Friday, July 29, 2011

The results are in!

Remember The Great Female Survey from a few posts back? Well, they've collected their data, such as it is, and the results are...

Pretty reasonable, actually.

In most cases the plurality of the answers went to the least evil option. (Which frequently was "none of the above," because who would have expected women to be not-evil?)

Although I was sad to hear that women become sluts at 20 partners (which, credit where credit's due, was at least the same as the point for a man becoming a "man-whore"). Because... well... I lost track somewhere in the teens. I had this list, and it went up to thirteen, and then the computer I had it on died, and I know I've had sex with a bunch of people since then... what I'm trying to say is I don't know if I'm officially a slut or not.

Also, it's hardly a fair survey of women in general--only 10% of respondents said they had children. So taking these data and saying things like "62% of women have 10 or more pairs of shoes!" is going to be every kind of wrong. It's more like 62% of a horrible hodgepodge of Cosmo readers, trolls, outraged feminists, and people who are "random" visitors but not in the scientific sense.

Now let's see how the men fared.

It's interesting just to look at the parallels between the questions asked.
Women's Version:
Yes, definitely!
Yes, but it is not for me.
No, I don't believe in marriage.

Men's Version:
Yes, I believe it is a necessary institution and one in which I will participate to help preserve.
Yes, I believe in it as an institution, but it is not for me.
No, I do not believe in it.

That's right; the men got bigger words.

33% of the women report being single. 46% of the men do. Polyamory isn't that popular and the survey pretty effectively excludes gay people, so this is yet another reason to roll your eyes any time the results here are trotted out as "40% of men think a woman starts losing her looks at 40!" Not to mention the fact that only three percent of the men report having children. Really, I can't stress enough how things like this make the survey entirely meaningless. I'm not even going to talk about the results--only the questions--because the methods here are as sensible as me doing a headcount in my house and determining that Boston is 100% white, 100% employed, 66% male, and 33% people who replace the toilet paper roll when they finish it.

Although it's worth noting that as with the women, the plurality of men chose the most decent-human answers despite being transparently baited to do otherwise. In the face of "WOULD YOU DUMP A GIRLFRIEND IF SHE BECAME FAT?" and "HAVE YOU EVER READ YOUR PARTNER'S FACEBOOK MESSAGES, EMAIL OR OTHER ELECTRONIC CORRESPONDENCE?", most men in the survey answered "no."

The men are asked how many partners makes a woman a "slut," (10) but not how many makes a man a "man-whore."

Men's Version:
A family.
A high-profile career.
A beautiful wife or girlfriend.
A beautiful house.
A beautiful car.
A membership to an exclusive club (like a country club).

Women's Version:
A beautiful house
A very successful husband or boyfriend
A beautiful wardrobe
A huge engagement ring
An expensive car

I'll spot them the engagement ring and country club as being gendered things, but what the fuck is up with women not getting the option to take pride in their family or their career? And of course the husband is "successful" but the wife is "beautiful." I... shit. I gotta write a whole post on this one.


Men's-only question:
None of the above. They all got what they deserved.
Anthony Weiner.
Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Dominique Strauss-Kahn.
John Edwards.

One of these things is not like the other things, one of these things is not the same... because one of these things is being accused of rape. I'm really frustrated by the way sexual assaults by famous people get positioned as "sex scandals" instead of "crime scandals." Violent felonies don't belong in the same "oh, boys" category as accidentally Tweeting your junk.

Last question on the men's survey:

Last question on the women's:


  1. Pssht, why would women care about world events, when there's SHOES? /eyeroll

    I'm on the fence about Arnold Schwarzenegger. While by all accounts he didn't actually rape her, the amount of power he had over her livelihood implies a lot of coercion. We'll never know the details though - she may have been entirely eager to have an affair with him, or she may have been terrified of losing her job.

  2. I have no idea why 10 or 20 partners would make anyone a slut. I'm 36 years old and I've had about 20 partners, give or take (you lose track after a while). I'd assume that as I age that number could go up. Is it 10 partners a year? 10 partners over a lifetime?

    Anyway, it's not an unreasonable question to ask a woman at what age she wants to share her body and devote most of her time to nurturing progeny. They simply should have asked men the same question - and asked women the Obama question.

  3. Anon - Yeah, there's not much accounting for age here. Although they didn't release the demographic statistics, the number of single people and people with children suggests we're looking at early-twenties, when having 20 partners is a bit less common.

    And I agree; it's not unreasonable to ask women about their plans for a family, but it's funny/horrible that it was counterpointed against a question about Serious Man Business.

  4. I mis-read the status symbol question as saying "a beautiful horse" and then I was very confused.

  5. Hershele OstropolerJuly 29, 2011 at 2:52 PM

    It has been pointed out to me that Congressman Giggle was behaving not just inapproporiately but in a way that compromised women's access to leaders in Washington in a way men's access was not compromised. So not only would I not put Schwarzenegger and Edwards in the same category as DSK, I'm not sure I'd put them in the same category as Weiner either.

  6. Just to be clear, I don't believe in slut-shaming at all...but if I did, it seems stupid to ascribe sluttiness to some arbitrary number of partners.

    First off, as someone said above, is that Magical Slut Number supposed to be the number of partners someone's had in their entire life, or by a certain age, or what?

    Secondly, when people talk about someone being a "slut", they usually seem to be referring to someone who takes sex very casually; someone who sleeps with people zie just met or people zie doesn't love. What does that have to do with numbers, exactly? If you go by an arbitrary "slut number," a twenty-year-old who's only ever fucked two people - but it was simultaneously, on the dance floor of a club, fifteen minutes after they all met - is Not a Slut while a seventy-year-old who got married at 20 as a virgin, divorced at 40, and had a handful or two of serious relationships after that is A Giant Slut.

    Hell, I had a while where my numbers were rackin' up pretty good, and it wasn't at all because I was casual about sex or carving notches in my bedpost; I just kept dating guys who I really liked and thought there might be a future with but then it didn't work out.

  7. Yeah, what IS up with the magical slut number? Aside from the fact that, you know, there isn't actually anything wrong with having a lot of partners, it sort of...lacks context. For example, I am right around the men's answer for when one becomes a slut, but if you divide it by # years having sex, it comes out to less than 2 per year. So, am I a slut, AskMen/Cosmo? Although really, the fact that I even feel the need to ask that question is stupid, because the whole premise is stupid.

    Also, re: Status symbols for women. I was SO MAD "career' wasn't on there. (Yes, I did take the survey, Mostly so I could bitch at them in the comments box at the end.) I mean, I know Cosmos at least tends to go for the sexist, gender essentialist bullshit, but...Seriously? What world do they live in?

    That said, I am pleased that the majority of people mostly gave the least offensive answers, even if the sample isn't really representative of anything other than Cosmo readers.

  8. "and 33% people who replace the toilet paper roll when they finish it."

    Ohh, burn!

    Regarding the differences in the types of questions asked to men vs. women: I am constantly amazed at how women don't lose their shit when they see this.

  9. I know this is already not a shining example of research methods, but I also want to point out how ambiguously worded some of the questions are. "FOR WOMEN, WHICH OF THE FOLLOWING IS THE ULTIMATE STATUS SYMBOL?" could be asking what the respondent thinks other women in general use for status, or it could be what status the respondent herself wants. Those are too totally different things! In the first case, you're going to get a lot of stereotypes, and probably only one or two big answers. If you ask about what each respondent wants, you're going to get everything from having all the regulars at the bar know your name to winning a surfing competition.

  10. I think the key difference between the men's and women's question about marriage isn't the size of the words. Notice that the phrasing of the question implies that marriage is something women WANT to do, but men HAVE to do. "I will support this institution" rather than "I am actually excited about marrying this person."

    In other words, same old shit.

  11. Love this: "the methods here are as sensible as me doing a headcount in my house and determining that Boston is 100% white, 100% employed, 66% male, and 33% people who replace the toilet paper roll when they finish it." Sadly, this is true of many "Official" studies as well!

  12. Today I learned that -1% of women would change their partner's sense of humor, believe women should pay for all dates, and plan to start a family in their mid 40s.

    Meanwhile a whopping -2% of men believe women start losing their looks at 18.

    I so learned there's such a thing as a negative percentage, apparently.

  13. Did you notice? On the "how many partners makes a woman slutty" question, the womens' version says "slut" but the mens' says "sexually promiscuous." (And seriously, ther is no Magical Slut Number. There can't be! Different people are different!)

    Yeah, the questions should have been EXACTLY THE SAME, with non-gender-specific words like "significant other." I'm kind of upset that I didn't get to answer most of the interesting questions the men had. Instead, I was asked stupid shit about shoes.

  14. I am shocked and offended that I don't count as a slut now. I've had casual sex! I've had a one-night-stand! I haven't been fully celibate for more than a week since January! I'm trying to hook up with a girl from Craiglist! WHAT DO YOU PEOPLE WANT.

  15. perversecowgirl - I also note that sluttiness is an irreversible condition. If someone has a ton of casual sex in their twenties, then gets married at 28 and is monogamous and now they're 50... are they still a slut?

  16. Holly: that's the other thing that bugs me! A kind-of friend on OKCupid did a journal post once about the qualities he'd want in a woman. One of these qualities was that her "magic number" be less than ten. His reasoning was that a woman with a higher number surely has issues with self-esteem. And if she needed validation from so many guys that badly, why, how would she ever be able to date a guy long-term and not cheat on him?

    I yelled at him a little bit. I mean, first off, having a bunch of sex doesn't inherently mean that someone's messed up in the head. Secondly, having a bunch of sex because you were messed up in the head doesn't mean you still are.

    I had kind of a slutty period in my early 20s, and most of that sex happened for unhealthy reasons. But I learned from it and became a much more stable person. If I'd forced myself to be all chaste and shit, I would've missed out on some valuable life lessons and possibly never worked through those emotional issues.

    Also, all that random sex made me more content with monogamy later on, not less. "Sowing my wild oats," etc., etc.

  17. Also I'm so sick of people "believing in marriage." I mean it obviously exists. What does that even mean? Is it code for anti- gay marriage? Code for supporting gay marriage? Code for wanting to get married really badly but just not getting the proposal?

  18. Emma: when I was young and militant and told everyone I "didn't believe in marriage," what I actually meant was that I didn't believe two people can be together in the long term and be happy...with a side order of "Marriage is a patriarchal institution and means a guy owns me so fuck that."

    These may not be the things around which a Cosmo girl orients her belief (or lack thereof) in marriage, but it's a definition, so I thought I'd throw it out there.

  19. So this is probably a minor thing in the SEA OF SUCKAGE that is the questionnaire, but...
    "His overzealous sexual appetite" as an answer to "If you could change one thing about your boyfriend/husband, what would it be?"
    Because women who have a higher libido than their male partner don't exist. Would it have killed them to just say "his libido"?

  20. the_ragnarok: But then they'd interpret all the higher-libido women who answered "his libido" as complaining about their partner's high libido. No winning with stereotypes.

  21. @Perverse Cowgirl -

    That makes a lot of sense. I can't picture cosmo editors wanting to know what women think of patriarchal institutions, though.

  22. @ozy - point, point. I suppose adding "his low libido" is too much to ask?

    (um. not that there's anything wrong with being a guy with a low libido. but that kind of thing can cause tension in a relationship, is all.)

  23. I think it's pretty optimistic to assume that they actually counted the survey responses and reported accurately, instead of just throwing them out and making up a bunch of numbers, which is much easier.

    I would also guess the Magic Slut Number is calculated the way most people think of terms like "slut": figure out how many people I would be OK with having slept with, add a bit margin on top of that, and anything more than that = Dire Slut.

  24. mythago - Considering this was done on a computer I would be very surprised if they just made up a bunch of numbers as that would probably take more effort than simply having the computer compile the results, which it could do in seconds.

  25. Ugh, the sexual indiscretion thing rly bugs me too -_- It reminds me of when former Saskatchewan Roughriders' GM, Eric Tillman sexually assaulted his 16 y/o babysitter, and then plead to it (and the judge gave him an absolute discharge cuz he said Tillman seemed like a "generally good person", but that's another issue >_>), on the radio they referred to it as a "sexual indiscretion" as if, he had just had an affair or something. >_<;;

  26. I think that a lot of the survey seemed to skew, as several have already pointed out, toward the target audience. I've read Cosmo on a couple of occasions. My ex was an avid reader, and she encouraged me to read them in order to understand "how women think" and to become more sensitive as a man to "the female perspective" (her words). This is one of many reasons she's now my ex, but I digress.

    Most of the crap that I've read in there seems to be obsessed with superficial, useless garbage, and the remainder seems to be written by someone who thinks they have the "inside track" on how the other gender thinks.

    I went out and purchased a copy of Women's Health for my fiancee a while back, because she had been reading a couple of my issues of Men's Health, liked the layout and approach to the subjects, and thought it would be great to read more along a similar vein directed a little bit more at women. I got her one issue, she got about twenty pages in, threw it across the room, walked over to retrieve it, and went looking for a lighter to give it a proper sendoff.

    I get the misogyny in men's media. I see it, and I know it's a factor for you to have to deal with in the world of feminism. But in the name of all that is holy, how do you not pull your hair out over being constantly betrayed in your endeavours by other women on a regular basis?