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Men don’t last very long in bed – and it bothers them more than it bothers women

Reports suggest that “an astonishing 45 per cent of men finish the sex act too quickly”.

In a piece on Nerve.com, Harry Fisch, author of the new book The New Naked: The Ultimate Sex Education for Grown-Ups, reports that “an astonishing 45 per cent of men finish the sex act too quickly”. How quickly? Within two minutes, according to Fisch. This would seem to be bad news for those men’s partners and good news for the posthumous reputation of sex researcher Alfred Kinsey, whose research in the 1940s and 1950s concluded that three-quarters of men usually ejaculated within two minutes.

Before you conclude that Fisch's data simply represents more evidence of a male-dominated society’s inherent pleasure inequality, it’s worth noting that more recent scholars have looked into the question of what the different sexes actually think about it. As it happens, men may be more bothered by it than women. For a 2004 paper in the Journal of Sex Research, University of New Brunswick researchers S Andrea Miller and E Sandra Byers interviewed 152 heterosexual couples on their “actual and desired duration of foreplay and of intercourse”. Their subjects spanned a wide range of ages – 21 to 77 years old – and relationship type – from 6-month to 50-year partnerships. Miller and Byers found that men reported a much longer ideal duration than did their partners. 

It's true that for both sexes, the “ideal” length of both foreplay and intercourse was much longer than the actual. But the New Brunswick results at least suggest that the men are not happy with this status quo. 

Fisch also points out that two minutes is “way too speedy for the average woman to be able to have an orgasm through vaginal penetration alone”. But an even older piece of research suggests that link might not be quite so clear. In a 1951 paper in the Journal of Psychology, “Correlates of orgasm adequacy in a group of 556 wives,” psychologist Lewis Terman found no significant correlation between intercourse duration and female “orgasm adequacy”. Alas, the concept of speed has not fared as well in more recent research. In a 2009 paper in The Journal of Sexual Medicine, Czech psychologists Petr Weiss and Stuart Brody found, based on surveys with 2,360 Czech women, that women’s chance of having an orgasm was much more highly correlated with duration of sex than of foreplay.

The good news here is that, according to Fisch, the average duration is 7.3 minutes – only 4 minutes less than women’s “ideal”.

This article first appeared on newrepublic.com

DebateTech
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Politicians: it's no longer OK to know nothing about technology

It’s bad enough to joke about not being "techy"; it's worse to back a piece of legislation from a position of ignorance. 

Earlier this week, facing down a 600-strong battalion of London’s tech sector at a mayoral hustings in Stratford, Zac Goldsmith opened his five minute pitch with his characteristic charm. “I’m not very techy!” he exclaimed. “I understand coding about as well as Swahili!”

Pointless jibe at a foreign language aside, this was an ill-chosen way to begin his address - especially considering that the rest of his speech showed he was reasonably well-briefed on the problems facing the sector, and the solutions (including improving broadband speeds and devolving skills budgets) which could help.

But the offhand reference to his own ignorance, and the implication that it would be seen as attractive by this particular audience, implies that Goldsmith, and other politicians like him, haven’t moved on since the 90s. The comment seemed designed to say: “Oh, I don't know about that - I'll leave it to the geeks like you!"

This is bad enough from a mayoral hopeful.  But on the same day, the Intelligence and Security Committee of Parliament filed its report on the Draft Investigatory Powers Bill, the legislation drafted by the Home Office which will define how and how far the government and secret services can pry into our digital communications. Throughout, there's the sense that the ISC doesn't think the department behind the bill had a firm grasp on the issues at hand. Words like "inconsistent" and "lacking in clarity" pop up again and again. In one section, the authors note:

"While the issues under consideration are undoubtedly complex, we are nevertheless concerned that thus far the Government has missed the opportunity to provide the clarity and assurance which is badly needed."

The report joins criticism from other directions, including those raised by Internet Service Providers last year, that the bill's writers didn't appear to know much about digital communications at all, much less the issues surrounding encryption of personal messages.

One good example: the bill calls for the collection of "internet connection records", the digital equivalent of phone call records, which show the domains visited by internet users but not their content. But it turns out these records don't exist in this form: the bill actually invented both the phrase and the concept. As one provider commented at the time, anyone in favour of their collection "do not understand how the Internet works". 

Politicians have a long and colourful history of taking on topics - even ministerial posts - in fields they know little to nothing about. This, in itself, is a problem. But politicians themselves are often the people extolling importance of technology, especially to the British economy - which makes their own lack of knowledge particularly grating. No politician would feel comfortable admitting a lack of knowledge, on, say, economics. I can’t imagine Goldsmith guffawing "Oh, the deficit?  That's all Greek to me!"  over dinner with Cameron. 

The mayoral candidates on stage at the DebateTech hustings this week were eager to agree that tech is London’s fastest growing industry, but could do little more than bleat the words “tech hub” with fear in their eyes that someone might ask them what exactly that meant. (A notable exception was Green candidate Sian Berry, who has actually worked for a tech start-up.) It was telling that all were particularly keen on improving internet speeds -  probably because this is something they do have day-to-day engagement with. Just don't ask them how to go about doing it.

The existence of organisations like Tech London Advocates, the industry group which co-organised the hustings, is important, and can go some way towards educating the future mayor on the issues the industry faces. But the technology and information sectors have been responsible for 30 per cent of job growth in the capital since 2009 - we can't afford to have a mayor who blanches at the mention of code. 

If we’re to believe the politicians themselves, with all their talk of coding camps and skills incubators and teaching the elderly to email, we need a political sphere where boasting that you're not "techy" isn’t cool or funny - it’s just kind of embarrassing. 

Barbara Speed is a technology and digital culture writer at the New Statesman and a staff writer at CityMetric.