Some bdsm-related reasons why beating children is a bad idea 10: children’s reactions to being beaten

How often will both the teacher and the child be aroused during a “spanking”?

The 5% rule means there are likely to be 816 instances a year where both the teacher and the child are mutually aroused by the spanking experience they are sharing. 

However, the true number is likely to be more than that. Because children who discover an arousing situation are liable to search it out – or make sure it happens – so they can experience it again.

It's a great porn scenario, and it can be a fun role-play for those that role-play. But let's make it fictional, huh?

It’s a great porn scenario, and it can be a fun role-play for those that role-play. But it belongs in fiction, not the real world. Love her specs, by the way.

Likewise, teachers choose who they beat. Only a small proportion of school children and young people in schools get beaten. Children selected for beatings tend to be from minority ethnic groups or to have a disability.

Also, they tend to be the vulnerable children.

They won’t be the children who have powerful, well-connected parents, but they will be the ones who have a single working parent, or parents who are highly unlikely to have the skills or the networks to challenge the authority of the school.

We also know that within those minority groups some children are likely to be singled out and repeatedly beaten. (That makes nonsense of one of the key supposed justifications of child-beating: that it has a “deterrent effect”.)

Some of the children will be repeatedly beaten because they are “badly behaved”. Beating a “badly behaved” child may sound like easier work than trying to find out what the problem is, but any teacher with any experience knows that hitting a child only means you have to hit them again, because it doesn’t change “bad behaviour”.

There can be multiple motivations in play. As we’ve noted, the children who are picked for repeated beatings are those whose parents are least able to do anything about it. 

But there’s another issue. The priests and lay brothers (and others: this isn’t just a problem in religious schools) who raped children after beating them, selected their victims for powerless and “attractiveness”. A child who is in one of the vulnerable categories is therefor more likely to be beaten if he or she is perceived to be “pretty”. 

There are also the children who have a nascent sexual response to their beating. This may be hard to explain to people who don’t include spanking in their sex lives. But the fact is that anyone who has spanked a few people of the sex or sexes they prefer knows when the spanking is working and their “victim” is turned on. It can be a subtle thing, a matter of a certain kind of silence and attention, of small body movements and so on during the spanking, and the abstracted emotional tone they have afterwards. 

Teachers who have bdsm sensitivity will recognise those and similar signs. That child and that teacher, who is in denial about their own attraction to spanking, or is aware of it and unscrupulous, will meet again, and re-enact that ritual, in an odd form of erotic courtship and release.

This isn’t common. It’s somewhere over 0.25% of all school beatings. The odds are that it won’t any particular parent’s children who get caught up in that cruel and unfairly balanced erotic ritual, but it will be someone’s children. 


Some bdsm-related reasons why hitting children is a bad idea 9: How many adults, and children, get aroused by spankings 2

An adult and a child are turned on by a spanking: what are the odds?

Let’s take the United States. Beating children and young people in public schools is legal in 19 States. In those States, 272,000 children were beaten in public schools in 2004/05.

The number of actual beatings is much higher than that. One reason is that only some children get beaten, and they tend to get multiple beatings in the course of a year. The children who get beaten in the US tend to be disproportionately black or Hispanic, or to have a disability. Moreover, having been beaten once is a good predictor of getting beaten again. When the same child is beaten repeatedly, the statistics won’t record that. They only record that that child was beaten at least once.

I’m going to be very conservative, and add 5% to take into account the repeated beatings of one child. So that’s a conservative estimate of 285,600 beatings in public schools.

The paddle-happy private schools

On top of that you have the schools that aren’t in the public school system. Schools in the private school system tend to be in conservative areas, and overwhelmingly they are not racially integrated. Also overwhelmingly, they tend to be religiously conservative and very committed to the “duty” of beating children.

I have to admit that I thought this Simpson's meme was funny, in context. But it also squicked me a little: there's nothing funny about beating children

I have to admit that I thought this Simpson’s meme was funny, in context. But it also squicked me a little: there’s nothing funny about beating children

10 per cent of American schools are private schools, but actually, private schools are concentrated in the 19 States where “corporal punishment” is legal.

But I’m going to be conservative, again, and assume that they’re only 10% of the schools in the 19 “corporal punishment” states, although in reality they’re likely to be a lot more than that, in those States.

Records aren’t collected for those schools, but all sources agree that private schools carry out far more “corporal punishment” than public schools. So, again being extremely conservative, I’m going to factor in a rate that is only 5% higher than for public schools. That comes to 40,800 child beatings a year in private American schools.

So, taking all that into account, and having used estimates that are likely to substantially understate the true number, we have approximately 326,400 child beatings a year in American schools.

So how many bdsm-sensitive people are involved in school child-beatings?

Applying the 5% rule, that means that in about 16,320 of those cases the teacher or disciplinary officer concerned was turned on, or trying to avoid being turned on, by the “paddling” they were delivering.

By the way, in Texas it’s still legal for a male teacher to “paddle” a female student on her buttocks, and Texas has recently raised its school leaving age to 19.

I know beyond any doubt that if I did “paddle” a 19 year old girl’s ass while she bent over a chair, there would be no way in hell I could avoid reacting sexually to that situation. No matter how hard I tried not to. But I simply couldn’t and wouldn’t do it. It’s pretty much a form of rape.

Unfortunately, an adult such as a teacher can’t just be quietly, internally aroused, so that no one else will pick up on it. An aroused person releases pheromones, which are detected by others in their space, like the person being “paddled” by the aroused person. Even if it isn’t consciously noticed, that release tends to alter the other person’s (the child’s, in this case) interpretation of what’s going on, their reactions to it and their behaviour.

But what about the children?

Still applying the 5% rule, it means that in about 16,320 of those cases the child or young person is interpreting what’s happening sexually, and responding to it sexually.

The people who think, “if you do it hard, there won’t be a sexual reaction” simply don’t know anything about how bdsm works. The victim might be more hurt than turned on at the instant of each swat. But then they have a long time to think about the experience, relive it over and over, and slightly change the memory of it.

I’ve punished a reasonable number of submissive women, where the intention was to cause only pain and no pleasure. I’ve learned, therefore, that there is no amount of pain, especially delivered to the buttocks, that can’t be interpreted erotically. That’s especially so when there’s a formal ritual, and the victim is made to present their own body and cooperate. How much it hurts at the time has nothing to do with the body and mind’s reactions.

Total number of sexualised spankings in schools?

That’s a total of 32,640 child-beatings a year, in which either the teacher or the child is aware of the “spanking” as a sexual event.

If parents or law-makers are happy with that, then the parents are carelessly ill-advised about the welfare of their children, and the legislators, though they’re going along with public opinion in their States, are being dangerously irresponsible. 


Some bdsm-related reasons why hitting children is a bad idea 8: How many adults, and children, get aroused by spanking?

The Australian Sexual Health and Relations Surveys, 2002 and 2013, taken together, reached some 40,000 people, using random sampling. Among the questions those 40,000 people were asked were:

  • Have you participated in bdsm in the last year? and
  • Have you taken part in role-playing games, like teacher and naughty schoolgirl, n the last year?

Taking the results, and making some estimates, we find that 2% of the population took part in bdsm with a further about 8% taking part in sexual games that involve elements of “command and I will obey you”, and spanking. That looks like 10%.

However, we don’t know exactly how those role-players played their roles, and we don’t know if commands (i.e. dominance and submission), or spanking were involved in every one of those games. So to be on the conservative side, we’ll count about half of that response, or 4%. 

Now, 4% playing sexual games with, “come here!”, and “you need a spanking, don’t you” elements, plus the 2% who took part in what they directly referred to as bdsm, should add up to 6%. However, about half of the bdsm group also said they’d taken part in role-playing games. To avoid double counting those people, we bring the total down to 5%.

Okay, it's not a spanking, but it's part of that Thing We Do. Folsom Street Fair, of course.

Okay, it’s not a spanking, but it’s part of that Thing We Do. Folsom Street Fair, of course.

So that’s one in twenty of the population. That means that something that affects us, or is affected by us, can’t just be dismissed as a problem for a few isolated weirdos.

Also, and on a more cheerful note, it means our odds of meeting a compatible partner are a lot greater than many people have thought. 

To put that in context, that means there are about twice as many of us as there are exclusive gays or lesbians. On the other hand, we’re out-numbered about two to one by bisexuals.

That means there are:

  • about 16 million of us weirdos in the United States
  • about 3.2 million of us in the UK
  • about 1,8 million of us in Canada
  • about 1.2 million of us in Australia
  • about 225 thousand of us in New Zealand
So we're everywhere, as they used to say. But a hell of a lot of us seem to turn up in Folsom Street.

So we’re everywhere, as they used to say. But a hell of a lot of us seem to turn up in Folsom Street.

That’s a hell of a lot of people, isn’t it?

Even more encouragingly, over 60% of us are switches (I’m not, I’m afraid), so your odds of having a good evening with the right person are pretty good.

I’ve only applied the figure to Britain and its predominantly white former colonies, because there’s enough cultural similarity between those countries to make it reasonably safe to do so.

I could probably make a guesstimate for France, Germany and Italy too, but that’ll do for now.

Tomorrow’s Wicked Wednesday, so I’ll be posting something sexy.

But there are more stats on Thursday, considering this question: An adult and a child are turned on by a spanking: hey, what are the odds? 


Some bdsm-related reasons why hitting children is a bad idea 7: teachers who beat, and then rape, children

[Trigger warning: this post discusses and provides sources on the beating and rape of children in schools.]

How does beating children affect teachers? (an optimistic view)

Let’s assume that teachers are much like the rest of the population. So about 4-5% of them are aroused by “punishment” scenarios. That means that if they’re required by the terms of their employment to beat a child or young person, those teachers find themselves in a deeply creepy situation, through no fault of their own. That’s assuming that they’re good people.

If they refuse to perform beatings themselves, or to refer a child to be beaten, because they see it as a form of sexual abuse they’re at great risk of losing their job at that school. If they out themselves overtly, they lose their career. Otherwise, they hide, and occasionally take their part in the school’s child-beating rituals, with as much of their sensibility shut off as they can manage.

They will try not to be responsive to the sexual elements of what they’re doing. And if they’re very, very careful, the child might not be aware. That’s one in twenty to twenty-five teachers, because teachers are no different from the rest of us.

Parents who are happy with their child or someone else’s child being beaten by someone who correctly thinks of the beating scenario as a sexual one, are insane. But that’s the best-case scenario.

Why it’s worse than that

That was assuming that all teachers are good people, and are able to deal with their sexual responses ethically. However, we know from the Commissions of Enquiry into sexual abuse of children in Ireland, Australia and elsewhere, that’s not how it is in the real world. 

The Australian Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse is still hearing evidence on the rape of children in institutions that used beatings as a way to “punish” children.

At schools run by the Christian Brothers and other Catholic orders, the rape of boys and girls frequently happened after the teacher had whipped the child with a strap or cane. The children was almost always placed bending over a table, or over a piece of laundry equipment, so they they were in a receptive position sexually as well as for beating. Their buttocks were often bared. 

Not every time but often, the children were anally or vaginally raped after being beaten.  

The setting for the child-beating ritual also enabled these rapes. Generally beatings were carried out in buildings like laundries, some distance from the main buildings and play areas, so the children’s screams could not be heard. Some of those who were under this regime, now adults, gave evidence that if they complained of the rape, they would be taken back to the place by a different teacher, beaten again, and again raped.

This is harrowing, awful stuff. It can be found in the reports from the Australian Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. Similar reports came from Ireland. It’s not surprising that the psychological toll on the officials who have to hear, record and transcribe this evidence is reportedly very high.

It’s possible that some of those teachers were corrupted by their school environments, but it’s more likely that most were already pedophiles who were prepared to sexually assault and rape. They would be sexually excited by the beating of children (not all of the children; they usually selected their victims and concentrated on them) under their care, and they would take advantage of the power to isolate and undress a child to commit rape. 

Organised pedophile rings and the making of “corporal punishment” videos

Pedophiles who are prepared to commit sexual assault or rape tend to go for professions that offer access to children. So the proportion of teachers who find that so-called “corporal punishment” is both exciting in itself and provides an enabling setting for sexual assault and rape is going to be higher than in the general population. Even when screening processes are put in place. 

I’m one of the only two people in my family who has never worked as a teacher. I have enormous respect for the profession and for the vast majority of its members. But “corporal punishment” is a cancer on the profession’s reputation. 

The existence of organised rings of pedophiles who specialised in making and swapping child “corporal punishment” videos came to light in 2002, with the arrest of many members of a group calling itself “The Spanking Club”, which was centered around teachers, school volunteers and people in related professions. The group members made and exchanged videos showing the real, often severe, beatings of children. 

Some of the videos featured the members’ own children, while others featured other people’s children. That “corporal punishment” in schools was legal and socially accepted made it easier for members of the group to access victims, and to persuade the children involved that their ordeal was “normal”, because adults are allowed to hit children.

Other such organised groups are reported from time to time. They are, literally, secretive criminal conspiracies. There is therefore no way of knowing how prevalent they are. However, it is possible to know that we shouldn’t, as a society, be enabling them.

“Corporal punishment” enables rape

It’s no surprise or paradox that the “corporal punishment” setting is one of the situations in which children in schools, especially authoritarian schools, are at most risk of of sexual assault or rape.  

The harsh truth is that parents who advocate for or condone “corporal punishment” for their own children or those of others in schools are increasing the risk to children of being subjected to sexual exploitation, sexual assault or rape. 

Some bdsm-related reasons why hitting children is a bad idea 6: Children interpret spanking

All humans have some ability to turn pain and submission, or the giving of pain and the taking of submission, into sex. It’s part of a genetic and behavioural pattern we share with the other homo or pan species.*

It’s got survival and genetic advantages. If you can turn fighting into fucking through a dominance/submission ritual, you’re less likely to get killed or damaged. And having an extra pathway for sex means you’re likely to have more sex and more partners, with better chances of passing on your genes. 

There’s no such thing as “a bdsm gene”. But there seem to be a number of genes that in combination make certain people readier than others to perceive certain experiences as sexual and to respond accordingly. 

Childhood spankings are about the most most blatant of those experiences.

images-2The sexual triggers include being held close to an adult’s sexually mature body, and the way the over-the-knee spanking position places the child’s genitals in close proximity to the adult’s genitals.

The misconduct that provoked the spanking may have been exciting (and may have involved sexual exploration) so that the spanking becomes part of the same excitingly “naughty” experience.

When a child is forced to present his or her bottom (even if clothed) to an adult, as part of the spanking, the child can read this as an indication that this is a “rude” event, allowing them to feel sexual about it. Children are likely to experience an adult’s attention to their buttocks as sexual regardless of the adult’s perception or intentions.

About five per cent of children, or one in twenty, are particularly likely to do so.


That footnote

Hands across the genus: bonobo and human hand

Hands across the genus: bonobo and human hand

*  Humans, chimps and bonobos are all in the same genus. Their part of the genus is called “pan” while we’re the only member of the “homo” genus. Really we should be re-classified as “pan sapiens”, or they should be re-classified as “homo”. There are three reasons why this change hasn’t happened yet:

  • It’s historical. Just how closely they’re related to us wasn’t fully understood until the second half of the 20th century;
  • Human ego. We want to be unique, called “homo sapiens sapiens”, and not too obviously linked to our hairier brothers and sisters;
  • If we admitted how far the human species is from being unique, it’d drive all the creationists nuts, especially the US ones, and when science is under attack on all fronts that fight isn’t worth having.

Some bdsm-related reasons why hitting children is a bad idea 5: The school setting

It’s not just that hitting a child or young person’s buttocks pumps blood to their genitals. That’s a powerful sexual signal, and we’ll come to that in the next couple of posts. But there are also things about the setting of schools, especially “strict” or authoritarian schools, that make it easy for children or young people to sexualise things that happen to them in that setting. 

For many children in the English-speaking world, school is their first experience of an organization that runs on dominant and submissive hierarchies. It’s also their first experience of a relationship with a dominant figure who is not a parent or older sibling, but an unrelated adult who may be quite young and attractive.

Authoritarian schools place children in a setting not too different from a classic bdsm scenario. (You could also say that some bdsm scenarios draw heavily on the authoritarian school experience, but in fact it doesn’t make much difference.)

hand-ruler-childDressed in uniform or according to a dress code intended to stress their non-adult and subordinate status, they must obey orders, restrict their body movements, address the teacher respectfully, and present themselves submissively for verbal humiliation.

They must also remain in detention rooms (a harbinger, in its way, of the bondage experience), and in some schools, for example in the southern and mid-West United States and in Saudi Arabia, present their hands or buttocks to be beaten by a teacher or other official.

So the issue isn’t just of the flow of body fluids. It’s also a matter of the flow of the ritual of child-beating, and the way the institution itself affects people’s behaviour, and their interpretation of what they do and what others do to them.

Leaving aside the evidence connecting corporal punishment with later violent offending, it’s not good for adults to hit children in a ritualized setting, with deliberation, using an object specifically designed and manufactured to hurt children, with the adult using their institutional power to force the child to cooperate in their own beating.

I mean, how could that possibly have anything to do with bdsm?

Some bdsm-related reasons why hitting children is a bad idea 4: Abuse and anger

Adults who spank children usually believe they’re behaving responsibly. Most certainly don’t believe that they are acting sexually, either from their own or the child’s perspective.

Suggestions to the contrary can enrage people, like the PJMedia people who called Jillian Keenan a pervert, a weirdo and so on. She’s “that disgusting woman” on a Christian right site for people who passionately like the idea of children being beaten, so long as they’re sure no one’s enjoying it. They call the site “Bring Back the Rod”, which sounds incredibly like a porn site, but isn’t. They don’t have any sense of irony, but they make up for that in anger. 

See? Jesus spanks little girls bare-bottomed, and there's nothing weird about the Lord! (From US Christian right pamphlet)

See? Jesus prefers to  spank little girls with their pants down, and there’s nothing weird about the Lord! My sweet saviour is not a pervert!”  (Illustration from US Christian right pamphlet)

The anger that’s tied in with denial is understandable, in a way. There’s huge cultural and emotional investment in child-beating, reinforced, in many cases, by religion.

Most people who beat their own children, or who support the idea of their and other people’s children being beaten in schools, had parents who beat them, or allowed their school to do it.  

So pointing out the sexually abusive aspect can seem like an attack on their parents.

Worse, once a parent has beaten a child, that parent will find information about the sexual aspects of “punishment” incredibly confronting. They have strong feelings about child molesters, and they don’t like to think of themselves shading into that group.

On my side, my feelings about any adult who hits a child with a strap or piece of wood or bamboo tend to start with anger. And contempt. And get stronger from there. 

And yet, it’s not helpful to think about this in solely emotional terms. Most, as in more than half, of physical assaults on children are not perceived as sexual by either the child or the adult. I think that people who hit children are wrong for a number of reasons, but in most cases they’re not “abusive” in the tabloid media sense.

In most cases the adult didn’t touch the child sexually, or rather, they didn’t understand that they were touching the child sexually when they held his or her body to theirs and touched their buttocks, and they didn’t knowingly make any sexual suggestions to the child. 

So, most of the time, the job is to educate people, not to shame them. 

Some bdsm-related reasons why hitting children is a bad idea 3: sex fantasy and reality

Today’s post was planned to be about why so-called “corporal punishment” is unethical. But I’ve decided to leave that argument till later.

You can think this looks like they're having fun...

You can think this looks like they’re having sexy  fun…

This post is about sex fantasy and reality, and how they do and don’t overlap.

I’m writing this series on child-beating in schools and in the home, and at the same time I’m writing a “bad headmaster/naughty schoolgirl” sex scenario. I’m doing it for my lover and for Wicked Wednesday.

He said, nobly.  

I considered having these two series a little further apart, but I decided they complement each other. Because “it’s a sexy scenario” is relevant to both series.

The actions and the symbolic interaction between an adult and a child or young person have some very powerful sexual messages and signals for both parties.That’s unavoidably true, and it’s a key reason why beating of children and young people, at school or in the home, should not be accepted or legal.

So “it’s sexy” is a good reason for having and enjoying the scenario as fantasy or play for consenting adults, and it’s a key reason why so-called “corporal punishment” should never, ever happen with real, non-consenting children or young people. 

I started writing the schoolgirl fantasy because my lover wrote a schoolgirl fantasy, and we thought it’d be a good idea if I wrote roughly the same story, but from the headmaster’s point of view. 

I made a few concessions, but even so I’m finding it quite hard to write. There’s a reason schoolgirl spanking stories are usually told from the POV of the schoolgirl. She’s an innocent, and she’s being swept along, having a sexy time. That’s easy.

But when you imagine and write the headmaster POV, you have to acknowledge just how dark that POV has to be, for him to do what he does.

The concessions I made include that my heroine, Jennifer Perch, is over the age of consent, and she does lust after Mr Beecham, the headmaster. That wouldn’t help the headmaster in a prosecution, and nor should it, but it makes  him more tolerable as a story character. There’s some mutuality going on.

As well, the headmaster has moments where he reveals that he doesn’t just desire Jennifer, he also wants to do what’s best for her. Though his ideas of “what’s best” wouldn’t stand up in a courthouse, either, and nor should they.

Ans support outlawing child or young person beating in schools and at home.

And still support outlawing child or young person beating in schools and at home.

Still, as a passionate opponent of beating children and young people, so-called “corporal punishment”, in schools and in the family, I don’t have a problem with making the forbidden and dark aspects of the fantasy sexy.

As sexy as I can, even. 

The uniform, the authoritarian aspects of it, the shifting balance of power and meaning all help to make the fantasy sexy. And little pleated skirts are sexy. Period.

It’ll still be a sexy scenario when all assaults on children and young people are outlawed.

Similarly, I doubt if there are many French maids called “Fifi” left in the real world, who get spanked and inevitably fucked because they broke their employer’s best vase and tried to hide it. If you have a maid, and she happens to be French, and if you lay a hand on her because she broke something, you’d make a court appearance and the front pages. But the French maid game, ooh la la, donne-moi une fessée, s’il te plait, M’sieur, will always be sexy even as reality drifts farther and farther away from it.

So, “it’s sexy” is true. It’s hot in sex play and in fantasy and that fact is damn confronting to people who argue against the abolition of so-called “corporal punishment”. Their discomfort is telling, and it’s well-earned. 

Jennifer’s pleats and pleas is, among other things, a pair of fingers waved in their general direction.


Some bdsm-related reasons why hitting children is wrong 2

There hasn’t been much research on whether children get turned on by being spanked.

It’s not a research project you’d ever get past a university ethics committee, and no private research company would touch it because it’s one of those things that a lot of people don’t want to know. 

Ah, the Folsom Street Fair. And a woman dressed as a schoolgirl getting the cane. A memory for some and a fantasy for others.

Ah, the Folsom Street Fair. And a woman dressed as a schoolgirl getting the cane. A memory for some becomes a fantasy for others.

Still, a survey taken among participants in a California-based bdsm community (in 1979) found that nearly one in five of them remembered having been sexually aroused by one or more spankings they’d received as children. 

So it’s not a question of, “is there a danger that in spanking or paddling children, they may find that it turns them on sexually?” We know that that happens, for a significant minority of people. 

So the question we should be asking now (apart from asking someone to up-date that 1979 research), is not a factual one but an ethical one:

Is it right to impose a form of adult sexuality on non-consenting children?

And: does it make any difference if the adult concerned is unaware of the child’s possible sexual response to the spanking they’re experiencing, or the adult is in denial about it?

We’ll talk ethics in the next post in this series. Then we’ll start looking about the mechanisms: why is school or home beating of children likely to become sexual for some children, regardless of the adults’ intentions?

By the way, that this isn’t an argument that attraction to bdsm is”caused” by childhood beatings. It’s more that, for a significant minority of people, a beating experienced in childhood is their first experience of sexual arousal in a bdsm context.

In fact we know, because of the two Australian Surveys on Health and Relationships, that people who’ve taken part in bdsm activities in the past year are no more likely to have experienced childhood sexual coercion than anybody else, and they have the same mental and physical health as everybody else. 

There won’t be fewer people attracted to bdsm if we make homes and schools safer environments for children. The question here is the ethical one, that is: Is it right to impose a form of adult sexuality on non-consenting children?


The Australian Sex Survey: Triumph, Trouble and Tragedy

The Australian Study of Health and Relationships (ASHR) is the most important study of sexual and repro­ductive health in the world, at the moment.

It’s got the biggest genuinely random sample (20,094 men and women aged 16-69, contacted by land lines or mobile phones), and it included questions, including on kink, that other surveys haven’t touched. 

I’m posting this information on the survey results because I had a minor connection with this research, making some suggestions about the questionnaire and the data analysis, particularly about bdsm. But the findings I’m talking about today are about sexual relationships in general.

Triumph: most people are emotionally and sexually satisfied

  • 86% of men and 84% of women found their regular relationship very or extremely emotionally satisfying
  • 88% of men and 76% of women found the sex in the relationship very or extremely physically pleasurable.

That’s the triumphant result of the survey. You can spin the survey results in various ways, and it definitely uncovered some worrying things, especially the amount of sexual coercion directed at women and girls. But the biggest finding, the headline, for me is sex-positive rather than sex-negative.

The great majority of men and women were very or extremely happy with their partner, and with their emotional relationship and their sexual relationship.

The background radiations that permeate our sexual universe are satisfaction and happiness. (And terrible metaphors.)

The trouble

  • On average, people in regular relationships had had sex about 1.4 times a week in the past four weeks.
  • Younger people had sex more often, but even those in their 60s had sex about once a week.
  • That 1.4 times a week is quite a bit less than the frequency of sex found in the previous survey, 10 years earlier. Back then it was 1.8 times a week, on average.

So Australians seem to be having less sex than they were 10 years ago. There are two possible explanations. One is that people are bringing Twitter and Facebook and work emails to bed, spending time with their pads rather than their partners, and falling asleep when they’re exhausted.

Another theory is that there’s less “service sex” happening, where the woman lies back like a floppy dolly and lets the man have a fuck because he wants one and she doesn’t, but she feels like being obliging. Women are doing less of that, because feminism. 

One thing that counts against that second theory is that both women and men want more sex than they’re getting. Most people said they’d like to have sex about 2–4 times a week.

So maybe those people in relationships need to put down the Twitter and the work emails, and talk to each other. Talk about sex. Shoop.

Tragedy: how men get more committed over time, and women get less

There’s one other fact that emerged from these questions. It’s that men get emotionally and sexually happier as their relationship lasts. They start out wary, and become fully committed, and mostly that deepens as the relationship continues.

On the other hand women start out enthusiastic about the relationship and the sex, but are less happy as the relationship lasts longer.

Why? Well, there’s the “la donna e mobile” (women are fickle) theory. Men are slow and steady; women are quick and changeable.

Another theory is that men stop doing the work necessary to sustain the relationship and keep their partner happy. Once the man feels settled, he takes his lover for granted, and assumes that she is settled too.

I’ll let those two theories fight it out. In the kitchen. Throwing things is okay. 

But whatever’s going on, men get happier with their partner, emotionally and sexually, over time, while women get less happy with their partner, over time.

That’s a tragedy for many individuals. To the extent that it’s part of the human condition, it’s a tragic fact about people.

orgiastoicBut to finish, we’ll go back where we started. 

  • 86% of men and 84% of women said they felt that their regular relationship is “very” or “extremely” emotionally satisfying
  • 88% of men and 76% of women found that the sex in the relationship is very or extremely physically pleasurable.

The overwhelming majority of men and women are very to extremely satisfied, sexually and emotionally, with their lover.  That’s good. That’s remarkable. So the big story is triumphant.