Happy Friday! Ever wondered what your Google search history says about you? (Of course you do, that’s why you religiously clear your history.) Well, now we have some insights as to what they reveal about Americans’ feelings about sex: Namely, we have a lot of problems and fears surrounding the act.
In late January, economist (and contributing “New York Times” opinion writer) Seth Stephens-Davidowitz published an in-depth look at American sexual mores as revealed by Google searches. He analyzed data from the General Social Survey, which tracks social changes and trends in various aspects of American life. (Questions regarding sexual behavior were added to the GSS in 1988, 16 years after the survey’s inception.)
One thing I liked is that Stephens-Davidowitz mentioned right off the bat is that there’s some self-reporting error going on. He explains that the number of condoms sold does not align with the number of heterosexual sex acts that are performed with a condom. (This is one of the things I find so fascinating about sexuality studies: it’s so easy to lie!)
He focused specifically on why we aren’t having sex and our anxieties about the act. Some interesting findings:
– Unsurprisingly, the Google search for fixing a sexless marriage tops the list of complaints within that institution. But interestingly, boyfriends are the ones avoiding sex within relationships.
– Men search for questions regarding their penises more than any other of their body parts combined. Women, on the other hand, don’t care too much about penises (not enough to Google it, anyway). This isn’t an earth-shattering finding, but it’s the sheer degree of frequency of said searches that really make it interesting:
For every search women make about a partner’s phallus, men make roughly 170 searches about their own.
Seriously, 170! This makes me wonder if a similar occurrence is happening when either sex tries to Google “how to find/where is the clitoris?”.
– Big butts are, and continue to be, a thing. Interest in the booty started growing (heh) in 2010, and has since tripled. (Maybe this coincides with the recent interest in analingus?) There’s a racial element involved as well, as searches for how to make a butt bigger were more common in places with a large black population.
I wish Stephens-Davidowitz delved a bit deeper into his searches. It seemed like the searches for women weren’t as in-depth as the ones for men. And he didn’t cover anyone not in a heterosexual relationship at all. I’d also be interested to see how searches broke down across the country, either state-by-state or by region. It’d also be enlightening to see how these anxieties and problems revealed via the searches change in relation to various age demographics.
But who knows, maybe all that will be featured in follow-up articles.
As an antidote to these findings, Stephens-Davidowitz makes his most excellent point in the very last sentence of his article:
Maybe if we worried less about sex, we’d have more of it.
I know, right? Try and do that this weekend, and every day henceforth.