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Wednesday, July 26, 2017

The male sexual deficit: A social fact of the 21st century

The male sexual deficit: A social fact of the 21st centuryInternational Sociology - Catherine Hakim, 2015

"This article reviews findings from some 30 sex surveys around the world showing that large and substantively important differences between men and women in the centrality of sexuality, sexual desire, sexual behaviour and attitudes persist in the 21st century, long after the contraceptive and sexual revolutions of the 1960s. Women’s lesser sexual motivation and interest means that many heterosexual men experience a shortfall in desired sexual activity. A reversal of the sex ratio to a male surplus among prime-age adults and other trends suggest that the sexual deficit among men may increase. The male sexual deficit (or surplus male sexuality) helps to explain sexual harassment, sexual violence, rape, rising demand for commercial sexual services and other behaviours that are almost exclusively male...

This article describes the sexual deficit among men (or surplus male sexuality), a phenomenon that appears to be universal in modern societies (Hakim, 2010, 2011: 38–73, 263–266). It emerged unexpectedly during research on sexual cultures, internet dating and marriage markets (Hakim, 2012). Yet feminists insist that men’s greater demand for sexual activity is an outdated myth. Recent sex surveys prove the myth to be a fact, one that the social sciences have yet to address, theoretically and empirically...

The feminist emphasis has been on ideological, moral and philosophical debates and theory (Jeffreys, 1997, 2005; Shrage, 1994; Soble, 2002; Walby, 1990: 109–127; Wittig, 1992), with a focus on male sexual harassment, violence and rape (Macdowall et al., 2013). Despite this, the idea of sex differences in sexuality is regularly challenged (Schmitt et al., 2012)...

The surveys show that the vast majority of men and women self-identify and act as heterosexuals: 97% in Britain, the USA, Australia, Scandinavia and Western Europe generally, whereas academic sexuality journals often focus on tiny sexual minorities...

Despite interest in all things sexual, no published sex survey report was found for Japan, although other surveys include questions on sexual topics...

People with liberal attitudes, an interest in sexuality and the sexually active are more likely to respond to sex surveys, so celibacy is usually understated in results (Dunne et al., 1997)...

The sex differentials in sexuality remain large, substantively important, and are found in all cultures, including the sexually liberated societies of Scandinavia. They cannot be dismissed as an outdated patriarchal myth as argued by feminists (Buss and Schmitt, 2011), especially as these national surveys were carried out long after the sexual revolution of the 1960s. Continuing sex differentials in sexuality in the 21st century include the following:

At all ages, the majority of women regard love as a precondition for sex, while a majority of men reject the idea (Sweden 1996).

•• Two-thirds of men accept, and two-thirds of women reject the idea of sexuality without love (France 1992). At all ages, men engage in sexual intercourse without any feelings of love two to four times more often than do women (Sweden 1996).

•• Men express two to ten times more enthusiasm than women for trying every variation in sexual activity.

•• The average number of sexual partners over a lifetime has fallen from two to three times higher among men to around 50%–100% higher today, so remains substantial.

•• When asked about their ideal sexual lifestyle, men are three times more likely to prefer several concurrent lovers: 20% vs 6% for women (Sweden 1996), 27% vs 7% for women (Estonia 2000).

•• Regular masturbation is two to three times more common among men, even among married men, and even in Sweden. A two-thirds majority of men masturbated in the last month, week or year compared to a one-third minority of women (Australia 2002, Finland 2007, Britain 2010).

•• Men are three times more likely to have frequent sexual fantasies, and to use erotica of all kinds. In Finland, a four-fifths majority of men find porn very arousing compared to half of women.

•• Two-fifths of men compared to one-fifth of women have an additional non-marital sex partner (Sweden 1996). Men report extra-marital affairs twice as often as women, even when they condemn affairs as morally wrong (Hakim, 2012). This pattern is observed both in villages and cities in China, where between one-quarter to half of divorces are now due to adultery. Only in France, Spain and Italy do men and women begin to converge in their acceptance (and practice) of affairs.

•• Casual sex was regarded as acceptable by a two-thirds majority of men vs a onethird minority of women in Britain in 1990. In 2010, twice as many men as women regarded one-night stands as ‘not wrong at all’: 18% vs 9%, or 20% vs 13% for people aged 16–44.

•• Around the world, customers for commercial sexual services and erotic entertainments are almost invariably male. Male prostitutes have more male than female clients. In Australia, 16% of men have paid for sex compared to 0.1% of women, with similar figures for Northern Europe. Across Northern Europe, men are equally or more likely to have sold sexual services. In Greece and Italy, around 40% of men have bought sexual services compared to less than 1% of women.

•• Men are four times more likely than women to always gladly agree to sexual approaches from their partner: 38% of men vs 11% of women (Finland 2007).

•• When asked about the ideal frequency of sexual activity, one-quarter of men but only 8% of women say they prefer sex at least once a day or more (Australia 2002). In Finland, men’s ideal frequency is around twice a week vs once a week for women.

•• Twice as many men as women experience frequent sexual desire: half vs one-fifth of women in Sweden.

•• One-third of women vs one in ten men have never had an erotic fantasy; one-third of men but only one in ten women have regular erotic fantasies (Italy 2000).

•• The most commonly reported sexual problem is lack of interest in having sex. In Australia, over half of all women report this compared to one-quarter of men. In all countries, the rate for women is at least double the rate for men, at all ages. In Finland, one-third of women but only 13% of men report lack of interest. Even in France, 8% of husbands compared to 41% of wives aged up to 45 years reported lack of desire as a problem in 1992.

A cross-cultural study of 29 countries shows that sex differences in desire and sexual interest are universal, but the gap between men and women is larger in male-dominated cultures than in liberal western societies...

The contraceptive revolution of the 1960s eliminated the fear of pregnancy among women – always a powerful demotivator (Cook, 2004; Szreter and Fisher, 2011). In the 1960s, over one-third of women with three or more children deeply regretted each new pregnancy (Cartwright, 1978). Yet sexual interest/desire seems to be surprisingly constant across generations. The 2010 British survey provides the most up-to-date information on sexual expression. It shows that in all age groups, females are more than twice as likely as men to lack interest in sex (Table 2). From their twenties onwards, one-third of women say they lack interest in sexual activity compared to one in seven men. They are also twice as likely to say they lack enjoyment in sex (12% vs 5% of men), but these are small minorities...

Despite a culture that welcomes female sexuality, French men and women are clear that male desire outweighs female sexual desire most of the time, and becomes the main driving force in longer-duration relationships, as women’s sexual desire wanes over time (Table 1). In Britain, among couples aged 25 and over, one-quarter of men and one-third of women report an imbalance in sexual interest with their partner in 2010. The imbalance is smallest in the 16–24 age group: 15% of young men and 20% of young women report the problem, and it grows thereafter (Mitchell et al., 2013: Table 3). Even in the 21st century, one-third of women report no sexual interest and/or an imbalance of sexual interest in a current relationship. From three different cultures, using different indicators, the patterns in Tables 1 and 2 and Figure 1 tell the same story...

The gap in sexual desire between men and women is growing over time...

Compared to countries in Africa south of the Sahara, sexual activity in Europe and North America remains a relatively rare entertainment, despite the ‘sexual revolution’. The frequency of intercourse within married couples is four to 18 times higher, on average, in certain African societies (Hakim, 2011: 64) and is also higher among ‘sexual superactives’, to use the label in the 1996 Swedish report (Lewin, 2000). Within Europe, sexual activity remains greater in Southern Europe than in sexually liberated Scandinavia (Hubert et al., 1998; Kontula, 2009: 127–129). In China, regular sexual activity is regarded as healthy and a psycho-physical need, rather than as a marital duty, so most couples report having intercourse weekly or more often. But frequencies are lowest in the big cities, especially Shanghai, where one in seven couples is celibate (Liu et al., 1997)...

The permanent sex difference in sexual interest and sexual exploration is shown also by sex differences that are substantially larger among homosexuals than among heterosexuals. Sex surveys show gay men (but not lesbians) to be much more active than heterosexual men, because the constraint of lesser female interest is removed. One indicator is the number of sexual partners in the last year, last five years, or ever. Among heterosexual men, numbers over a lifetime are typically in the range 10–11 compared to 17–35 for gay men. Maximum figures of 1000+ and 5000+ are reported for gay men vs 8–90 for lesbians (Leridon et al., 1998: Table 5.5; Messiah, 1998). American gay men report 200–300% more partners than lesbian women, and men are more likely than women to espouse the recreational-libertarian sexual ideology – 20% vs 14% (Laumann et al., 1994: 314–334)...

The second analysis incorporates data for another 86 countries, covering Africa, the Middle East, East Asia and Latin America as well as Europe, Australia and New Zealand. Between them, the two analyses cover publications over the 40 years from 1966 to 2007 – the period following the contraceptive revolution of the 1960s... Large and important differences between men and women persist in attitudes to casual sex, casual sex practice, pornography use and masturbation practice. Sexual desire or sexual interest are not studied directly, but these other measures reflect continuing differences in sex drive and motivation... Although men and women have similar attitudes accepting masturbation as normal rather than deviant, there are large differences in actual practice (average d = 0.96 in 1993, 0.53 and 0.58 in 2010) among white people, and smaller differences among black Americans. Solo sex is of special importance as an indicator of sexual desire, because there are no financial costs and no partner is required, so it is an ‘equal opportunity’ practice...

Several factors suggest that the male sex deficit will not disappear, and might even grow in the 21st century. First, surveys find a widening sex differential in desire in Finland (Kontula, 2009: 223, 225), and a decline in the frequency of sexual intercourse (inside and outside marriage) in Britain, the USA, Germany and Finland (Kontula, 2009: 236; Mercer et al., 2013) as well as Japan, which is known to have the lowest frequency of sexual intercourse in the developed world. Second, women’s increasing economic independence allows them to withdraw from sexual markets and relationships that they perceive to offer unfair bargains, especially if they do not want children. Third, changes in national sex ratios towards a numerical surplus of men helps women to re-set the rules in their own favour in developed societies (South and Trent, 1988).

Changes in the sex ratio are an invisible macro-level factor affecting gender roles and couple relationships (Guttentag and Secord, 1983). The surplus of males in China and India is large and well known. However the absence of major wars that traditionally eliminated the 6% surplus of male births is slowly changing sex ratios in western countries as well. A fundamental change in the sex ratio was identified in the 1970s in Britain. Whereas the 1951 Census showed women to outnumber men from age 18 onwards, the 1971 Census showed that men outnumbered women up to age 40, and would outnumber women up to age 60 by 2011 (OPCS, 1978: 11). This report prompted discussion of the likely social consequences of the reversal of the sex ratio in the prime-age group, including: greater investment in careers and delayed marriage for women; the choice of (marital) partner passing over to women; the age gap between spouses narrowing as men cease to be able to attract much younger women; greater male investment in their own grooming and an attractive appearance; an increase in sexual activity outside marriage; and an increase in homosexuality among men. All these social consequences have materialized to some extent. An additional consequence must be a growing male sexual deficit...

The sex ratio is known to affect animal behaviour. Experimental studies also find effects on men’s competition for mates, short-term thinking and willingness to invest resources in courtship (Dyson, 2012; Griskevicius et al., 2012; Székely and Székely, 2012; Weir et al., 2011). South and Trent (1988) found that the sex ratio affects women’s social status in developed economies far more than in developing societies. The impact on social relationships and mating markets may be just as important. In China, policymakers took it for granted that the surplus of males would result in more aggression from sex-starved unmarried men. The male surplus in China also contributed to the commercialization of sexuality and marriage markets: rising demand for commercial sexual services, bride kidnapping, mail-order brides from adjacent countries, marriage by purchase and compensated dating (Greenhalgh, 2012; see also Barber, 2000, 2003).

The sexual deficit among men is of theoretical and practical interest. It could be the root cause of patriarchal ideology and institutions that prioritize male activities and interests (Baumeister and Vohs, 2012; Hakim, 2011). It magnifies the value of women’s erotic capital in private relationships, and potentially in the public sphere also (Hakim, 2011, 2012). It helps to explain why some behaviours are almost exclusively male, such as the purchase of commercial sexual services and erotic entertainments of all kinds. The surplus of male desire must affect daily interactions and relationships between men and women, to some extent, consciously or subconsciously, as some men admit. It helps to explain the everyday sexism of male sexual harassment of women even in the 21st century (Bates, 2014), rape, sexual coercion and violence against women, including during war (Jukes, 1993; Macdowall et al., 2013; Scully and Marolla, 1990). Sexual violence is about sex rather than power games. The sexual deficit helps explain why masturbation is increasingly important for men (Kontula, 2009: 236).

We can expect men to deny, hide or trivialize the sexual deficit. It is not in men’s interest to let women know that they have any advantage that shifts the balance of power in private relationships in favour of women. As economists point out, the principle of least interest gives women an advantage in sexual markets. American academics argue that it would be unethical for women to exploit men’s ‘weakness’ (Baumeister et al., 2001: 264). French scholars recognize the power it gives women (Bajos et al., 1998: 222–232). South and Trent (1988) point out that men use their structural power to prevent women exploiting any advantage from high sex ratios (masculinized populations with a shortage of women). Similarly, men use their power to prevent women exploiting the male sexual deficit – or even becoming aware of it. Feminist claims that men and women have ‘equal’ sex drives play into the hands of patriarchal men.

Commercial sexual services have existed in all societies with a coinage, whether they are treated as legitimate or not. An International Labour Office (ILO) study of the sex industry, the largest such study ever undertaken, found that demand for erotic services grows as a country (or individual) becomes more affluent, so that overall demand is rising inexorably (Lim, 1998: 10, 73, 88–90, 106, 135, 210). The male sexual deficit explains why, in all societies, customers for the sex industry are men almost exclusively, and why demand is rising steadily. For example it doubled from 2% to 4% of men in Britain between 1990 and 2000 (Ward et al., 2005), and rose from 10% to 14% in Finland from 1992 to 1999 (Haavio-Mannila and Kontula, 2003: 127). Demand for such services from women is minuscule in all cultures, and this is not due to women’s lack of economic resources. Even poor men find the money if necessary; even affluent women are rarely tempted (Hakim, 2011: 42–43; Kontula and Haavio-Mannila, 1995: 126; Lim, 1998: 210). The sex industry has always been highly stratified, with a diversity of services at all price levels, because male demand exists at all income levels. Men’s ambivalence towards women working in the sexual entertainments industry may be because they exploit men’s ‘weakness’ so effectively – women can earn 10–40 times more than in conventional jobs (Egan, 2006; Frank, 2002; Hakim, 2011: 158; Lim, 1998: 33–34, 45, 53–57, 88–90, 115, 155, 207). Male prostitutes do not feel stigmatized, like women; on the contrary, they regard their work as demonstrating their masculinity and power.

In sum, surplus male sexuality provides a parsimonious macro-level explanation for several puzzles concerning relationships between men and women, sexual politics, sexual violence and the universal character of commercial sexual services. Yet sociologists pay little attention to sexuality. Only evolutionary psychology offers a central focus on sexuality, sexual violence, sex ratios and sex differences in sexuality, as illustrated by sexual strategies theory and parental investment theory (Buss and Schmitt, 1993; Schmitt, 2005). However, even in this discipline the male sexual deficit escaped attention. Evolutionary psychology has been more concerned with speculative theorizing about the prehistoric origins of human sexuality – a period not open to modern social science research...

The male sexual deficit in developed societies is an incontrovertible universal social fact, possibly of growing importance, yet is regarded as an outdated myth in radical feminist ideology and much public opinion... the findings of recent sex surveys remain unknown to many sociologists, to scholars in other disciplines, and even to sexuality specialists.

The sex deficit among (heterosexual) men helps to explain many puzzles, including why men are the principal customers for commercial sexual entertainments of all kinds, are most likely to have affairs, sometimes rape unwilling partners, offer other sexual violence against women, engage in sexual harassment in workplaces and public places, and respond poorly to having female colleagues in teamwork occupations such as the police or armed forces"


Among other things this ("It helps to explain the everyday sexism...") is evidence against rape as power (not sex).

This is also (yet more) evidence that men are hornier than women.
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