Monday, August 16, 2010

Defining Slut.

The other day I was perusing the internet and ran across a post at Hooking Up Smart called, The Essential Truth of Female Promiscuity. In the post Susan Walsh quotes a study linking promiscuity with marital instability. The article she links to is actually another article quoting the study in question. After a bit of hunting around I was able to locate the actual study. The study itself called, The Harmful Effects of Early Sexual Activity and Multiple Sexual Partners Among Women by R Rector et al, 2003, and it's a real eye opener. I'm surprised more mention of it has not been made amongst the right/conserve-o-sphere. The study is based on a survey of 10,000 women done in 1995 by the Center for Diseases Control.

Men have generally viewed female promiscuity in a negative light. Admittedly whilst some men don't care, the majority view a woman's promiscuity negatively in proportion to her partner count. It's fascinating if one "Googles" the subject, just how many men--both Conservative and Liberal--can't "get over " a woman's partner count. Liberal men indoctrinated in "Girrl power" seem to be perplexed as to why these negative emotions are aroused in them despite their own beliefs.

The Evo-bio crowd will probably argue that the aversion has been developed by evolution as a mechanism to avoid cuckoldry, unfaithfulness etc. I've always had the intuition that promiscuity seemed to injure "Love" in some way, furthermore the type of men a woman slept with revealed in many ways the type of woman she is. The woman who chose patently bad suitors was a woman lacking in good judgment and refinement; the essential qualities of femininity. Lacking femininity, a woman is a turn-off.

Slut, of course, is the term applied to a promiscuous women and debates rage as to what number of partners earns the title. I think this is the wrong way of looking at the problem. The real danger of a promiscuous woman is that she will be unfaithful, so the definition should be really centered around that concept. i.e How many sexual partners does a woman need to have before she becomes high risk marriage material? The study quoted above asked the question.























Now, Stable Marriage was defined as being currently married for greater than 5 years. It's a pretty non-demanding definition of stable. Now I thought that I was quite a cynical and judgmental bastard but I never expected these figures.

The virgin bride has an 80+ percent chance of having a stable marriage. Once a woman has had more than one non-marital sexual partner the probability of her having a stable marriage drops to 54%, that's almost a 50-50 chance of divorce. The statistical threshold is crossed--in other words, your betting on failure--once a woman has had two non-marital partners. Given that the aim of the game is to avoid divorce, from a marital stability point of view, a woman becomes a slut once she has had more than two non-marital partners. It's not my opinion, it's probability.

Any man, entering marriage, has a responsibility to his children to try to attempt to ensure the woman he marries is stable marriage material. The fact is that once a woman has had two or more extra-marital partners she become statistically a bad potential mother.

Given that the average female partner count has now crept up to four, we are facing a social apocalypse.

41 comments:

Anonymous said...

Excellent post, SP. The study is disturbing, to say the least. It reinforces my conviction that I will NEVER EVER marry a non-virgin. I realize that nowadays I may never find a non-virgin, but, in my view, it's better to have never married at all than to be divorced.

Robert said...

Although I never doubted women were hypergamous, I wonder why divorce statistics aren't higher?

This study also demonstrates female unfaithfulness causes most divorces.

And, I would also guess, that buried in the numbers is proof that more women than men cheat.

Whew. Go into marriage with your eyes open. Of course if you do, you probably won't get married.

Alkibiades said...

It would be interesting to look at the same statistic for men who had multiple pre-marital partners.

The Social Pathologist said...

@Anon:

A lot of women aren't really worth the commitment, yet some are. You've gotta keep hope up because the love of a good woman is truly a great thing to have.

@Robert.
In my experience, female promiscuity is a complex thing. A lot of women who are promiscuous are quite psychologically unstable and perhaps the rate of divorce is more a reflection of their inability to keep promises rather than a desire to ride the carousel.

Still, you've got to keep your eyes open when entering a relationship. Heart and head must work as one.

@Alkibiades
I agree, if I can find them I'll post them up. Personally, I imagine that there would be a broadly similar correlation.

Susan Walsh said...

SP, thanks very much for the link, I'm happy to make your acquaintance. I confess I am surprised by how the numbers dive with one pre-marital partner. I wonder what the graph looks like with each additional partner.

The Social Pathologist said...

Thanks Susan.

Yeah, I must admit, whilst I thought promiscuity was negatively correlated with marital stability. I did not think that the effect kicked in so early.

The fact that the effect is so significant and kicks in so early means that there is something "different" about promiscuous which renders them incapable of stable relationships.

Anonymous said...

I don't know.

This is a single study. Even if there is a legitimate causation/correlation nexus, I doubt it took care of all the confouding variables. For instance, does it matter if a woman has 3 partners at 30 as opposed to 3 partners at 18? What about cross-cultural surveys?
I'll look more into this study tomorrow. I suspect I'll find it is not without its critiques. And really SP, I thought you were smarter than to make too much of a single study anyway.

Right now I think promiscuity does indeed affect marital happiness, but when the effect is claimed to be so dramatic I think its only good science to question it and investigate farther.

I have a personal stake in this as I'm currently with a young Swedish lady. She just turned 22 and I'm only her second sexual partner and the first in *MANY* ways. I'd hate to think she's already RUINED FOR LIFE , or what is worse that being with me - a guy who really IS interested in a LTR with her and possible marriage - will ruin her for a future husband.
Then there's the fact that when the numbers are THAT low, it starts to set an unrealistic standard esp. if the young lady has no religious reason to hold out totally for years and years and years. :(

Clarence

The Social Pathologist said...

@Clarance:

The study involved over ten thousand people and was run by CDC, it's a pretty respected medical institution.
It's a pretty significant study.

As I said in previous comments, I'm quite surprised at the findings as well as I thought the effect kicked in much later.

What the study does show is that even amongst the promiscuous there is a 20% stable marriage rate. It's not all about the odds.

kidstrangelove said...

very interesting study. I am very intrigued by 2 points in this:


1. The graph is so damn smooth, correlation is very much there.



2. This study, while published in 2003, was done by the CDC in 1995. I would like to see the same study done today. Sure, it's been 15 years, but in this 15 years the so called "hookup culture" went on an upswing and more partners for women became very much acceptable (while, on the flip side, I can imagine a generation scared by the AIDS hysteria of the 80s, and rightfully so I might add). I would very much like to see the results today

Anonymous said...

SP:

I'm looking at the study as I type but already alarm bells are going off.
It is published by the Heritage Foundation, which is not exactly a neutral institution of research. It is based on the National Survey of Family Growth, which is indeed put out by the CDC, however, I must add, it is not conducted for answering the kinds of questions this paper purports to solve. Just looking at the Technical notes in the back gives me reason for concern about the methodology. For instance, they are claiming "stable marriages" as five years when the average time for marriages that end in divorce is 7.

In any case, I'm going to try to find a copy of the CDC study and check their technical notes as well as google this Heritage Foundation paper. I really don't think when I've done all that its results are going to survive careful scrutiny - I think it claims too much with incomplete data- but this is only my initial first impression from looking at it.

Clarence

Thursday said...

The ability to separate love and sex in women made them more likely to cheat. But the same ability in mane did not make them more likely to cheat, probably because almost all men can separate love and sex.

Thursday said...

Study for the above here.

In general, what predicts cheating in a relationship, for both men and women, in no particular order:

1. impulsiveness
2. number of past partners
3. satisfaction with relationship
4. options

**** ***** said...

objectively speaking "it's better to have never married at all than to be divorced"...is deadly accurate and true.

David said...

From the study: "This chart covers sexually active women over the age of 30. Women were defined as having a
stable marriage if they were currently married and had been in that same marriage for at least five
years."

That is, the chart doesn't only cover *married* women...if a woman is, say, 31, and has never been married, she is counted as "not in a stable marriage" the same as a woman who is divorced. So in principle, the effect being measured could actually be later marriages (or no marriages) rather than broken marriages.

Thursday said...

Upon reflection the analysis of the original study referred to is poorly done.

Thursday said...

Upon reflection the analysis of the original study referred to is poorly done.

Talleyrand said...

The Social Pathologist said...

"I agree, if I can find them I'll post them up. Personally, I imagine that there would be a broadly similar correlation."

This in regards to a correlation between premartial sex partners and a successful marriage with men.

I would hazard a guess that its not going to be as strong a correlation, or even may correlate in the opposite direction.

Why? Because any man with a large number of partners is going to be choosier about a mate (if he gets married at all) and he has options. Its the guy without options that's had little or no sex that marries the woman with a high notch count.

Thursday said...

Tallyrand:

You're dead wrong. Again.

Sociosexual orientation is also one of the strongest traits people assort by when mating: promiscuous men are much more likely to marry promiscuous women. See here.

dalerojo said...

I would bet that the height of that first bar would be much closer to those of the others if you subtracted out women from rural religious communities. In fact, if the study were limited to urban women, I'd bet that the slope of the graph, while still negative, would be much closer to horizontal.

Two huge confounding variables that should make this study produce a resounding chorus of "well, duuuhh":
1) Women from religious communities are usually virgins, or close. They also aren't known for leaving marriages much, even in those few cases where they actually should;
2) Rural women have fewer partners, and are also less likely to divorce because there's a greater stigma (and no cougar scene) out in the sticks.
Take these out and I guarantee that the statistics won't be nearly so highly discrepant. In fact, the researcher has an ethical duty to take these out, since women from religious communities aren't available to random guys who might predicate their decisions on these studies (and rural women de facto aren't, either, if the guys live in places where a livelihood can actually be made).

--

Talleyrand, get off the internet and get out more. By far the most reliable indicator that a guy is NOT a successful player is his insistence on the importance of virginity.
In fact, there's hardly a decent player on God's green earth who would tolerate a sexless relationship long enough to marry a virgin. Or who would risk sexual incompatibility/frustration by marrying a chick who might just not work with him sexually -- if there's one thing that real players are both picky and impatient about, it's sex.
Seriously my brother

The Social Pathologist said...

@ David, I don't think the study is flawed but perhaps my interpretation may be.

Not stable marriage does not equal divorce.

Not stable marriage equals eligible, divorced and co-habiting minus (married less than five years). The point is that those over 30 are NOT in a stable relationship. Still its quite interesting that an ability to achieve a stable marriage seems inversely correlated with the number of sexual partners.


if a woman is, say, 31, and has never been married, she is counted as "not in a stable marriage" the same as a woman who is divorced. So in principle, the effect being measured could actually be later marriages

The study covered women between 15-45, so if a woman got married at 40 she would still be counted, the only ones missed would be women over the age of 45, that "marriageable" group would be pretty small.

What your left with is married over 45(small) and never married unmarried over 45 (approx 3-5% of females based on 2005 census data, rough calculation, basically 95% of women have been married at some stage in their lives by 45 years of age) at most its probably about a 10% error. They're better than ball park figures.

The other pertinent point is that in 1995(the year the data was obtained) the mean marriage age was bout 25 years old.

Another study (done by a non conservative) is this one. He went proved that co-habiting with your partner prior to marriage did not increase the risk of divorce provided it was your only partner. Once a woman had one partner only her risk of divorce increased by 59%. If she had co-habited with another man her risk of divorce went up 160%. He did not do a breakdown on the number of partners but other studies on the net have indicated the more partners the higher the risk of divorce.

Thursday is right, study's also show that like tends to mate with like, the players end up with the sluts.

The Social Pathologist said...

Sorry the link is here.

Susan Walsh said...

The virgin bride has an 80+ percent chance of having a stable marriage. Once a woman has had more than one non-marital sexual partner the probability of her having a stable marriage drops to 54%, that's almost a 50-50 chance of divorce.
I'm wondering about correlation vs. causation here. For example, this must be very age dependent. Is a young virgin a better bet than a virgin who is 28? There's also a geography question - are certain locales more likely to produce marriages with a female virgin, and does the divorce rate differ in those locales? What are the local cultural norms? What about the men? In which of these successful marriages were both partners virgins at marriage? Also, the divorce rate varies enormously according to socioeconomic status - white college educated couples have a 17% divorce rate. How are virgins distributed racially, and according to highest level of education achieved?
This particular result - one and you're done - strikes me as unusually harsh, and it's counterintuitive at least for me. I buy into the idea that promiscuity can hamper a woman's ability to bond and remain sexually faithful, but I do think that one premarital partner sets the bar exceedingly high.

The Social Pathologist said...

@Susan

For example, this must be very age dependent. Is a young virgin a better bet than a virgin who is 28?

Depends by how you define young. See the next post. The table on marital stability should provide the answer.

What about men
I don't have the figures for men, but I suspect that the "poor' bonding effect kicks in slightly later than in women, but a promiscuous man is going to also have difficulty bonding.

Also, the divorce rate varies enormously according to socioeconomic status - white college educated couples have a 17% divorce rate.

The difficulty with any statistical generalisation is applying it to a particular group which is at variance to the norm. Of course highly affluent people and going to have less stresses on their marriage than poor people, religious people are going to have more "psychic" urge to stay and so on but these are confounding variables. Like yourself I was quite skeptical of the one strike and your out definition but upon looking further into the topic I'm really beginning to feel uneasy about the subject and its implications.

Teachman's article which is linked to above, based on a study of about 6500 women showed that a woman was exposed, to a 53% increase in risk of divorce by having one partner only. If she cohabited with that partner prior to her current one, the risk rose to 166%. (The study is much more statistically rigorous than the Heritage one)

I'm getting the feeling that any sexual contact with other people beside from a spouse is liable to impair marital stability. The studies are very surprising(given the interest in sex)limited. But the few that have been done seem to suggest it. The most damage being done if the sexual experience is in the late formative years of adolescence.

The societal implications of this in the context of the hookup culture are truly horrifying.

R. Stanton Scott said...

"This study also demonstrates female unfaithfulness causes most divorces."

This study says absolutely nothing of the sort.

And though the CDC compiled the data, it did not prepare the study--the Heritage Foundation took CDC data and massaged it to arrive at a preferred conclusion.

There is nothing at all "significant" about the Heritage Foundation report.

Anonymous said...

Not only female infidelity causes divorce, but it also a major cause of domestic violence against women as well as rape and kidnapping (by a lover). Let's face it, the majority of people believe that women are wired to have many different partners than men. Why? 1) Women are more sexual and have higher sex drives than men. 2) There's actually more men than women in the world. 3) They can have easy access to sex, whereas a man can't. 4) They're not as logical, practical, intelligent, and rational as men and they can't control their desires and impulses as well as men do. In other words, women are more like children compared to men. 5) They're more prone to sex and/or pornography addiction than men. Yup, women look at porn (especially a fully naked hunk's crotch) and can easily be absorbed into it. It's like drug and alcohol addiction. (Women's bodies are not only weaker than men's but their minds as well.)

It's bad enough men in our society won't settle down with women who've dated more people of the opposite sex (without sleeping around) than they had (or equal), because they think of her as a slut, whore, tramp, nympho, etc. If I told a boyfriend that I dated more people of the opposite sex in the past (while he didn't date much) or if I cheated on him, he'd be verbally and/or physically abusive. Similar to my family, especially my dad and brother, they'd disown me and think I'm a slut, etc.

ShaunPhilly said...

I would never marry a virgin. Perhaps teh reason virgin brides stick around are those religious reasons, but I'd bet their sex lives are not that great. They simply have nothing to compare it to. maybe having had other lovers lets them know what they are missing.

That said, I think saving oneself for marriage is actually a bad thing.

http://shaunphilly.wordpress.com/2010/11/08/saving-yourself-for-marriage/

Ginny said...

Um, that's a really bad interpretation of the data there. If the study made no distinction between never-married women, late-married women, and divorced women, there's no basis at all for concluding that a sexually experienced woman is less likely to be able to maintain a stable marriage. She might just be more picky about entering a marriage to begin with -- as is likely, since she can get her sexual needs met outside of a binding lifelong commitment.

The high correlation between virgins-before-marriage and married-people is only to be expected: people from conservative backgrounds are more likely to favor both pre-marital celibacy and early marriage. But until the study points an explicit correlation between divorce and sexual experience, and gives a longer timeframe for the definition of "stable marriage" (how many marriages fail within the first five years? very few, I'm guessing), the conclusion that sexually experienced women are a "bad risk" for marriage is irresponsible and insulting.

Anonymous said...

Excellent post, I had come to this conclusion before reading that though. It doesn't take much to reach it, take a look at the 50s vs today. Most women had one, two at the most, partners in their entire lifetime, and you still see old couples completely in love. I've yet to find a young couple that appears the same.

http://dontmarry.files.wordpress.com/2008/08/the_manipulated_man.pdf

You might want to read this, as well. I recommend ALL men read this book, if only to save yourselves.

Anonymous said...

What utter bullshit. I guess this is where are the Tea Partiers go to congratulate themselves on how wonderful they are. Misogyny much?

The Social Pathologist said...

@Anon @1:32

Your comment has been noted. Have a nice day!

Anonymous said...

I stumbled upon this article while doing research for a paper about literary representations of "the slut archetype". I have to say I am truly shocked at how overtly misogynistic many of the comments are.

The idea that a woman can be "ruined" by engaging in sex with multiple partners as well as the assertion by the author that promiscuous women are often psychologically unstable is incredibly problematic and reductive of female sexuality.

Why is it that women are allowed to be sexual objects but should divorce themselves entirely from any sexual desire? And why are women still unable to actively seek sexual gratification without being vilified as a "slut" or "promiscuous"?

It seems to me that this sort of treatment of female sexuality has more to do about male's fear of personal inadequacy. As a young woman this post saddens me.

Anonymous said...

This is an interesting post. I married a woman with a very active past. I would estimate, based upon her admissions, that she had 25 partners before the ago of 22.

She was never able to bond with me. She loved me but had a deep unhappiness. Frequently she would talk about the satisfaction she thought she would get by pleasing other men.

This was very sad. I doubt she will ever be happy.

The Social Pathologist said...

Frequently she would talk about the satisfaction she thought she would get by pleasing other men.

Many women find being desired by other men powerfully self-assuring. Indeed the power of the self assurance is almost in proportion to the status of the man. This is why Roissy's "five minutes of alpha" is so important. The pleasure she gets in pleasing other men is both a reflection of her natural desire to please and her desire of approval.

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Anonymous said...

My problem with these observations is that they do not appear to take into account the role that male promiscuity might also have on divorce rates. It also does not take into account social and religious mores that might affect divorce rates.
For example, a girl who is a virgin at marriage is more likely to be religious and as such, is less likely to find divorce an appropriate option even if she might be unhappy with her marriage.
As you said: the fact that the survey defines a successful marriage as a marriage that lasts over 5 years is a very simplified and potentially inaccurate definition.

Here are a few facts (checked these from multiple sources):

Percent of men who admit to committing infidelity in any relationship they’ve had 57 %
Percentage of women who admit to committing infidelity in any relationship they’ve had 54 %
Percent of married men who have strayed at least once during their married lives 22 %
Percent of married women who have strayed at least once during their married lives 14 %
Percentage of men who say they would have an affair if they knew they would never get caught 74 %
Percentage of women who say they would have an affair if they knew they would never get caught 68 %

Anonymous said...

I am also appalled at the number of people here claiming that women have higher sex drives and are more impulsive than men and therefore more inclined to be promiscuous.

Anyone who has read any professional research would be aware that socially and developmentally, men are more inclined to impulsive and irrational actions as well as subject to a higher sex drive.

Women are actually biologically wired to be MORE faithful than men, as the biological purpose of reproduction is to conceive a child. That child needs a stable provider besides the mother: the father. A promiscuous woman would in theory conceive a child that she couldn't care for herself if she didn't stick monogamously to one male partner. The biological impulse of a man is to father as many children as he can and since a woman he impregnates is out of commission to bear another child for almost a year, a monogamous man wouldn't father many children.

It doesn't seem that many people reading this are very aware of the biological and social facts about human sexuality. Educate yourselves please!

http://www.soc.ucsb.edu/sexinfo/

Anonymous said...

You do know that the original study is by the Heritage Foundation? the super religious/conservative one... just an FYI

The Social Pathologist said...

And you do know that the original data was from the National Survey For Family Growth. You know, that secular study of American sexual and health habits?

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