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« Not-Boomer Boomers | Main | The Human-Computer Interface, sort of »

July 09, 2004

Sex Differences

Dear Vanessa --

I'm having a good time flipping around inside Steven Rhoads' evo-bio-influenced new book, Taking Sex Differences Seriously. (And god bless Rhoads for having the guts to use the word "sex" instead of "gender," blech, patooie.) Some nuggets:

  • How often do men think about sex? And how often do women think about sex? "On average, men say three to five times a day. Women say several times a week or several times a month."

  • "One survey of men and women over 45 asked how often they felt sexual desire. More than seven times as many men as women said more than once a day, and more than four times as many women as men said 'not at all'."

  • "About 6 out of 7 men report masturbating more often than the average woman."

  • "Women say they engage in sex to share emotions and love. Men give reasons that are more narrowly physical, such as need, sexual gratification, and release. And when deprived of sex, men are much more likely than women to become morose and irritable."

  • "Women with medical conditions producing extremely high levels of testosterone have male-like sexual arousal patterns and they desire sex with strangers. When they voluntarily have their condition treated, they retain an interest in sex but are pleased to be 'relieved of clitoral hypersensitivity'."

  • "Among married men, 7 percent have had sex with more than twenty partners. Among male homosexual couples, 43 percent have had sex with more than twenty partners. Among lesbian couples, only 1 percent have had sex with more than twenty partners."

  • In their sexual fantasies, "women are two and one half times as likely to focus on the personal and emotional characteristics of a partner; men four times as likely to focus on the physical characteristics. Women are twice as likely as men to find 'the idea of anonymous sex not at all appealing'."

  • "The readers of the original feminist magazine, Ms., bought cosmetics and toiletries at a higher rate than the readers of any other women's magazine. Ms. readers ranked frist among 'heavy users' of lipstick and lip gloss, second among 'heavy users' of eye shadow."

  • "Half the chief executives of Fortune 500 companies are at least six feet tall, whereas the average height of an American man is five feet nine."

  • "Women on average bench-press about one-third of what men do."

  • "Women prefer average-looking or even unattractive doctors to very attractive teachers."

  • "Highly-paid professional women have an even stronger preference for high-earning men than do women working in less well-paid jobs."

  • "Men prefer a woman shorter than they are, and women a man who is taller. But on average men prefer her to be 4.5 inches shorter, while women want him a full 6 inches taller."

The book can be bought here.


Michael (all alpha-hunky five feet nine inches of me)

posted by Michael at July 9, 2004


What's amazing to me is how little this stuff ever changes. These are the exact same stats as were published on this stuff 20-25 years ago. Where is the "evo" in evo bio? It also demonstrates to me that maybe cultural issues, women's mags/men's mags, the internet, the self-esteeming of girls, the de-self-esteeming of boys, etc. seems to have had no impact. In response to a repeated complaint of MBlowhard, who keeps talking about how vacuous today's youngsters are to their predecessors (us)---well, maybe not. Maybe we weren't ever as deep as we thought we were!

Posted by: annette on July 11, 2004 11:03 AM

Decidedly not terribly deep. Yay, shallow!

Doesn't that "evo" stuff take more than one generation to embed itself? Not intellectually, of course, but the bone-deep (so to speak) part that really counts when it comes to crunch time.

Posted by: Scott Chaffin on July 11, 2004 9:29 PM

It'd be interesting to see how Gay men and Lesbians might fare in this evo-bio mix -- are there biologically ingrained characteristics to that "pleasure principle"? But frankly, I tend to suspect (along Annette's lines) that evo-bio might just be old sexism dressed up as new science.

Rhoads is a UVA guy, and I've heard some of his broader arguments in detail. Alas, he hasn't convinced me that women are genetically programmed homebodies, mostly good for cooking, cleaning and making babies. (Kinder, kirsche, kusche!)

Posted by: Tim Hulsey on July 12, 2004 3:29 PM

Annette -- Maybe it's just a different style of vacuity? Lord knows we were pretty dopey in our own way. I do think there's one diff that might (or might not, what the heck) be significant. People our age when 25, at least in my experience, often realized they didn't know much of anything, so went out and filled in a few of the blanks, however haphazardly. The new 25 year olds seem to live in total (blissful?) happy ignorance. They know nothing, they refuse to understand that knowing something might be an advantage, they're armed and equipped with all kinds of political reaons why actual knowledge is a bad thing (their heads are full of PC nonsense instead of real knowledge) -- and it's all fine and dandy with them. It seems to be where their untroubled quality comes from. Which leaves me wondering: if they haven't formed the habit of learning by 25, let alone developed a taste for it, will they ever? But I might well be reacting to a very narrow demographic of kids ...

Scott -- Shallow guys of the world unite!

Tim -- I'll never read enough of the book to give a trustworthy account of what Rhoads is up to, though it seems clear he thinks we oughta get more realistic about gals 'n' guys and what they come equipped with. I'm just enjoying the parts of the book that cut and paste a lot of interesting/ funny/provocative research. I should flip around some and see what he's included about gays and lesbians ...

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on July 12, 2004 6:28 PM

(I misspelled "kuche." Apologies.)

Posted by: Tim Hulsey on July 12, 2004 9:51 PM

Have any of you read more by this guy. I saw him on the today show a few weeks back and just discovered his website ( after reading the book. He's got some intersting op-eds on the site.

Still, it seems to me that he's stating the obvious in most of his writings. Not sure where the news in this is.

Posted by: avidreader on July 13, 2004 7:23 AM

You also mispelled 'Kirche'.
Kirsche = cherry
Kirche = church

Children, cherry, kitchen.

Posted by: bbartlog on July 13, 2004 2:11 PM

lol, bbartlog.

The statistics sound about right to me -- although this is just the same me from 20 years ago now 20 years older, if that makes any sense. Are we so different from our elders?

I heard a "theory" -- in quotes because theory is perhaps too serious a word for this notion -- that sexually, gay men are just men without the tempering influence of women, and/or straight men are men with the tempering influence of women, sexually -- which is why sexual statistics come out the way they do. That is to say, if women didn't pressure straight men to be monogamous, their statistics would look exactly like gay men's. And I'm afraid that since I'm now into my 10th hour on the job today, none of this makes sense.

Posted by: missgrundy on July 13, 2004 9:08 PM

I was there when a gay male friend of mine was asked why so many gay males are (relatively speaking) so promiscuous. "Is it something about being gay?" he was asked. "No," he said. "It's something about being a man."

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on July 13, 2004 11:31 PM

Or, it's something about testosterone, since women taking testosterone start feeling the same way? Which suggests, doesn't it, that men are as hormonally driven as women, and each sex/gender looks at the other in their worst moments and thinks "Animal!" or "PMS bitch!!"

Ah, biology --

Posted by: missgrundy on July 14, 2004 12:32 PM

Speaking of how things never change - haven't various merry scholars over the last 100 years proven that if you ask people what they want to do and what they do, the resulting answer set will not match up with simple data like, for instance, the birth rates among women whose husbands are off at sea or somewhere doing daring deeds....

My point, M. Blowhard, is that you must stop having your pretty head turned by mere thoughts of sex. Either read smut for fun or demand good data.

Posted by: j.c. on July 14, 2004 8:10 PM

let me say that , a woman's sexual desire is stronger than man . the masturbation and sex fantasizing rates are also same . much written in this article is not true . women may marry an ugly looking rich executive but in their fantasies , always includeyounsexy males .

Posted by: nishnat biswas on July 15, 2004 6:11 AM

let me say that , a woman's sexual desire is stronger than man . the masturbation and sex fantasizing rates are also same . much written in this article is not true . women may marry an ugly looking rich executive but in their fantasies , always includeyounsexy males .

Posted by: nishnat biswas on July 15, 2004 6:11 AM

females are more interested in sex than men . the masturbating rate is same in both men and women . in many cases females fantasize about hardcore sex and there is nothing romantic and loving in it . we are all equally sex hungry . women may marry rich ugly men but dream of sex with young sexy boys .

Posted by: nishnat biswas on July 15, 2004 6:15 AM

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