Philobiblon: Surprising sanity about sex

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Surprising sanity about sex

Despite all of the hysteria about the "sexualisation of society", and you wouldn't think it when you read the Daily Mail, but it seems that in Britain a significant number of teenagers are waiting longer to have sex. Perhaps sex education is working?

The poll reveals that the number of people having sex before 16 years old has fallen from 32 per cent in 2002 to 20 per cent now.
The age at which the typical Briton loses their virginity has increased since they were last asked in 2002, when the figure was 17.13 years. Young women generally have sex younger than their male counterparts - at the age of 17.44 years, compared with 18.06 for men.

And sanity is striking in terms of long-term relationships: "The number of people who believe that monogamy is natural, from 74 per cent to 67, showed that with Britons living longer and healthier lives, the idea of lifetime fidelity is in decline."

The figures on homosexuality are also interesting, with "those admitting to having had sexual contact with someone of the same sex" rising from 11 per cent to 15. Does that mean more sex, or just more openness? Pretty hard to tell.

There's more analysis of the survey here.

Although of course some things never change, with the News of the World salivating today over the resignation of the Liberal Democrat Home Affairs spokesman, Mark Oaten, after it revealed his relationship with a rent boy. (He is supposed to be, and who knows, maybe even is, "happily married", with two children.) Now that's traditional Britishy sexuality ...

We'd better watch out, however, since American missionaries will probably be over here soon, trying to reverse the trends, as they are elsewhere.

From Peru to the Philippines to Poland, U.S.-based conservative groups are increasingly engaged in abortion and family-planning debates overseas, emboldened by their ties with the Bush administration and eager to compete with more liberal rivals.
The result is that U.S. advocacy groups are now waging their culture war skirmishes worldwide as they try to influence other countries' laws and wrangle over how U.S. aid money should be spent.


Blogger bookdrunk said...

Hidden in the coverage of the poll, and completely ignored by the main comment article, is this:

The most alarming finding was that almost one in three women said they had had sex they had not consented to. Thirty-one per cent of women, and 8 per cent of men, told MORI they had done so, representing a total of one in five Britons overall.

which passes with a minimum of comment.

The full poll won't be online until tomorrow so I can't see what questions they asked.

1/22/2006 11:59:00 am  
Blogger Natalie Bennett said...

I ignored that for two reasons:
1. I think it is broadly in line with other surveys.
2. There's a comment along the lines that this includes choices to have sex to "while trying to keep the other person happy". This does suggest the question might have been asked in a very broad way, grouping violence and other matters - which I think only damages the fight against sexual assault.

1/22/2006 12:07:00 pm  
Blogger bookdrunk said...

Very true - and that's why I want to see the full poll. The coverage talks very loosely about the influence of alcohol, the use of 'physical pressure' and 'keeping the other person happy' without further explanation.

I also think that I find the Observer's coverage worrying for slightly different reasons: it finds that detail to be nothing remarkable or worth further discussion - even in a paper that launched a campaign against sexual violence within the last six months. They chose to ask questions which would give some tell on sexual assault, but then chose not report the results in a way that might be productive.

The result is - as you suggest - a set of weak stats that can be used as an argument by those who don't think sexual assault is a common problem.

I guess we will have to wait until tomorrow.

1/22/2006 12:19:00 pm  

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