Saturday, June 23, 2007

Average can be more than median

A new US CDC sex survey has gotten a lot of attention, some of it confusing. Here is one AP story:
NEW YORK — The average American man has sex with seven women during his lifetime, compared to four male sexual partners for the average woman, according to a federal survey that used high-tech methods to solicit candid answers on sexual activity and illegal drug use.
Here is another:
The median number of lifetime female sexual partners for men was seven; the median number of male partners for women was four. ... (This version CORRECTS that figures for lifetime sexual partners were median figures, not averages.)
Use of "median" and "average" makes a difference because the average number of sex partners is actually about the same for men and women. Most women don't have so many sex partners, but a few highly promiscuous women raise the average for all women enough to match the average for men.

Use of medians is probably better because it is more likely to reflect typical men and women, but it is just not right to say that the average man is having more sexual intercourse than the average woman.

If you don't believe that women lie about how many sex partners they've had, just read this letter to an advice columnist:
I'm a 35-year-old woman, and met a very handsome 43-year-old man named Daniel. We've been dating for five months now and still haven't slept together.

My problem is that in the beginning, Daniel asked me how many men I've slept with. Being a little scared of his reaction, I lied and told him seven. But after a few months, I could not live with the lie and finally decided to tell him the reason why I still haven't slept with him yet.

I told him I didn't want to make love because I was scared that he'd lose respect and eventually leave me like all the other men. At this point he asked me again, just how many men were there, to which I replied forty-three.

His reply was, "Hmm, one for each of my birthdays." And from that day on, I never heard from him again. I don't get it Curt, why is it that when men sleep around, they're studs , yet when women sleep around, they're sluts ? Why can't women have their fun too?

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