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Attitudes toward Sex Are Changing

A new survey of college students finds that attitudes toward gender and promiscuity are changing. Christie Nicholson reports

Attitudes about promiscuity are changing, among college students anyway. Men and women are now judged more equally when it comes to sexual behavior.

 

More than 19,000 U.S. undergraduates were surveyed. The students had to respond to statements like “If women hook up or have sex with lots of people I respect them less.” And the researchers found that nearly half of the participants judged men and women by the same standards, and claimed to lose respect for either promiscuous men or women.

 

Only 12 percent held the traditional double standard where they’d look down on promiscuous women but not men. And 13 percent said they’d lose respect for men and not women. The research was presented at the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association.

 

The trend seems to be driven by women. Fifty-four percent of the women subjects judged genders equally, but only 35 percent of males did.

 

Religion and geography still play influential roles in sexual attitudes. For example, Buddhist and Jewish students were less likely than Catholics to judge promiscuity. And west coast students were more forgiving than either Midwestern or east coast students. Maybe it’s the influence of the Beach Boys—or maybe it’s Katy Perry.

 

—Christie Nicholson

 

[The above text is a transcript of this podcast.]

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