Last week Murray Straus, a professor at the Family Research Laboratory at the University of New Hampshire, released his findings on a study into spanking and sexual behavior. No, not at the same time, although my mind helplessly brought up the image of Halle Berry in her Catwoman suit just now. Sorry.
Straus was more interested in how spanking a child influenced that child's sexual behavior later in life. What a perv! Previous studies have suggested a link between corporal punishment and violent behavior, but this is the first that's focused on sexual behavior. According to this article, Straus wanted to 'bring this to the attention of parents and of more people in the hope it will help continue the decrease in the use of corporal punishment'.
After interviewing more than 14,000 college students with varying degrees of answers (Strongly disagree, Disagree, Agree, Strongly Agree), Straus came up with the following items that I would like to address one at a time.
Adults who were spanked as children are more likely to coerce their partners to have sex.
According to Straus, men who were spanked or hit were 10% more likely to have coerced a partner into having sex. And that increased when they man answered higher on the scale. For example, those that Agreed to having been spanked or hit were more likely to have coerced a partner than the men who simply Disagreed.
Women were 12% more likely. Sorry girls, but if you have coerce a college guy into having sex with you it might be time to reevaluate your approach. Unless, by coercion, they mean having to actually come out and ask the guy. Coercion for men and women might be defined a bit differently.
Look, this is college life, if some people didn't coerce partners into having sex they wouldn't get any at all. I have to coerce my own wife with wine, for fuck's sake!
What I do find disturbing is the 33% increase in men who 'have hit or held down a partner to make the partner have sex'. That's not coercion, that's rape. Women, by the way, were 27% more likely to have done this which makes me wonder exactly what kind of men we're raising out there.
Adults who were spanked as children are more likely to have sex without a condom.
This is kind of confusing to me. It makes it sound like having sex without a condom is some radical, crazy sexual ploy of dominance. What if the person answering this has been in a monogamous sexual relationship with the same partner for years? Does that answer still fall under this category?
Straus, by the way has a theory about this one: 'corporal punishment weakens the bond between parents and children. That weak bond makes children less likely to follow their parents' advice'. Right, like parents using corporal punishment are all about offering advice and nurturing their kid into sexual maturity.
Teenagers who were spanked as children are more likely to have sex with more than one partner.
At first I thought this was 'at the same time' kind of question, but it wasn't. Again, this is presented as a negative. Who among us hasn't had sex with more than one partner? In this day and age it's a given and preferred. Most of us find the one partner that we want to be with the rest of our lives, but there are test runs along the way to finding that special someone.
Adults who were spanked as children are more likely to be aroused by masochistic sex.
To me this is the more interesting (and slightly disturbing) conclusion to this study. A whopping 75% of those surveyed who had been spanked as children admitted to being into masochistic sex. Only 40% of those not spanked agreed, which, by itself seems like a large number for the seemingly 'docile' members of society.
I would like to know what each person taking this survey defines as 'masochistic sex'. I'm sure the definition would differ for each of us. The most obvious, stereo typical would be the bondage scenario, but would other, more common place acts be considered masochistic in nature? Nipple biting - even gently? The spanking, obviously. What about hair pulling? What about having sex with your wife? Or having sex with someone who was kind of hot, but annoying personally? That might be painful in an emotional way.
Look, I'm not for hitting kids. Although, I have had fantasies about punching out that bratty kid in the mall on more than one occasion. I don't spank or hit my boys under any reason and neither does my wife (so she says). But I was spanked on more than a few occasions by both my parents and I'm not some sociopathic, sex crazed, bondage freak on the weekends. Well, I'm not into bondage, anyway.
My problem with the survey has two parts:
First, this is the phrasing of the statement to which the respondents had to Strongly Disagree, Disagree, Agree or Strongly Agree to: 'I was spanked or hit a lot before age 12'.
Now, the difference between 'spanked' and 'hit' is enormous. It's the difference between slightly humiliated and unconscious. As any guy can tell you, it's one thing to be spanked and an entirely different one to be hit. By phrasing the question this way, he's effectively lumping in the children who were physically abused with those that had their asses smacked because they got caught smoking weed in the basement. There is zero correlation between them.
And what is 'a lot'? Childhood memories are notoriously fickle. The traumatic events stand out more than the everyday, benign ones. If someone remembers getting spanked three times as a kid, do they assume there were more and therefore they were spanked 'a lot'? Is three times 'a lot' for some people? If so, then someone who has been spanked three times is lumped in with the kid who was beaten senseless on a daily basis by his drunk ass father because there was one Cheerio left in his breakfast bowl.
My second problem is the sample population Straus uses for his study. Only college students. Sure there are 14,000 of them, but they are still representing a small percentage of our actual population. Do you remember what you were like in college? I know I do and would not want my boys acting like I did. Ok, maybe a little. It was a good time, after all.
Plus, boys are still learning to be men. Testosterone and hormones are still regulating themselves. Alcohol related behavior is much more accepted and prevalent in college. Risk taking behavior is the norm for most college students. Skipping the last class on Friday and smoking a joint before heading out to a massive keg party isn't the exception. It's standard operating procedure. Limiting himself to the college population limits the answers.
What happens when they leave school, get decent jobs and settle down? Research has shown that creativity and risky behavior decline drastically after the age of 30 because the man now has a family to protect and care for. None of these college people who were spanked (or hit) are followed through their natural progression of maturity.
I understand the point of the survey, I just don't necessarily agree with the conclusions.
I'll let Straus have the last word, since he put so much time into this study:
'Corporal punishment creates a fusion of love and violence. Love and violence get linked and that gets acted out in sex. For me, gentle, loving sex is the thing. I think the world would be better if there were more people who liked gentle, loving sex than (people who) linked even play-violence to sex.'
Today's distraction: Here's another study done at UC Berkerley that focuses on just spanking, not spanking or hitting. Spanking here is defined as 'striking the child on the buttocks, hands or legs with an open hand without inflicting physical injury and with the intention of modifying the child's behavior'.