But do the data tell us our sexual truth or sexual myth? Gina Kolata, in her recent New York Times article,1 pointed out: "It is logically impossible for heterosexual men to have more partners on average than heterosexual women" in a given population. Kolata has mathematician David Gale illustrate this point:
Jordan Ellenberg of Slate takes issue with Kolata:
"By way of dramatization, we change the context slightly and will prove what will be called the High School Prom Theorem. We suppose that on the day after the prom, each girl is asked to give the number of boys she danced with. These numbers are then added up giving a number G. The same information is then obtained from the boys, giving a number B.
Proof: Both G and B are equal to C, the number of couples who danced together at the prom. Q.E.D."
The problem is hiding in the distinction between the median (the number reported by the CDC study [that Kolata questions]) and the mean (the number Gale was talking about). . . . Consider a village with 200 people, evenly divided by sex. Ninety of the women are virgins, but none of the men is. Each man has slept with just one of the sexually active women; each woman who's had sex, then, has had 10 partners. In this case, the median woman has zero sexual partners, but the median man has one. So we see a big difference in medians between the male and female populations, just as in the CDC data.2On page 3 of the CDC study, however, it is said: "Twenty-nine percent of men reported having 15 or more female sexual partners in a lifetime compared with 9% of women who reported having 15 or more male sexual partners in a lifetime."
For men and women to have roughly the same mean, which has to be the case mathematically, and for men to have a much higher median than women, there ought to be a group of extraordinarily sexually active women who outclass the most sexually active men, helping raise the manhood median despite sexual lethargy of the other women, but the CDC study, based on self reported data, is no evidence for the existence of a female sexual overclass (see above, but also see Tables 7 and 9).
I conclude either men or women or both are lying.
Perhaps it is time to promote a new idea in order to correct the prejudice that makes people lie: what is attractive in women is wisdom and experience, and what is adorable in men is chastity and modesty.
1 "The Myth, the Math, the Sex," 12 August 2007, nytimes.com/2007/08/12/weekinreview/12kolata.html.
2 "Mean Girls: The New York Times Slips Up on Sexual Math," 13 August 2007, slate.com/id/2172186/.