How’s you sex life, lately? Let me guess… underwhelming, frustrating and almost certainly far less exciting than literally every other human being on the planet’s sex life, right?
How did I know? Simple – I read it in a newspaper, near constantly, in a million different ways. You see, we’re all having less sex than everybody else, and that sex is less fulfilling and far more frustrating than the sex that everybody else is having. And this is true for everyone, obviously.
Take, as a useful example, a recent headline from the Daily Mail (I feature the Daily Mail on this site so often I really ought to assign a keyboard shortcut to those words, to cut down on keyboard wear and tear):
‘Not tonight, darling,’ say MEN: Women now more likely to want sex than their male partners (and his top ‘sexcuses’ are being tired, stressed or too full after dinner!)
It’s no longer women bailing out of late night intimacy with cries of headaches, stomach cramps and baby-related exhaustion.
These days men are actually more likely to be the ones saying ‘not tonight, darling’, with 62 per cent saying they turn down sex more frequently than their female partner, according to research.
New research from an online pharmacy in the UK has revealed that, despite common stereotypes, men are more likely to turn down intercourse with their partner than women – with ‘tiredness’ and ‘work stress’ cited as the most common male ‘sexcuses’.
Fancy that! What a turn up for the books, eh? Have you ever heard of anything quite so unlikely, ridiculous, controversial and utterly baffling as a man who doesn’t want and/or need to be sexually gratified every waking moment of his life? Set your flabbers to gasted. Etc.
Of course, what’s going on throughout this whole angle is something we see an awful lot of in the press – the creation of false norms of sexual behaviour which are then used as pejorative judgements, setting up the reader neatly for the discovery that their time between the sheets doesn’t match up to the fictional average, let alone the fantastical heights we ought to all be hitting with our sexual antics.
People far more educated and far more qualified than I have made the point in many ways before: when it comes to sex, there isn’t really a ‘normal’ to aim for, there’s no level to achieve, and there’s no standard we need to be aspiring to. If you, your partner and whoever else happens to be involved in your sex life all happen to be happy, you’re probably doing it right.
Still, happiness is a hard thing to achieve in the face of media stories such as this one, with shocking bar-setting facts such as:
Only 9% say they have sex every day
The word ‘only’ being entirely load-bearing here – setting up an expectation that we ought to see more than 9% of people at it at least once every 24 hours. Of course, without adequately defining what is meant by ‘sex’ (and definitions vary right across the spectrum, even if the tabloid definition is reasonably reliably Biblical in it’s narrowness), it’s impossible for this nugget of opinion-poll nonsense to really mean anything.
Similarly, how long would one have had to be engaging in a daily diddle before it was OK to tick the ‘every day, thankyouverymuchmister’ box in an opinion survey? To keep track, must we get our Man Card stamped after every shag, like a coffee shop loyalty card? If you missed a tumble a week ago on Wednesday, does your Man Card get taken off you? Or is that only if you have a good enough ‘sexcuse’ (a made up marketing word forming the peg of this piece)?
What we have here is a self-reported online study, which found that men think they turn down sex more often than their partner does. Presumably we’re only talking about heterosexual couplings, else the data would be bafflingly skewed. But as this is self-reported, how does the results from the men surveyed compare to the reports from female respondents in the poll?
The study, conducted by ukmedix.com, polled 1,922 British men aged over 18 and in a long-term relationship, and was conducted after the site noticed a marked increase in searches for libido enhancing medication throughout the first half of January.
There were no women included in the poll – because the company behind the poll weren’t using this story to sell to women, this time. Instead, what we have is a cynical marketing exercise in taking the often perfectly-healthy gamut of sexual desire and shoehorning it into an unwieldy and often-unachievable set of expectations, in order that an online pharmacy may then provide the chemical solution to the situation they’ve pretended is a problem:
Thomas O’Connell of ukmedix.com, commented on the findings: ‘Common stereotype would have us believe that it’s usually the fairer sex rolling out the not tonight darling’ line, but according to our results this is far from the truth.
‘According to our results, men up and down the UK are most frequently turning down intimacy, and to see the differences in “sexcuses” given and the real reasons for turning down sex was quite revealing.
‘It seems that men aren’t often honest with their partner about their reasons for avoiding intimacy, and it’s not work stress or tiredness getting men down; but confidence and libido issues.
‘Whatever is getting in the way, we’d always suggest that men seek help to boost their love lives. There is no “normal” and how often couples get intimate is completely up to them, but if problems are affecting your love life, it’s always best to seek help rather than letting your love life suffer.’
While it is a good idea to seek help if you feel you have a genuine problem, it’s not a good idea to seek that help from an online pill-pusher who promotes themselves through (potentially intentionally) badly-conducted online opinion polls created with the expressed goal of convincing you that you have a problem, and that the solution can be bought for a relatively modest price.