Are The Male Elite Enjoying A Sexual Boomtime?

Black Pill CritiqueSex Statistics

A stat which is quickly joining the ranks of other manosphere staples comes from a study by Harper et al. (2017) titled ‘Changes in the Distribution of Sex Partners in the United States: 2002 to 2011–2013’.

Drawing on data from the National Survey of Family Growth’s 2002 and 2011-13 surveys, it found a significant increase in the number of lifetime female sex partners reported by the ‘top 20% and 5% of men’, while no such change was observed among women.

This was met with much excitement as it was perceived as lending credence to the ‘chad is increasingly monopolizing the women’ meme, which I think is fair to say is the central theme in the manosphere. It always seems to come back to this premise.

Räsänen (2023) cited this finding in a small article on ‘sexual loneliness’ which generated a fair amount of buzz on social media.

Lindner (2023) cited it in a paper which served as the basis for this rather condescendingly titled article in the Financial Times:

So this idea has effectively entered the mainstream, and this study is one of the main pieces of ‘evidence’ being presented for it.

First let’s look at the study to see exactly what we’re dealing with.

Here is the table for men. For clarity, by ‘top 20%’ and ‘top 5%’ you may think it’d be referring to the average values within these groups, but here it’s referring to percentiles, or points in the distribution.

They determined statistical significance by checking whether the 95% CIs between the values overlapped. This is a conservative method for determining statistical significance, and there are some differences here that would likely have a low p-value as their CIs only just touch (which generally indicates a p-value of <.01), such as Hispanic men in the 95th percentile and Black men in the 80th percentile. There would also be some significant increases among some subgroups of women.

I think the fact that the increase was mainly concentrated in these non-white subgroups is an important caveat. It seems in the case of the 95th percentile most of the increase was a result of Hispanics catching up to the rest. There were no significant increases for white men, who represent the majority of the male population. Indeed if we’re to believe these figures, white men at the 80th percentile took a massive L, going from having 123 partners in 2002 to just 15 in 2011-13. Of course this was a typo, the real number is 13, but this suggests that we can’t rule out other mistakes. For instance, the apparent blunder when it came to the CIs for the 80th percentile of men overall. I attempted to replicate this result using the same ‘survey’ package in R that they reported using, yet the CI it returned for 2002 was 12-15 rather than 11-14:

This would render the difference non-significant, as the upper bound would overlap with the 2011-13 figure. The CI for 2011-13 was also different for me at 15-20 rather than 15-15. I was able to replicate the 95th percentile results, so I don’t think it’s something I’m doing differently.

There are a couple of other things worth mentioning. As the screenshot from the article says, this apparent increase in the ‘top 5%’ of men is supposedly being accompanied by a ‘proliferation’ of incels. However if we compare the percentage of men reporting no opposite-sex sex partners in the past year, we find no significant differences. 21.1% of men in 2002 and 21.5% in 2011-13 reported this, well within each other’s margins of error. It instead goes off data from the GSS (which also failed to show a rise in this timespan) from about 2010-2018 (which then reversed in the next two surveys).

Lindner (2023) states that, quote: “Thus, while the amount of male sex that was had was unchanged, more of the sex was consolidated into ‘extra sex’ for the top 5-20% of men”. This simply isn’t true going by the same dataset however. In 2002, the mean sex partner count for men was 8.6 (SE = .244), while in 2011-13 it was 9.9 (SE = .36). This difference is significant at .01.

Also, while there was no significant difference in the number of sex partners being reported by the 80th percentile of women, there was if we compare the mean lifetime male sex partners among the top 20% of women, 16 (SE = .367) in 2002 and 17.8 (SE = .476) in 2011-13. There was also a significant increase in the mean number of lifetime male sex partners among women more generally from 5.1 to 5.8.

Has This Trend Continued?

Since these surveys were conducted in 2002 and 2011-13, they predated the rise of dating apps. A highly popular narrative maintains that dating apps have facilitated this dynamic. This was mentioned in both the papers, as well as again the GSS sexlessness data. Therefore we have all the more reason to think that this skew will have only intensified with time, right?

Let’s first look at the subsequent NSFG surveys, as there have been three released since the 2011-13 one. Though there were no significant changes among the 95th percentile, it seems unlikely that there was a noteworthy increase. Indeed if we look at the percentage reporting the cap of 50+, there was a significant drop from 5.6% in 2011-13 to 3.9% in 2017-19. There definitely wasn’t an escalating monopolization among the 80th percentile either. There was also a significant reduction in the mean number of lifetime partners reported among the top 20% and 5%. There were no significant changes in the number of opposite-sex sex partners in the past year among the 80th or 95th percentiles.

NSFG Lifetime sex partners among the top 20% and 5% of men

For women we don’t see much change either, though there was a significant increase among the 80th percentile between 2002 and 2015-19. If we’re to apply the same logic then I guess we now have to accept that stacies are pricing mid girls out of the dating market. Of course it may just be that there is less social pressure compelling them to under-report.

We can get more specific though. The ages range from 15 to 45, but this trend would presumably hit the younger demographic harder. Let’s see if we can spot any significant trends in the 18-29 bracket. While the 2002 to 2011-13 change is still present, there is a more apparent reversal of this trend, with the most recent survey year of 2017-19 having 95th percentile men reporting 25 partners down from 38 in 2011-13, with the difference possibly being statistically significant or at least marginally so using the more liberal method of gauging it by checking if the CI overlap is half or less of that of the margins of error. It looks like chad has actually been getting lazy lately. No significant changes among the 80th percentile, and no significant changes in sex partners in the past year in either percentile, though there was a significant reduction in the mean value among the top 20% from 2011-13 to 2017-19.

NSFG Lifetime sex partners among the top 20% and 5% of 18-29 men


Let’s now apply this method to other survey datasets to see if we can get a more comprehensive overview of what’s going on, beginning with the General Social Survey. The 95th percentile data is a bit more scattered due to smaller sample sizes. Nonetheless, the number among the 95th percentile was significantly lower in 2018 and 2022 than in years prior to 2018, with the exception of 2022 and 2010. There were no significant differences among the 80th percentile, but if anything we see a decrease.

Remember that the 2018 GSS was used as the basis for the supposed surge in sexlessness in young men despite the supposed ‘sexual boomtime’ enjoyed by the ‘male elite’, yet if we actually look at the same source we don’t find that it was accompanied by this, and again there was no increase in sexlessness when looking at the NSFG data in the time period where this apparently occurred. You have to cherry-pick different parts from each respective survey in order to paint this picture.

GSS Lifetime sex partners among the top 20% and 5% of 18-29 men


Another survey, the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, found a significantly lower number reported by the 80th percentile in the last two surveys than in 2005-08 and 1999-00 using their method, and by the 95th percentile in the last survey and the 2005-08 surveys using a more liberal one.

NHANES Lifetime sex partners among the top 20% and 5% of 20-30 men
Age range adjusted since the surveys before 2009-10 included only 20+

So after examining the more recent surveys, far from the much-trumpeted ‘chadopolization’, we discover that there has actually been a dip in sexual activity among the so-called ‘male elite’. This may reflect a social trend which isn’t unique to ‘lesser males’ but is affecting everyone to some degree.

Conclusion

I know people are strongly attached to this meme narrative, but I’m afraid the weight of the evidence simply doesn’t support it. The data following the 2011-13 and in other sources don’t show an increase in the sexual experience reported by the most sexually promiscuous men. Moreover the change from 2002 to 2011-13 appeared to actually be nonsignificant among the 80th percentile. When you actually think about it it doesn’t even make sense that there’d be a rise among the most promiscuous men with no change in the most promiscuous women or the median of either gender. The more promiscuous men have a lot more extra partners than the less promiscuous men have fewer, and the NSFG didn’t show an increase in celibacy, or a significant reduction in the number of partners the bottom 50% of men reported.

If this was happening we’d also probably expect these chads to be infecting large swathes of women with STDs, yet they have not been rising disproportionately among women relative to heterosexual men (CDC, 2019). If you are convinced that dating apps must be facilitating such a trend, I refer you to my article on why this is likely not the case. It’s also worth mentioning that men’s promiscuity is only very marginally at best influenced by physical characteristics, and this association doesn’t seem to have strengthened over the past decade either. There’s very little ‘elite’ about the men sleeping around the most, or fathering the most offspring for that matter.

One more thing I’ll quickly mention is that while the fact that there is a minority of men who have most of the sexual partners may seem to vindicate the ’80/20′ meme, it’s not a zero-sum game, and most of the sex partners will be drawn from a similar pool of promiscuous women. Therefore there is an 80/20 rule of sorts, or something approximating it, but it’s also the case for women.

So overall, there is no indication that the most promiscuous men are enjoying a ‘boomtime’ but if anything are in a bust phase, probably because they aren’t immune to the effects of social disintegration, declining testosterone levels, and so on either. There’s no need to stay up at night fretting over the chad bogeyman under your bed any longer.

References

Harper, C. R., Dittus, P. J., Leichliter, J. S., & Aral, S. O. (2017). Changes in the Distribution of Sex Partners in the United States: 2002 to 2011-2013. Sexually transmitted diseases44(2), 96–100. https://doi.org/10.1097/OLQ.0000000000000554

Räsänen, J. (2023). Sexual loneliness: A neglected public health problem? Bioethics, 37(2), 101–102. https://doi.org/10.1111/bioe.13134

Lindner, M. (2023). The Sense in Senseless Violence: Male Reproductive Strategy and the Modern Sexual Marketplace as Contributors to Violent Extremism. Adaptive Human Behavior and Physiology, 9(3), 217–251. https://doi.org/10.1007/s40750-023-00219-w

Kuper, S. (2023). “We should pity (some of) the incels”. The Financial Times. https://www.ft.com/content/4ab260b5-ce0b-4636-a819-4b10190290cb

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2019). Sexually transmitted disease surveillance 2019. https://www.cdc.gov/std/statistics/2019/std-surveillance-2019.pdf

2 Comments

  1. Dear anonymous Nuancepill,
    A major problem with all these studies is a lack of an even fuzzy benchmark for attractiveness. Typically these studies get an numerically limited, amorphous clot of men or women to rate a group of pictures. Not exactly a robust denominator on which to base a study.

    What’s needed is a more solid definition or attractiveness/looks/hotness. A gold standard that is probably unachievable, even within a given population.

    Personally, I go by the axiom that I know prettyness when I see it.

    anonymous joseph

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