Comment »Posted on Sunday 26 April 2009 at 12:18 pm by Emma Stokes
In Biology

We all know the stereotype that paints women as more picky about their partners than men, and men as more promiscuous. But according to a study published this week, it seems this is no more than a myth.

This well known ‘difference’ in the way women and men approach sex has been extensively studied. However, in the past, sex was much more of a taboo subject than it is in todays society. Researchers therefore relied on observations of animal behaviour, generalising the trends they found to all male animals. One such study way back in the forties looked into fruit flies, concluding that the reason for males seeking out more partners than women was to do with the availability and energy required to produce eggs compared to the relative ease of producing sperm.

However, the findings of a new study, reported in The Telegraph, has surveyed actual human beings to determine whether the long held beliefs of gender differences when it comes to promiscuity are true. They surveyed over 100,000 people in 18 countries, concluding that in countries like Britain, women and men tended to have the same number of children with the same number of partners.

It has to be said, this study probably isn’t the best indication of promiscuity, as every sexual encounter is unlikely to result in the conception of a child. But, it is more scientific than the survey reported in December last year, which involved the surveying of the readers of more magazine which concluded (young) women were in fact more promiscuous than men.

After a bit of scouting around on the subject, I found a study from back in November which bears striking resemblence to the study last week, which sent out a questionnaire for people to fill in. The questions related to numbers of sexual partners, and incidences of one-night-stands, and enabled the team to produce an index of how sexually liberal each individual was.  The results actually ranked Britain as one of the most promiscuous naitons in the western world. But surely another interesting piece of data from these questionnaires could have been the relationship between gender and ‘sexual liberation’?

Seems like as a nation though, whether we’re men or women, we enjoy sex. And there is one thing, it’s free, which is important in todays ‘economic crisis, right? The Week published an article in February which actively encouraged Americans to stay at home in the recession, and reported an increase in the sales of condoms. Maybe the next study could look at the link between recession and sexual activity.


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