One could be forgiven for believing that modern Britain was happily seething with no-holds-barred sexual activity, that dogging was the new philately, threesomes were the new smooching-in-the- back-row-at-the-movies, and that having all your children with the same man was as hopelessly backward and creepy as marrying your first cousin (or even just marrying, come to think of it).
But apparently this is not the case. New research from the University of Sheffield suggests that British women of all ages are extremely judgemental of other women who have casual sex. Nine out of 10 women questioned believed that it was "wrong", while only 10 per cent admitted to psychologist Dr Sharon Hinchliff that they had a one-night stand themselves.
Even those women tended to excuse their own behaviour, while describing other women in similar situations as "immoral" or "deviant" or suggesting that they were hopelessly drunk or '"trying to be like men". Dr Hinchliff herself has described the findings as "shocking". She adds that "women are meant to have had sexual freedom from the Sixties. Now it seems we must question the degree of sexual freedom we have got."
I wonder if we really must, though. Surely the idea of sexual freedom is more about having choices than about uninhibited stranger- jumping. Some women decided very early on in the sexual revolution that "free love" appeared to be rather more advantageous for men than it was for women. Others continue to promote glamour modelling or lap dancing for the amusement of men as landmark statements of female empowerment. Clearly there is an extremely wide range of opinion on this subject. So it is no great revelation that the extremely uninhibited (and, probably, the extremely inhibited) are part of a small minority.
It's certainly notable that this small minority is so vociferous. The general impression, from reports in the popular newspapers, from the behaviour of contestants on reality television shows, or from the proliferation of we-blogsbyyoungwomen describing their sexual activity, is that highly liberal sexual attitudes are far more widespread than this investigation contends. …