Math Debunks Myth of Casanova Men, Chaste Women

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It's one of those truths everybody knows: men are sex-crazed, rutting horndogs, catting around and sleeping with as many women as possible. Meanwhile, women are more choosy, keeping their legs crossed until Mr. Right...or at least, Mr. I'm-in-Lurve-With-Him...comes along.

There's just one problem with this picture. It's mathematically impossible.

Oh, sure, there's "scientific evidence" that men have more sex partners than women. In surveys, U.S. men report a median value of 7 female sex partners, while U.S. women report a median of 4. In Britain, men report 12.7 heterosexual partners in their lifetimes, and women report 6.5. So isn't the myth true? Don't men screw around more than women?

Here's the problem. Every time a man sleeps with a new woman, by default, the woman is sleeping with a new man. (It can't be a new partner for him without being a new partner for her, too.)

Like so many people out there, if I thought about the numbers at all, I vaguely assumed that the discrepancy in the numbers meant a few slutty women sleeping with lots and lots of men. But that doesn't work mathematically. Let's consider an isolated island with a population of 10 men and 10 women:

Woman #1 has 3 partners.
Woman #2 has 5 partners.
Woman #3 has 10 partners.
To make the math easier, let's assume that the other women have taken a vow of chastity.

So, 18 partners divided up amonst 10 women. That's an average of 1.8 sex partners for the women.

The men? Well, 10 of them had at least one sex partner (Woman #3.) Five more had at least two sex partners (Woman #2.) And there are three more sex partners distributed somewhere amongst the 10 men, thanks to Woman #1. Since we're averaging, it really doesn't matter which ones. The average comes out to...1.8 sex partners per man.

For every new partner a man has, there has to be a woman out there with a new partner, too.

What does this mean? Basically, it means those surveys are wrong. Either the men are exaggerating their conquests (what, men lie about sex?), or the women are leaving out a few of their less memorable encounters (this one doesn't count because I was drunk...), or more likely, both. Men think they're supposed to be studly lotharios, women think they're supposed to be selective and un-slutty, and next thing you know, they're giving survey answers that reflect that.

That, or the men in these surveys are including an awful lot of sheep in their counts.



Posted by Pile on 2007-08-15 16:46:16
My guess is women lie. They lie a LOT about how many partners they have. Men also lie about how many partners they have. But in general, women are the ones underestimating their partners, more than men overestimating. Seriously, most men really don't go around bragging about how many women they've slept with... unlike women, a man having a reputation as being slutty will likely hurt his chances of getting laid, whereas with a woman, it likely makes her more appealing to many men. There's a lot more motivation for women to lie than for men. And men have no reason to lie to a statistician in the first place.
oh please
Posted by wizeGurl on 2007-08-16 01:18:05 would never up their count a tad to, say, impress other guys. 'Cause men never brag about their sexual prowess, especially not to other men. Uh-huh. And they never give each other high-fives, either.

I very much doubt that a reputation for being slutty would help a woman appeal to men...certainly not to the type of men she'd want to appeal to...there's a reason why "slut" is generally considered to be an insult, not a compliment. Although if you were right about that, it would be a reason for women not to lie.

Exactly what reason would a woman have for lying to a statistician that a man would not also have? I suspect that in most cases, both are lying to themselves first and foremost.

There is really no way to tell who lies "more" on this subject. That's the thing about lies...they're hard to spot, especially if there's no real evidence to prove otherwise. All we can really be sure of is whether or not each one of us, ourselves, is lying, or not.

And then there's the whole issue of definition. Did Monica count as Bill's "sex partner"? Do you think every person would draw that line the same way? What about all those self-proclaimed "virgins" out there happily indulging in anal sex?

There are many, many reasons the numbers don't add up. One of them is surely that people aren't telling the truth. But the only way to know who's being more truthful is to take names and dates, and start matching them up, and keep going until you've recorded every sex act committed in the world during the lifetime of everyone living. You get right on that, y'hear? I'll be waiting for the results.
annabel chong
Posted by vincentvangogo on 2007-08-16 11:38:52
Simple answer. Think Annabel Chong, the woman who slept with 1000 or so in one session. If there are a few nymphos who sleep with lots of men, (I know a porn actress who says she's slept with over 2000) then the numbers will add up without meaning everyone is lying.
Posted by wizeGurl on 2007-08-17 13:21:09
Of course, that's also assuming that there are no men out there with a few thousand partners to balance out the pro hos. (Wilt Chamberlain, anyone? He claimed 20,000.)
Posted by John YaYas on 2007-08-18 23:11:38
Once genetic testing of populations became cheap and available it became apparant that many women were lieing about who the actual father of thier children was. At least 5 percent and as much as 20 percent of offspring tested in some genetic studies have been shown to be fathered by somebody other than the father of record.

Considering that at least half of all early pregnancies are spontaneously aborted that means a large number of women are fooling around quite frequently. It is significant to note that the likelihood of a second sperm donor other than the husband INCREASES with children lower in the birth order. That means that much of the fooling around is by married women as vs. unmarried women grabbing the best spouse after finding out they are already pregnant.
Umm no.
Posted by mike on 2007-08-19 11:57:31
The number of slept withs does not have to equal out.

woman A sleeps with 50 guys.
woman B sleeps with none.
Average men slept with = 25

"Averaging" is a very inaccurate statistical measurement. I think it is MEAN or MEDIAN which is a better measure of how many men the average woman has slept with.
Yes and no
Posted by Charlie on 2007-08-20 12:17:13
What you're talking about proves that the mean value has to be the same, not that the MEDIAN value is the same. Actually, a few women having sex with lots of men WOULD throw off the median by a very large amount, while keeping the average (aka mean) identical.

Oh, and people lie. That too.
Myther Right?
Posted by Barplace on 2007-11-23 10:40:49
I have a wierd question: Why is it that I can't stand the thought of my girlfreind being screwed by anyone else prior to me, but I love the fact that she knows how to please me sexually? Am I that selfish and unrealistic?
Where your problem lies
Posted by Willy Wonka on 2010-02-27 17:41:03
Your problem here is the original numbers you used were median - the MEDIAN for men sleeps is 7 partners, whereas the MEDIAN for women is 4.... then you use AVERAGE or MEAN to determine your 1.8 example. Therefore your whole argument is just out and out wrong. Yes, if you were to look at average they would have to be the same per gender because a man cannot sleep with a new woman without the same woman sleeping with a a new man - so AVERAGE or MEAN between the two genders would be the same. MEDIAN is a whole nother story - in your example you have 1 women sleeping with 10 partners, 1 with 5, 1 with 3 and the other 7 women are chaste - the MEAN here for all the women is actually 0 - the average women in this scenario sleeps with 0 men. Whereas you gave all 10 men a partner, because they all slept with at least one partner and 5 of them slept with 2 or more, and 3 slept with 3 partners, right? The MEAN for the men in this example is 1.5 partners.

The MEAN for women in your example: 0
The MEAN for men in your example: 1.5

Your argument is now totally false, and hence the surveys could actually be accurate.
Posted by Anonymous on 2011-02-14 10:26:30
wonka go back to stats 101. Our man here is just trying to bring up a point and entertain us all....

total misconception between median and mean or average..........


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