some image

Having fun, writing about the stuff I like

Fun with Sex Surveys

Oscar Foulkes February 18, 2010 Uncategorized 3 comments

Sex is a rather useful activity. Apart from the role it plays in procreation, it’s also popular as a recreational pastime. And, the technologies behind both online videos and ecommerce were largely developed by/for the porn industry.

Imagine that; without smut we may still be waiting for YouTube, which means that Susan Boyle would never have become the sensation she has.

But, for all its ubiquity, when it comes to sex each of us is an island. So, researchers aggregate thousands of anonymous responses to questionnaires in assimilating some kind of perspective of where society is, as far as sex is concerned. has published the results of its annual sex survey, during which 10,000 people (mostly South African, one assumes) completed an online questionnaire. The method of polling would obviously have skewed the results, but they’re an interesting slice of society nonetheless.

The first bit of data that jumped out at me was a yes/no response to a question that asked whether penetration of the vagina by a penis constituted sex. Clearly, if one is doing a survey on sex it’s important to know whether everyone is on the same page (or should that be on the same bed?). Based upon a personal definition Bill Clinton was therefore able to answer that he “did not have sexual relations with that woman”. OK, some people may well debate oral ‘sex’, but surely when a penis enters a vagina, the final defence – in a manner of speaking – has been breached.

And yet an astounding 1.15% of men and 1.81% of women declared that this was not sex. If it isn’t sex, I have to ask them, then what is it?

The answers to the acceptability of buying or selling sex were predictable. An economist may express surprise, though, at women’s condemnation of the practice, considering that they are the main financial beneficiaries of such activity.

Stereotypes were once again confirmed with the question about faking orgasms, but I was more than a little surprised to find that a large percentage of men had “once or twice”, “regularly” or “sometimes” faked it. The success of this practice clearly comes down (pun unintended) to some pretty basic physical evidence. Did they get away with it, I have to wonder.

It was a relief to see that both groupings derived an equal level of enjoyment from the last time they had sex, and it was clear that a caterer was not involved in setting up the questions – there was no vegetarian option to the question involving sex with animals.

There was a series of questions where women surprisingly out-pointed men in the “sometimes” category, which made me wonder whether a further round of pre-emptive definitions was perhaps not necessary.

Maybe men and women just have a different definition of the word “sometimes”, which I suspect would also be highlighted by asking each of them whether they “sometimes” or “never” wash the dishes.


neill hurford - February 19, 2010

Oscar, your writing has just got better and better over the years (and it’s been many years). Of course I read your wine and food stuff, but could not resist checking what you had to say about sex. Your insights on this triune of pleasures are equally good.

all the best


john watson - February 19, 2010

Thank you for interesting insights; food, wine, living.
For me, the penetration of a vagina doesn’t of itself constitute sex; rather the beginning of an act of sex. There’s more to sex than penetration; tho a loving relationship is something else, too.

Tanya Scholes - February 19, 2010

I second Neill’s sentiments! I love your writing and always look forward to your ‘fresh’ approach to the art of the written word. Bravo and most certainly, keep it coming!

Tanya : )

Add your comment