Why Aren't Harvard Kids Having Sex?

A survey showed that a whopping 24 percent of Harvard seniors didn't have sex in school, and not many even watch porn regularly. Why the low libidos, guys?

by Allie Conti
28 May 2015, 7:46pm

Via Flickr user Rachel

Today the Harvard Crimson published the results of an annual, wide-ranging survey it administers to the school's outgoing seniors. One big takeaway: That image we have of college as a teen-movie-esque sexual free-for-all doesn't reflect the truth, at least not in Cambridge—a whopping 24 percent of seniors said they had never had intercourse while at Harvard.

That's a lot of college kids not having sex, but the number doesn't appear to be an aberration. According to that same survey, only 45 percent of male students watched porn multiple times per week, and 56 of female students didn't watch porn at all. This is a multi-year trend: Last year, 21 percent of respondents to the Crimson survey said they were virgins. In 2013, a whopping 27 percent said they had never had sex. Put simply, Harvard students don't seem too interested in fucking—as one student put it in a 2010 Crimson op-ed, the school is a "barren wasteland of sexual destitution."

Is Harvard more destitute than other schools? That depends on which numbers you look at. Between the years 1990 and 2013, researchers quizzed 7,000 different students in a sociology of human sexuality class at a big Midwestern university. What they found—and published in the Journal of Sex Research this past February—is that only about 15 percent of them were virgins, a number that included underclassmen. But a Stanford sociologist told USA Today in 2011 that 24 percent of seniors from multiple colleges were still virgins. Statistics aside, college students remained obsessed with sex and the idea that it's there for the taking at campuses across America. For instance, during orientation at the University of Florida, wide-eyed 17-year-olds and their parents are often told that that every time a virgin graduates, a brick falls from off a tower on campus—and, of course, no bricks have ever fallen.

You know what else college kids don't like? The band Jawbreaker, apparently.

One common theory behind the trend of chastity at Harvard and elsewhere is that college kids, like everyone else these days, are stressed out and overworked. In 1996, anxiety became the number one reason college students visited mental health services, surpassing even relationship problems, according to to the book The Overachievers: The Secret Lives of Driven Kids. And students at what's often considered the nation's most elite university are certainly very driven, which means they're probably more focused on keeping their heads above water academically than anything going on below their waists.

But there isn't exactly a one-to-one correlation between ambition and frigidity; schools just as rigorous as Harvard have very different reputations. For instance, the annual Sex Power God bacchanal that Brown students throw every years was enough to draw the scorn of Bill O'Reilly in a 2007 segment. Jesse Watters, an attendee and guest on the show, described women falling down drunk in nothing but their underwear. "I went down to the bathroom into a stall and heard people having sex in the stall next to me," he told O'Reilly. "I did observe people having sex behind where the DJ was playing. There was guys kissing guys. Girls making out with girls. It was the wildest party I've ever been to."

Presumably, not every school can host crazy blowouts featuring such gasp-worthy open displays of homosexual affection, but if college kids want to have more sex, maybe they should take some tips from libido-focused publications like Cosmo: get more exercise, eat sexy foods like salmon and walnuts, and for fuck's sake, watch some porn.

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