Apologies for the silence, which was in part due to a glorious whirlwind of a visit to Dublin, where I spent a while with Ireland’s answer to Oprah, Gerry Ryan. I’ve always been a bit of a fan of Gerry’s morning show on RTE2 so I know that pretty much anything goes. And I was encouraged that lying in the studio was a print-out of the story Lee Rudolph was talking about in a comment on an earlier post — “Europeans get drunk “to have sex”” (more below).
But still, I thought I had better be on best behaviour on a national breakfast show. Then, as I was just about to go into the studio, I heard Gerry winding up a call with a listener along these lines: “Sure it licks other dogs’ arses. It licks it’s own bollocks. And then you let it lick your face…”. Best behaviour? The dog’s bollocks to that.
You can hear the whole show here (choose May 9, 2008).
Now, back to that sex story. The Beeb was reporting on a study by Mark Bellis and colleagues published in the (wonderful, open access) BMC Public Health. The BBC story said this: “A third of 16 to 35-year-old men and 23% of women questioned said they drank to increase their chances of sex”. Then, a few paragraphs later, it said “this study showed many young people were “strategically” binge drinking or abusing drugs to improve their sex lives.” Having more sex and having better sex seem to me to be two rather different goals. But maybe more sex, any sex, does improve your sex life if you’re a 16 year-old. I’ve just now got down to reading the full study, to sort out the confusion.
Broadly, respondents in nine European cities said they get drunk to increase their pulling power, but they got high to make sex more fun. But when you actually look at the relationship between drug taking and getting laid, you find that it’s the regular users of coke and ecstasy that are having the most sex partners. Forty percent of people who use Charlie or E at least once a month had sex with more than five people in the last year, compared with just 19 percent of regular drinkers (and 20 percent of people who say they’ve been drunk in the last month). On the other hand, regular ecstasy and coke users were the most likely to say they later regretted some of the sex they’ve had while under the influence (28% and 22% had “oh-shit-did-I-really-do-that?” moments, compared with just 12% for regular drinkers).
So: you have more sex with drugs than drink, but you have less bad sex with drink than drugs. It seems to me the “strategic” decisions young people think they’re making — drink to get laid, take drugs to have fun — aren’t that strategic after all.