New Delhi, April 19: Male chauvinists, here’s an irresistible reason why you should champion the cause of gender equality: it may help improve your sex life when you grow old.
A large study has found that older couples in countries with gender equality have happier sex lives than those who live in societies where men dominate women.
The study ' described as the first survey of sex by middle-aged and older couples worldwide, though India was not included ' covered around 27,500 people aged between 40 and 80 in 29 countries.
Published in this month’s issue of the journal Archives of Sexual Behaviour, the study found that couples in Austria reported the greatest sexual satisfaction, followed by the US, Spain and Canada.
“Male-centred cultures, where sexual behaviour is more oriented toward procreation, tend to discount the importance of sexual pleasure for women,” said Edward Laumann, a professor of sociology at the University of Chicago.
“Pleasure is not part of the story” in sexually conservative cultures, said Laumann, the lead author of the study sponsored by Pfizer Inc. “Many women... characterise sex as dirty, as a duty, something they endure”, and often stop having it after 50.In relationships based on gender equality, couples tend to develop sexual habits that are more in keeping with both partners’ interests, Laumann added.
The study that has been under way for several years is the first to include large numbers of people from diverse religious faiths. Christians, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists and other Asian religions as well as atheists were covered.
Couples from Japan and Taiwan reported low satisfaction with sex lives, while satisfaction levels among couples in Algeria, Egypt and Turkey were roughly midway between the West and the Orient.
The findings seem to go against the perception that gender inequality is more widely prevalent in West Asian countries than in East Asia. But analysts pointed out that the three countries covered ' Algeria, Egypt and Turkey ' are more liberal than other countries in the region and this is reflected in the result of the survey.
In the West, two-thirds of men and women reported that their sexual relationships were satisfying, and 80 per cent said they were content with their ability to have sex.
About 50 per cent men and 33 per cent women in western cultures said sex was extremely or very important.
However, in east Asian countries, only one-quarter of men and women reported physical and emotional pleasure with sex. Only 28 per cent men and 12 per cent women said sex was important.
In West Asian countries, 50 per cent men and 38 per cent women reported their sex lives as satisfying. Sixty per cent men and 37 per cent women said sex was an important part of their lives.
Laumann and his collaborators from Brazil, China, the UK, Italy, South Africa and the US designed a questionnaire to draw out people’s subjective evaluation of the role of sex in their relationships with partners.