Updated 28 November 2016

Who does what in the bedroom?

The Great South African Sex Survey shows that with women, there's little middle ground between stay-at-home types and carnival dancers.

It turns out that sexually, South African women tend to be all or nothing. Either we're quite straight down the line, and our grannies would be proud of us; or we're real free spirits, and boundaries fall away – colleagues are fair game, there's free movement between hetero- and homosexual activity, and we're colour- and culture-blind.

So how do you tell which of your friends and colleagues are kittens, and which are lionesses in the bedroom?

The Great South African Sex Survey, released earlier this month, has drawn a clear parallel between open-minded (or should that be open-hearted?) sexuality and those who've had higher levels of education, and are bigger earners. So if she's well educated, and in a good job, she's statistically likely to be much more out there.

For instance, almost half of all women whose current partner is a woman, have sometime in their sexual history pulled aside the ethnic curtain and crossed to the other side; and the chances of getting down with someone of a different ethnic background rise steadily with income, with the greatest incidence among those women earning more than R25 000 a month.

More money isn’t all good though: the survey also revealed that middle- and upper-income earners of both sexes are most likely to suffer problems, both in terms of their libido, and with their sex lives in general.

The Great South African Sex Survey was conducted online on the Health24 website between mid-December 2007 and 31st January 2008, and attracted just under 11 000 entries. The results were weighted to reflect the dominant demographic of urban adults, educated to matric level or higher. Just under two thirds are aged 25-49, with the remaining third falling on either side of this age group. About half have English or Afrikaans as their home language, with the balance being made of those whose home language was one of South Africa's other national languages.

Among other findings:

  • We've always known that men tend to be more committed to sex than women, and this survey has put a figure on it: 80 percent of all men see sex as either very or extremely important. For women, the figure is 68 percent.
  • Still, there are women who're not getting it all their own way: 2 percent of women say they have, at some stage, paid for sex. Predictably, the figure is much higher for men (14 percent).
  • If you think men are always up for it, think again: 9% of men say they would use 'anything' to increase their sex drives.
  • Just under a quarter of all men (24%) have at some stage suffered from erectile dysfunction.
  • Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are regrettably familiar to many of us: almost a quarter of men have, or have had, an STI. Though the figure is lower for women, there's not much difference: 20 percent of women have had to have that conversation with their doctors.

- (Heather Parker, Health24, February 2008)


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