some/many/most

I spend a lot of time reading sex info websites and blogs as part of my job. They can be a great place to find the latest information about sexuality, get answers to questions, and check out the current thinking about issues that affect sex. Having said that, I’m not the first one to notice that one of the greatest strengths and biggest weaknesses of the internet is that anyone can post a webpage and make it look like they’re an expert. Lots of the writing on sexuality is simply inaccurate or entirely wrong. So here’s an easy thing to look for when you’re checking out the sex info online.

Look to see if the writer makes sweeping statements. That might be something like “women like vibrators” or “men like blowjobs” or “people who watch porn do it for this reason”. When it comes to sex, there is almost nothing you can say that applies to everyone in the world. There’s just too much diversity in sexual expression. I’ve spent the last two decades studying sex and I can tell you that one of the few certainties we have when it comes to sex is that there’s a lot of variation among people’s actions, choices, and motivations.

Given that, if someone wants to be accurate when they’re talking about sex, they need to use language like “some/many/most.” For example:

Many women like vibrators.

Not all women like vibrators. You heard it here first. OK, maybe not. But lots of the sex info I’ve seen would make you think that this is news.

It may seem like a small thing, but it can be a useful tip when you’re looking for information. In my experience, a writer who makes sweeping statements often doesn’t know any better. Do you really want to get advice from a “sexpert” who doesn’t know what they’re talking about? Or who may be covering up their ignorance by talking louder? And what if you or your partner is one of the many women who don’t like vibrators? Are you going to think that there’s something wrong with you? A lot of people take it that way when their experience doesn’t match what an “expert” says.

Part of the problem is that some/many/most doesn’t sell magazines or drive traffic to websites. Can you imagine a checkout stand magazine that offered to tell you about “the sex tips that might drive him wild” instead of promising that their advice will rock his world? Almost every time that I’ve been interviewed, the reporter or writer has pressed me to make a claim that just isn’t true because it sounds “better.”

In any case, my suggestion is that any time you read anything about sex in which the writer doesn’t use some/many/most, take it with a big grain of salt. At the very least, don’t be suprised if your experience doesn’t match theirs. Your experience is more valid than anything someone else can say about what you “should” be like.

Dr. Charlie Glickman

Charlie Glickman is the Education Program Manager at Good Vibrations. He also writes, blogs, teaches workshops and university courses, presents at conferences, and trains sexuality educators. He’s certified by the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors, and Therapists, and loves geeking out about sex, relationships, sex-positivity, love and shame, communities of erotic affiliation, and sexual practices and techniques of all varieties. Follow him online, on Twitter at @charlieglickman, or on Facebook.

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