The heavy breathing is starting to sound like a sigh of relief

October 10, 1994|By MIKE LITTWIN

The question is, as always, what do women want?

The latest answer, just in, is that they don't want, well, you know. S-E-X. They don't even think about it much.

According to the latest, most-definitive-ever sex survey -- conducted by highly credentialed, if often drooling, academicians -- only a small percentage of women said they thought about sex more than once a day. For men, I believe, the exact percentage was "everyone but eunuchs."

Can this possibly be true of women? Did anybody tell Warren Beatty about this? How about Madonna?

Yes, I was skeptical. I've been to college (these days in campus dorms, they pass out condoms like they were M&Ms). I've been to newsstands. Every women's magazine, with the possible exception of Ms., but including House and Garden, has at least five stories on sex. In Cosmo, it's always 19 ways to achieve the Big O (and they don't mean Oscar Robertson).

So I conducted my own little survey. I asked one woman friend at the office about the survey and about how often she thought about sex.

"Well," she said, "it's not in the top five things I'm thinking about right now."

After which a guy turned to me, incredulous. "Is this true? They really don't think about sex?"

I asked him for his top five thoughts at that moment.

"Let's see," he said. "There's sex. That's No. 1. World peace, No. 2. No, world peace is actually No. 3. Sex is No. 2, 4, 5 and probably 6 through 9."

Then he just drifted off into a kind of, I don't know, reverie.

I asked another woman I know.

She said she was thinking about laundry.

"Lingerie?" I suggested. She turned away, muttering something I couldn't quite catch, although I was able to pick out the words "men" and "scum."

I asked yet another woman.

"We're not like guys," she said. "We know what guys are like."

What are we like?

If you believe the survey, men are happily monogamous (no smirking, please). They may think about sex a lot, but they're not doing much about it. This is the Jimmy Carter school of sexuality.

Here are the numbers: Americans have sex, on the average, once a week. A third of adult Americans have sex only a few times a year, or not at all. When Americans do have sex, it's rarely kinky. And it's usually within the nuptial bed, although a lot of the time it's when you're alone.

Again, I'm stunned. What happened to the America I used to know?

What happened to the sexual revolution? It looks like Jesse Helms was the winner.

All along I thought Americans of all races, creeds and genders were in love with sex. That must have been the media's fault. Or, maybe, Bill Clinton's (Clinton, obviously, was not part of the survey).

But how do you explain the proliferation of hot tubs? For that matter, how do you explain all of Southern California? Isn't

something wrong here?

Then I figured it out. Everybody lied. This is the survey to make America feel better about itself. Faithfulness is in; profligacy is out. (Wait till next year's survey). Women, who typically claim to have two sex partners in a lifetime, get to feel almost virginal. And men, who claim to have six partners, get to feel great about themselves, too.

Let's examine the numbers. If the typical man has sex with only six different women, how badly can you be doing? At worst, you're off the average by -- what? -- six. And if you're lucky enough to be having sex, the woman you're with probably hasn't had another partner since she was with that dweeb in high school in the back seat of his father's Olds 98. You've got to look good.

Still, it doesn't add up, does it? I continued my search for a woman who would tell the truth. Finally, I found her.

"I think about sex all the time," she said. "My girlfriends think about sex all the time. I think about it when I'm getting dressed in the morning. I think about it when the phone rings. Will this be Mr. Wonderful and will he talk dirty?"

She said most women would never admit this to some pollster. It would be more like this: "Do I think about sex? Oh, Mr. Pollster, only once in a while when I can't help myself. And when I do, I'm very ashamed."

Then she laughed.

Which is the only proper response to all sex surveys.

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