Sexuality Survey (2019 Edition)
In 2009, Mars’ Hill conducted a poll called the “Sexy Survey.” The survey asked the TWU student body questions regarding sexual activity, sexual orientation, abortion, and sexual assault. The results were intriguing—and now, ten years later, we would like to see how those numbers have changed. We asked the current student body to participate in a short, informal survey online, where the whole process was anonymous and voluntary.
CONTENT WARNING: Sensitive content, including sexual violence and abortion
The 2009 survey received 241 responses. This year’s survey received 505 responses, which is roughly ⅛ of the student body.
Due to variables such as age, religious affiliation, the limited reach and scope of the survey, its informal online format, among others, the results of this survey may be inconsistent or imprecise at times and therefore not entirely accurate in their representation of the TWU student body.
Because this survey relies on students to self-report, there may have been select instances of over- or under-reporting as well as fake or duplicate responses, which we took into account when calculating the results. Self-reported surveys are still considered to be valid in the academic realm, as they often do not show great variation from scientific research statistics.
This survey is also quantitative, not qualitative, meaning that the questions do not account for the different degrees to which people may or may not agree with the statements. Each question is limited to just a few answer options.
Q: Why did you name this feature the “Sexuality Survey?”
A: While the 2009 survey was called the “Sexy Survey,” we immediately chose a different title for this year’s feature, as many of the questions on the survey are not “sexy”—they are a serious and purposeful inquiry into the rates of sexual activity, abortion, and sexual violence within the student body. Referring to personal experiences that may be painful, traumatic, challenging, or shameful as “sexy” would be to deny their true weight and marginalize the stories of those we interact with every day.This is why we named this year’s poll the “Sexuality Survey.”
Q: Are there any questions from the 2009 survey you chose not to ask?
A: Yes. While the original “Sexy Survey” attempted to cover a wide variety of topics under the umbrella of sexual activity, we decided to focus closely on some of the more central questions that provide statistics pertinent to the everyday realities of the student body at large.
Q: Why did you formulate the questions this way? Why did you not give more options for the questions about gender and sexual orientation?
A: We wanted to keep our 2019 survey as close as possible in format to the 2009 survey, so we kept the wording of the questions the same. Of course, we could have added more options to choose from or changed how questions were formulated, but that would interfere with accuracy when comparing the two surveys.
Q: Some of the terms used in the survey such as “sexual encounter” or “sexually active” are quite ambiguous—why did you include questions that could be interpreted in multiple ways?
A: Besides that the terms were included in the 2009 questionnaire and thus are important to retain for the sake of consistency, they also provide the opportunity for us to discover how students themselves understand their behaviour. Sexual activity is also highly subjective in nature, meaning that similar encounters can be experienced in very different ways. The incorporation of these terms allows for students to express some of their personal interpretation and experience of various encounters within a quantitative survey.
We recognize that some of the survey’s content is sensitive in nature, and addresses intimate and serious topics. If you are personally struggling with any of the discussed topics, we encourage you to reach out to someone you can trust or seek help at the TWU Wellness Centre—they offer workshops and counselling services for students and staff.
This survey is by no means meant to judge, discourage, or promote any form of sexual behaviour. This is only meant to reflect the current student body, and is open to interpretation by students, staff, and faculty.
While this survey gives insight into a number of topics, it is only a starting point. We want you to interpret and discuss the results in relation to your own experience.
NOTEWORTHY RESULTS & QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER CONSIDERATION
In the 2009 survey, there was no option of “other” in the question of gender identification. We added this option in the current survey, and four people identified as “other” when answering that question. Therefore, we are not able to make any general conclusions about the non-binary TWU community, seeing as there is no point of comparison to the previous survey and the small sample size does not allow for an accurate representation of the community at large. Rather, the answers that the respondents provided are characteristic of themselves as individuals.
The current survey shows that, compared to the 2009 survey, rates of masturbation and pornography use are notably higher. For example, among females, the current use of pornography three or more times a week is at 12.2%, compared to only 1.6% just 10 years ago. In fact, the numbers in almost all categories of frequency are higher for both women and men than they were in 2009. This raises the question: have the rates in these areas actually increased, or are students simply being more honest with us and themselves about their use of pornography and masturbation? Or, are students more aware of what these terms constitute because of increasing openness and discussion of sexual behaviour? What role has the increasingly easy access to the internet played? These questions, among others, must be considered carefully before drawing any conclusions.
According to the response data, 12 of the 15 married participants had their first sexual encounter outside of marriage. Because of the small sample size, however, the 80% is likely not reflective of the experiences of all married TWU students.
Both male and female respondents reported a higher rate of sexual violence in the 2019 survey compared to the one conducted 10 years ago. Again, the question remains whether the rates of sexual violence are actually higher now than they used to be, or if we now have a better understanding of what constitutes sexual violence. There is also the concept of awareness—the discussion around the topic of sexual violence has been more prevalent among students in recent years, and this phenomenon may have prompted respondents to be more open about and gain a better understanding of their own experiences with sexual violence.
To see the results of the previous survey done in 2009 click the following link and go to page 12: Mars’Hill Survey 2009