Causing a stir across the pond is Britain’s third National Survey of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyle (Natsal), which collected data from 15,000 participants, ages 16-74 years old. Here are its five most buzz-worthy facts:
1. Women are catching up to men in sexual partners.
In 1990, men reported having an average of nine sexual partners compared to women’s average of four, but now the gap is getting smaller. Men reported an average of 12 partners and women reported an average of eight, which also means that the Brits are having more sexual partners, regardless of gender.
Men are thought to be less picky choosing mates because their biological aim is simply to reproduce as much as possible, while women are thought to choose quality over quantity, as a one night stand could turn into a lifetime of motherhood. I’m thrilled to see that women are catching up to men, as hopefully this means that with modern, socially accepted birth control, women are becoming freer to act on their sexual desires.
2. Women are much more likely to experiment with same-sex relations
Females are four times more likely than they were in 1990 to have “any same sex experience” (4% increased to 16%) or same-sex experience with genital contact (2% increased to 8%). Men, however, were much less likely to sway the other way; same-sex experience only increased by one percent for both any experience (from 6% to 7%) and experience with genital contact (4% to 5%). This indicates that, even though homosexuality is becoming more and more acceptable, there is still a bisexuality stigma, especially for men.
3. People are experimenting more
More men and women are having anal sex, however less people reported having oral sex than in 2001 (kids these days). Unsurprisingly, twice as many men than women reported to masturbating at least once in the month before taking this survey. I really don’t know what to make of this. Maybe it’s a British thing? On to the next…
4. Virgins are harder to find
Men and women are losing their virginity at much younger ages. In the 60s, the average age of first timers was 19, but the average has since dropped to 16. Additionally, women ages 16-24 are more likely to have had ten or more sexual partners than women ages 65-75, even though they have been sexually active for much less time.
5. Rape is still prevalent
The survey found that one in 10 women surveyed reported to being forced to have sex against her will, and 82% of women knew her attacker, though only 12.9% reported her rape to the police. Women were also twice as likely to call themselves "victims of sexual coercion" than "victims of rape." SEXUAL COERCION IS RAPE. I cannot emphasis this enough…not saying "no" does not mean that the answer is "yes." The survey’s researchers warn that sexual coercion may have become normalized, but that does not mean that it’s okay, and it never will be.
These types of surveys always attract internet attention, but they don’t necessarily prompt change. While some statistics are awesome, others (namely #5) should be viewed as a call for change and action on everyone’s part. Hopefully the next National Survey of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyle will show an extinction of rape, and women enjoying sex and masturbation just as much as men.