Almost a third of people still believe that men need sex more than women, a new survey has found.
Nearly 4,000 British adults were polled by YouGov for the End Violence Against Women (EVAW) Coalition's new report on public attitudes to sexual ethics and behaviour.
Some 32% of respondents said they believe men need sex more than women, while 42% said they believe men want sex more than women.
Meanwhile, 54% said they believe men and women need sex the same amount, and 45% said they think that men and women want sex the same amount.
Just under three-quarters of people (73%) said they believe that men and women are equally likely to enjoy themselves in heterosexual sex. Though rather troublingly, this figure falls to 58% among people in the 18-24 age bracket.
Sarah Green, director of EVAW, said the survey's results point to "persistent, widely held views about who sex is primarily 'for', who 'needs' it and whose pleasure matters".
“EVAW considers the continued acceptance of these ideas about sex to be deeply sexist," Green added. "Sexual inequality matters enormously, in and of itself, because women should be able to expect and enjoy sexual relationships which are based on mutual pleasure, sharing and equality. This should not need contesting or sound radical."
Green also highlighted the potentially damaging consequences of allowing sexist views relating to sexual pleasure to linger in society.
She explained: "If we have a society thinking it’s fair enough for a man to pester a woman to have sex because he ‘needs’ it, that women are less likely to enjoy sex, that women’s orgasms are more difficult to achieve, that it’s routine for women to go along with sex for someone else’s sake, while still putting all the responsibility on women for preventing and ‘gatekeeping’ sex – rather than on the man for seeking consent and also working towards enjoyable experiences for both – then at best our aspirations are poor, and at worst we create a set of readymade excuses for sexual assault."
Writing for Refinery29 earlier this year, Lynn Enright, author of Vagina: A re-education, explored the ways in which poor sex education in schools has perpetuated a lack of understanding and appreciation of female pleasure.
Enright also warned that "it’s not clear whether female pleasure and orgasm will be highlighted" in the new RSE (Relationships and Sex Education) curriculum being introduced in 2020.
"[This] seems absurd, as the issue of pleasure for everyone – female, non-binary, male – is surely integral to both consent and queer relationships," she wrote. "If we are going to actually challenge the male orgasm-focused status quo, we have got to start talking about – and teaching others about – female pleasure."