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The Big Sexy O-Town Survey results, part two!

By Katie Marsh on February 21, 2011

Photo courtesy of Lew57 on Flickr.

Last week, we posted the results of Apartment613’s first ever Big Sexy O-Town Survey. However, because there was just way too much information (both literally and figuratively), we split those results up into two parts. Today, we’ll be revealing how our readers learned about sex and how they now put that knowledge into practice. The 28 question survey was designed by our own sex columnist, Nadine Thornhill, with some helpful input and prize give-away from Venus Envy’s Shelley Taylor.

So, when did Ottawans first learn about sex? What are the city’s top fetishes and kinks? Do people accessorize (their sex life, that is, not their outfits)? The answer to these questions and many more await below.

Needless to say, viewer discretion is advised!

Disclaimer and note on methodology

Apartment613’s Big Sexy O-Town survey is intended for kicks and giggles. No fancy statistical techniques were harmed in the creation of this survey. Consequently, our results are in no way presumed to give definitive scientific results on the sexual behaviour of any group of Ottawans. While we may refer to “Ottawans” during the survey for style reasons, we are using this term as a synonym for the respondents of the survey, and do not mean to imply that these results apply to the city as a whole.

To avoid being completely off base, we will not report on questions that received less than five per cent of the total number of responses (733), which works out to about 36. This means that we have sometimes grouped responses into larger categories to reach the 36 response threshold.

For example, only seven people said they were outside of traditional gender categories, so we didn’t have enough data to analyze the trans or two-spirited community. For the same reason, we also decided to group people who identified as queer, gay or lesbian into one category: together they accounted for six per cent of respondents.

Quotes from the write-in questions have been edited for spelling and punctuation, but are otherwise unchanged.

Let’s learn about sex, baby!

On average, our respondents told us they first learned about sex between the ages of nine and 10, although many people mentioned that they couldn’t recall exactly when they first realized that birds and bees actually have very little to do with it. When we asked how Ottawans found out about sex, the most popular response from our list of options was through friends or peers (48 per cent). That was followed by school, at 32 per cent – although the facts, as readers told us, didn’t always come from the teacher:

“Big brother ran into my grade 3 class at lunch and told everyone at my table. Word spread quickly after that.”

Parents were the third most common choice, reported by 31 per cent of respondents. Unfortunately their messages weren’t always 100% clear:

“In grade six, I was in room 6 – 9. All the older kids would always yell “sixty ninnnnnne”, so I asked my mother what that was all about. She drew me a stick diagram and I didn’t understand until grade 10 why a large circle (head) would be interested in a small stick!”

Some literary-minded folks told us they got their knowledge from non-fiction and erotic books – separate categories that, if they were joined into one single category, would have came in tied for second place. At least one respondent wasn’t content to keep their new found wisdom to themselves:

“My mother got me a book called “Where Did I Come From?” I approached it in a very academic way. The woman running my daycare once caught me reading it to the other kids the way a teacher would read a story book to a class, showing them the pictures as I read it.”

And of course, sex ed is educational in more ways then one:.

“Basics from my parents. Then books as a teen “Our Bodies Ourselves” combined with late night French erotica. The latter is probably why I’m bilingual today.”

We also noticed a bit of a generation gap, with 17 per cent of respondents aged 19 to 25 indicating that they learned about sex from the internet – compared to only 5.2% of 25 to 29-year-olds. We also saw some interesting variation between the sexes: 35 per cent of women reported learning about sex from their parents, for example, compared to only 25 per cent of men. Conversely, just under eight per cent of women said they were schooled in the art of seduction by film or print porn, while 31 per cent of men said porn was how they first learned exactly what went where.

Protect yourself!

What forms of contraception and STI protection do Ottawans use? Unfortunately, we let our heteronormative world view get the better of us when we formulated this question and the list of 15 possible options – and many of you made up for our omission by mentioning gloves and dental dams in the write-in section. Also, we didn’t mention low-risk sexual practices that serve as effective forms off sexual protection, like kissing, petting, frottage and mutual masturbation. Our bad!

With these omissions in mind, condoms were clearly the most popular form of sexual protection, with 92 per cent of respondents reporting having used them. Only four other forms had been used by more than 10 per cent of Ottawans: contraceptive pills (66 per cent), the withdrawal method (37 per cent), the day after pill (26 per cent) and good ol’ abstinence (25 per cent).

The good news is that Ottawans are, overall, in favour of safe sex. Only six per cent reported having never used any of the 15 safe sex options we listed. The bad news is that withdrawal ranked in third place, despite being a very ineffective way of preventing either pregnancy or STIs.

Sexual resources

Luckily, Ottawans have a number of helpful resources for their sexual queries right at their fingertips – especially if those fingertips are typing away on a laptop or a BlackBerry. We asked how people sought out information about their sexual health, and 91 per cent of respondents said they’d looked up answers online. An additional 49 per cent said they’d asked their family doctor for information, with 41 per cent telling us they also went to their friends and peers. Many other sources of sex info got special shoutouts, like survey sponsor Venus Envy, Planned Parenthood Ottawa, and Dan Savage, patron saint of sex educators worldwide. Kind words were also bestowed upon at least one community health care centre:

“The Somerset West community health centre is PHENOMENAL! They will not bat an eyelash if you walk in and tell them you’re a fluid-bonded, poly, kinky, transgender sex worker who’s into blood play. Seriously. They rawk.”

Ottawa’s top kinks and fetishes!

Sure, knowledge is power, but at some point you have to stop learning and start practicing if you ever want to get good at anything. So with this in mind, we now move into the sex practice section of the survey.

Given the reputation Ottawans have of being such conservatives in their everyday life, we wondered whether all that repressed energy might be finding an outlet in the sack! We gave respondents a list of 14 common fetishes and asked them to pick which ones got them going. Lingerie/underwear (37 per cent), submission (31 per cent) and bondage (29 per cent) were the three most popular kinks, and the rest can be seen in the phallic bar graphs below:

We also noticed some definite gender differences that aren’t represented in the above chart. Ottawa women were more likely to say they enjoyed bondage and submission than men, for example – the affirmative responses in those two categories were eight and 17 percentage points higher, respectively, for the ladies. Guys, on the other hand, were more likely to have foot or shoe fetishes (nine percentage points higher) or be into voyeurism (15 percentage points higher).

The city’s gay, lesbian and queer community reported liking almost every kink or fetish more then their straight counterparts, although the relatively small pool of respondents could have been skewing the results. The only choice that straight folk said they enjoyed more was the foot/shoe fetish. Oh yeah, there were a number of fetishes we missed, which you wonderfully perverted people told us all about in the comments:  blood play, stingy sensations, terrycloth, muscles on women, sharp objects, scarification and cutting, hair pulling, water play, and orgasm denial. And of course:

“I like big butts and I can not lie..”

A little less then a third of respondents (31 per cent) reported having no sexual kinks or fetishes at all.

How do you accessorize your sexy times?

The right accessory can dress up anything, and sex is no exception. We asked you to peruse a long list of fun stuff that’s been known to occasionally find its way into the bedroom (or shower, living room, campsite, etc.) and tell us which items you incorporate into your sex life.

Topping the list was lube (85 per cent) and vibrators (71 per cent). In a tight three-way (snicker) battle for third, handcuffs/tethers and blindfolds both tied with 54 per cent, while dildos were picked by 53 per cent of respondents. Some of the write-ins included anal beads, gags, cages, electrical toys, shock collars, and cock rings. However, we also learned that accessorizing your love life doesn’t have to include a trip to the store  – many people told us about using common household items like knives, ice cubes, electric toothbrushes, hairbrushes, broom handles, and rope to spice things up on the cheap. And doubling your pleasure by using an object, or even a service, for a secondary purpose is also a good option:

“One of the sexiest things that has ever happened to me was – once, getting my hair shampooed at the salon. I almost lost it, it felt so good. Every time I go for a haircut, I secretly hope to experience that again – but none of the shampooers has ever measured up since.”

Roses are red, my balls are blue…

Using language for sex is as old as the written word, so we had to ask what sort of (c)literary adventures our readers have gotten up to. One in 10 respondents said they’d used old-fashioned snail mail to get their partner going:

“I had one boyfriend who used to write me explicit notes. Do you remember back in high school when writing notes was the thing to do?”

Not really, actually: this is the internet generation, after all, and it’s clear from the responses we got that the web is inspiring all sorts of smutty cumcommunication. Sexting was the most popular way to get in a little long distance fun, with 62 per cent of respondents having used a text message to talk dirty to a partner. Email and phone came in a close second and third, with 59 per cent and 56 per cent respectively. We forgot to ask about Skype and instant messaging services, both of which were popular write-in answers.

Liar, liar, pants on fire – so you’d better take them off!

You’ll recall that in the first part of our survey analysis, we noted that survey-takers told us they were highly unlikely to abstain from sex for moral, ethical, or spiritual reasons. It turns out that’s not the only evidence of the depravity of the average Ottawan – nearly one in five (17 per cent) respondents said they’d lied either to get sex or to avoid it. In your own cheatin’ words:

“I’ve told guys I didn’t want a relationship so I could get them into bed (reverse player?)”

“Said I had gotten all my STI testing done, said I was on the pill, said I was single (simpler than explaining open relationships but then awkward when you get to a place where you have to).”

Men were more likely (24 per cent) than women (14 per cent) to admit to using deception as a means for gettin’ some action:

“I think my honesty actually throws the majority of women off. Men are expected to woo in a manner that is slightly deceptive.” (Is this true?)

On the other hand, 55 per cent of respondents have lied to avoid sex or to avoid hurting someone’s feelings when they themselves weren’t feeling it. Pretending to be sick, tired, or menstruating were common excuses – although at least one person told a lie that was literally breathtaking:

“faked an asthma attack (i don’t have asthma)”

Our furry friends… or our audience?

Was this question funny, cute, or creepy? The jury’s still out, but to wrap up the survey we asked if you’d ever had sex while a pet or animal watched. Turns out that 55 per cent of you said you had, although a good number also indicated that the question itself may have resulted in permanent emotional scarring.

As a bonus, Apartment613 finally answered that age-old question, one you’ve no doubt stayed up nights contemplating: who are more voyeuristic, cats or dogs? According to the write-in responses, it’s our little feline perverts for the win: 47 people said their cats have watched them have sex, while only 16 people mentioned dogs. But the personal testimonies here speak much louder than the numbers: dogs were usually described as “sleeping” or “confused,” but cats were “curious,” “sneaky,” and “unimpressed.” We also learned once more why cats’ curiosity is not always a good thing:

“make the cat stop licking me… Oh, shit, I just kicked the cat across the room”

That’s all for this year! Hope you enjoyed this little foray into the sexual habits of Ottawans, and we’ll (possibly) do this again next February.