Ozy Frantz breaks down the numbers in a CDC report on teenage sex. Spoiler alert: reality does not resemble stereotypes very well.
This post originally appeared at No Seriously, What About Teh Menz?
The CDC has recently released some interesting information about how teenagers lose their virginities, so it is time for a Ozy Reads A Bunch Of Stats and Comments On Them post! It’s been way too long since we had one of those, I’m sure we can all agree.
The money quote is this: 43% of never-married teenage girls and 42% of never-married teenage boys have experienced sexual intercourse at least once. (Note: throughout this post, “sex” means “a penis put inside a vagina.” Blame the CDC.) In addition, a similar number of girls and boys have had sex in the last month. It is almost as if boys and girls are more similar than they are different! Nah. Couldn’t be.
The percentage of teenage girls who have had sex has been steadily declining over the past twenty years; the percentage of teenage boys who have had sex was steadily declining, but has been the same since 2002. So, uh, that hookup culture thing those people who like talking about The Kids These Days on the TV keep talking about? Dooooesn’t really seem to be in evidence. It’s anyone’s guess why people have stopped having sex so much: Internet porn? Abstinence-only sex education? A sudden rise in the popularity of oral sex? Who knows?
The majority of both boys and girls had lost their virginity to someone they were dating at the time. However, about a quarter of boys lost their virginity to a friend or someone they’d just met, as opposed to 16% of girls, which is a fairly significant and interesting difference. I have no idea why that is; perhaps it’s related to the sociologically attested fact that boys tend to see their virginity as a shameful burden to get rid of as quickly as possible, while girls tend to see their virginity as a gift to give to someone special whom they truly love.
Boys were more likely than girls to be happy to lose their virginity: 63% really wanted it, 33% had mixed feelings, and 5% didn’t want it. 41% of girls really wanted it, 48% had mixed feelings, and 11% didn’t want it. “Didn’t want it”, of course, can include everything from “I wasn’t ready and I really shouldn’t have lost my virginity then but I consented” to “my partner raped me”; I do find it interesting that the gender ratio for not wanting to lose one’s virginity when one did is roughly the same as it is for rape.
I think a lot of the girls’ mixed feelings are rooted in slut-shaming; some percentage of those girls who have mixed feelings are going to be ones who actually do want sex, but are afraid that having sex will make them worth less or that giving it up will make him not want to be with you any longer.
…holy shit the boys are lucky because 63% of them actually and unambiguously wanted to lose their virginities AMERICA WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU
41% of virginal girls didn’t have sex because it was against their religion or morals, compared to 31% of virginal men. The next most popular among men was not having met the right person yet, at 29%; for girls, not wanting to be pregnant and not having met the right person yet were roughly tied. Again, we see girls tending to see their virginity as a gift to be preserved and men as a stigma to be gotten rid of; men are about ten percentage points more likely to be like “I want to lose my virginity but I don’t have anyone to lose it WITH,” while women are more likely to be all “I don’t want to have sex yet.”
The single result that has left me the most boggled is that 13% of girls and 19% of boys would be pleased by a pregnancy, and 57% of girls and 46% of boys would be very upset. I can only presume it is because boys do not have to give birth, are less likely to have their entire lives disrupted by a child, and are less likely to have babysat. Perhaps I have spent too much time reading what asshole misogynists have to say, because my gender stereotypes were assuming that women would all have The Baby Rabies and men were all Kids Suck, Rawr, but apparently not.
Photo—A portrait of a sweet couple from Shutterstock