Heiko Hecht, replicated the original Clark and Hatfield study, but with some vital changes.
First they showed that the original result still held, even among German university students in the 21st century – and they showed that it still held if you asked people in a nightclub rather than on campus.
But the pair reasoned that one factor in how women respond to invitations to sex may be fear – fear of reputational damage in a culture which judges women’s sexual activity differently from men’s, and fear of physical harm from an encounter with a male stranger.
They cite (Link): one study which found that 45% of US women have experienced sexual violence of some kind.
So, in order to find out if women in these experiments were held back by fear, they designed an elaborate cover scenario designed to make the participants believe they could accept offers of sex without fear of anyone finding out, or of physical danger.
Participants were invited into a lab under the ruse that they would be helping a dating company evaluate their compatibility rating algorithm.
They were presented with ten pictures of members of the opposite sex and led to believe that all ten had already agreed to meet up with them (either for a date, or for sex).
With these, and a few other convincing details, the experimenters hoped that participants would reveal their true attitudes to dating, or hooking up for sex with, total strangers, unimpeded by fear of what might happen to them if they said yes.
The results were dramatic. Now there was no difference between the dating and the casual sex scenarios, large proportions of both men and women leap at the chance to meet up with a stranger with the potential for sex – 100% of the men and 97% of the women in the study chose to meet up for a date or sex with at least one partner.
The women who thought they had the chance to meet up with men for sex, chose an average of slightly less than three men who they would like to have an encounter with.
The men chose an average of slightly more than three women who they would like to have an encounter with.
Men are from Earth – and so are women
The study strongly suggests that the image of women as sexually choosy and conservative needs some dramatic qualification.
In the right experimental circumstances, women’s drive for casual sex looks similar to men’s.
Previous experiments had leapt to a conclusion about biology, when they’d actually done experiments on behaviour which is part-determined by society. It’s an important general lesson for anyone who wants to draw conclusions about gender differences, in whatever area of behaviour.
…The real moral may be about the importance of completely alterable differences in the way society treats men and women.
(Link): Study: Men Think About Sports More Than Sex by J. Gratton