I'm just back from Tennessee, where I had a grand time speaking as a guest of the Women's Studies Dept. at MTSU. It's a rare treat for me to be invited to speak at a Southern university, and I definitely get a different take on sexual attitudes and behavior what I would find, say, at Vassar!
MTSU is a public school in Murfreesboro, well-known for their department in Music Recording Management— although they offer everything. Students are focussed on their careers, are generally already working— the campus social scene is not the main focus. Nashville has a much bigger draw, only a half hour away.
But let me shut up and let you hear the students in their own words. Today I'll share the statistics and questions from the women students; tomorrow I'll publish the men's questions, and what I learned from the whole affair!
Campus Sex Survey
Asked and Reported By Susie Bright at her lecture on "Feminism and the Erotic," MTSU, Tennessee, Sept 29, 2005
3. Do you masturbate?
4. Do you have orgasms?
5. Have you had sex, as you would define it, with a partner?
6. Are you sexually attracted to men, women, or both?
7. Your sex questions?
Age of Men
Age of Women
Female Orgasm, Masturbation, and Partner-Sex
Do Not Orgasm: 12%
Do Not Masturbate: 14%
Have Had Partner Sex: 87%
Have Not Had Partner Sex: 13%
Male Orgasm, Masturbation, and Partner-Sex
Do Not Have Orgasm: 3%
Do Not Masturbate: 1%
Have Had Partner Sex: 84%
Have Not Had Partner Sex: 16%
Women Who Like Men: 66%
Women Who Like Women: 10%
Women Who Like Both: 24%
Men Who Like Women: 87%
Men Who Like Men: 10%
Men Who Like Both: 3%
My partner is completely silent and emotionless during sex, and I think it’s because he has been raised thing it’s bad. How can we get past that?
Why is orgasming hard for me? And what can I do to help the situation? Will I know if it happens?
Where is the line between straight and bisexual? I have kissed girls, I have even done things that can be considered sex with girls, but I’m not attracted to girls. I only do it to please my boyfriend, and I find it interesting.
What is your favorite sex toy?
What if people don’t have a sex life or masturbate? What are you saying?—Sexuality needs to be made public, because it isn’t a big deal?
Do you feel as though the attitude of “the virginal bride as a necessity” is changing in society?
Where are good sources of authentic lesbian porn? —Not made for a male audience, but for a lesbian /bisexual audience?
How important is sex to the well-being in humans?
Are you gay?
How can I be as sexually active as I want, but still combat the notion that I’m a slut or “easy”?
How do you have anal sex without it burning like hell? I know lube helps.
What are your thoughts about art that degrades women?
When I put my finger in my vagina and I have a sensational feeling, that is indescribable, but good— is that an orgasm or not?
If you’re attracted physically to another girl, does that necessarily make you bi? Possibly it’s just a fantasy of “Shane” from “The L Word”?
How do you feel good about sex? When you feel dirty? When you want to enjoy it to the fullest?
Is there a second clit near the ‘taint? Something about that area being touched during sex switches my clit into overdrive!
How many people have you had sex with?
What are some good masturbation tips?
I would like my sex life to be more erotic, but I tend to feel shy and nervous.
How do you handle, as a mother, a six-year-old girl who discovers masturbation? What way can you explain it?
How do you tell someone you want them without sexually offending them?
Do you think sex and loving (as in intercourse), are separate or together?
If I get turned on by females in porn, does that make me bisexual?
My husband and I have become maybe too comfortable with each other. How can we regain some freshness in our sex life?
What is your opinion of a person who has sexual thoughts about both sexes, but knows that they’re totally straight?
What are your thoughts about anal sex?
How often does the average person masturbate?
How can I increase my sexuality or pleasure in my life?
I am content with the future of marriage. I will be even happier and free to explore in more guilt-free ways.
How often do you think women fantasize about rape, and how can you help them stop feeling guilty?
How many sexual partners in one lifetime do you recommend?
What do you think about sex toys?
How do you shake off childhood teachings, no sex before marriage, etc.?
Is it hard to get up and talk about sex?
How do you judge a healthy sex life with kids?
How many partners have you had?
Why is it that most straight men are so judgmental of lesbian women?
Is it wrong to want a sexually satisfying experience with someone other than my husband— whom I love, but am not receiving sex from?
How do I approach another woman about my sexual and affectionate feelings for her?
Did you teach your daughter about how to masturbate, or did she discover it herself on her own?
How do I make my partner realize that looking at erotic books or toys publicly isn’t an embarrassing event?
Why do women think it’s sexy to expose themselves, strip, etc. to strangers? It is intimate and should not be made out to be what it is today.
What is your religious beliefs, and how do you feel those relate to sex and the erotic?
Why does the shame that I feel always interfere with pleasure?
Would you recommend getting on birth control, even if uses protection? Or if he always pulls out?
Is it more pleasurable for men to come in women’s mouth as opposed to inside her?
I want to know how sex can be more enjoyable with my boyfriend who has his penis pierced. I don’t come from intercourse. Would you suggest any positions that would reach the right spots?
Why is sex so different for men than women? I need emotional connection. It seems my partner “just has sex.”
What percentage of teenage girls having sex actually enjoy it? Do you think their reasons for beginning to have sex are different than wanting pleasure?
Why don’t women enjoy orgasms as much as men?
Are you married, and how long had you been? How often do you have sex?
Have you ever been with, or fantasized about being with another woman?
Am I really enjoying sex, when I think I enjoy some pain in sex?
Do you feel sexual action should be passionate satisfaction, or just as an act?
How do you know when you have had an orgasm?
How do you create intimacy without the other person freaking out?
What is the average number of partners a person should have in their lifetime?
To what degree is guilt “het”? —That is, a motivating arousing factor for us messed-up humans?
What is up with the backlash against protection? It seems like no one in this city uses condoms! And just try finding a dam. It’s so creepy and frustrating!
What is the relationship between love and sex/erotica? Can one be an expression of the other?
Is it normal to be wet and half turned on ALL the time?
What’s your best sexual experience, or most interesting?
What is your opinion of strippers/strip clubs?
Have you come across a lot of women who feel more sexually driven than their partners or spouses?
How do you discuss sex with your children?
Is it true that a sneeze equals one tenth of an orgasm?
Is it possible to be really straight, but still be attracted to women, on a mental and sexual level?
Have you ever made homemade porn? Would you suggest it?
This report is not to be edited or abridged in any way without permission of the author. These statistics and opinions reflect the audience that attended this lecture, and do not reflect the make-up of MTSU as a whole.
I know that might seem obvious, but I just had to say it!
What Makes This School Different From Other Schools?
The audiences who come to my college lectures tend to be curious about sex, and looking for others with like minds. That skews my sample, yet I still find there are trends in every one of my surveys that reflect the campus as a whole.
What distinguishes this MTSU’s character from other universities? It’s a university with a lot of working students, commuters, a public university in the South, in the Bible Belt. Although most of its undergraduates are recently out of high school, MTSU also has a high percentage of students over 22, especially women.
Young and Married
There are a lot of married students here— marriage and children are part of young people’s lives as well as the over-30s. You’re not going to see that family setting at private schools, and you see it a lot less in the West and East coast metropolitan areas.
The young marrieds at MTSU are a regional and class signifier that make this survey especially interesting.
The Queer Effect of Bible Thumping
The other noticeable vibe at MTSU is how religious culture shapes people’s sex lives. I’ve only been to three other campuses in the South, all before Bush’s White House. More than any campus I’ve ever visited, MTSU students asked questions that referred to god, or biblical standards. The aspect I found most affected by religious views, was student anxiety over homosexuality.
A lot of people asked if something was “up” with them, because even though they were determined to be heterosexual, they still sometimes had moments, or ideas, of attraction to the same sex. They worry about it! They implied their thoughts were shameful and upsetting.
I began my sex survey research before the political leaders of the GOP took up organizing in conservative churches.
It was these election-building efforts since the 80s, that put so much attention on “gayness” as something to rally against, much like “red scares” or “integration” freak-outs did previously. Certainly Christian churches, were never pro-gay, but before the political transformation of the last 25 years, there wasn’t so much attention towards homosexuality in particular.
Nowadays, because of political gay-baiting, there is a great fear of persecution— and abandonment by one’s family or community— if it is “found out” that one is gay or bisexual.
There is so much ignorance about what gay feelings might look like, that even quiet experiences, like admiring someone’s appearance, or feeling affectionate and loving toward a friend, can be blown into oh-my-god-I’m-gay proportions.
So Am I Bi or Damned?
As for the MTSU students who asked such questions in this survey, some of them will indeed, find over time that they are gay. They are in a dangerous closet at this point, where they don’t accept it, and find it threatening to contemplate. I would want to offer them honest information and support to relieve their fears, and take account of their sense of the risk of disgrace and abandonment. They need to know there’s something on the other side, including family, community, love, good sex, and grace.
Others who asked the same question, are likely to be magnifying their feelings to unrealistic proportions. Everything that is sexual is nerve-racking to them. They’re probably as straight as sticks. So many normal desires and feelings are stigmatized with religious shame, that they don’t know which end is up, especially young women. They haven’t felt uninhibited desire towards anyone, male or female. Until they stop “pleasing” their boyfriends and find out what really pleases them, they’re going to be in the dark.
And finally, other students with bi-questions may realize that they are on the spectrum of bisexuality, which may reflect on their behavior or not. It may stay in their fantasies, they may be monogamous. They may turn out to be activists, or they might be very private. Most bisexuals are not “50/50” of anything.
I will post all the young men's questions and comments tomorrow, with further opinion and my own wonderings!