Studies on sexual behavior have always been flawed by people's unwillingness to honestly report on their sex lives because of social stigma (yes, we've been watching Masters of Sex lately, you wanna fight about it?). But, as modern times progress, those barriers continue to fall — along with the real-life hangups that keep people from getting busy how they want, when they want, with who they want. All good news, much of which is reflected in a recent Natsal survey about "sexual attitudes and lifestyles in Britain." Side note: "Sexual attitudes and lifestyles" is also a sassy handbook we are currently ghost-writing under the name Gary Bradshaw.
We all know that the number of sexual partners (and how she feels about it) varies quite a bit from woman to woman. But, on average, the study says that women are catching up to men. While in 1990, men averaged 8.6 partners in their lifetimes to women's 3.7, that number has since jumped to 11.7 and 7.7, respectively.
Another confidence booster: Sexual "dysfunction" was common even among young people. So, the next time you're feeling like your body isn't catching up to your brain in bed and your partner says, "It's totally normal!," you can rest assured that those aren't just empty words.
Women are also having sex earlier and entering their first live-in relationships later. According to the limited analysis provided along with the study's hard facts, that means "there is now a longer period in women’s lives where efforts are needed to prevent unplanned pregnancy." Of course, there are certainly situations when single women are more than ready and plenty capable of having children — but given that the age of first intercourse is dropping steeply for both genders, it's a valid point.
There is some bad news, too, though. Shockingly, when asked if they had ever been made to have sex against their will (in the study referred to as "non-volitional sex"), one in 10 women answered yes. Among that group, 41% were victims of non-volitional sex from a former or current partner; 20% from a friend or family member; 21% by someone known through other channels or by an acquaintance, and 15% by strangers.
The numbers here just make us all the more outraged by that particular subset of rape culture that gives people in relationships a free pass to mistreat and violate their partners. The next time someone tries to say that marital rape doesn't exist, please link them to this study. We will be here, crossing our fingers and hoping these numbers start to sink in — and fast. (Independent)