Sex@MIT: The Survey
Earlier this month, we asked all undergraduates via e-mail to take a sex survey. We asked you if you were having sex, when you were having sex, what kind of sex, and how good it was. About forty percent, or 1729 people, responded. We present the results here. Some of the statistics will not surprise anybody. Some surprised us all.
There is a stereotype that MIT is a land of asexual nerds. That’s not quite true. Our survey found that 42 percent of students consider themselves virgins: 37 percent of men and 48 percent of women. The numbers are predictably higher for freshman class, which is 64 percent virgins: 60 percent of men and 69 percent of women. The freshmen numbers square with national estimates — it’s the upperclassmen who are having less sex than the national average for their age group.
63 percent of all students have had oral sex. 54 percent have had vaginal sex. 15 percent have had anal sex. Compared to national numbers for college-age students from the Centers for Disease Control, MIT students are having less much sex than their peers — but significantly more than no sex.
Course 5 (Chemistry) has the highest rate of virgins — 48 percent; Course 17 has the lowest rate of virgins — 10 percent, followed by Course 15 at 27.5 percent. Among living groups, McCormick has the most virgins — 82 percent of McCormick residents say they are virgins. Students living in fraternities or Senior House reported the lowest rates for virginity: around 20 percent.
Why are MIT students virgins? 23 percent of men and 39 percent of women say that one reason is that it’s their choice. For both genders, this was the most common reason. The second most common reason was that “an opportunity has not presented itself.” Nearly everybody agreed that vaginal sex “counted” as sex, but only 84 percent thought anal sex counted. 51 percent thought oral sex counted. A small fraction of people kept their V-cards by technicality: Of people who have had anal sex, 2.5 percent still consider themselves virgins.
Of those who choose to have sex, the sexual health statistics are a little disturbing. 63 percent of students who have had anal or vaginal sex have done it without protection. The STD rate is low — 1.5 percent of students cop to having ever had a sexually transmitted disease.
Many probably don’t know their status, however. 60 percent of non-virgins have never been tested. Only 11 percent of non-virgins got tested in the past 2–6 months.
We were all surprised to find out that 96 percent of people who have had oral sex say they don’t use protection for it. 9 percent of students don’t know where to go for condoms, and 67 percent don’t know that MIT publishes a sexual health and satisfaction column (it’s called “Sexpertise,” at http://medweb.mit.edu/wellness/sexuality/sexpertise/index.html)
Lack of protection may be the reason that 28 percent of women who have had sex say they have at one point needed to request emergency contraception.
Alcohol and sex are linked: 60 percent of non-virgins say they have had sex while intoxicated.
Most disturbing of all, 3.6 percent of students say they have had non-consensual sex. There is help out there. The Boston Area Rape Crisis Center has a 24-hour hotline at 617-492-RAPE. MIT also offers counseling and other resources (see page 13).
87 percent of students identified as heterosexual. 3.5 percent identified as homosexual; 6 percent identified as bisexual; and 2.2 percent were undecided. Less than one percent identified as asexual. Of the few who did say they were asexual, 40 percent say they have had sex.
13 percent of campus (10 percent of men and 16 percent of women) say they have had a homosexual encounter. Looking for the gayest/most questioning major? CMS wins: 42 percent of students who listed CMS as their primary major said they had a homosexual encounter. The second gayest major is Course 11 at 35 percent and Course 9 at 20 percent. The least gayest major? Course 3, where only 9 percent of students say they have had a sexual encounter with someone of the same gender.
It may not come as a surprise to some that Senior House takes the cake for both floorcest and anal sex. 52 percent of Senior House non-virgins say they have had sex with someone in their living group. 36 percent of non-virgins say they have had anal sex. The least floorcestuous dorm is the Phoenix group (NW-35), where nobody copped to having sex with someone else in the group. The least anal-receptive dorm is McCormick, where only 5 percent of non-virgin girls say they have had anal sex.
Most men masturbate. 30 percent of guys say they masturbate every day or almost every day. Another 41 percent say they masturbate once or twice a week. That means over 70 percent of undergraduate men are beating the meat at least weekly. 5 percent masturbate multiple times daily — and 7 percent claim they never masturbate.
Girls masturbate less. 30 percent cop to masturbating at least weekly. Only 8 percent say they masturbate daily or nearly daily. 39 percent say they never masturbate.
Girls do tend to have more toys, though: 16 percent of girls say they own a sex toy, compared to 8 percent of men.
It seems we are an easy bunch to please. 66 percent of men and 66 percent of women rate the quality of the sex they are having as “high” or “very high.” About a quarter think the sex is “okay.”, and only 4 percent said the sex was of “low” or “very low” quality.
That people have sex because they want to is fairly obvious, but we asked you for some reasons anyway. 92 percent said they had sex for “self-fulfillment,” and 77 percent said “to form a closer bond with a partner.” 16 percent added, “to forget problems.” We hear you!
The biggest factor eating into people’s sexual satisfaction seems to be a scheduling problem. 50 percent of non-virgins cite “lack of time” as a reason that their sex lives were not as good as they could be. 29 percent of men complained about a lack of suitable partners — an old saw, it’s true. But watch out guys: 28 percent of women said the same thing right back to you.
Don’t take these statistics as the be-all, end-all. We did our best to clean the data and had a Course 14 major look through it, but in the end, nothing we can do can correct for the response bias. 60 percent of MIT undergrads didn’t take the survey. All we know is a little something about the 40 percent that did.