Condom maker knows sex

By Kevin Rothbauer

According to a survey by Durex Canada, Canadians are having sex.

The condom manufacturer recently surveyed Canadians between the ages of 18 and 29, looking for information about their sexual habits. Not shockingly, they found that curiosity, not love, is the most prominent reason for first sexual encounters.

Thirty-seven per cent of respondents cited curiosity as the cause of their first such relationship. "Being in love" was named by 29 per cent of respondents, followed by "because I had the chance" at 11 per cent. Six per cent of respondents cited "pressure from a partner," but the most baffling response of all, "to get it over and done with," accounted for five per cent of responses.

Females were more likely than males, 41–25 per cent, to say that curiosity was the reason for their first sexual relationship.

The survey suggests that Canadians are losing their virginity at an earlier age, noting that 38 per cent of those surveyed had their first sexual encounter between the ages of 15 and 17, and 16 per cent claimed to have been under the age of 14. Thirty-one per cent were between 18 and 21. According to University of Calgary Sociology professor Dr. Augustine Brannigan, these results don’t tell us anything. He points out that males typically have their first sexual experience at a later age than females, and that no data is given stating that Canadians are embarking on lives of sin at a younger age than they used to.

"If there was a shift, it would have occurred in the mid-’60s, in the sexual revolution," he said.

If girls are in fact having their first sexual experiences at a younger age, Brannigan offers a few possible explanations.

Girls usually experience the onset of sexuality 24 months after puberty begins, and puberty is occurring at a younger age in females today than it did previously.

"Because of nutrition, there is some evidence of the early onset of menarche (the beginning of menstruation)," he explained.

Brannigan also quoted another study that looked into the sexual behaviour of teenage girls in the United States.

"If the girl is from a disrupted family, she tended to have sex earlier," he stated. "There was a small sample of girls who had no father, but were engaged in team sports. [Being involved in sports] delayed the onset of sexual activity."

The Durex survey found that 76 per cent of Canadian youth believe that it is not acceptable to engage in sex with a new partner without using a condom. Brannigan questions that result as well. Responding to a telephone survey is one thing; doing the same thing in a moment of intense, drunken passion is another thing altogether.

"There is pressure on people to say the right thing," he said. "Whether you act in the situation with the same care is a different matter."

Twenty-seven per cent of respondents from the Prairie provinces thought that sex should be put off until marriage, by far the highest total in the survey. However, only 18 per cent of Prairie youth claimed that love was the reason for their first sexual encounter.

The Quebec study had the highest rate of respondents who said that they first had sex because they were in love (39 per cent), but 20 per cent felt that less than a week is long enough to wait to have sex with a new partner, also the highest number in the country.

"This is consistent with everything about the visual and physical culture in Quebec," said Brannigan. "In social dimensions, Quebec is a different country."

The survey also went against Canadian sociological conventions that state that, with the exception of Quebec, "deviant" behaviour increases from east to west and from north to south.

"It should gel, but it doesn’t," Brannigan said.

The survey should be taken with a grain of salt, Brannigan suggests, pointing out that the study’s authors have reason to portray themselves in a particular light relevant to the subject.

"They’re not as credible as they might be if they didn’t have a vested interest," he said.

The Durex survey also found that 43 per cent of youth reported having sex at least once a week, while 27 per cent had sex at least two to three times a month. A lucky seven per cent reported having sex two to three times a week.

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