Penetration and Statistical Normality

A thought about normal sexual behaviour. “Normal”, in the statistical sense, has nothing to do with “healthy” or “morally sound”. It simply means “the most common range of values in a variable”. Now, across all of child-bearing age humanity, what is the normal attitude to getting sexually penetrated? Is it yes please or no thanks?

In the patriarchal tradition, getting penetrated hardly even counts as sexual activity. It’s just acceptance: not thrashing about, kicking at balls or running away when somebody with an erect penis shows up. Being sexually active, in this view, means putting your penis in someone, and so only males can be sexually active. Cf. the telling expression “passive partner”. But really, to the vast majority of penetratees, it’s not just something you put up with. It’s something you long for and seek out. This hard-wired desire is evolution’s way.

There are currently about 101 human males per 100 human females on the planet. For a variety of reasons, including homosexuality, some percentage of women say no thanks to penetration. On the other hand, a considerable percentage of gay men say yes please. In fact, estimates of how prevalent homosexuality is suggest that it is considerably more common among males than among females. Thus it seems that if you ask a random sample of childbearing-age people if they enjoy getting penetrated, the statistically normal response is most likely yes. Or in other words, people like myself who turn down kind offers of penetration are a sexual minority.

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16 thoughts on “Penetration and Statistical Normality

  1. “Thus it seems that if you ask a random sample of childbearing-age people if they enjoy getting penetrated, the statistically normal response is most likely yes.”
    I bet some people will read “men” instead of “random sample” and a discussion will erupt over the misunderstanding.
    Yes. It is obvious when you take in account that a random sample will have around 50% women, 3% homosexual men, and 1% plain crazy.
    I don’t mind be in the minority. Power to minorities!!


  2. I, too, turn down those kinds of offers, and have done, all my life (most definitely now), but am not a homosexual, and have never felt anything but normal.

    Perhaps you need a different sampling… or other data…


  3. Martin you’re funny. Your statistical point is well taken, I’d just suggest that a nearly universal response among willing penetratees would be “it depends on who is doing the penetration.” The selection of a worthy penetrator is the point of the whole thing, if you will, behaviorally speaking at least.

    When I was young and naive I always thought gayness would be more like helping your buddies out and they would help you out in turn. In reality, its ritualized roles and selection processes makes straight culture seem tame by comparison with ranking heirarchies that are closer to selecting for purely biological fitness than anything in the straight world, where the occasional biological doofus can get lucky if he’s charming or rich or smart.

    But statistically, I’ve always wondered whether male homosexual behavior, and it’s significant contribution to the ratio you’re pointing out, serves as a social safety valve to make sure that in the human herd there are always quite a few more cows than bulls for the safety of all concerned.


  4. For a variety of reasons, including homosexuality, some percentage of women say no thanks to penetration.

    Er, way to be heteronormative about which gender does the penetrating, and which gender is completely and utterly incapable of doing anything but lying back and thinking of England.


  5. Sorry, I know very little about typical Lesbian lovemaking, particularly if you count parts of the world where you can’t easily buy a dildo. But if it turns out that most Lesbians also like to get penetrated, then it strengthens my point further.


  6. Well, “get fucked” would normally be equivalent, at least in modern parlance, with “be given sex” and applies equally to “giving” and “receiving” partners in penetrating sex. In this sense your observation is trivially true.

    However, from the blog post I assume you use “get fucked” to mean “be the receiving partner”, and further that there is a somewhat plausible argument for making the assumption that wanting to have sex means wanting to be the “receiving partner” in penetrating sex, at least a significant portion of the time. This observation may not be entirely trivial, but I still fail to see its significance.

    In particular, I fail to see how this would demonstrate anything useful about statistics. Trying to define a notion of a “normal outcome” for a Bernoulli distributed stochastic variable seems entirely pointless unless the probability of one outcome is reasonably close to 1, which in this example clearly is not the case. (In fact, even given your considerations, it is still probably 0.5 to good approximation.) If you want to make a statistical point regarding normalcy I suggest you choose a normal-distributed stochastic variable.

    Leaving statistics aside, I also take from your blog post that you are trying to make a sociological point regarding our view of sexuality. However, that starts from the premise that the “receiving partner” in penetrating sex is generally seen as by definition inactive. I find very little justification for this rather extreme take on the general view of sexuality in western culture (with the cultural restriction imposed only because I don’t know anything about non-western cultures’ views on sex). It is a view I think you would find very uncommon today, and even in times when female sexuality was not to be spoken about, I’m not sure it accurately captures what people actually thought.


  7. Now I’m confused. I wasn’t trying to demonstrate anything about statistics. I tried to say, “Not wanting to get penetrated is probably statistically abnormal”. It pleases me though that you are open to the possibility that this observation may not be entirely trivial.


  8. I don’t get the point but suggest that:
    ‘ “Normal”, in the statistical sense ‘
    is an oxymoron. Nerdy folks have no use for this term, since they will want to say something specific. Just give the damn percentages from the (unnamed) estimates.


  9. It can be presumed that the distribution of “willingness to be penetrated” is bimodal, meaning that there are two “humps” in the distribution curve, if the willingness were measured on some scale, rather than merely no/yes.

    Lower non-zero values include limitation to penetration by or into only selected body parts, limitation to by only a select member of some certain sex (mostly the opposite), etc. It can be further presumed that males contribute more to the “hump” in the lower willingness range.

    Since there is this bimodal character of the distribution, saying “not wanting to get penetrated is probably statistically abnormal” makes little or no sense, especially for the entire population. Furthermore, if it taken out of a no/yes question into some kind of continuum, with multiple preferences contributing to the score, it is entirely possible that the willingness curve is actually monomodal, with the mode less than half the maximum score.


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