Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Why We Bone (long)

I don't know what I would do without Jezebel today. Yesterday they drew attention to the 237 Reasons To Have Sex. But it was more than that, users commented to add their own reasons, including this gem, which many of us could sympathize with:

Because when the power is off after a hurricane there is nothing else to do but drink all the beer in the fridge before it gets hot and fuck. It really is the perfect setting; windows boarded up, generators to drown out the noise, and eating hotdogs from the Red Cross van in your unrecognizable, debris riddled lawn can really be a turn on

Discussing the original blog entry with a friend on the better-than-AIM-way-to-chat-at-work Google talk, she directed me towards the NY Times piece, in which John Tierney actually discusses the original study with the psychologists.

As Tierney's article points out, the idea that women sleep their way to the top is a bit of a misconception:
The results contradicted another stereotype about women: their supposed tendency to use sex to gain status or resources.

“Our findings suggest that men do these things more than women,” Dr. Buss said, alluding to the respondents who said they’d had sex to get things, like a promotion, a raise or a favor.

Men are more likely to fuck for a raise or promotion (no pun intended), but women are just as likely to do it for a job (when you compare the lists side by side). I knew a guy who boned a chick once during an interview. She didn't get the job. Maybe it just doesn't pay off for us.

In discussing their results, Buss and Meston write:
Another cluster of gender differences not specifically predicted involved enhancement of social status–boosting reputation, establishing bragging rights, and desiring to tell friends that they had sex with someone famous. Nonetheless, these findings were consistent with the empirical data that suggest that men who are actually or effectively polygynous are granted higher social status.

So basically, it's not a myth that manwhores are more popular. The more poon you get, the higher your social status.

Of interest:
The finding that men endorsed most of the reasons for having sex with a substantially higher frequency than did women can be considered within the context of socially inculcated gender roles as well as the theory of parental investment and sexual selection. Although the traditional roles of men as initiators of sexual interactions and women as ‘‘gate keepers’’ may be less a factor today then it was several decades ago prior to the influences of feminism and oral contraceptives, research on college populations suggests these patterns still exist. In a study of sexual attitudes among 702 undergraduate students, females were significantly more likely than males to endorse the item ‘‘It is unnatural for the female to be the initiator in sexual relations’’ (Meston, Trapnell, & Gorzalka, 1998).

Please tell me that things have significantly changed from 1998 to 2007. That or I'm just a huge "unnatural" slut. Why do women still think that's not okay for them to want or initiate sex?

Further interest:
the low social desirability of some reasons (e.g., to punish a partner; to make money; to give someone a sexually transmitted disease) may have lowered response rates to these reasons, while the high social desirability of other reasons (e.g., to express love; to show affection) may have raised response rates to these reasons. Social desirability effects may have also played a role by exaggerating the tendency for men to report significantly more reasons for having sex than women (or conversely, for women to under-report reasons for having sex).

Initially this bugs me, but then I think...this will forever be a limitation under any psychological study that asks personal questions. How can we ever trust that people will answer questions with complete truth? It seems to be human nature not only to distrust, but to lie as well.

Not mentioned at all is the sample's religiosity. What religions were represented? How religious did the participants believe themselves to be? And how did they play into their reasons to have sex? I know it's probably a whole 'nother can of worms, but it could play a major role. Of course, all those University of Texas students are hippies anyway, so maybe not.

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