What do you know about sex? Surely there aren't many of you who would answer "nothing." Even if you're the most inexperienced or inept lover of all time (which we've been assured you are), you at least have some preconceived notions about sex based on the stories and anecdotes and stand-up comedy you've heard over the years.
But here's the thing -- even with all of that going for you, the real and correct answer is still probably "nothing." For instance, you probably think ...
#5. Pregnancy Happens Immediately, or Not at All
Have you ever watched an episode of The Maury Povich Show that involved paternity tests? Rhetorical question, they're all about paternity tests. Anyway, at some point you probably heard this:
"Well, Maury, I know it was Ray Bob because I remember exactly six weeks earlier to the day from when my doctor said I was six weeks pregnant, Ray Bob and I didn't use any protection. I don't use protection at all, actually, because it's a sin. But Ray Bob was the only person I had sex with that week. I didn't sleep with the other three since the Friday before that. It was a party."
"We were celebrating the fact that it was Tuesday."
Call her a slut all you want, but you'd have to admit, that logic seems at least sort of valid, right? Six weeks pregnant means the guy she had sex with exactly six weeks ago is the lucky winner, simple as that. How are they ever wrong?
But Actually ...
If it were really as simple as that, Maury wouldn't even need paternity tests, just a staff full of people who can decipher hillbilly speak and count backward. But what people fail to take into account is that sperm doesn't die just because you've zipped up and moved on to the next suitor.
It turns out these little fuckers are built to last.
In truth, sperm are hardier than the fragile balls that birthed them. They can stay alive and viable for days after ejaculation, watching and waiting for their opportunity to make a happy accident. Just how long can a sperm survive in the wild and terrible world? BabyMed says five days, WebMD concurs. The Mayo Clinic allows that they can survive "perhaps even longer."
"Maybe. It's not our job to understand this 'medicine' shit."
In reality, sperm have been found to survive longer than a week hiding out in the reproductive tract. If you (ladies) have sex at all in the seven days leading up to ovulation, some of that sperm could be making its way up your fallopian tubes just in time for that new egg to pop in. (Eggs "pop," right?)
What's more, at least one study has shown that sperm can keep on sperming for as long eight days and still remain viable. That means that a lag between the time when you make the biggest mistake of your life and when that mistake actually results in an unwanted pregnancy is totally possible.
Four of these kids are pregnant right now.
Just something to keep in mind when you're trying to do the math.
#4. Men Like "Casual" Sex and Women Like Committed Sex
If a character on TV is infamous for sleeping around, odds are good it's a he. Charlie Sheen was a loveable womanizer on Two and a Half Men. Sam Malone from Cheers got all kinds of ass, and Captain Kirk was, well, Captain Kirk. You'd have a lot more trouble drawing up a list of promiscuous female main characters on television (unless we're talking about HBO, but that's not television, it's HBO).
No one let this broad captain the Enterprise.
A half century of feminism and women's liberation haven't changed the fact that women consider sex to be a step toward a long-term relationship and deep emotional commitment, while men consider sex to be nothing more than scratching an itch.
And there is plenty of scientific basis for this; a 1989 study showed that men were far more likely to accept solicitations for casual sex than women. Male and female students were approached by "moderately" attractive students of the opposite sex and awkwardly propositioned. The men, being 18 and in immediate proximity to a vagina, said, "Fuck yes." Most of the women said no. Obviously.
"So, um ... can we do it right here? Or should we find a bathroom?"
But Actually ...
A University of Michigan psychologist named Terri Conley decided to dig a little deeper. Her study found that women were no less likely to be down for some consequence-free coupling, as long as it was in a safe situation with a sexually competent partner. The difference wasn't in the expected commitment, but in how much harder it is to bring a woman to orgasm.
"You'd better have a GPS and four hours to spare."
So both genders seek sex for the awesome, toe-curling pleasure it brings. But the difference is that men know they're going to get an orgasm no matter how bad the girl is in bed, and in fact know that it will happen even if she leaves halfway through. But women only orgasm 35 percent as often in first-time sexual encounters. Why commit yourself to a night of getting some guy off if you aren't getting anything but filthy sheets out of it?
Studies of bisexual women showed that their hesitance to bone disappeared as soon as the partner wasn't a man. That infamous female prudishness all came down to the fact that most men have awful cocksmanship.
They call it the pleasure theory -- it says simply that our desire for sex comes from the joy it brings us, not the raw evolutionary need to make babies. In other words, men and women both screw because it feels just great. And if we aren't confident we'll enjoy the experience, it isn't worth having.
"You know what? I'd rather masturbate and eat a hamburger."
#3. College Is Where Girls Go Wild
For many kids raised in the cloistered confines of suburbia, college represents the first real chance for freedom. That means getting shitfaced, staying up late and, if you're a young woman, engaging in some sexual experimentation. The term "lesbian until graduation" didn't earn its own Wikipedia entry for nothing. Those liberated years of university life bring about a very real change for many women.
Change is the bee's knees.
That's the accepted public perception, anyway.
But Actually ...
Unfortunately for our vast database of dorm-room-themed spank material, the truth is far less sexy. According to a recent study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (would it kill them to use a not-so-implicitly-horrifying name when studying hot girl-on-girl action?), women with bachelor's degrees were actually less likely to have dipped their toe in the pool of lesbian adventure than women who did not graduate from high school.
Yet another reason college isn't worth it.
Of 13,500 responses, women aged 22 to 44 with college degrees admitted to having a same-sex relationship about 10 percent of the time, compared with 15 percent of women who didn't finish high school.
So how did we all get this so horribly wrong? Dan Savage, a Seattle-based gay sex columnist, weighed in on the article thusly:
"A lot of [college students] are out to prove something and want their effort to smash the patriarchy to be very visible ..."
Please note that the phrase "gay sex columnist" can mean two very different things.
That is, women with college educations aren't more likely to have had those experiences, they're just more likely to have talked about them because they think it makes them special. They like to brag about their girly time sexploits because they think they're reinventing the sexual wheel and can't wait to tell their less enlightened peers all about it.
But hey, at least they're using that college degree for its exact intended purpose ... to instill themselves with a false sense of intellectual superiority. Money well spent, indeed.
You can put a price on this, but not until a few months after graduation.