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Doing It Down UnderReview - Doing It Down Under
The Sexual Lives of Australians
by Juliet Richters and Chris Rissel
Allen & Unwin Academic, 2005
Review by Roy Sugarman, Ph.D.
Dec 13th 2005 (Volume 9, Issue 50)

Exactly who this book might appeal to is moot, but the cover has a man’s hands undoing the bra on a female with her back to the camera, the amount of freckling indicating with some certainty that she has spent a lot of time on Bondi Beach, as we all have.  What else she might have been doing is perhaps more obscure and requires some reading beneath the covers.

To those overseas, the sex lives of Australians may have no allure: after all, the late soccer magician, George Best was heard to remark that Australian men are Neanderthals, the women look like Soviet shot-put athletes...well maybe he never bumped Elle, Olivia, Delta, Nicole et al who can hold their own.

Well what is of interest here: this book is based on the Australian Study of Health and Relationships, a telephone survey conducted recently in 2003.

So what do we find out about how Australians set about pursuing the genetic and evolutionary drive to propagate the species?

Half the women now 50+ had sex before they were 20; Of those now that age, half did it prior to turning 17; unemployed youngsters are much more likely to have sex earlier in life (get a job); the younger the girl is the first time, the more likely she was coerced and regrets it; The youngest age recorded for first time intercourse was 7, the oldest, 53; starting before 16 means you are more likely to have had sex with more partners, more likely to have tried oral and anal sex, more like likely to have had a same gender experience, identify as bisexual, and have had a STD; Still being a virgin by 30 means you are most likely to stay that way: 3% of Australians never have sex at all, a minority of these are gay; Intercourse rather than oral sex is most likely the first experience, with a typical gap being six years between one and the other; the younger ones are pretty close to 50/50 though, with younger girls experiencing oral sex within a year after first intercourse; today’s teens are younger when they start, but safer, using condoms or contraception much more commonly;  The myth of teenage free for all sexual proclivity is just that, a myth, propagated by older adults who remember how narrow minded the approach was when they were young…..

What are they doing?

Oral sex is more common now; heterosexual anal sex relates to 21% of men and 15% of women; 5% of men and 31% of women did not have an orgasm the last time they had sex, with vaginal intercourse providing only 50% of women with an orgasm; Manual stimulation upped this to 71%, and cunnilingus upped this to 86%; in order to be sure of having an orgasm, no matter what gender you are, choose a woman partner!  That’s what I say!

How often?

25% of men want it daily, 8% of women; the majority have sex less than twice a week; 86% and 69% want more than they are getting; there is one age group where 8% of men appear to want less sex than they are getting: men under 20! People with one child under 5 years old have sex less often, otherwise, the same as childless couples.

How many partners?

Men average 17 partners, women about 7.  Bisexual and Lesbian women have had more male partners, about 300% more, since they are unlikely to marry and settle down.

To write more would be to give the whole book away and you wouldn’t have to buy it at all.  The last 70-odd pages are reference material, and the last chapter, 17, before this material, is a summary of the findings, with a lot of more detail.

Each chapter has a window with some titillating fantasy occasionally, used as an illustration for a typical chapter, typical scenario. The book is otherwise serious stuff though, enlightening the world, and Australian and New Zealanders, to what over 19 000 of their compatriots are doing under the covers.

The style is simple and matter of fact, the factoids fast and furious, the book not engaging enough to warrant a continuous read, although that wouldn’t take long, but engaging enough to dip into while eating breakfast cereal, or in the bathroom.  It would make a nice PowerPoint  presentation, it's that kind of stuff, a kind of did-you-know bubblegum wrapper insert genre of interesting facts that just may make no difference in your life whatsoever, but enliven your after dinner chats with friends who may be curious about what we in Oz get up to.

 

© 2005 Roy Sugarman

 

Roy Sugarman, Ph.D., Conjoint Senior Lecturer in Psychiatry, University of New South Wales, Australia


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