25 February 2009

What turns men - and women - on?

The second annual Great South African Sex Survey from Health24 confirms what we suspected: the mojo of men is a very different thing from that of women

The second annual Great South African Sex Survey from Health24 confirms what we suspected: the mojo of men is a very different thing from that of women.

Let’s state the obvious first: men are more thrilled by sex than women are. Around 72% of men describe sex as “very important” or “extremely important” in their lives. Women lag slightly, at 66%, though they’re demurely more inclined to use the word “very” than the word “extremely”.

It’s in our fantasy lives that men’s sexual mojo gets assertive: for every one woman who confesses to having a moment every hour or so, there are four men who say they think about sex hourly.

That might have something to do with what turns us on. The most common turn-on – 42% of men say this – is a great body. Women are overwhelmingly inclined to identify conversation as the big turn-on: 40% of them are suckers for sweet conversation. So when a hottie walks through the room, men are more likely to be distracted from spreadsheets or whatever they were working on, than women. Hence the sexy daydreams.

Just for the record, how many women say a hot body gets them going? Just 15%. And how many men say conversation is the thing? Just 15%. Yet when it comes to defining what makes us fall in love, men come around to the women’s way of thinking: 49% of men and 45% of women cite “mind and conversation” as the deal-maker.

How the survey was conducted
The Great SA Sex Survey launched in the middle of December 2008, and was live for five weeks. A total of 11 181 people completed it. The responses were weighted using the latest variables from Statistics SA’s General Household Survey, so the statistics you see here are representative of the habits and attitudes of 2,6 million urban metro adults, aged 20 years and older, who earn at least R2 500 a month. .

So, how good is sex generally?
Hard as it may be for anyone to stomach this thought, sex gets better as you get closer to your parents’ age (within reason, obviously).

For a lucky few, for instance, marriage might be just the thing – but the trend seems to suggest that we make mistakes in our first marriages, from which we benefit the second time around. The survey asked people to rate the sex with their current sexual partner vs other sex they’ve had. Just 35% of men in their first marriage said that their current sex was “better than any other sex they have had” – that’s the lowest happiness score reported. Formerly married men now involved with a new partner were, at a 52% thumbs-up rate, the happiest. In other words, men in new relationship after an ended marriage are most likely to be having “the best sex ever” while men in first marriages are least likely.

Among women, 51% of those in their first marriage were having their best sex, compared to 63% of those in a second marriage.

Perhaps, in the case of men, this is a function of maturity: men over 50 are a little more likely to believe that the best sex happens with someone you love (74% compared to 68%), while they’re also more likely to say they’re in love with their sexual partner – 85% against 83%.

The Great South African Sex Survey also found out that:

  • We like porn –90 percent of men and 70% of women say it blows their hair back all or some of the time.
  • More than 10% of men can’t remember or don’t know how many people they have slept with. Women are twice as likely to have total recall.
  • Women are slower starters: more than 20% of women first masturbated only after turning 18, whereas the majority of men (62%) began masturbating at 14 years of age or younger (only 4% of men waited until they were old enough to order a beer in a bar before they began masturbating).
  • Almost three-quarters (73%) of us have had sex in a public place (car, beach, at a party etc).
  • We still pretty much stick to what we know: one quarter of men and 21 percent of women have only had sex with someone of their own race.
  • More than 41% of women claim to fake orgasms “sometimes”, with the biggest offenders being women who are involved in a relationship but not married (72%).

View the full results here.

(Heather Parker, Health24, February 2009)


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