National Post

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January 17, 2001

Female students having casual sex: study

Tom Arnold
National Post

Almost 75% of female university students are engaging in casual sex, including intercourse with strangers or getting together with friends for spontaneous erotic encounters, concludes a Canadian study.

Reasons cited by the women for engaging in fortuitous coitus included seeking physical pleasure, doing the "forbidden," fulfilling fantasies, the novelty of new partners and heightening self-esteem.

The University of Guelph findings are in contrast to a number of other studies that suggest women feel guilty when their sexual behaviour transgresses societal norms, that females are not interested in casual coupling and do not enjoy it as much as sex in a committed relationship.

According to the survey, about 13% of women engaged in sexual intercourse with someone they had met the same day or night, while 51% participated in oral sex or hand-genital stimulation with their newly met partners.

In addition, 36% of women were having sex with partners they were not in a committed relationship with, while 73% reported they had non-coital sex outside of a committed relationship.

Thirty per cent of women surveyed said they would engage in casual sex if there were no negative side effects, such as being physically harmed or contracting sexually transmitted diseases, while 37% said they found nothing appealing about it.

Still, the study, which questioned 237 non-married women, aged 19 to 30, at the University of Guelph, found most women experienced casual sexual behaviour on a limited number of occasions. Non-coital forms of sex as well as intercourse were considered to constitute casual sex.

The results are published in the current issue of the Journal of Psychology & Human Sexuality.

"Some people may be thinking 'My God there is really a hotbed of sex going on here,'" Dr. Edward Herold, a co-author of the study, said in an interview. "I think an important point ... is that about a third of the women hadn't experienced intercourse at all and of those who had experienced casual sex it was typically once or twice. The majority haven't had a tremendous amount of experience."

The research was part of the thesis project of co-author Shara Weaver, an undergraduate student at the university.

Of the total, 140 said they had experienced intercourse and casual sex at least once, 34 had engaged in intercourse but not casual sex and 54 had never experienced intercourse.

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