We Asked You About Sex, Here’s What You Had to Say
Kinks, consent, communication, and 'good' sex.
Illustration by Ashley Goodall
This article is supported by Durex who want you to enjoy sex safely.
There’s lots of reporting out there stating that young people are having less sex than Boomers and Gen X. To help get to the bottom of our generation’s sexual behaviour and knowledge, we teamed up with Durex to launch the 2018 Millennial Sex Survey to suss out how young Australians are having sex and how much we know about it. Barry White played softly in the background as we asked you to slip into something more comfortable and answer a bunch of questions around your sexual behaviour and experience, covering off topics including sexual health, porn, pleasure, communication, and consent.
We received 1,962 responses from VICE readers. Here are some of the juicy bits.
How much sex are we having?
According to our survey findings we’re actually having plenty of sex (even though we’d like to have it more often still).
Over 30 percent of us have sex a couple of times per week, and nearly a quarter of us have more than that. Gender, sexual orientation, and age don’t seem to affect how much sex a person has. What does have an impact is relationship status: people in relationships have more sex than their single and casually-dating counterparts.
A millennial’s desire for sex isn’t impacted by their sexuality or gender either. No matter who we are, we all want about the same amount of sex per week. 42 percent of respondents would ideally like to have sex 3-4 times per week, and over 30 percent would have it every day if they could. And with the stats only varying about 1-2 percent between men and women, this puts to bed any gendered myths.
Sweet, sweet fantasy
While dirty talk is up there at 57 percent, S&M, bondage, domination, and power play are our most popular kinks and fantasies, with 59 percent of us getting our kicks this way. This reflects an overarching cultural shift of these forms of kinks and fantasies making their way from the fringes of society into the mainstream (hello Fifty Shades of Grey) as well as an increased movement towards sex positivity.
While it’s generally accepted that more women are watching more porn than ever before, most research suggests that there’s still a gap in the way men and women use and accept porn. The results from the 2018 Millennial Sex Study are no different: men watch the most porn, with almost 70 percent viewing it weekly (36 percent of men watch it more than three times per week, while 32 percent watch it once or twice a week). By contrast, only 23 percent of women watch porn on a weekly basis, while the largest proportion (30 percent) watch it every few months.
While this gap may have little or no impact on some couples, research published in the Archives of Sexual Behaviour suggests that it may harm a couple’s communication and sexual desire, which could negatively influence the stability of the relationship.
The solution is simple: talk about it. According to the article ‘The Porn Gap: Gender Differences in Pornography Use in Couple Relationships’, when porn is seen as part of a relationship, rather than as a solo activity, a couple might be better equipped at dealing with the role porn has in the relationship. Discussing what porn means to each partner and how it impacts feelings of attachment and trust, as well as establishing mutually agreed-upon boundaries, are all important.
Arguably, the biggest topic of conversation around sex in 2018 is consent: the affirmative agreement between people who engage in sexual activity. Consent is something that should happen every time—and the only person responsible for non-consensual sex is the perpetrator/s of it. Participants in the 2018 Millennial Sex Survey generally rated their knowledge about consent as high, no matter their sexual orientation. Despite this, 51 percent of female respondents and 27 percent of male respondents said they had been coerced or forced into sex at some point in their lives. With a year coloured so far by the #MeToo and Time’s Up movement, along with high-profile cases of sexual assault at both a global and local level, conversations around what is acceptable sexual behaviour are opening up even more. That can only be a positive thing.
Very few people learned anything at all about pleasure in sex ed at school, which is pretty ridiculous considering that for most people, pleasure is the main reason why they have sex. Fortunately, despite this huge oversight in education, millennials still have some idea about what makes them tick.
Having an orgasm was ranked as the most important marker of ‘having a good time’ during sex, with other factors such as hygiene and mood also deemed necessary. When broken down by gender, the vast majority of men were all about the orgasm, while 88 percent of women thought that chemistry and communication were also key to having a good time.
So if an orgasm is so important, what’s the best way to get one? For both men and women, masturbation is the most fail-safe way, with 67 percent of total respondents always achieving orgasms this way (74 percent of men and 63 percent of women). Additionally, men are significantly more likely to always orgasm from penetrative, anal, and oral sex when compared to women. For example, while 42 percent of men reported that they always come with penetration, only 9 percent of women reported the same.
Contraception and STIs
Condoms and the contraceptive pill are the preferred methods of contraception, with 57 percent of us going for the former and 38 percent of us going for the latter.
As the only contraceptive that reduces your risk of getting an STI, condom use should always be encouraged. Most millennials seem to get this, with over 55 percent surveyed listing ‘concern about getting an STI’ as their main reason for using condoms.
In the survey, over 75 percent of participants either always or sometimes used condoms (with singles being the most likely to use them), while just under a quarter said they never did.
Let’s talk sexually transmitted infections. STIs are a major public health issue, and are most common amongst millennials. More than a quarter of survey respondents had been diagnosed with an STI, with nearly 12 percent having had chlamydia, the most common treatable STI among young people. While most respondents had been tested for an STI at least some point in there lives, a significant 28 percent never had been.
Getting tested is important because STIs can have serious health impacts, including pregnancy complications, infertility, and chronic pain. While many STIs make themselves known with pain, discharges, or sores, others can be symptom free, which means that testing is the only way to find out you have it. Moral of the story? STIs are out there, use condoms, get tested.
If this article raised any issues for you, know that help is out there. Talk to your general practitioner, call Lifeline Australia on 13 11 14, or dial emergency services in case of emergency.
The stats referenced in this article refer to findings from the 2018 Millennial Sex Survey, presented by Durex and VICE. You can see a range of Durex's products here. Always read the label, use only as directed.