Here’s something that will probably not surprise and yet still manage to annoy the crap out of you. There is a new study on the desired length of sex for heterosexual couples, as determined by American sex experts. Check this out:
The US study is the first to review what experts believe is the ideal length of time to have penetrative sex, with the random sample of Americans and Canadians labelling seven to 13 minutes most “desirable”.
Intercourse lasting between three and seven minutes was deemed “adequate”, but anything less was considered “too short” and beyond 13 minutes was “too long”.
The study, published in The Journal of Sexual Medicine, aims to calm unrealistic beliefs that healthy sex should last a long time.
Dr Jane Howard, a Brisbane medical sex therapist, said there was little data on Australians’ expectation of sex. Anecdotal evidence suggested most women were happy with three to seven minutes, while men were not.
Now, as someone who enjoys sex and generally assumes that large portions of the rest of the population also enjoy sex, a question instantly sprung to mind: in what universe? No, seriously, this America? Three minutes? And wait, men are the ones who want sex to be longer, and women don’t? This is, in fact, contrary to every generalized remark I’ve ever heard about heterosexual practice. Don’t tons of straight women complain about how too many men rush during sex? Are the bulk of American men who sleep with women just really bad in bed, and I’ve somehow gotten through life without realizing it? (I am, after all, married to an Australian.)
It almost seems like they’re leaving something out. Of course, no one openly explains or discusses that the study is only about heterosexual couples — I presume that you were supposed to infer this from all the talk of penis in vaginas and the fact that only men and women are described as potential sexual partners. But, you see, this has nothing to do with prejudice or heteronormativity — this is about facts, people. As it turns out, any two people who do not have one penis and one vagina between them cannot have sex. That’s not even a joke — I’m going off of media characterizations.
Every news story I found on the subject fails to produce an explicit definition of “sex.” Most do use additional phrases like “intercourse” or “penetrative sex.” I assumed that these were just polite euphemisms designed to make the article sound more “professional” — and also to rule out sexual encounters that do not include penetrative sex, but perhaps only manual or oral sex. Considering this, the light bulb flickered on. I found the actual study. And though I didn’t pay to read it, the free abstract made things more than clear enough:
Aim. Quantify the opinion of expert sex therapists as to what are “adequate,” “desirable,” “too short,” and “too long” intravaginal ejaculatory latencies.
That’s right: the study was about “intravaginal ejaculatory latencies.” For those of you unsure about the lingo, this means the moment that a penis enters a vagina to the moment that said penis ejaculates into the vagina.
Which is, of course, what the mainstream media refers to without definition, caveat or qualification as “sex.”
Now the results make some fucking sense.
Let me be clear: I’m not criticizing the study. First of all, I haven’t read it. Secondly, from the abstract, it seems that they set forward with a reasonable, narrow and specific goal: to find out if expectations about how long the particular act vaginal intercourse between a man and woman should last for partners to be satisfied. I agree that things like porn have skewed our view on that subject. It’s not a fascinating topic for research, but it’s a reasonable one.
The problem here is — as is generally the case — the media coverage. You’d think that in 2008, we’d have a more encompassing view of sex than “man inserts penis into vagina, thrusts for X minutes, ejaculates, rolls over and sleeps.” You’d think that we’d understand that acts like oral, anal and manual sex count as sex, as do mutual masturbation, play with sex toys, etc. You’d think we’d realize through this understanding that wow!, men can have sex with each other and so can women! Maybe it’d even occur to people that straight couples engage in these acts, too — and that while many women love PIV penetration, a majority of the female population requires at least one other tactic to actually have an orgasm. In 2008, shouldn’t we be at a point where we realize that the ultimate goal of sex is not a male orgasm, and that a male orgasm should not be seen as the definitive end to anything that we could potentially refer to as “sex?”
Well, we should. But people are morons and we live in a patriarchal and homophobic society. Men are encouraged to resist performing oral sex. Women are encouraged to fake orgasms, expected to need a penis to get off under any and all circumstances and then feel that they or their partner is inadequate when PIV penetration doesn’t “work.” And the number one rule for all people is that you should never, ever stick anything up your butt.