So I might be alone on this one, but there’s something about a good set of stats that really makes the geek in me jump for joy, particularly when they are focused on our lovely little island, and even more so when they ask questions about sex and relationships.
So I was basically beaming when I heard about the new survey results from Generation What? Not only is there an interactive website where you can filter the results by gender or age group or compare to other European countries, there’s also a TV show discussing the results with participants and research analysts which is presented by the lovely Eoghan McDermott from 2fm.
But because I know some people may run for the hills at the thought of discussing what can seem like just boring old maths, I decided to pick out a few of the hidden messages behind the numbers that I think you may find interesting.
Is there too much sex? Ireland says – NO!
So despite the panic that we are all being sexualised way too early and all we can think about is sex and we are all sex-obsessed (have I said sex enough?), the majority of Irish respondents to this question do not think there is too much sex. Panic over.
Have you ever had sex with someone of the same sex? Ireland says – No, and I’m not interested.
The survey does not ask questions about sexual orientation but this answer from the majority of Irish respondents to this question shows that we still live in a heterosexist society. It is a common misconception that all young people, regardless of their sexuality, are all crazy for sexual experimentation and will basically do anything with anyone and this notion only adds to the pressure that we feel to engage in sexual activity that we may not be comfortable with. Some people are only delighted to try new things and that’s great too, but keep it in mind that if you don’t want to, that’s ok, you’re probably not the only one.
Have you ever had sex with a stranger?
This question shows an interesting split between male and female respondents. So without getting too maths-y, most men who answered this question said “yes and I like it” and most women said “no and I’m not interested”. Now if we look at the question above, if the men are not having sex with each other, then who are all these strangers that they are having sex with? This could be for a number of reasons; firstly, it could explain all those “holiday romances” that we all hear about from our classmates who had their first shift or lost their virginity to a gorgeous looking English chap while camping with their family in France. OR, it could also be that Irish females still feel some shame in being sexual liberal. Whatever the reason, it’s important to note that the stats don’t really match up and don’t always believe what you hear. You do you and don’t have anyone else’s experiences shape how you explore your own comfort zone.
Have you ever masturbated? Ireland says – Yes!
As masturbation is a perfectly healthy activity for anyone of any age to do, the answer to this question is a positive for the health of the nation. However, when we look a little closer, we can see that there is still something stopping some people from comfortably answering this question. On average, around 20,000 Irish people answered each question based around sex and relationships but only about 4,000 people answered this question. Now that’s completely fine if people don’t want to talk about what they get up to when they are on their own but those numbers show that for some reason Irish people may still think there is something “wrong” with pleasuring ourselves and that couldn’t be further from the truth.
Could you be happy without sex?
The majority of respondents to this question said that they could not be happy without sex but around a quarter of Irish people who answered this said that they could. Asexuality, where a person may have no desire to be sexually active, is a sexual orientation that may be under recognised in Ireland. If 27% of male and female Irish people who answered this question say they can be happy without sex, then there could be a lot more asexual people on our island than we may think and this should be a sexual orientation that is respected just like all others.
A one-night stand is…
For the majority of women who answered this question, they think a one-night stand is impossible. Now this could be for any number of reasons – maybe they find it impossible to be instantly physically attracted to someone without knowing them first, or maybe they live at home with their parents and don’t fancy introducing their mam to a stranger over tea the next morning – or this could go back to the belief that women are unable to have sex without an emotional response, which makes one-night stands pretty difficult as they may feel used or unloved after. This theory boils down to hormones and biology so it can make sense to some but others may think they can overcome that and still have a good time for one night with a random stranger. It’s completely up to each individual what they are happy doing and the basic logic we could follow is; if it doesn’t feel good, don’t do it.
(On a side note, 27% of boys said that one-night stands were impossible for them too so we shouldn’t always assume that this is all they want either…)
With all of the questions on relationships, boys and girls appear to answer the question pretty similarly. One thing that showed a slight difference is that being faithful in a relationship was “automatic” for more women than it was for men. Now that doesn’t mean all men cheat more, but it could mean that boys need to have the dreaded conversation about what you are doing in your relationship so that they know what’s what and what is acceptable or not. So if you would not be happy with your partner texting someone else or still having an ex as their best friend on snapchat, then you will need to tell them that or they may not know.
Warning: The answer to this question may frustrate many women!
The statement for this question was “In Ireland, we are still a long way from gender equality”. The majority of women respondents agreed that this is true. As a nation we still have some way to go before all genders are seen equal. However, the majority of male respondents disagreed with this meaning that they feel Ireland has achieved gender equality. Now it was pretty close to 50/50 for the boys so we will give them their due but these numbers are telling of how many women feel they are being treated and how some men may not be listening…
This post was written by Anna, our relationships, gender, and sexuality guru and stats enthusiast.