Okay, readers -- time to confess! How many sexual partners have you had?
Urban legend dictates that when a man tells you his number of sexual partners, you should subtract five. If a woman tells you her number, you should add three. Apparently, when it comes to sexual history, you need a little creative math.
However, a recent study done by the Center for Disease Control may finally begin to shed some light on this all-important number. The study (done via computer surveys) found that men have seven sexual partners on average, while women have only four. Moreover, men are more likely to engage in promiscuous behavior, as 29% reported having 15 or more partners, while only 9% of women reported these double-digits.
Apparently, the rumors are true: men really do have more sex than women. But how we can explain this vast difference in sexual experiences between men and women?
First of all, I think we need to examine the actual act of intercourse. Men and women experience sex very differently. During sex, women are in a much more vulnerable spot than men. A woman is actually "entered" during sex -- her body is breached in a way that a man's is not. Even during consensual and mutually pleasurable sex, the woman's body is being occupied by someone other than herself. This is certain to make sex a more delicate activity for a woman. This is particularly true if certain fluids are involved. While both men and women should be concerned with safe sex, women are particularly vulnerable when it comes to contracting certain STDs and risking pregnancy. These fears may cause women to be less willing than men to engage in promiscuous sex.
Second, women may choose to be less promiscuous because it does not serve them emotionally. Most women will admit to a spontaneous "one-night stand" or an occasional booty call, but it is not necessarily their main source of sexual pleasure. While casual, convenient, and frequent booty-calls can satisfy a man's sexual needs, a woman is not so easily satisfied. These quick, emotionless sexual encounters are rarely focused on a woman's desires -- and since only 30% of women orgasm from intercourse alone, it is likely that most of these women are not being fulfilled from "wham-bam-thank-you-ma'am'" interactions.
Third, society plays a large role in male and female sexual experiences. Even though it is 2007, women are still judged harshly by society if they're too promiscuous. Shows like Sex and the City attempted to make female sexuality less taboo, but centuries of patriarchy and misogyny still make the female sexual experience seem "trashy" or "slutty." Indeed, even female self-love is considered in a negative light -- yet society is very comfortable accepting male masturbation as a necessary and frequent activity. In fact, some women can reach middle-age before they even know where their clitoris is or what an orgasm feels like! Until men and women are permitted the same amount of sexual freedom and equality, it is likely that men will continue to be more promiscuous than their female counterparts.
Along those lines, the study also noted an increase in the number of people under age 15 being sexually active. While I strongly promote a healthy and happy sex life for all people, young teenagers are simply not emotionally prepared for sex and its possible consequences. With STDs such as HPV and herpes on the rise, we must encourage our children to postpone sex until they are emotionally ready for it. I suggest that teenagers learn about their own bodies via masturbation, rather than experiment with casual sex. Long make-out sessions are also a good idea -- necking at the drive-in is always fun ... for all ages!
After all, it doesn't matter how many sexual partners you have had. It only matters that the sex was safe, consensual, and emotionally healthy for both people involved.
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