Monday, May 19, 2014

Mom's generation was sluttier than yours

++Addition++Heartiste replies:
i mentioned in a previous post on this matter that relatively recent sex frequency decreases, if true, could be just as easily explained by environmental factors such as obesity and internet porn as by cycles inherent to human generational dynamics. it's plausible that fat women and readily accessible alternative sexual outlets have dampened men's ardor and commitment to courtship. (likewise it's plausible the same has happened to women surrounded by a sea of male feminists and economic drop-outs.) let's face it, men don't want to bang fatties if they have a choice. with 70% of american women above ideal weight, men are "going their own way" so to speak. 
of course, it's certainly possible that these environmental insults amplify any cyclic influences.

ps i also suggested that the sexual market in the usa was bifurcating, with urban swpls enjoying a full prance card and the rural/suburban religious becoming more chaste.
The comment I left in response to a recent post by Heartiste in which the great one expresses incredulity at consistent survey reports showing that Western women aren't becoming more promiscuous and, to the contrary, might actually be becoming more prudish.


The urban, SWPL social milieu you frequent in combination with your silver tongue, rock-ribbed frame and rock-solid body targeting 8-10s quite likely gives you a skewed perception of the wider dating market that might not scale especially well to the rest of the country, Occident, developed world, etc.

Some counterpoints to consider:

- Reports of premarital [Heartiste argues that the decline in marriage rates means it is quite plausible for rates of sexual frequency to decline even as average number of partners a woman has increases] sex rates for 15-19 year-olds began steadily increasing from the 70s through the end of the 80s, peaking in 1991. Rates have been decreasing since then.

- The 1950s to 2010s comparison is interesting, but not especially relevant to the University of London study cited in the article linked to, which looked at data over just the last couple of decades (though marriage rates have steadily declined over the last twenty years as well, so the difference is only in degree, not direction). That survey data meshes pretty well with what the GSS shows, incidentally.

- Gonorrhea rates follow a similar pattern, increasing in the mid-40s and then declining through the end of the 50s at which point they began increasing again until the mid-70s when they peaked and then declined through the late 90s, and having leveled off since leveled off.

- Likewise with herpes, which isn't medically treatable--went up through the 70s and 80s, peaked in the early 90s, and has been declining since then.

- Also, GSS data from 2000 onward among those aged 18-44 shows that NAMs report having more sex than whites do (though Asians report less). So the white decrease in surveys like these is probably understated.

- Regarding social expectation bias, it has, if anything, presumably shifted attitudes in a direction leaving today's women feeling less shame and embarrassment in reporting high numbers of partners and sex frequency than their counterparts would've felt in the past.


GSS variables used: SEXFREQ, YEAR(2000-2012), RACECEN1(1)(2)(4-10)(15-16), AGE(18-44)


Anonymous said...

It makes sense sex frequency would decline from the 1990s - increasing fatties and increaing availability of porn.

Anonymous said...

We would expect that, since conservative attitudes are somehow heritable, and conservatives have more children, population SHOULD become more conservative over time, but THAT fast is not possible, rigt?

Jokah Macpherson said...

An intellectually curious, fair guy that doesn't moderate comments.

Audacious Epigone said...


That's the big question. Mormons are probably a great group to look at regarding heritability vs. cultural shifts if you're looking for evidence that the cultural ratchet doesn't necessarily always spin inexorably to the left. Young Mormons today are more conservative than their parents' and grandparents' generations are, for example.


I assume he does it out of necessity due to the sheer volume of comments he receives. Unlike more modestly trafficked site like this one, where comments are reliably good, with the hordes he gets, they are consequently... uneven.

IHTG said...

Looks like you're going to have to hope somebody does this survey and controls for BMI.

Dan said...

I think the rise of the Internet and cell phones a huge factor.

Young people can have a 'life' that involves tons of facebook posts, text messages and so forth without face to face contact. Nobody ever got pregnant through facebook.

A second theory I have is that because society has really been cracking down and sentencing adults that have sex with children/teenages, there is a lot less of what must have been the initiation for many people.

Anonymous said...

Young people were way better looking 50 years ago.

I went to the University of Houston college of arts and humanities a couple of years ago. I was so stunned. I think I could count on one hand the number of graduates I saw who were a 7 or higher. And the families and friends of them, well, let's not go there. I looked at the yearbook for the Texas Junior A&M college in Arlington in 1940. At least 90% were easily 7 or above. I don't recall seeing an overweight let alone obese coed in the entire yearbook. I like to show these old year books to my son to show him that back in the day, there were tons of good looking teens.

Anonymous said...

Young Mormons today are more conservative than their parents' and grandparents' generations are, for example.

LDS church requirements act like a selection criteria. The losers can't hack those requirements. LDS temple goers are higher achieving and have more kids. So, yeah it makes sense that the youth are more conservative. They would have to be because they are the ones who made it. The others dropped out. The LDS church selects for winners.

bleach said...

I don't think young people sacrilize sex any more than their parents--probably less. The decrease in sluttiness probably is more related to the rapid increase in anxiety disorders and autism spectrum disorders in the first world, which I'm sure is linked to new technology.

JayMan said...

Heartiste is correct: sex surveys can't be trusted, probably not even in the slightest.

As such, it's a moot endeavor to speculate about causes of apparent trends – these trends might not exist at all.

Herpes infection rates are probably a more reliable indicator though. If you want your Valtrex, you're going to need to seek treatment.

I frequently criticize most sex research, because it's all based on self-report, and people forget the Gregory House rule: "everybody lies." With limited options for establishing the veracity of self-reported behavior, it's best to not get too caught up in year-to-year changes.

As for the future Rightward shift in the population, sure, if breeding patterns continue the way they are (a big if), it will happen eventually. The breeder's equation however tells us we need to wait quite some time.

Brian H said...

My apologies for being off topic, but I found a document online that may interest you. I came across it while searching for "behavioral genetics phrenology," because after first coming across (a couple of months ago) b.g. being called phrenology I have seen it several more times. So, here is the RationalWiki (as in, I suppose, anyone who does not agree is irrational) entry on Biological Determinism. It is a sort of compendium of the sorts of things that your and related blogs seem to be struggling against. You may find it useful as a specimen collection, or just entertaining. In the past I have considered writing a parody document along this line, but I have been summarily preempted. I am sending a similar/identical comment to several other blogs, this is too good not to share.

Audacious Epigone said...


I'm not as jaded about the use of sex surveys. It's not difficult to find patterns over time, so it's clearly not just random noise. There are lots of people who give responses that presumably they wouldn't want to share publicly (men with no partners; women with 20+, etc). It could simply be the projection of perceived ideal values back onto the survey/research administrators, but that of course is a potential issue with all self-reported data.

Audacious Epigone said...


Hah, calling that a straw man is a severe understatement. Cute that it tries to dress up sophistry in the veneer of the enlightened-sounding "rational wiki" name.

JayMan said...

"I'm not as jaded about the use of sex surveys. It's not difficult to find patterns over time, so it's clearly not just random noise."

Are you sure? There's nothing saying that people lie consistently from year to year, especially if mores change.

"It could simply be the projection of perceived ideal values back onto the survey/research administrators, but that of course is a potential issue with all self-reported data."

Precisely, and I am duly skeptical of all such data. Even in the case of personality, we find that self-report is significantly (mind you though, nowhere near completely) unreliable, as shown by peer-rated data.

What I'm saying is that not that there's no signal there, but there's a lot of noise, and you don't know how much, or how to tell it from the signal.