Written by Josey Vogels / My Messy Bedroom
Why is it that a woman who enjoys casual sex is pegged as “having sex like a man?” The question bugged Jocelyn Wentland, a Masters student in the Department of Family Relations and Human Development at Guelph University. “Even with all of the changes to stereotypes, as a society we continue to view sexual behaviour as belonging to either a man or a woman,” complains Wentland. “Sexual behaviour that doesn’t fit nicely into [the expected behaviour of either gender] gets viewed as ‘out of the norm.’ So women who don’t act like the ‘nice girl’ who only has sex in the context of a committed relationship get pegged as ‘acting like a man.’”
Unfortunately, most of the research on women and sex these days seems to focus on “sexual dysfunction.” There’s little research, says Wentland, on women who actually like sex, and what little there is, is hopelessly out of date and doesn’t reflect what’s actually going on out there. So she did her own.
Over 1500 women (half between the ages of 20 and 30) responded to her online survey on the topic of female sexual pleasure and the results were refreshing. Despite common stereotypes that you practically need a degree in aeronautics to unlock the mysteries of female sexual arousal, 88.4 percent of Wentland’s participants said they are “easily sexually aroused.”
Think men are the only ones with sex constantly on the brain? Almost three-quarters of the women surveyed said they “like to have sex once a day.” Over 80 percent “really enjoy masturbating to orgasm” and over 90 percent don’t feel guilty about it afterward. As for the notion that women aren’t sexually assertive, over 90 percent said they are comfy initiating with a partner, 70 per cent said they enjoy “touching myself during sex” and almost 70 percent say they are “the type of person who insists on having my sexual needs met.” Hardly the profile of the sexually inhibited, we-really-only-enjoy-sex-in-the-context-of-love woman we’re most comfortable with as a society.
Another common myth Wentland was happy to debunk is that women who have a lot of sex partners are automatically presumed to have low self-esteem and low social skills. “I think that this is totally off base,” she responds. “It’s often the women who are very confident, sure of themselves, and have high social skills, who are capable of engaging in sexual activity outside of a relationship and be perfectly OK with this because they are able to separate the sex from the emotions.”
Wentland also came up with some surprising results regarding casual sex and women. “There is this ongoing belief that any type of a casual relationship must be a one-night-stand [in part because] we don’t have accurate numbers on the types of casual relationships that women are having,” explains Wentland. “Of the women who are casually dating and did not identify that their last sex partner was a committed partner – almost 32 percent have a regular casual sex partner, 42 percent a ‘fuck buddy’ or ‘friend with benefits,’ nine percent a ‘booty call,’ and 17 percent had had a one-night-stand.” Obviously, women engage in a variety of casual relationships, often with a regular partner. “Maybe women are finally admitting that they do what has only been acceptable for men to do in the past,” comments Wentland.
While Wentland’s results paint a strong picture of a sexually confident women who are easily aroused, know what they want and are comfortable with their sexuality, she admits that because she purposely posted the survey in places where it would be found by women who are more interested in and open to their sexuality, her findings aren’t necessarily reflective of the average woman. But that’s part of the point. Just as no one’s doing research on men who only want to have sex within the context of a committed relationship, Wentland wanted to hear from women who challenge the female stereotype.
And, according to some of her respondents, it was about time. “It is so refreshing to see someone doing scientific research on this topic,” wrote one 24-year-old participant. “[…] Pleasure of a sexual nature is a biological function that we were built to have and I’m glad you are referring to it as ‘sexual pleasure’ and not the historical ‘promiscuity.’”
“Thanks for doing it,” wrote another, 23. “[…] Hopefully women like myself will be able to better accept the notion that sex is allowed to be pleasurable and should be!”
And it has nothing to do with how manly she is.