What do we know (and believe) about sexuality?

Written by: Andrés Suro

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Time to read 8 min

Do people still believe that virginity is a real thing? While it is true that sexuality may no longer be a taboo subject, there is still some misinformation among the population in general. This is often an obstacle to a person’s full development of their sexuality and well-being. 


The point is, that more and more young people (especially underage) are looking for answers and solutions to their questions on the Internet, but what do they find? Disinformation. It is important to keep in mind that it is normal for young people to seek out different kinds of references based on their needs and concerns at any given time, and it is important to provide them with support and guidance as they work their way through these complex issues. It is also important to remember that it is essential for young people to receive accurate and reliable information about sexuality, regardless of who their referent is, and that it is important to verify the accuracy of the information they receive.



Previous knowledge


This is not new. Before the internet, there were no available references or sources of knowledge about sexuality either. This raises the following questions:


Do we know enough about human sexuality? Are we aware of our sexual biases? Can my upbringing influence the way I handle sexual encounters? 


At MYHIXEL, we decided to carry out a brief questionnaire, in which 38 people from a coworking space participated anonymously and voluntarily. The purpose of the questionnaire was to explore ideas, values and preconceptions about the sexual sphere in order to find out the beliefs of the adult population and, thus, to improve the interventions and sexual education we can offer. 


Here are some of the questions we asked, among others:  

  1. Which religion do you practice if you are a believer? 

  2. Do you think you received adequate sexual information during your childhood and adolescence? 

  3. How many times a week do you think it is healthy to masturbate? 

  4. Are people capable of falling in love with more than one person at a time? 

  5. Is feeling jealousy a sign that you are in love? 


The answers to the questions were analyzed in order to give you a sexological explanation. So, without further ado, let’s analyze the results. 


Form results

Gender differences 


Some results of a survey on gender differences have been examined under critical analysis. The results indicate that there are differences between men’s and women’s responses to certain questions. For example, 21% of men and 42% of women responded that the healthy frequency for masturbation “depends.” 


In addition, a higher proportion of women (46%) believe in the existence of the “better half” compared to men (21%). Finally, women’s greater knowledge of contraceptive methods is observed, as 80% of women mentioned more than four different methods, compared to 64% of men. However, although there are differences between genders, the majority of participants are aware of several options to prevent an unwanted pregnancy.


As we can notice, gender differences may be influenced by cultural and social factors, such as gender stereotypes, social expectations, and the roles assigned to men and women, such as feeling self-pleasure through masturbation. Such factors may affect people’s responses toward answering the survey questions. There may also be individual differences between men and women in terms of personality, attitudes, and opinions. These differences may be influenced by factors such as education, life experience, and personal background.

Young woman masturbating in bed
Are there differences based on religious affiliation?  

We compared the results of questions on concepts such as virginity, the existence of the “better half” and the level of sexual education received during childhood and adolescence compared with the religious beliefs among the participants. Findings showed that there are similar percentages between believers and atheists regarding concepts such as virginity and the existence of the “better half”. However, a greater difference is observed in the item on the degree of sexual education provided during childhood and adolescence, in which  90% of believers believe that they have received adequate education, compared to 70% of atheists. Although there are differences between believers and atheists, similar trends are generally observed.


We found out that for the majority, virginity is lost during vaginal penetration (59% of believers and 60% of atheists), a similar tendency in relation to the existence of a “better half”, where 70% of believers think it does not exist, compared to 62% of atheists. 


According to these data, it is possible to assume that religious values and beliefs may influence people’s attitudes and opinions on issues such as virginity, the existence of the “better half” as well as sexual education received. For example, some types of religious beliefs may have more conservative or liberal approaches to these issues, which could influence participants’ responses. On the other hand, religion may be a significant element in shaping people’s personalities and attitudes. This can be assessed in that people who practice a religion may have a greater awareness of the values and principles of their religion, which could affect their perspective on issues such as virginity and the existence of the “better half”.



Age difference 


We classified age according to generations in two blocks: generations X and Y (over 30 years of age) and generation Z (under 30 years of age)

These generational cuts are subjective, since variables such as educational, social and cultural context have a strong influence on such categorization. However, dividing both age groups facilitates the analysis of results. 


Regarding the consumption of porn, 43% of the youngest group believed it was positive to watch porn, compared to 12% of the oldest group.  


On the other hand, we see a trend towards a decrease in masturbation in the younger group, as only 14% considered it necessary to stimulate themselves more than four times a week, while 37% of the older group chose this option as the most preferable.

Happy and in love old couple smiling in bed

It can be inferred that there is a significant difference between the attitude of generations X and Y (over 30) and generation Z (under 30) towards pornography consumption and masturbation. In general, it appears that generation Z has a more positive attitude towards pornography consumption, while generation X and Y have a more positive attitude towards masturbation.


The generational gap may be an important factor underlying this data. The generation a person belongs to can have an impact on their attitudes and behaviors, as each generation tends to have unique experiences and be influenced by cultural and social factors specific to their time. 

For, Generation Z (under 30) may have grown up with broader access to technology and the Internet, which may have contributed to their more positive attitude toward pornography consumption. On the other hand, Generation X and Y (over 30) may have a more positive attitude towards masturbation due to factors such as the influence of popular culture or the sexual liberation of the 1960s.



What do people think about…?


Looking at the specific answers, a number of statements and beliefs have particularly caught our attention. Here are the most interesting ones according to category: 



Virginity 


When asked about how virginity is lost, we found answers in which we highlighted concepts such as “old-fashioned”, “penetration” or “social construct”: 

  • “Well, I’ve always heard it associated with penetration, maybe because I’m a woman, but maybe not necessarily…. I’m not sure, really.”

  • “I believe that the notion of virginity is an outdated and binary concept, impossible to translate to all dimensions of sexuality.”

  • “(One loses the virginity) in your first consensual sexual contact with another person, virginity is a social construct.”


Couples 


When asked about the ideal number of life couples, some people tend to argue that it’s not the number that’s important, but rather about what they bring to the table as well as the experiences you have with them:

  • “I don’t think there’s a standard for this. As long as it’s something that makes you happy, and no harm is done to anyone.”

  • “As many as one wants, as long as they are healthy experiences or people for oneself on a physical and mental level.”

  • “As many as you can have healthy, safe and consensual relationships with.”

  • “I couldn’t put a number, I don’t think there is a “good” amount, if not “healthy” according to each one is respecting their desire and not “going after a number” (be it too much or too little).”


Jealousy 


Certain answers to whether jealousy is a good thing hint that there is no real consensus:

  • “It may be an indication that you care about that person and/or don’t want them to hurt you, but no strings can be attached based on your own fears.”

  • “Obsession and possession.”

  • “If they are not fixated, they are good.”


Porn 


Finally, porn consumption and its impact also leave no clear answer, although most perceive it as something negative:

  • “It depends on the porn, age, level of maturity, whether it’s addictive, and so on.”

  • Mainstream porn is very negative. I guess there can be real porn, independent, real bodies and without fantasizing about rape, pederasty, abuse, racism, among family. Porn that doesn’t have a penis as the axis of pleasure and is made for men, at the cost of sexual exploitation of women, etc.”

  • Macho porn is negative because it doesn’t represent reality and confuses teenagers”.


Discussion


Overall, there were no major differences in terms of gender, religiosity or age. However, certain results should be highlighted in specific items. It is clear that women continue to bear more responsibility for contraception than men

On the other hand, women seem to value other variables and health-related issues beyond masturbation per se. This is evidenced by the large percentage of women who responded “it depends” to the item about healthy masturbation habits, compared to men.

Young woman masturbating while watching porn

Regarding ideological beliefs, we can determine that being a believer or not does not really influence popular ideas or beliefs about sexual or affective relationships. This may be because the focus should be on the context in which the user has grown up, rather than on personal beliefs. 


Overall, the generational differences are minimal compared to the other categories, with the most notable being the apparent trend towards the normalization of pornography consumption among the younger group. This may be mainly due to the greater accessibility of pornographic material on the Internet and the age at which consumption begins, which generates a perception of naturalization of porn as one more habit of sexual behavior.


Conclusion


There is still a long way to go to free ourselves from false beliefs, myths and other stereotypes surrounding sexuality. Having reliable reference sources and information is essential, that is why more and more attention should be paid to the relevance of comprehensive sexual education, which includes professionals from the health, social and educational worlds. 


From MYHIXEL, we want to raise awareness about the importance of relearning and continuing to advance in knowledge about the importance of relearning and continuing to advance in knowledge about sexology.

Andrés Suro

Author: Andrés Suro  (Sexual Coach at MYHIXEL)


Psychologist specialized in the social area and expert in sexology applied to education.

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