ABSTRACT: This exploratory study purposely surveyed women who have been generally ignored in most sexuality research, namely those whose sexual experience and interest are above the norm. The objective was to analyze the relationship between their ranking of the importance of sex in their lives and (a) their sexual permissiveness, (b) their sexual desire, and (c) their concern over the potential costs of sexual behaviour. Women were recruited from Canada, Australia and the United States, from university classes or sexuality conferences, and administered a questionnaire consisting of single item measures. Marital status was controlled for by only analysing data from women who were not married (n=51). The women ranged in age from 19 to 49, with a mean age of 30. A majority of the women felt sex was a very important part of their lives. Two-thirds reported having sexual intercourse with more than 10 partners. Significant positive Pearson Correlations were found between subjects' ranking of the importance of sex and sex drive, likelihood of having an affair, time before having sex with a new partner, frequency of sexual intercourse and lack of enjoyment of celibacy. Significant negative relationships were found between the importance of sex and sexual guilt and the fear of being compared.
Key words: Women Sexual interest Sexual desire
Sexuality research has focused heavily on sex differences in sex-related parameters, and script theory has often been used to account for these differences (McCormick, 1979). Three major concepts dealt with in discussions of sexual scripting are sexual desire, sexual permissiveness and sexual costs.
The traditional sexual script for women has imposed or implied sexual passivity and disinterest (Daniluk, 1993). According to Hurlbert (1991), women in Western societies are restricted in gaining sexual experience, are taught to focus on male satisfaction during sexual relations, and are discouraged from expressing their sexual needs and desires. Women have been socialized to protect themselves against sexual pressures (Holland, Ramazanoglu, Sharpe & Thomson, 1992) and sex interest and initiative has been stereotyped as a male goal, while avoiding sex, or controlling access, as the female goal (McCormick, 1979). Women are given messages that goodness and sexual enjoyment are incongruent experiences which do not fit into the female role (Daniluk, 1993). According to Ogden (1994) whose book focused on interviews with women who like sex, the message that "nice girls don't" still exists, with highly sexual females placed in roles as outcasts such as prostitute or slut.
Despite these stereotypes, over the last three decades, researchers have reported an increase of sexual permissiveness, and premarital intercourse has become common and acceptable for females, as well as for males (Tanfer & Schoorl, 1992). This social change, referred to as "the sexual revolution", lead to a dramatic increase in premarital sexual activity in North America. The relaxation of societal constraints has allowed women to adopt attitudes more closely resembling those of their male counterparts (Moore & Rosenthal, 1992).
Despite these changes, some authors observe that women's desire for sex appears to be more influenced than men's by cultural and psychological factors (Demartino, 1974). Moore and Rosenthal (1992) found that most respondents in their study on the social context of adolescent sexuality believed that women had better control over their sexual drives than men, either because they were more responsible or because they had weaker sex drives to begin with. The greater societal constraints placed on female sexuality have led to the belief that women have a low desire for sex. Yet research has shown that not all males have strong sex drives, and that many women have sex drives that equal or exceed the average male's (McCormick, 1994). …