Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Why do liberal women want more sex than they're having?

OK, I’ve been at it again, meaning that I’ve been exploring associations between various measures in the New Family Structures Study (the NFSS). ...

At the risk of sounding blunt, crass, and insensitive, the NFSS data clearly reveal that—for whatever reason—more politically liberal 18-39-year-old women report wanting more sex than they’ve been having. (No such association appears among men. ...) ...

Here are the simple numbers: 16% of “very conservative” women say they’d prefer more, compared with 29% of conservative women, 31% of moderates, 47% of liberals, and 50% of “very liberal” women. ...

...women of all political stripes report statistically-comparable frequency of sex.

In regression models, the measure of political liberalism remains significantly associated with the odds of wanting more sex even after controlling for the frequency of actual intercourse over the past two weeks, their age, marital status, education level, whether they’ve masturbated recently, their anxiety level, sexual orientation, race/ethnicity, depressive symptoms, and porn use. ...

I floated this to a female friend, an economist, who offered this four-part theory:

1. More liberal women are less likely to be religious. (In the NFSS and other datasets, she’s correct in this). 
2. Given that, more liberal women are therefore more likely to have a difficult time attributing transcendent value to aspects of life such as their work, relationships, children, and daily tasks. Some scholars speak of this as “sanctifying daily life.” In other words, liberal women are less apt to conceive of mundane, material life as imbued with or reflecting the sacred. 
3. Nevertheless, most people experience sexual expression as–in some significant way–transcendent, or higher-than-other-experiences. 
4. More liberal women therefore want to have more sex because they feel the lack of sufficient transcendence in life. If sex is one of the few pathways to it, then it’s sensible to desire more of it.
Basically, liberal women substitute sex for religion. ...

So I added religious service attendance to the regression model described earlier, predicting wanting more sex, and—wouldn’t you know it—political liberalism finally went silent as a predictor. Barely.

Other theories are welcome…
--Mark Regnerus, Patheos, on the demand for transcendence. HT: Tim Dalrymple