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Average Sex

May 22, 2013

A popular statistic from my high school days recently resurfaced in my mind: the average sexual experience burns as many calories as a three mile jog. At that time, my relationship with the statistic started and ended with jokes about sex and calories whenever the subject of exercise came up. I didn’t have the experience to dig further; you might say I wasn’t a jogger.

Twenty years later, having experienced a spectrum of intimacy, the statistic amuses me in an entirely different way. What is average? And how did they measure it? Does it have to do with longevity or intensity? Whose perspective were they using – the man’s or the woman’s; the person on top or below; the person who orgasms first? Does position matter? Is this an RDA? Does this apply equally to homosexual sex? And, above all, was the statistic intended as encouragement or otherwise?

Average sex. Huh. Better than none, perhaps, but hardly a worthy goal – for recreation or for calisthenics. Thank you, sociology, for that tidbit of useless information. Thank you for studying a small group of humanity and applying your conclusions to the rest of us.

Sarcasm aside, this brings up an important distinction: sociology measures the average, not the normal. There is no normal when it comes to humanity. The wave of humanity can only be studied through its particles, its people, but that knowledge can’t be applied to every single person equally – if you’re doing good science.

The problem is that so many of these studies, though they may well be performed under the guise of good science, get popularized by pundits and politicians with agendas. The way the studies are presented to the public often include subtle encouragements to skew their habits and actions in a certain direction. That’s why the distinction is so important – the attempt to be normal, to fit in, may well be leading you down the road to average mediocrity.

It’s also what confuses me about the titular statistic: what was its agenda? Was it an excuse for our repressed society? Was it to encourage people to have more sex or to pacify those unfortunates who never rise above the average with a consolation prize? Was it a psychological trick intended to popularize jogging?

And why hasn’t the statistic resurfaced in the last twenty years? This would be a perfect time to push the health agenda: raise your heart-rate without leaving the comfort of your home! No special equipment needed! This is the one exercise program you will not want to quit!

Surely we’re not so repressed that we can’t see the humor and recognize the truth in these words.

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From → Rants

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