Sex and Sex and the City

Sex and Sex and the City.The sitcom Sex and the City divides opinion. Its fans say it empowers women, painting a realistic picture of the difficulties of finding a mate and pursuing a career, and shows women as sexual beings in their own right rather than just submissive vessels for men's urges. Its detractors say it glorifies promiscuity and materialism.
The Sex and the City girls, Charlotte, Carrie, Miranda and Samantha: Do Sex and the City watchers have more sex, better sex, more adventurous sex?

(A third group, most easily defined as “men”, are completely baffled by it, and wonder why they are expected to care about the bleak, self-absorbed life of some vapid New York journalist and her caricatured friends, even if they do have some good one-liners. But they are not relevant here.)

But who is right? Do Sex and the City watchers have more sex, better sex, more adventurous sex? Are they more likely to sleep around? We took a look at the figures; 945 women in total answered the survey, 466 who have watched the programme, 479 who have not.

A word of warning: the data here is not sub-divided. We know that the average Sex and the City watcher, for example, is much younger than the average non-watcher (76 per cent of 25- to 34-year-olds have seen the show, compared to just 42 per cent of 45- to 54-year olds). What we can't do is assess from this data how much more likely SATC-watching 45-to-54-year-olds are to, say, enjoy their sex lives than non-watching women of the same age. So be a little careful of any shocked conclusions you may draw below.

Sex and the City watchers want good sex (and they want it when they want it)

Your average Carrie fan is considerably more voracious than the non-watcher. 14 per cent of those women who have lost their virginity and watched the show say that they usually initiate sex, compared to just eight per cent of those who haven't. More Samantha than Charlotte, then. (The national average is 29% however so this is taken out of context slightly)

SATC watchers want good sex (but don't seem to be getting it)

Asked to rate how happy they were with their sex lives, 24 per cent of SATC-watchers described themselves as “not at all happy” or “unhappy”, compared to 22 per cent of those who hadn't seen it. At the other end of the scale, 43 per cent said they were “happy” or “very happy” – less than the 46 per cent of non-watchers who said the same. Shades of Berger and Carrie's unsuccessful trysts? Or, as the lady herself might say in voiceover: do we have a right to good sex? And, of course, how good? See below.

SATC watchers get good sex (despite what they claim above)

Obviously there's more to sex than just reaching orgasm, but nonetheless, it seems the show's fans are being a little demanding. 69 per cent (yes, 69; feel free to snicker) say they “always” or “sometimes” achieve climax during sex, compared to 64 per cent of non-fans. So they're having more orgasms, but worse sex, which may suggest that they're setting their sights a bit high. Watchers are also more likely to think about sex all the time; 68 per cent think about it “at least once every few days” or more often, compared to 45 per cent.

SATC watchers are really good at sex (and aren't afraid to say so)

Intriguingly, while they are less likely to be satisfied with their sex lives, SATC fans are pretty confident they're not to blame. 42 per cent rate themselves as “Excellent” or “Good” in bed, compared to 34 per cent of non-fans. Conversely just eight per cent of watchers think they are “not at all good” or “not good”, compared to 11 per cent of the rest of the population. So all that bad sex they're having – it's someone else's fault, it seems.

SATC watchers want good sex (sooner rather than later, please)

They might not enjoy it, but SATC fans certainly can't be accused of not giving it a proper try. Watchers are more likely to have sex earlier in a nascent relationship (37 per cent by end of fourth date, compared to 20 per cent of non-watchers), and are more likely to lose their virginity earlier (mean age 17.75, almost six months younger than the non-watchers' 18.24). They are also more likely to have had sex recently (56 per cent compared to 49 per cent) and more likely to have it regularly (9.08 times in the average month, compared to 8.84). Still, they clearly aren't happy about it.

SATC watchers know good sex toys (and aren't afraid to ask for them in Ann Summers)

A whopping 44 per cent of Carrie fans own a sex toy. That's almost 1.5 times as many as the rest of the female population who do not watch the show (31 per cent). What is not clear is how many of them are misusing a neck massager, a la Samantha, although we hope that that data will become available in a future survey.

SATC watchers know good sex (but don't want to look at their partner's face while they're doing it)

While the positional thinking of SATC fans is largely the same as that of everyone else, they do have a greater preference for doggy-style sex than everyone else (20 per cent as opposed to 14). It would be cruel to make a Sarah Jessica Parker joke – something about not wanting to look a gift horse in the mouth, maybe – so we won't.

SATC watchers have had good sex (but not for a while)

This might be surprising, on the face of it: although SATC is all about women in late youth and early middle age having lots of sex, the show's fans are more likely to have had their best sex in their youth; 27 per cent said that their peak came between the ages of 18 and 24, compared to 17 per cent of non-fans. By the time they got to between 35 and 44, just 18 per cent say they were still enjoying the best sex of their lives, while 25 per cent of the rest said that was their best time. However, we suspect that this is at least in part because (as mentioned above) the women who watch Sex and the City are more likely to be younger. A 34-year-old is unlikely to claim her best sex happened in the future.

SATC watchers know unprotected sex (but don't want a baby)

Fans of the show are nearly twice as likely to have taken the morning after pill than their non-watching compatriots – 34 per cent to 18 per cent. However, again, the figure should be treated with caution; they are only slightly more likely to have had unprotected sex (59 per cent to 53 per cent). We think some of the difference is to do with the morning-after pill only became available in the UK in 1984, and was not widely used for some years after that. They are, however, also more than twice as likely to have contracted a sexually transmitted infection, by eight per cent to three.

SATC watchers know good, er, marriage (and aren't afraid to overuse a lame joke)

As you might predict, far fewer SATC watchers are married than in the general population – 38 per cent compared to 58 percent of non-watchers. While it would be nice to think this is because they're all hunting Mr Big, we should also remind you that they're likely to be younger; obviously younger women are less likely to be married. They are also less likely to be unfaithful in that marriage (11 per cent compared to 19) although since they are more likely to sleep around when they're in non-marital but committed relationships (25% to 18%) we think that's again just because they haven't had time yet. ( )

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