Here's How Many Women Avoid Making The First Move

In the grab bag of adjectives used to describe millennial women, "independent" looms large. In fact, 96% of the 1,000 millennial women surveyed in a 2010 global poll identified "being independent" as their number-one goal, and 87% defined "success" as the ability to "shape my own future." For all the initiative-taking that these stats imply, though, women still struggle to advocate for their personal sexual health.

Between October 8 and 29 of last year, pharmaceutical company Merck conducted a survey to gauge how 2,015 (heterosexual) millennial women feel about taking initiative in the realms of dating and sex — including when it comes to birth control. The results of the survey were just released, and there's at least one surprising figure: Fewer than one in 10 single women claim to make the "first move" to approach a romantic prospect, whether online or IRL. (For historical context, it's been nearly 80 years since the first Sadie Hawkins dance in 1937.) Once someone has made that first move, 26% of women are open to having sex on the first date, but only 35% keep condoms at home — perhaps assuming that their date will produce the goods (the stigma around women preparing for or even expecting sex sadly still lingers).

Talking about sex isn't easy for everyone, either. The survey found that 22% of women feel uncomfortable discussing their sexual history with a partner, while 24% are uncomfortable discussing it with their health care provider. Another 31% "rarely or never" talk about sexual health with their partners, and 62% say they're not the ones to initiate these conversations when they do have them. And, more than half — 55% — don't discuss birth control with their S.O.

As a woman's right to sexual pleasure takes more of a spotlight (amen to Nicki Minaj's denouncement of the orgasm gap), so too should her right to sexual health. These two rights are inextricably linked, and much of exercising them begins with open conversation. So, while we're not necessarily telling you to march up to that attractive stranger with a pick-up line, initiating a discussion — whether it's with your partner about what feels good in bed or with your care provider about the contraception that's right for you — could be the best first move you make.

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