by Robert T. Gonzalez / io9.com
There is possibly no greater source of debate than the age-old question of whether men want sex more than women. But embedded in that debate are a host of other questions. What is a “sex drive” anyway? What is a good scientific way to compare men and women’s sexual desires? What happens when women want it more than men? Does sexual desire in gay and lesbian couples mirror that of men and women in straight relationships?
Let’s explore, starting with the largest sex study ever conducted.
One big sex survey
In 2005, the BBC conducted a massive cross-cultural internet survey (over 200,000 participants across 53 countries) that looked at, among other things, self-reported sex drive and sociosexuality (basically how prudish people are in their sexual attitudes and behavior). Height, a physical trait with a pretty unambiguously gender-based difference, was also measured.
Men across all cultures reported higher sex drives and less restricted sexual attitudes than women, but women were consistently more variable than men in their sex drives. Another important, if not entirely surprising pattern, suggests that these differences are not entirely biological, and are due in some part to social and cultural ideologies.
Gender equality and economic development tended to predict, across nations, sex differences in sociosexuality, but not sex differences in sex drive or height. Parameters for sociosexuality tended to vary across nations more than parameters for sex drive and height did.