Warning: This article discusses research into casual sex and male-female relationships with little regard for political correctness or social niceties. It also contains the occasional use of words that you normally wouldn’t use during a job interview. If you are easily offended, close this page now.
Decades ago, the standard approach to human courtship was pretty simple: A man of average appearance and means, having realized he couldn’t do any better, would set his sights on a girl of average appearance and ask her out. If she agreed, and the initial date proceeded smoothly enough, an extended process would begin in which she would then decide whether or not she could do any better. If the answer was no, the couple would officially become “boyfriend/girlfriend”, then eventually get engaged, then finally married, which would allow the male the regular sex he had dreamed of for so long. The newlywed couple would get a mortgage, fill their house with shiny new appliances that were actually built in the same country they lived, and have 3.5 children, one of whom one would join the armed forces. The wife would gradually put on weight and the husband would slowly lose his hair, and they’d live happily (okay, sometimes happily, sometimes miserably) ever after.
The pair-bonding process leading to marriage in the above scenario was known as “courting”, and it served its purpose with little competition up until the 1960s.
Then came the hippy era, in which a bunch of badly-dressed potheads earnestly believed they would change the world by smoking weed, popping LSD, singing "Kumbaya", and vandalizing universities. The reality, of course, is that they didn’t change diddly, their self-aggrandizing nostalgia notwithstanding. The world has since become an even more corrupt, materialistic, and sinister place, and the same war-mongering elite oligarchy that was running the planet back then continues to do so today. In fact, many of these once-were-rebel types now extract a comfortable living dutifully working for the same system, dominated by multinational corporations and freedom-crushing governments, that they once loudly rallied against.
Oh well, if you can’t beat ‘em…
Their claims to having made the world a better place to live might ring hollow, but the bell-bottomed 1960s hippie crowd did leave us with a few lasting legacies. Along with the popularization of illicit drug use and dodgy fashion trends, the sixties ushered in the era of “free love”. Now, giving and receiving love is one of life’s most precious gifts, and it’s long been a maxim that the best things in life are free. Yeah, try telling that to the poor bastard who waited until marriage for regular sex, then worked himself into an early grave trying to support the love of his life and their 3.5 offspring.
The hippies had a different vision of “free” love, one that didn’t involve suffering blue balls all the way up until wedding night. Now don’t get me wrong here: the quest to eradicate the dreaded disease of testicular ischemia (known in medical circles as Blueballanomia) was an eminently noble one. Where the hippies screwed up was in the logistics. They believed that turning your genitals into the physiological equivalent of a bus terminal would somehow bring about a higher state of consciousness, enlightenment and ultimately happiness. You know, in much the same way that frying your brain with LSD would…
Yep, sexual discernment became a quaint relic of history, and indiscriminately getting your rocks off with sheilas sporting tie-dyed clothing and hairy armpits became the done thing. Wow, wish I was there! Not.
Combined with the introduction of the “the Pill”, panties started dropping like pins at a bowling tournament, and kept doing so all the way through the 1970s. Things slowed down a little bit in the mid-80s after the introduction of AIDS, but MTV promptly remedied this by freely airing music videos that a few years earlier would’ve attracted an R-rating and required photo ID.
Then along came the Internet with free 24-hour access to porn and websites that specialized in stuff like helping married people secure extra-curricular hook-ups. Yep, thanks to the world wide web, human skankery really hit its stride!
If yours truly has learned something about humans, it’s this: They can’t help but take shit to extremes. And they’re an irresponsible pack of bastards. Sex before marriage is one thing, but drunken unprotected sex with slimy-looking douchebags wearing that cartoon-tattoo Ed Hardy crap in nightclub toilet stalls is something else again. For crying out loud, take a look around – can we really afford to lower the quality of the human genetic pool, not to mention its fashion sense, even further?
Don’t laugh – these people reproduce and have offspring.
Viva la Revolution?
As an ongoing result of what is commonly referred to as the “Sexual Revolution’, sexually transmitted disease (STD) rates have risen, and continue to rise in all age groups. According to the WHO (the health organization, not the band), the highest rates of STIs are generally found in urban men and women in their most sexually active years, between the ages of 15 and 35. On average, women become infected at a younger age than men.
And according to a recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):
--Syphilis, once on the verge of elimination, increased 15.2% between 2006 and 2007 (the last year that data is available), and is now striking more women and their infants than ever.
--Reported cases of chlamydia (which can lead to infertility) and gonorrhoea - estimated to represent only half of actual cases since so many go undiagnosed - were the highest in history in 2007, with the rate of chlamydia among women three times that of men.
--The gonorrhea rate was also higher among women (123.5 per 100,000 women, compared to 113.7 per 100,000 among men).
--Females now account for more than a quarter of all new HIV/ AIDS diagnoses, with high-risk heterosexual contact the source of 80% of these newly diagnosed infections.
--Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) - which is responsible for causing 70% of cervical cancer and 90% of genital warts cases - has become the most common STD on the planet, and it's spreading at epidemic rates: About 25 million women in the U.S. are currently infected, according to the CDC, and another 6.2 million are newly diagnosed each year.
As the British used to say: Corr blimey!
Now here’s a shocking revelation about this worldwide increase in STDs: It ain’t coming from monogamous, committed couples.
The main culprit is sexual promiscuity, which has seen casual sex become increasingly prevalent, an increase in the number of sexual partners, and a decline in the age of commencement of sexual activity. Combine this with an alarmingly widespread disregard for safe sex and the emergence of antibiotic-resistant STD strains, and it’s little wonder STDs are on the rise.
As the old joke says, a one night stand lasts a lifetime.
And speaking of one night stands…
“I Even Let Him Do Me [Sob] in the Restroom…I Don’t [Sob] Understand Why He Didn’t Call!?!”
I’ve often wondered why women do one night stands. Yeah, I know, they have certain biological urges that they need to satisfy, just like us blokes. Duh.
But what amazes me is how so many women are good to go within hours (and often minutes...) of making one’s manly acquaintance when the risk:reward ratio of casual sexual encounters is so much higher for them in so many ways. As we’ve just seen, the incubation box-like nature of their reproductive equipment renders them significantly more susceptible to many STDs than their male counterparts.
And of course, there’s the very real possibility that the Great Tadpole Swimming Tournament a woman hurriedly agrees to host might return a positive doping result. In which case, she’s the one who gets sentenced to nine month’s hard labour. Not to mention the subsequent 18-year probationary period.
And while psychopaths aren’t quite as common as STDs and unplanned pregnancies, there’s always the potential to be a victim of physical violence when the charming stranger she’s willingly let herself become alone with in fact turns out to be Jack the Ripper II.
These are all obvious concerns that, despite their ridiculously obvious obviousness, are routinely ignored by women all over the world, often with most displeasing consequences. But there is another aspect to one night stands that often escapes women entirely: Namely, that they often have markedly different psychosocial expectations from casual sex encounters than the men they get intimate with.
What’s Love Got to Do With It?
When a man has a one night stand, he pretty much expects one thing:
You know, it’s funny how women spend so much time trying to work men out, when we’re really not that complicated. Ladies, here’s some free advice for you: Stop trying to guess the hidden meaning behind every damn word a guy says, and stop trying to psychoanalyse every pregnant pause, every mannerism, and every bout of silence that lasts longer than 10 seconds for clues as to what he’s really thinking.
We like sex. And food. And sports.
That’s it really.
If a guy isn’t thinking about one of these things at any point in his day, he’s probably asleep. And even then, there’s a good chance he’s dreaming about these things.
OK, OK, I’m oversimplifying things a little; some of us blokes are actually pretty cluey and have many other interests, and we create interesting and unusual stuff, and sometimes even come up with world-changing innovations. But ultimately, we do all this to facilitate enjoyment of the big three above.
Take, for example, the invention of television – for the first time in history, men could watch sporting events in other countries, instead of having to listen to them on the radio.
Refrigeration? It allowed us to eat meat every day without risk of spoilage (this also had the side benefit of creating even bigger, stronger, faster sportsmen).
And the car? In 1885 Karl Benz created the automobile so that young German blokes still living at home would have somewhere to get busy with their girlfriends, without the risk of Mum walking in and screaming “Ach mein Gott!!” When blokes in other countries caught on, it was pretty much all over for the horse and cart.
Women, on the other hand, typically have a bunch of stuff going on inside their heads that often has nothing to do with sex or food or sports (no fellas, I’m not kidding you). At the moment I can’t spare the necessary millennium or so that it would take to discuss all this stuff, but let me just reiterate that one area where men and women differ markedly upstairs is in their expectations from casual sex encounters.
Granted, there are plenty of women around nowadays who are apparently OK with having sex purely for the sake of getting their rocks off. These women aside, females have various other reasons and agendas for engaging in casual sex. And fellas, this means that the one night stand is often a whole lot more than “just sex” for a woman. In other words, the outcome she’s hoping to achieve from the evening’s activities might be very different to the one you’re after.
Sometimes a woman is just plain old experimenting when she engages in casual sex, her curiosity often fanned by media images and peer influences. Sometimes casual sex represents, on a conscious or subconscious level, an opportunity for self-validation and an attempt to deal with self-esteem issues. Sometimes women engage in casual sex for revenge, to avenge a cheating partner or to allay the anger and heartbreak arising from a recent break-up (“I’ll get drunk and screw this anonymous loser who reeks of beer and slurs his words – that’ll show my ex!”).
And sometimes women engage in casual sex out of plain old desperation. If a women perceives, rightly or wrongly, that she possesses physical, personality or social trait/s that decrease her desirability to men, she may compensate by allowing males easier sexual access.
A woman may also make much ado of her distaste for casual flings, but if presented with the opportunity of a casual encounter with a male of higher quality than what she normally has access to (“quality” in this context refers to above-average physical attractiveness, pronounced alpha-male traits, or high social status), she’ll often take it.
And then there’s the big one, by its very nature destined to routinely disappoint: The hope that by “giving it up” so readily in what she evidently perceives as some kind of sexual try-before-you-buy deal, the object of her desires will be irresistibly overcome by her charms and forget every other woman on the planet, pledge his undying lifelong devotion as her one and only ‘soul mate’, buy her a massively overpriced ring she can show off to all the girls at the office, and help her conceive the cute little 3.5 youngsters she’s always dreamed of bearing.
Ladies, I hate to break it to you, but sometimes one night stands don’t end this way. In fact, they rarely end this way.
Would this explain why one night stands tend to be a far more disappointing experience for women than men?
Let’s find out…
What the Peer-Reviewed Research Shows About One Night Stands
Yep, researchers really do conduct and publish research into one night stands and casual sex, which they then publish in journals with names like the Archives of Sexual Behaviour and Journal of Sex Research. Yeah, go ahead and snicker, but let me tell you - this stuff makes for far more interesting reading than yet another BS-filled statin paper.
When it comes to one night stands or “hook-ups”, studies routinely show that women experience far greater regret and disappointment and lower levels of pride and satisfaction than men. While women often feel used and ashamed following college hookups, men’s chief regret is simply having chosen an unattractive or undesirable partner (a.k.a. Revenge of the Beer Goggles).
Much of the research into casual hook-ups has involved college populations. In an attempt to gain insight into attitudes towards casual sex among the wider population, a British television station (Channel 4) hosted a survey on their web site titled “One Night with You”. The introduction explained that the quiz was designed to investigate people’s “next-morning” feelings about one-night stands. The participants were informed their replies were anonymous and they should answer as truthfully as possible. If respondents had previously had multiple one-night stands, they were instructed to complete the survey whilst thinking of the last occasion.
The survey took place during the 2004-2005 Christmas and New Year holidays, and for good reason: New Year's Eve is Ground Zero for one night stands in countries like the UK, and end-of-year Christmas parties are also renowned for their hedonistic outcomes.
The survey drew 1,743 heterosexual respondents who stated they had experienced a one-night stand: 998 men and 745 women. Most of these (77%) were in single or casual relationships and were classified as "unmated"; those in steady, cohabiting or married relationships at the time of the one-night stand were classified as "mated" and comprised the remaining 23% of the sample.
The age distribution for the males and females was broadly similar: 4% were less than 26 years of age, 42% were age 17–25, 40% were 26–40, 13% were 41–60, and 2% were older than 60.
So what did the researchers, led by Durham University Professor Anne Campbell, find?
It Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time…
As with previous research, women were much more likely to regret casual sex encounters than men. Fifty-eight percent of women indicated some regret and said they would not repeat the experience, compared to less than a quarter (23%) of men.
Women’s regret at having been “used” was the strongest source of displeasure. While disappointment that the relationship did not come to anything more was greater among women, surprisingly enough it was not a particularly strong source of regret.
Women more than men felt regret and that they'd let themselves down. Unlike men, they did not secretly hope their friends would hear all about it, and they were worried about the loss of reputation if other people found out about the episode.
Fear about a possible pregnancy or contracting STDs was low and the only item that failed to show a statistically significant sex difference. It was expected women should show higher scores here because they risk both pregnancy and disease. Campbell theorized readily available contraception and condom use may have substantially equalized the sexes on this item, but as we’ll learn later, modern women are flippantly ignoring safe sex practices in their droves - with frightening consequences. It seems a potent brew of media bullshit, feminist self-righteousness (“if men can act like drunken whores, why can’t we?!?”), and a social climate that emphasizes self-entitlement and “living for the here and now” has engendered many women with a sense of invincibility and a belief that consequence-free sex is some kind of birth-right.
Men, meanwhile, were more likely than women to secretly want their friends to hear about their one night stand and to feel successful because the partner was desirable to others. This confirms the widely-held belief that advertising their engagement in casual sex, especially with a desirable partner, enhances men’s reputations (in stark contrast to the prevailing situation with women). Men reported greater sexual satisfaction and contentment following the event as well as a greater sense of well-being and confidence about themselves.
You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me…But at Least Call Me, You Bastard
"The morning-after pill can be taken up to 72 hours after conception. Because, you know, there is some girl out there who has a one-night stand and is like, I'm gonna wait and see if he calls."
-Comedienne Adrienne Iapalucci
Amplifying the marked gender differences in feelings of having been used, a number of women expressed distress at their partners’ behaviour following the event. They felt the men subsequently behaved disrespectfully and dismissively toward them. While not wanting a longer relationship, many women felt a strong sense of rejection.
Here’s a sampling of comments proffered by the female respondents:
– “Upset because he hasn’t talked to me after it happened.”
– “If they blank you the next time they see you rather than just say ‘Hi’ and smile or something, then they can shatter your confidence in an instant.”
– “I called him a few times after we had sex; then we did not speak for a long time after that. When we did meet again, he made it seem as though I had been stalking him. He reminded me that the night we spent together was just a one night stand. I found his arrogance annoying.”
– “He seemed more embarrassed the next day more than anything else, and the sex hadn’t been that great.”
– “Even if I didn’t want anything to do with them after a one-night stand I would like to know whether they liked me.”
– “Disappointment when not receiving a phone call the next day just to say ‘Thank you.’ The call came eventually, but by then it was not the same.”
Ladies, that slapping sound you’re hearing is men worldwide face-palming in bemused disbelief…
This is probably a good time for me to introduce the first of The Six Immutable Laws of Casual Boinking, from my soon-to-be-released book You Really Shouldn’t Have Done it, Should Ya?
Law #1: Don’t expect anything from a one night stand other than sex. The only exception to this rule is if the one night stand proceeds without the use of prophylactics, in which case you may reasonably expect lasting legacies like herpes and pregnancy.
Law #2: Men have no guilt. Women do. Unless a woman is ugly, in which case a bloke will be subject to much ridicule from his mates, most men suffer little guilt and feel no sense of obligation after partaking in a one night stand. It’s like fixing a leaky pipe or replacing a bottom bracket – a guy’s just doing what he’s gotta do. A good many women, try as they might, routinely fail to replicate this same sense of detachment. There are some compelling evolutionary reasons for this difference, which we’ll discuss later.
I Acted Cheap and Dirty…and Now For Some Reason I Feel Cheap and Dirty!
In line with women’s greater sense of having let themselves down, the tone of women’s negative comments commonly indicated a loss of self-worth after the experience:
“I felt cheap”; “Horrified afterwards”; “I felt degraded. Made myself look cheap and easy. Total regret”; “I generally felt dirty and unhappy”; and “I just wanted to feel a bit fancied and desirable. Didn’t work, though—felt cheap and dirty after.”
This last observation was echoed by other women:
– “I have a very poor self image and the man I slept with was a conquest really. He was very popular with other women and very good looking. I thought that if I slept with him it would put me on a par with my prettier and more worthy peers. Unfortunately it didn’t work and my self esteem/confidence suffered as a result.”
– “I understand it in some situations—a woman feels unattractive, and this is a confirmation of her attractiveness.”
– “I basically have one-night stands because I crave attention from men. I don’t have a boyfriend but I need constant attention, and I get this by sleeping with them.”
– “When I was younger, I thought that they would like me more if I did sleep with them. Sad when I look back on it.”
“Tell me again how you thought getting drunk and boinking a stranger would boost your self esteem?”
This brings us to the Third Immutable Law of Casual Boinking:
Law #3: Women should NEVER engage in casual sex in the hope that it will boost their confidence, self-esteem or attractiveness to men. While casual conquests can boost a man’s self-esteem and even his social standing, one night stands pretty much blow (excuse the pun) as a form of self-affirming therapy for women.
Here’s the deal: Because of factors pertaining to both nature and nurture, men are generally the poor bastards lumped with the role of “pursuer” when it comes to human mating. Although they’re every bit as desperate for companionship as men are for sex, the traditional role of women is to nonetheless assume a more subdued role in the process of courtship and let themselves be pursued (unless of course, the object of their desires has Adonis-like proportions or enjoys widespread fame or notoriety or some other form of greatly enhanced social status, in which case many women will quickly discard the whole subtlety gig and employ far more overt strategies to garner a man’s attention).
Because of these differing roles, the average guy has to go through all sorts of bullshit in his quest to get laid. On the other hand, any women who stands around in a nightclub smiling and making eye contact for long enough will attract sexual interest from the opposite sex, unless she’s shockingly ugly or has hygiene issues. Even then, there’s still probably some beer-soaked loser in the club who’ll happily step up and do the deed.
Because of the greater time and effort generally required for the average male to get laid, casual conquests are often viewed as an achievement by a man and his peers, an empirical affirmation of his efficacy in fulfilling his evolutionary-prescribed role as chick-pulling procreator.
But in terms of social status, women have little to gain and a lot to lose by engaging in one night stands. Because of the minimal effort required on her part, a casual encounter is unlikely to be viewed as a worthy achievement by others with knowledge of the event. To the contrary, they’re very likely to consider it an exercise in poor judgement, a manifestation of poor moral scruples, or a lowering of her behavioural standards in order to satisfy short-term biological urges. If the woman was drunk at the time (which in itself is widely viewed as a rather skankish endeavour), and enough people find out, her social standing can really take a beating.
Which brings us to the Fourth and Fifth Immutable Laws of Casual Boinking :
Law #4: If you drink, then hook up, you’re a bloody idiot. Everyone knows alcohol and driving don’t mix. Despite this, millions of drunken idiots still get in their cars and drive, with often life-shattering consequences. And so it is with casual sex.
Alcohol lowers inhibitions, slows reflexes, and impairs judgement. All of which makes it that much more likely that you’ll get it off with some winner who looks like a stallion at midnight but a donkey in the morning. And as a further bonus, el burro might just leave you with a nasty infection and an unwanted pregnancy. Nothing like looking your kid in the eye when he grows up and asks “Where’s my real Dad?” and answering, “Well sweetie, I really don’t know. You see I was getting totally smashed in Ibiza with my friends one night when some bloke grabbed my ass, led me out the club onto the beach and…”
In what many readers will no doubt consider the “No Shit Sherlock!” finding of the decade, researchers have shown that consuming alcohol during situations involving opportunities for sex with casual partners increases the likelihood that such sex will occur. For women especially, drinking more increases the likelihood of sex with casual partners, and the likelihood of unprotected sex with such partners.
And females are hardly the only ones that need to ease up on the silly juice. While I’m sick and tired of hearing women piss and moan about how they were ‘used’ during casual sex despite willingly engaging in it of their own volition, I’m also dismayed at having to read of yet another drunken king-hit or stabbing death outside a nightclub.
“Hey, I reckon that guy looked at me funny! I think I’ll sneak up behind, smash him on the back of the head, and with a bit of luck on the way down his skull will crack against the curb and he’ll die. Yeah, that’ll teach him for accidentally glancing in my direction!”
The fuck is wrong with you people?
Time for the closely related and all-important Fifth Immutable Law, one that a small minority of decent girls have implicitly known and abided by for millennia:
Law #5. Men generally have far greater respect for women who don’t put out so easily. Let me preface this by saying that there are always exceptions to the rule, and sometimes one night stands do evolve into successful long-term relationships, just like some people smoke cigarettes and still live to 100.
However, as any competent statistician or successful gambler can tell you, it’s not a wise strategy to bet on being the exception to the rule (a.k.a. Never Bet Against the House). And the general rule of thumb, ladies, is that the quicker and easier you let a guy into your Jockeys, the less respect he will have for you.
It’s simple economics: The easier something is to obtain, the less value humans will place on it. Oxygen, for example, is absolutely essential to human life, but if someone tried to sell you a bottle of air they’d have to pretend they were acting on behalf of a really worthy charity otherwise you’d likely tell them to get stuffed. Heck, unless you had some pressing need for an empty bottle, they’d be pushing to get you to accept the damn thing for free. The reason is simple - oxygen is everywhere, and all you have to do to obtain it is breathe.
Lamborghinis, meanwhile, are in no way essential to the continuance of human life, and billions of people around the world have gotten by just fine and lived to a ripe old age without them. Yet if you asked a prestige car dealer to give you a free Lamborghini, he’d promptly tell you to get stuffed. Why? Because they’re rare, exclusive, highly sought after, and absurdly expensive. The overwhelming majority of the population simply cannot and will never be able to afford one, which only increases their desirability and exclusivity further.
So ladies, when you engage in one night stands, you pretty much turn yourself into an empty bottle. Yeah sure, you’re providing an essential, life-giving product – sex – but by setting such a low market price for this commodity you irreparably lower its value in the eyes of existing and potential customers.
Look, let me give you an example that you’ll relate to, especially if you’re of above average appearance: Ever notice how when guys are sickeningly nice, shower you with gifts, issue non-stop compliments, agree with everything you say, and pretty much do everything else that on paper is supposed to win a girl’s heart, their appeal quickly wears off, even if you initially thought they were pretty hot?
Now, remember that brooding, mysterious guy who often took days to answer your phone calls, ribbed you about your taste in shoes, only gave compliments in bed, and figured flowers were for when someone died? On paper he sounds like he was a complete asshole, but while all those smiling, standard issue nice guys failed to get to first base with you, this guy had you totally wrapped around his little finger. He puzzled you, frustrated you and sometimes infuriated you, but you couldn’t stop thinking about him, and when he eventually took off to go trekking in South America, you almost cried your local Woolworths out of tissues.
Because he wasn’t an easy conquest. His whole demeanour indicated that he valued himself, was comfortable in his own skin, and didn’t live his life in constant fear of what others might think. As such, he didn’t feel the need to kiss up to women and ply them with gifts and compliments in order to win their affections. Deep down inside, he considered himself just as much a prize as you. And this automatically made him much more attractive to you.
So ladies, let’s turn the tables temporarily. I want you to flare out your elbows, puff out your chests, lower your voices several octaves, adjust your imaginary equipment to the proper side, and pretend for a moment to be a bloke.
Yeah, feels good, doesn’t it? Hahaha
Alright, in this imaginary state of manliness, I want you to picture yourself in a room with two identical and attractive women; they’re the spitting image of each other and dressed the same. One of these women – let’s call her Gidget - is drunk, yells “woohoo!”, raises her arms over her head and starts dancing like she’s on spring break in Cancun. She promptly wiggles and gyrates her way over to you, and as you guys start talking she becomes increasingly touchy feely, her conversation filled with innuendo and double entendres. In a giggly, bimbo kind of way, she keeps telling you what nice pecs and a cute butt you have. You quickly realize you’re not exactly dealing with an intellectual giant here, but as a man with testosterone levels at the high end of the normal range, you can’t help be flattered and you’re becoming more than a little aroused in your nethermost regions.
However, you also can’t help but notice the other girl to the side of the room. Unlike the giggly drunk in front of you, she’s the picture of poise and composure. She sees you looking over and smiles – a gorgeous, heart-melting smile that radiates a magnetic mix of friendliness, innocence, vulnerability and the oh-so slightest hint of wickedness – and a little voice inside tells you to go and introduce yourself. You quickly pull Gidget’s wandering hand out of your shirt, excuse yourself, and walk on over.
You guys start talking. As in, really talking, because unlike Gidget this girl’s totally sober and has her wits about her. And she’s actually quite interesting. And smart. Yet down to earth. And when she laughs at all your jokes, even the ones that aren’t that funny, you start getting this warm fuzzy feeling inside. You’re really liking this girl, even though she hasn’t touched you yet, except to briefly stroke your arm and compliment your jacket. She doesn’t gush on about what an awesome butt you have, but she does make a point of asking what you do to keep in such good shape. You briefly explain, and she tells you whatever you’re doing, it’s working, followed by another one of those heart-melting smiles. Goddamn. Before long, you’ve pretty much forgotten about Gidget and instead you’re saving this girl’s number in your phone. And you’ll be calling her. Because unlike the feeling you got from Gidget, which was pretty much localized to the area below your belt buckle, the feeling you get from this girl seems to have invigorated your whole body. It’s been a while since you’ve felt it, but pretty soon the sensation becomes unmistakable. It’s that rare and electrifying realization that, among that vast pool of murky sludge that constitutes humanity, you may just have found yourself a rare gem of a girl.
Because as every half-decent guy who’s been around long enough knows, one good girl is worth more than a thousand floozies.
Professor Campbell sums this whole phenomenon up succinctly, if not a little less prosaically than yours truly LOL:
“Women’s mate value is perceived to be low if they are willing to agree to low-cost [casual] sex…
Loss of a woman’s good reputation among males can reduce her chance of securing a long-term mate and result in hostility from and exclusion by other women (Baumeister and Twenge 2002). In short, women have greater potential costs than men in terms of self-esteem and reputation, and it may only be in the cold light of day, when sexual arousal has abated, that such costs are appraised.”
In other words, if you’re earnestly hoping to meet Mr Right, it’s not a good idea to carry on like Miss Right Now.
“Yeah”, I hear some of you girls objecting, “but I’m a material girl living in a material world and I don’t care what others think, I’m not looking for love, I’m just looking for fun and excitement and if I want to unleash my inner hoochie and get drunk and bonk guys I hardly know then that’s my prerogative!”
Yeah, you go girl! Straight to a decontamination shower.
And before you do that, you might wanna read the next section…
Young, Free and Disappointed
A lot of women go into a one night stand thinking it’s going to be an exciting event marked by incredible mind-blowing sex with a handsome, mysterious stranger who turns out to be some kind of sexual Superman. Yeah, I could see how a woman would think that as she eyes down some sleazy inebriated palooka from across the club. Especially if he’s wearing one of those Ed Hardy “Love Kills Slowly” t-shirts hahaha.
Needless to say, it rarely turns out this way. A recent study found that high-quality sex during casual hook-ups rarely led to regret among Canadian university students, whereas the opposite was true for low quality sex. However, most of the participants reported feelings of regret after an uncommitted sexual encounter, which would indicate that the overwhelming majority of their casual sex encounters were pretty lame.
Remember how I said most guys’ main priorities are sex, food and sports? Well, I kinda forgot to mention that this applies only to healthy, well-adjusted men. Unfortunately, the main priorities for a lot of blokes these days are booze and sports, in that order. Sex is valued by these jokers too, but mainly so they can have something to brag to their mates about. As such, their sexual skill set often matches that of a stray animal: Mount, hump, and hope for the best.
Then rush off to the pub to tell their mates what a mind-blowing Valentino they were LOL.
And let’s face it ladies: Given the requisite hip/butt/lower back/abdominal coordination necessary for a truly memorable performance in the sack, chances are if you’ve also been boozing, you ain’t about to take gold in the sexual Olympics either.
Little surprise then that Campbell reports women obtained less sexual satisfaction from one night stands, often expressing disappointment with the quality of the sexual encounter and a sense that the experience as a whole did not live up to their preconceptions:
“The expectation was better than the reality, the sex was rubbish”;
“It wasn’t worth it and it wasn’t even good”;
“The sex is never particularly satisfying because it is difficult to let go with someone you don’t even know”;
“Not as good as sex with a partner; they are more into your needs and know your body a lot better”;
“I did not gain any satisfaction from it”;
“Fulfilled my curiosity about that man but was slightly disappointed”;
“Thought it would be one of life’s experiences, but it was nothing like the sex found in movies”.
Lawdy lawdy…time for the Sixth Immutable Law of Casual Boinking:
Law #6: Life ain’t like the movies, and this includes casual sex. Folks, you may want to sit down for what I’m about to tell you. Take a deep breath now, because this may come as a real shock to y’all:
Not everything you see on TV and read in magazines is true.
In fact, a lot of it is fanciful, idealized and often downright implausible bollocks constructed for no other purpose than to attract as big an audience as possible. This malarkey should be construed as nothing other than entertainment, not sound information upon which you should base potentially life-changing decisions.
In the movies, the peachy-skinned starlet gets swept off her feet by a dashing millionaire driving a Lotus Esprit. Despite the fact that she’s a lowly prostitute, he eventually falls in love with her, gives her his Platinum card to go on Rodeo Drive shopping sprees and, a few mandatory scripted lover’s tiffs notwithstanding, they go on to live happily ever after dining in silver service restaurants with heads of Fortune 500 companies and enjoying sensuous all-night trysts in lavishly appointed 5-star hotels.
Now here’s how it happens in real life: You’re in some loud, crowded, shitty nightclub that reeks of cologne, booze and crotch sweat, when some spiky-haired joker earning $33,500 a year spills beer on your Dotti outfit, uses the opportunity to buy you another drink and ply you with more alcohol, goes for gold before the both of you are totally legless, then tells all his mates the next day what a ridiculously easy "root" you were. When he doesn’t ring you the next day, you optimistically figure he must have lost your number, so you drop in at his work where, for some reason, all the guys are looking at you like you’re naked. You catch a glimpse of him out back through the crack of a door, but one of his workmates comes out and says, “Sorry love, Boris has gone out to see a customer, but I’ll get him to call you later”.
By the way, if you’re known around town for this kind of thing, then Boris’s mates will tell their mates who will tell their mates, and before you know it you can’t go anywhere without guys ‘accidentally’ spilling beer on your dress.
One night stands: Above - the Hollywood version. Below - the real world version.
I’m Not Here For a Long Time, I’m Here For a Good Time! That’s What I Told Myself, Anyway…
Professor Campbell notes that although the results suggest women are realistic about the short-term nature of one night stands, “we cannot discount the possibility that self-esteem issues may have caused women to reconstruct their memory in the direction of minimizing or denying their initial desire for a continuation of the relationship.”
But what if women truly do accept the short-term nature of casual encounters? Why then, do they keep wanking on about having been “used”? Why do they feel “used” far more often than feeling like “users”, despite being willing participants in a mutually OK’d event? After all, Campbell notes, none of the respondents’ answers contained any suggestion of physical coercion; to the contrary, as the comments quoted earlier demonstrate, many freely admitted being eager to engage in the encounter.
The big sore point with women appears to be the lack of recognition following the event. While men frequently couldn’t give a brass razoo if they never see a woman again after a one night stand, a lot of women clearly can’t detach themselves from the encounter so easily.
“Given men’s generally higher sex drive and eagerness for casual sex, women typically act as a limiting factor or gating mechanism (Symons 1979). When a woman agrees to sex after a short period of courtship, she expects a degree of appreciation since in the economics of sexual exchange she has lowered her usual market price for the interaction (Baumeister and Vohs 2004). A failure to accord this courtesy may be read as an implication that her price is habitually low.”
“In addition, the fact that men typically drop their standards appreciably for short-term partners [My note: There is indeed research to show that, when assessing potential casual sex partners, many men will lower the standards they normally seek in a woman] raises the possibility that her partner evaluated her attractiveness as low. As the woman sees it, her male partner was willing to have a clandestine sexual encounter but would not be willing to conduct a public relationship with her. (Being “blanked” subsequently, even though the man may be merely trying to avoid embarrassing her, tends to confirm her hypothesis.) Though female respondents do not express excessive disappointment at the transient nature of the relationship, and indeed might well reject the partner’s invitation to continue it, they may nonetheless experience the absence of such an invitation as a blow to their self-esteem.”
In a study from Norway, de Graaf and Sandfort found women were “aware of the sexual stereotype that men always want to have sex, women do not expect men to say no to an opportunity of sexual intercourse” . This asymmetry between genders in sexual desire means that a woman’s pride, more than a man’s, is dented by rejection, which in the case of a one-night stand corresponds to a lack of desire to repeat the experience.
Townsend et al reported in 1995 that, among highly sexually active undergraduates, there was only a small gender difference in spontaneous concern about “Will this relationship last?” However, women were much higher than men in expressing concern about “Is sex all partner was after; will partner call; will partner dump me in the morning?” (81% of women compared with 17% of men).
This again hints at the subtle but critical distinction between “a disappointed yearning for a long-term relationship and a damaged sense of self-worth at not being invited to consider (and possibly refuse) one. “
Once Bitten, Twice Gullible
These findings all raise an obvious question: If women have such negative evaluations of the casual sex experience, why do they do it? Regardless of how they felt afterwards, the fact remains that at the time they chose to go ahead and have a transitory hookup.
This is where things get interesting, especially for those of us who find evolutionary psychology so fascinating.
The Paleo Hookup: Your Cave or Mine?
The stark difference in women’s before/after attitudes to casual sex “suggests the possibility that an adaptation which impels or motivates sexual intercourse may be dissociable from (and sometimes at odds with) subsequent appraisals or emotions. This observation applies also to men who, though more positive than women, expressed reservations about their experiences. For both sexes, the natural and immediately satisfying culmination of sexual arousal is intercourse.”
What this means is that there may be a potent subconscious motivation, cognitively hard-wired into females over literally millions of years of evolution, that overrides common-sense and long-term concerns in favour of seizing short-term opportunities to mate with males of higher genetic quality.
Yeah, I know, a lot of the males modern women are seizing just such opportunities with can hardly be considered shining examples of genetic superiority. But remember, we’re talking an evolutionary adaption that began long before the advent of alcohol, party drugs, strobe lights, anything-goes social mores, and the myriad of other modern factors that serve to impair womens’ judgement about the quality of males they casually interact with.
The widely accepted theory in evolutionary psychology is that men are far more conducive to casual sex encounters because, for them, the overall time and effort involved is low, yet each encounter offers them yet another opportunity to spread their genes. But for women - who for most of human evolution had no access to effective contraception - every sexual encounter carried with it potential and highly significant costs; namely, pregnancy, childbirth, and child-rearing. As such, it served women well throughout evolution to consider such encounters with a far more cautious attitude than men.
"In evolutionary terms women bear the brunt of parental care and it has been generally thought that it was to their advantage to choose their mate carefully and remain faithful to make sure that their mate had no reason to believe he was raising another man's child," Professor Campbell notes.
However, as the theory goes, some cavegirls weren’t above dropping their bear-skin thongs for a transient encounter if the short-term suitor was an alpha male of above-average genetic quality. This would in turn maximize her chances of bearing offspring of similar genetic quality. Obviously, women back in those days didn’t have access to pathology labs that would quickly analyse the quality of a man’s DNA; instead, they subconsciously determined a man’s genetic quality by assessing his physical characteristics, his leadership traits, and his ability to acquire resources. There were no PhDs, no gyms, and no Krav Maga studios back then; back in the Paleolithic era, if you were a well-built alpha male who could kick ass and hunt up a storm, chances are you were born that way.
So when Ulma was hanging out with her friends by the river while her average-looking partner Ug was out hunting wildebeest with the fellas, and some handsome bloke with broad shoulders and an especially chiseled set of abs from a friendly neighbouring tribe walked by, and amidst all the giggling and cooing of her friends she noticed him winking at her, it was not beyond her to turn to her friends and say, “Um, guys, wait here, I’m going to go grab me some more of those berries we picked downstream”.
In support of this theory are the scientific findings that women especially prefer physical strength and muscularity in short-term (as opposed to long-term) partners.There’s also a compelling body of evidence indicating that when a woman is at her most fertile, during her ovulatory phase, she not only gets hornier but finds herself much more attracted to males with these and other alpha traits. Her attraction to guys with square jaws, deep voices, social presence/dominance, creativity and talent (as opposed to wealth), and muscular physiques increases markedly[6-9], even though she’s aware these types of men are also popular with other females and therefore may not constitute the best prospects for long-term monogamous relationships. Ovulating women also experience heightened attraction to symmetrical faces, and even the scent of men with symmetrical faces(there’s a whole bunch of research showing both genders rate symmetrical, well-proportioned faces and physiques as more attractive. Researchers again speculate this may be an evolutionary ingrained preference designed to favour individuals of higher genetic quality).
And not only does an ovulating woman not only finds these types of men more attractive, but the research suggests she’s much more likely to pull them into the change room when no-one’s looking and put one big smile on their dial.
During the ovulatory phase, women who are not on the contraceptive pill report increased sexual desire, are more physically aroused by explicit sexual material, and show stronger positive feelings and EEG responses to nude males [12-15].
Among women attending a nightclub without their male partner, estradiol levels (which rise at ovulation) were positively correlated with the women’s degree of skin exposure and clothing tightness, increasing levels of which convey heightened sexual availability (and the women knew it). During ovulation, mated women fantasize more frequently about sex with men other than their primary partner , and one study found this effect was confined to women whose usual partners have low symmetry[17, 18]. The former study showed that attached women reported greater sexual interest in, and fantasy about, other men near ovulation, but did not report significantly greater sexual interest in and fantasy about their existing partners. Ouch. These women also reported that their partners became both more attentive and possessive near ovulation. No bloody wonder LOL
Another study showed that near ovulation, both single and attached women reported greater interest in attending social gatherings where they might meet men, and attached women reported greater flirtation with other men. Again, these effects were exhibited primarily by women who perceived their partners to be low on hypothesized indicators of good genes.
Another noteworthy finding in this study was that increases in partner mate guarding by males (e.g. attempts to reign in their partners' behaviour and repel and intimidate other males) were also influenced by female physical attractiveness. Mid-cycle increases in mate guarding were experienced primarily by less attractive women, whereas more attractive women experienced relatively high levels of mate guarding throughout their entire cycle.
Ovulation, it would appear, not only increases sexual motivation but directs it toward men of high genetic quality - much to the chagrin of jealous boyfriends and husbands everywhere.
I could go on and on, but I think you all get the point. Women have a lot to lose by engaging in one night stands, but the trait predisposing to casual sex has persisted throughout evolution because it endowed at least some women the opportunity to secure higher quality genetic contributions to their reproductive efforts. Not surprisingly, women tend to have a heightened attraction to males with traits indicating genetic superiority when they are at the most fertile part of their monthly cycle.
While one night stands may have offered a reproductive advantage to some women, the costs were often severely prohibitive for others. If the woman already had a partner, she risked violent retribution and abandonment, the former jeopardizing her well-being and even life, the latter potentially denying her the protection and resources needed for successful child-rearing.
And regardless of whether she was attached or not, a woman’s social status and perceived value as a mate risked being greatly diminished by casual sex encounters. Ultimately, the perceived long-term value of women is more seriously damaged by casual sex because of the disparity in confidence in parenthood. Prior to the advent of DNA testing, a man whose partner had potential access to other men had no way of guaranteeing with absolute certainty the child she bore was his. The woman, in contrast, could obviously be 100% certain any child she gave birth to was hers. Men, as a result, have evolved to be more suspicious of women with a demonstrated or perceived propensity for casual sex than those without such a propensity.
The bottom line is that, at this stage in evolution, female Homo sapiens have not adapted well to meaningless sex because overall it doesn’t serve in their best interests. While evidence for the “Good Genes” hypothesis suggests women are more willing to have casual sex when the male’s genetic value is high, modern women routinely select short-term partners of low value due to such factors as alcohol and loneliness. This often causes them to regret the experience after the fact.
Lack of subsequent contact and acknowledgement by the male partner is construed by a woman that he considered her mating value as low, and constitutes a further and especially common source of regret for women who engage in one night stands.
Sleazy is as Sleazy Does
This article began as a bit of a whim after reading Professor Campbell’s paper, and has turned in to a much longer piece than what I originally anticipated. It’s also turned out to be one of the more disturbing pieces I’ve written for a while. One thing that’s really struck me as I’ve researched this article is just how badly the sexual environment has deteriorated out there. Women seem hell-bent on proving they can be just as sexually reckless as men, and STD rates have increased markedly as a result.
And it’s not just young folks that are embracing their inner skank.
A recent Australian survey from Nielsen, commissioned by dating site RSVP, found that singles over 50 are the most likely group - of any - to have sex on the first date.
And during those one night stands, those older women are much less likely to have protected sex.
An earlier survey by Family Planning NSW in 2009, confirmed women over 40 were more likely to agree to sex without a condom.
And the latest figures from Australia’s National Notifiable Diseases Surveillance System show that since 2005, the number of new cases of chlamydia in people aged 40 and older has doubled. Gonorrhea too has increased in the over 40s.
Tell us again how kids these days are so irresponsible, Oh Morally Superior Grey-Haired One?
When the Cat’s Away…
One of the main impediments to casual sex for women is the loss of social esteem they’ll suffer when everyone at the office finds out about the guy they drunkenly blew last Friday night. Yep, turns out he works for the same company that services her firm’s computers, and news of their not-so-glamorous encounter has already spread like wildfire.
However, when a woman is on vacation and surrounded by strangers, with her usual social environment a long plane flight behind her, such concerns quickly evaporate. Yep, when the cat is thousands of miles away, the mouse will quickly let her hair down and play.
A survey published earlier this year found that more than 40% of British women under 30 have had a one-night stand while on holiday. The findings were revealed in a poll for dating website MissTravel.com, which asked its 30,000 female British members ten questions about their sexual habits during their summer holidays.
Commenting on the findings CEO Brandon Wade, said: "It is clear that women become much more sexually liberated when they are out of their comfort zone".
The sexiest men for holidaying British girls were Italians (33%), while 40% believed Greece was the most romantic holiday destination. Almost half (48%) of these hook-ups occurred as a result of picking up men in nightclubs and bars.
I hope you poor jokers whose girlfriends have just come back from vacation in Mykonos aren’t eating as you read the next bit:
Most British women who had sex while on holidays did so with multiple partners. A quarter of women had 2 partners, 19% had 3 partners, 11% had 4 partners, and 10% had 5 or more partners during a week-long vacation.
Five different sexual partners in a week?
I ain’t no prude, but … ewww.
New Zealand Women: Most Promiscuous in the World?
In 2008, condom manufacturer Durex released the results of its Sexual Wellbeing Global survey after questioning 26,000 people in 26 countries. New Zealand women were the most promiscuous of all the countries surveyed, with an average of 20.4 sexual partners. The global average was 7.3.
New Zealand was also unusual for being the only country where women had more sexual partners than their men. Kiwi blokes were 11th on the men's list with an average of 16.8, while Austrian men topped the list with an average 29.3 sexual partners.
Following the Durex survey, TVNZ Sunday investigated the sexual behavior of Kiwi women, reporting that "young New Zealand women were regularly getting drunk and cruising around in packs searching for men to have sex with".
Yeah, look at all you dodgey bastards Googling for the Air New Zealand website now LOL
According to TVNZ Sunday correspondent Janet McIntyre, "There's a new kind of mating ritual sex is the point of entry into the relationship…There's no dating culture any more."
In candid interviews about their sexual experiences some of the women who were all in their twenties felt empowered by having sex and wanted to celebrate and enjoy it. McIntyre said all the women who had experienced one-night stands had been affected by alcohol.
The Most Promiscuous Countries in the World
A 2005 study published in Behavioral and Brain Sciences featured a smaller sample of respondents, but a much larger number of countries than the Durex survey, and also employed the use of a validated sexual index. Researchers administered what is known as the Sociosexual Orientation Inventory (SOI) to a sample of 14,059 people across 48 nations. According to the originators of the SOI, those who score relatively low on the index tend toward monogamy, prolonged courtship, and heavy emotional investment in long-term relationships. Those scoring at the high end tend toward promiscuity, are quick to have sex, and experience lower levels of emotional investment in romantic relationships.
The SOI doesn’t solely concern itself with one night stands – it’s more of an overall rating of a person’s promiscuity. Nonetheless, those who score higher on the scale tend to have more one-night stands, fantasize more about having sex with someone other than their current partner, and possess more permissive attitudes toward casual, uncommitted sex.
I should also point that the scores comprise the results from both men and women; however, countries where promiscuity scores are high got to be that way thanks to the combined efforts of both male and female residents.
So, I hear you all asking with baited breath, which countries came in at the top of the scale?
Coming in at number 1 was – wait for it – Finland.
Yes, Finland. Now, when I think of Finns I think of lumberjacks, world-class powerlifters, and people who are apparently OK with freezing-ass weather. But as it turns out, they’re also pretty OK with promiscuity and casual hook-ups, at least more so than any other of the 48 countries in the study. I guess all that wood-chopping and deadlifting doesn’t leave much time for serious relationships…
The mean SOI score for all countries in the study was 35.31; Finland scored a 50.5. Runner-up was New Zealand, proving the Kiwis have found another sport besides rugby at which they can consistently beat Australia: Promiscuity!
The other countries returning a score over 40 were, in descending order:
The UK was the most promiscuous of major Western nations, followed by Germany, Netherlands, Australia and the USA.
Taiwan, by the way, returned the lowest SOI score.
Interestingly, one of the factors that correlated strongly with national sociosexuality levels was the male:female ratio. A low male:female ratio is believed to promote promiscuity in women because sexual selection is more heavily driven by men’s evolved desires for unrestricted sex. As David Schmitt (who reported the above SOI findings) notes, this may explain the high SOI rankings in the Baltic nations of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia (which scored 39.95):
"Low [male:female] ratios in the Baltics are not surprising given the high rates of male suicides and deaths from accidents within these nations (e.g., Neumayer 2003)."
In contrast, cultures with more men than women (e.g., Hong Kong, Bangladesh, and Taiwan) ranked low on sociosexuality. In these nations, the male desire for unrestricted, short-term sex is likely being overridden by women’s desires for long-term, monogamous mating.
This is a point worth reflecting on: The observation that when women hold the power, in terms of high national male:female ratios, they opt for more monogamous behaviour tends to contradict the widely-touted notion that increasingly loose female sexual attitudes are a manifestation of equality and women’s ‘liberation’. Come to think of it, I’m guessing the pressure to conform to other people's sexual ideals, drunken risk-taking, skyrocketing STD rates, next-morning regret and plummeting self-esteem weren’t quite what the early pioneers of the women’s emancipation movement had in mind. But I could be wrong…
God Save the Queen
A poll by the UK’s Daily Mail titled "British Women and Sexuality" found almost half of British women in their 20s have had a one-night stand. And nearly a quarter of women in their 20s have had an abortion.
Similarly, almost half of women in their 30s (46%) and 40s (45%) had casual, one-off sexual encounters, while more than a third of those in their 50s had casual sex. Regret was highest in the youngest age category: 44 per cent of women in their 20s said they wished they had never had their encounters, compared with 37 per cent in their 30s, 26 per cent in their 40s and 35 per cent in their 50s.
The Daily Mail speculated that this was perhaps because, being at their most fertile, younger women’s brief encounters were more likely to result in unwanted pregnancies (there may also be another reason: Research shows that as divorced men age, unless they suffer some kind of health or financial catastrophe, their chances of remarrying remain relatively constant. Women's prospects of remarriage, in contrast, decline linearly as they age, which may help explain their increasing acceptance of casual sex. Also, it's interesting to note that regret of casual sex was lowest in forty-something women who, the whole "cougar" fad aside, are fast approaching the end of their reproductive years and hence typically experiencing significantly lowered mate value to men).
One of the respondents, Jayne, 46, a PA from Cambridge, confessed she “positively cringes” when she recalls all the men she slept with during her “wild” undergraduate days. She now has a son, 14, a daughter, 12, and is married to Richard, 52, an IT consultant, and admits her husband has no idea how promiscuous she was before they met.
"I have never confessed how many men I’ve slept with," she says. "Actually, I’m not quite sure myself — definitely over 20 — and I’m ashamed that many were one-night stands."
"Some I met at parties. I’d wake up the next day and could barely remember if we’d had sex or not. On other occasions I’d look at the stranger in bed next to me and cringe as I thought: 'What on earth have I done?'"
Luckily for Jayne, and mercifully for the gene pool, she was on the Pill and did not suffer an unwanted pregnancy; neither did she contract a STD. But as soon as she met Richard, 23 years ago, she began to feel guilt and regret, which compounded when her daughter reached adolescence.
"I realised I was hardly an exemplary role model - not that I’ve discussed my exploits with my daughter," she says. "Sadly, while at the time I thought I was just having fun, it is a part of my past I wish I could erase."
Despite the high levels of regret, the figures nonetheless show most of the respondents in fact suffered little to no remorse about their casual encounters. And British women are hardly the only ones with such flippant attitudes to boinking strangers. A 2010 article in Women’s Health Magazine on casual sex, titled “Why Isn’t Hooking Up Scary Anymore?” reports frighteningly lax attitudes towards both casual sex and safe sex practices among American women.
A typical example is ‘Jenny’ (not her real name) who says with a laugh, "I don't ask questions that I don't want to know the answers to". That's why she hasn't asked the three men she's currently sleeping with about their sexual pasts. And when they inquire about hers, she lies. They don't know she's had sex with dozens of guys, and she doesn't want them to (they might erroneously think she's a skank, you see) so instead she automatically recites six, the magic number she and her friends have decided sounds most acceptable.
Jenny is focused on her public relations career in Philadelphia and has no interest in pursuing a committed relationship. Her theory is that "If you're with multiple people, you can't get your heart broken".
So she goes ahead and does "the dude downstairs" - a friend's ex - with whom she could never have a relationship outside the bedroom. There's also the old pal who is "just a friend with benefits, nothing else," who texts her for late night booty calls. "I'll go over and we'll have sex, and then I won't hear from him for two weeks," she says. "And I'm totally cool with it."
She's also cool with firing out naked self-portraits from her BlackBerry: "I send them if I want to entice the guy to have sex," she says, adding that she would "absolutely die" if the racy photos got out.
She's also cool with boozing herself loose for sexual encounters ("Alcohol is always involved because it makes you bold enough to act and feel a certain way"), even though she tends to have unsafe sex when she's sloshed. There are the hit-or-miss protective measures ("I don't always use condoms - I take morning-after pills when I need to"), even though she assumes the men she sleeps with are intimate with other women too.
"I don't really worry about HIV anymore," she says. "It's like I think I'm invincible. Nothing bad can possibly happen to me."
Boy, do I feel sorry for the poor sod who eventually settles with this winner.
Ditto for the poor schmuck who eventually latches onto Diana, a 24-year-old staffing agency manager, who nonchalantly reports "Hooking up is something to do until I find someone. It's not a problem meeting a guy and going home with him. It's easy." Everyone, she says, is looking for the same thing: Random sex. "Play or be played" is how she describes it. "Alcohol is a big factor, huge. It's liquid courage. You don't have any inhibitions" Diana says. She's slept with 32 men in the six years since she lost her virginity, and she doesn't care if anyone tries to "slut-shame" her:
"I'm not ashamed of it. Other people can judge, but it's you who ultimately needs to be OK with your decisions."
Despite her lack of shame, even Diana has anxious moments resulting from her promiscuity. She frequently has unsafe sex and is "paranoid" and gets STD tests every six months. She says she gets furious with her friends - including the four of whom have HPV - who sleep around without using protection. "I'm like, 'You are the reason I am paranoid. It's girls like you who spread it around and make it dangerous for me". This, despite the fact that Diana herself doesn't always demand her partners don a wetsuit before surfing in her swell, so to speak.
"I've definitely made my share of mistakes and continue to do so, usually in the heat of the moment or when I'm intoxicated," Diana says. "The morning after these things happen, I'm sick to my stomach. I feel so bad about making such a stupid mistake. I'm hoping that I don't have to learn the hard way to stop doing it."
The carry-on of sheilas like Jenny and Diana reflects a growing and alarming trend: Studies show that while young women are sleeping with ever-increasing numbers of men, they are using latex less often. A 2008 study found women who had two or more partners in the past year were more likely to be inconsistent contraceptive users, and only 51% of condom users used one during every single encounter in the three months prior to the study.
Unlike Diana and Jenny, 26-year-old Whitney, who works in Boston's finance industry, is mortified when she recalls her past promiscuity. When she was in college, her friends teased her about attaching herself to a serious boyfriend. "They'd be like, 'You only get one chance to have fun in college and hook up with tons of guys. Why would you stay with one person?'" she says.
"Sleeping around was not really what I wanted or needed, but I felt pressured." So she took occasional "breaks" from her boyfriend and had mostly unprotected "sexual rampages" with casual partners. Back with her college sweetheart today (poor cuckolded bugger), she's still horrified about buying into the anonymous-sex scene at school.
"Women feel like they have to hook up," Dr. Drew, host of the nationally syndicated show Loveline, explains. "It's so institutionalized that they feel like something is wrong with them if they're not having fun with it. And the hook-up culture knocks aside the fear of consequences."
Nancy, who's had about 30 sexual partners, says alcohol "is a big thing" and admits she's not overly concerned about her unprotected sex with multiple partners. She doesn't always use condoms, and never for oral sex. "I do oral all the time. I don't use protection," she says.
And yet unprotected oral sex may be one of the most widespread and most dangerous sexual practices for women's health. Oral and throat cancers have recently been causally linked to the same HPV strains that cause cervical cancer; herpes, chlamydia, and gonorrhea also can be easily transmitted from mouth-to- genital contact, though many women are completely unaware of the risk.
"I had no idea you could get herpes from oral sex," says Wendy, a 37-year-old teacher from Colorado who recently contracted genital herpes after receiving oral sex from a boyfriend. He never told her about his infection.
"Now who is ever going to want to be with me and deal with this crap?"
According to Womens Health, some experts blame eight years of abstinence-only education (the only sex ed that was federally funded under President George Dubya Bush) - for not only failing to inform younger women about the risks of unprotected oral sex, but also for actually fuelling its popularity. "A lot of teenagers reduced the message to 'I must abstain from the kind of sex that makes a baby,'" says medical sociologist Adina Nack, Ph.D., author of Damaged Goods? Young women figured oral sex pleased their partners yet preserved their virginity, as did anal sex, another risky sexual behaviour that's becoming more prevalent. According to the CDC's National Survey of Family Growth, nearly 35% of women ages 25 to 44 engage in anal sex.
Yeah, I know what all you jokers are thinking: “Oh yeah!”
Not wanting to be a killjoy, but keep in mind that, as with oral sex, a lot of heterosexual anal penetration occurs without protection (again, apologies if you were eating right now). Because the rectum lacks natural lubrication, the resulting tiny tears in its lining make perfect entry points for STDs. "It's much riskier than vaginal sex," says sex therapist Laura Berman, M.D., a clinical professor of psychiatry and OBGYN at Northwestern University. "HPV anal cancer is hugely on the rise, and most experts believe it's because of anal intercourse."
She adds: "Unprotected anal and oral sex, being with multiple partners, not having regular testing or regular Pap smears, drinking...all of these things create a perfect storm for putting yourself at higher risk."
A sex researcher before a big night out on the town. Hey, if you read all the stuff he has about casual sex and STDs, you wouldn’t be taking any chances either…
If You Need to Get Blind to Boink…Doesn’t that Tell You Something?
A common theme from the research, and the empirical stories being reported in the media, is how women are increasingly using alcohol to ‘prep’ themselves for casual sex encounters. FFS, what on Earth are they thinking? You know, I might just ring a really smart guy I know and ask him what he reckons about this. Excuse me for a moment, folks:
“Hello, is this Captain Obvious?”
“Yeah, who’s this?”
“Captain, it’s me, Anthony.”
“Hey Anthony! It’s been too long, man! What’s happenin’?”
“Captain, I’m writing this article about one night stands, and - ”
“One night stands…”
“[Laughing] Get outta here! Let me guess - you got sick of replying to poncey vegans and arguing with tossers about cholesterol and low-carb diets, huh?”
“Bravo! So what do you need to know, bro?”
“Cap’n, I’ve been researching casual sex, and let me tell you, there’s some scary shit going on out there nowadays. I’ve been reading how women are real big on using alcohol to ‘loosen’ themselves up for casual hook ups. As a result, they then engage in risky stuff like unprotected sex with multiple partners of highly dubious genetic quality. The dumbassness of such a practice seems so absurdly obvious to me I just had to run it by the Grandmaster of Obviousness himself.”
“As always, you came to the right place! OK, let’s break this down, using Captain’s Law of Applying Obvious Facts that Most People are Evidently too Blind to See for Themselves. If you have to get drunk in order to feel comfortable about a casual hook-up, this means you probably wouldn’t do it when you were sober. Which begs the question: Why on Earth would you deliberately get drunk in order to do something you wouldn’t do when you’re sober?”
“Because deep down inside you know the encounter is an unwise and shameful one, but you have a competing voice telling you to go ahead with it because of basic biological urges, or loneliness, and/or social pressures, so you use booze to dull your brain to the point where your inhibitions and sense of shame are temporarily ameliorated?”
“Exactly! Shit Anthony, have you ever thought of joining the Obvious Team? You know, we could really do with a guy like you!”
“Thanks Captain, but I’ve got enough on my plate as it is.”
“Bro, we offer above-award rates, flexible hours, and I’ll set you up in a corner office with a killer view of the Melbourne CBD!”
“Thanks Captain, but I’m happy where I am.”
“Did I tell you our receptionist looks like Alyssa Milano and has a thing for shaved-headed Italian-Australian blokes?”
“When do I start?”
“Hehehe, welcome to the O-Team, bro! By the way, you forgot to mention ‘plausible deniability’.”
“People who drink prior to a one night stand often do so in order to have a form of plausible deniability. This means that the next morning when feelings of guilt and shame start to settle in, they can attempt to quell those feelings by blaming their actions on the alcohol. You know, ‘I was smashed at the time, I didn’t know what I was doing, blah blah blah…’”
“That bollocks doesn’t fool anyone.”
“Anthony, never underestimate the dopiness of your fellow humans. The more obvious something is, the more likely people will overlook it.”
“You’re a legend, Captain!”
“No worries Anthony, always glad to be of service! Listen, I’ll talk to you later, we’ve just moved house and Mrs Obvious wants to go furniture shopping at Freedom, so I gotta run. Take care now, and remember, stick to girls who only drink water [laughing]!”
And Now, a Word from Your Captain: The Obvious Guide to Casual Sex!
Hey there folks, Captain Obvious here! I’m a happily married man nowadays, but in my single years I was known in superhero circles as quite the ladies’ man. Hey, single-handedly fighting human stupidity was an exhausting endeavour that didn’t leave much time for relationships! And then there were the groupies…lawdy, lawdy…let’s just say women love a muscular masked man who effortlessly points out stuff most people are too dopey to see! Especially when they’re ovulating!
Your Captain, therefore, knows a few things about casual hook-ups. And he’s absolutely dismayed at what he’s seeing nowadays. Believe me, you jokers are doing it all wrong: Getting drunk, ignoring protection and getting STDs, having lame inebriated sex that’s about as titillating as a documentary on tree-pruning…geez, some of you kids carry on like rats in a cage, and a lot of you oldies aren’t much better, either!
So folks, stop whatever you’re doing and listen up while Captain lays out a few ground rules about casual sex. Yeah, I know you all like to think you know everything there is to know about sex…which of course is why you need to booze yourself into oblivion to get primed for the event, and why so many of you wake up the next morning feeling full of regret.
C’mon guys, this is the Captain you’re talking to! I’m an individual, you can’t fool me! An indi-bloody-vidual, you can’t fool me! A genuine original, you…
Uh, sorry guys, I have these really vivid 80s flashbacks every now and then.
Anyway, without further ado, here are the Obvious guidelines to casual sex, which deep down inside you probably already knew but were too distracted, wasted, or wishful to acknowledge. You might not like everything you hear, but you’d have to be one seriously scrambled hippie desperately clinging to the Sixties to earnestly take issue with any of the following:
Wake up and smell the regret. If you’re going to partake in one night stands, embrace the very real possibility of rejection. If the idea of being cast aside like yesterday’s news after a sexual encounter leaves you feeling unsettled, then don’t do it.
Start taking responsibility for your actions. And this definitely includes you, ladies. The whole “I feel used” gig wears a bit thin, especially in light of surveys that show modern women tend to have alarmingly flippant attitudes towards casual sex.
Use your brains (c’mon, you can do it). OK, so you’re not theshameless slapper that’s so heavily represented in some of these recent casual sex surveys that Anthony discussed above. But you still fell for the ‘charms’ of some quick-talking stranger and now you’re suffering buyer’s remorse. Well, guess what…
Some of the finest Academy Award-worthy performances happen nowhere near the silver screen; they happen right before the act of coitus. A lot of guys will pretty much say and do anything to get you to give up that bootay. Is this honest and ethical? No, but neither are Wonder Bras, dramatically underquoting the number of men you’ve previously slept with, spreading false rumours about other girls a guy might be interested in, and playing hard to get when you in fact haven’t had a date for months! Women routinely lie and deceive in order to secure a man’s long-term company; men frequently do the same thing to secure short-term access to a woman’s sexual faculties. And they’ve both been doing this since, like forever. Wake up to this fact and proceed accordingly.
“You know why they call it a Wonder bra? Because when the bra comes off you wonder where it all went.”
Original author unknown.
Think for yourself: Despite the social stigma that often comes with one night stands, there are other powerful socio-cultural factors that often pressure folks into trying casual hook-ups when they’d otherwise give them a miss. Peer pressure and the popular media, a long-favoured tool of social engineers, are huge culprits here. Along with increasingly explicit TV shows, movies and music videos, book publishers have seen fit to release material of such intellectual brilliance as The Hookup Handbook: A Single Girl’s Guide to Living It Up, The Happy Hook-Up: A Single Girl’s Guide to Casual Sex, and Hooking Up: A Girl’s All-out Guide to Sex and Sexuality*. Needless to say, if you try and palm this stuff onto Captain’s daughters, he’ll kick your hippie ass all the way back to Byron Bay!
Listen to the Captain, kids: Don’t jump in the sack with strangers because your friends are telling you it’s the done thing or that it’s no big deal, or because media imagery has made it sound like a cool, glamorous, or exciting thing to do. No offense, but your friends don’t have a clue, and much of what you see and read in the media is complete bullshit. Your sexual behaviour should be centered on commonsense and an honest sober examination of your own needs, standards and comfort levels, as well as a ruthlessly objective consideration of the potential physical and psychosocial consequences of casual sex.
And on that note…
Be assertive: If the situation doesn’t feel right, or you feel like you need more time to get to know your partner, then damn well say so. And if upon doing so, the other person chucks a wobbly, becomes abusive or quickly heads for the door, you should pretty much have the answer you need as to whether proceeding to intimacy would have been a good idea.
And if you’re a timid type who has trouble asserting yourself, you really should lay off the booze and weed. In a survey of 251 young adult, female bar drinkers in the US, researchers found that women who were low in "sexual assertiveness refusal" were more likely to engage in risky sex when they had consumed alcohol and marijuana prior to the sexual activity.
And this brings me to my next recommendation:
Stop relying so heavily on alcohol as a social lubricant. I’m not sure at what point in our evolution humans became so intimidated by each other that they needed alcohol to loosen up and mingle, but needless to say it’s a social facilitator that often brings a whole heap of unwanted trouble.
Alcohol can indeed help people let their guard down and interact, but you jokers should be aware by now that the quality of those interactions and the people they occur with typically deteriorates in direct proportion to the amount you’ve consumed.
Alcohol contributes significantly to the main source of regret for male participants of one night stands: Coyote Syndrome. Research shows the more you drink, the better and more symmetrical members of the opposite sex begin to look (the famed Beer Goggle effect). Unfortunately, once the inebriation wears off, their fugliness comes back to haunt with a vengeance. If you don’t want to suffer the next-morning regret that comes with having mounted an aesthetically-challenged hefir, then stop getting so hammered for crying out loud!
And for women, the consequences of drunken sex can really, well, suck. A 2008 study from Johns Hopkins University Medical School found women who binge drink are more likely to indulge in unsafe sex. They are three times more likely to have anal sex, twice as likely to have multiple sexual partners, and five times more likely to have gonorrhea as nondrinking women.
That’s most unawesome.
Listen to the Captain, or you'll be sorry!
Always use prophylactics when having casual encounters. ALWAYS. If it’s not on, it’s not on. When Captain was a single man, he always carried a box of Trojans in his superhero utility pack, and you should too! And don’t give me this bollocks about how condoms “reduce sensitivity”. First of all, they do make these things in extra thin versions, you know. Secondly, given the high incidence of dissatisfaction with the quality of casual sex, and the routine involvement of alcohol, chances are you’re both drunkenly fumbling around in the dark with all the grace and athleticism of a couple of clumsy farm animals…and now all of a sudden you’re a stickler for tactile sensitivity?
Get a grip.
You want sensitivity? Ask someone who’s had herpes or genital warts about the lovely burning sensation they got.
Speaking of painful, red, burning sensations…
Captain strongly advises you stay away from British sheilas who’ve just come back from vacation in the Greek Islands. And Philadelphia women who claim they’ve only had “six” previous sexual partners [laughing]. And if any of you single lads ever venture down to New Zealand, be sure to first check out the new Anthex™ line of titanium condoms, with military-grade spermicidal coating!
Be careful folks - it’s a STD-infested jungle out there!
Anthony Colpo is an independent researcher, physical conditioning specialist, and author of the groundbreaking books The Fat Loss Bible, The Great Cholesterol Con and Whole Grains, Empty Promises.
*Popular format attempts to counter the glamorization of casual sex have received far less attention, but include such readily available books as Unhooked: How Young Women Pursue Sex, Delay Love, and Lose at Both, Girls Uncovered: New Research on What America's Sexual Culture Does to Young Women, Hooked: New Science on How Casual Sex is Affecting Our Children, The Good Girl Revolution: Young Rebels with Self-Esteem and High Standards, and Unprotected.
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