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Sex at MIT
February 19, 2010 6:41 PM   Subscribe

Sex@MIT

Among other gems, freshman are about average sexually, but upperclassmen fall behind. Fraternities and Sororities report the lowest rates of virginity. A neat little statistical glimpse into a population that's anything but average.
posted by SpecialK (50 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

 
back in 1969 (shut up, I know I'm old), in Jr. College, taking my very first Psych class... we had to do some sort of stupid freshman research project...

These are pretty much the same questions I asked every good looking girl....

I think, if I remember correctly, it resulted in one or two interesting experiences that I don't care to post on the internet.
posted by HuronBob at 6:52 PM on February 19, 2010 [2 favorites]


Course 17 is political science, by the way. (The article doesn't clarify.)
posted by decagon at 6:54 PM on February 19, 2010


Further insight.
posted by phrontist at 6:55 PM on February 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


Don't trust any sexual survey... evar!
posted by Bathtub Bobsled at 6:56 PM on February 19, 2010


I wonder if the MassArt kids would have used a turd-brown bar graph to represent anal sex. Just saying.
posted by kuujjuarapik at 7:04 PM on February 19, 2010 [8 favorites]


MIT course numbers (according to everything2):

Course 1: Civil and Environmental Engineering
Course 2: Mechanical Engineering
Course 3: Materials Science and Engineering
Course 4: Architecture
Course 5: Chemistry
Course 6: Electrical Engineering and Computer Science
Course 7: Biology
Course 8: Physics
Course 9: Brain and Cognitive Science
Course 10: Chemical Engineering
Course 11: Urban Studies and Planning
Course 12: Earth, Atmospheric, and Planetary Science (EAPS)
Course 13: Ocean Engineering
Course 14: Economics
Course 15: Management
Course 16: Aeronautics and Astronautics
Course 17: Political Science
Course 18: Mathematics
Course 19: Not in Use. Formerly Food Sciences, now used unofficially to refer to roof and tunnel hacking.
Course 20: Applied Biological Sciences
Course 21: Humanities yes, all of them
Course 22: Nuclear Engineering
Course 23: Not in Use
Course 24: Linguistics and Philosophy
posted by treepour at 7:06 PM on February 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


First thought:
Wow one of those is very active.
Second thought:
Who goes to MIT for Urban Studies and Planning?
posted by Big_B at 7:08 PM on February 19, 2010


It seems we are an easy bunch to please. 66 percent of men and 66 percent of women rate the quality of the sex they are having as “high” or “very high.”
THEY ARE FUCKING TEENAGERS!
posted by Throw away your common sense and get an afro! at 7:08 PM on February 19, 2010 [8 favorites]


Course 23: Fnord
posted by stevis23 at 7:12 PM on February 19, 2010 [6 favorites]


I'm sorry, but who the hell cares about sex at MIT? Why MIT? Is it because of the nerd stereotype?

THEY ARE FUCKING TEENAGERS!
I believe that's true of only about 40% of their teenage population.
posted by spiderskull at 7:20 PM on February 19, 2010 [4 favorites]


MIT has two groups of students:

1) Massively intelligent human beings who act like fucking aliens.
2) Charming charismatics who can con a blind man into reading street signs.

If a student from group 1) is attractive or icily arrogant, they will be seduced by a student from group 2). If a student is from group 2), they better learn quick how to get a nerd's attention, or consign themselves to trying to date the locals, or worse, Harvard undergrads, who are much better at social games than they are. Neither locals or Harvardites will help you with your pass/fail super-insane homework.

As a nerd in the early '90s who wanted to play with Unix workstations in a locked lab while flunking out of art school, you learned how to convincingly play one side against the other.
posted by Slap*Happy at 8:02 PM on February 19, 2010 [8 favorites]


As well as the course numbers, there's an entry for "CMS" under the same-sex sexual encounters question-- that's Comparative Media Studies.
posted by fairytale of los angeles at 8:12 PM on February 19, 2010


Who goes to MIT for Urban Studies and Planning?


According to this bar chart: Gay people.

Also, those Poly Sci majors are fucking like crazy.
posted by Skygazer at 8:31 PM on February 19, 2010


Skygazer: "According to this bar chart: Gay people."

Whoops. I apparently read that incorrectly, and missed the "same" part. Disregard.
Nothing wrong with urban planning also.

/slinks away
posted by Big_B at 8:48 PM on February 19, 2010


As a nerd in the early '90s who wanted to play with Unix workstations in a locked lab while flunking out of art school, you learned how to convincingly play one side against the other.

*cough* root/mrroot *cough*

Ahem. What?
posted by scalefree at 8:56 PM on February 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


I thought the whole point of college was to have sex.
posted by Astro Zombie at 9:01 PM on February 19, 2010


This is why I chose liberal arts- we don't do math about sex.
posted by MadamM at 9:04 PM on February 19, 2010 [2 favorites]



Who goes to MIT for Urban Studies and Planning?


MIT has the highest rated planning graduate program in the country.

Planning involves, by the way, a lot of math. Especially transportation planning.

-Transportation planning student. Not at MIT.
posted by millipede at 9:14 PM on February 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


nota bene: "Poly Sci" is not "Poli Sci". (grumbles the single mono me)
posted by oonh at 9:30 PM on February 19, 2010


THEY ARE FUCKING TEENAGERS!

I am alternately pleased and troubled by the duality of meaning, here.
posted by Jon Mitchell at 9:52 PM on February 19, 2010


As a professional planner/geek, the MIT Urban Studies and Planning program sounds pretty keen, though I have yet to sample their free online course material.
posted by filthy light thief at 10:42 PM on February 19, 2010


interesting point of comparison: the Yale sex scene
(part 1 is the most relevant)
part 1
part 2
part 3
posted by elsewhen at 10:50 PM on February 19, 2010


Who goes to MIT for Urban Studies and Planning?

If all goes right in the next few weeks, I!

(I'm currently an undergrad at MIT, although not in Planning)

(I won't comment on whether I just came back from a steamy sex session or not :) )
posted by The Biggest Dreamer at 10:59 PM on February 19, 2010


who are the 1.2% who don't consider vaginal intercourse to be "sex"?

What's going on in "Senior house"?

And most importantly: What the fuck are "floorcrest rates"?
posted by delmoi at 11:55 PM on February 19, 2010


Oh, it's floorcest, not floorcrest. Apparently it means having sex with people on your dorm floor
posted by delmoi at 11:58 PM on February 19, 2010


I am alternately pleased and troubled by the duality of meaning, here.

Does my double entendre excite you?
posted by Throw away your common sense and get an afro! at 12:06 AM on February 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


That is, there are people who live on the same floor of the same dorm as you, and you have sex with those people.

The sex doesn't necessarily take place on the floor.

Although it could.
posted by nebulawindphone at 12:20 AM on February 20, 2010


This is why I chose liberal arts- we don't do math about sex.

I was actually thinking about this while talking to an MIT friend. The discussion was about numbers, and about their place in society, and about what the proper context ought to be for such evaluations.

I've spent a lot of time in a lot of different online communities. I've used shitty homegrown systems, and more complicated algorithmic solutions, and everything in between. The funny thing is, the more communities you're a part of, the less you have faith in any kind of scientific solution, where the device cures everything. In fact, the more numbers you have, the more you let people evaluate things, the shittier places get. The sites that let people "rate" comments for best and worst value, they're always the ones that draw the irritating, semi-insane obsessives, who nobody in their right minds would like were it not for these arcane formulas.

{geek}

The example that I use of a big site completely getting fucked up with numbers is Tumblr. I signed up for Tumblr back when it was a wee small featureless site with five semisexy themes and six big posting buttons. You wouldn't believe it from how the site is now, but Tumblr was an incredibly classy site when it started. There was no reblogging, no notes. For a while you couldn't even follow anybody. So you'd log in, you'd get a blank page, and you'd get six sleek buttons that let you pick what you were about to post. So blogs were very stream-of-consciousness. You'd go to a blog and it wouldn't look like a blog. It looked like a steady barrage of flotsam and jetsam.

Then Tumblr let you follow other users, so that your minimalist dashboard became a stream-of-consciousness. Then they introduced reblogging, which let you post somebody else's data as your own, and then, worse, "liking", which does nothing but adds a number to the end of each post. So you had a follower count, and you could track your reblogs and likes, and if you wanted to read somebody else's blog, it means noticing all their likes and reblogs. But out of context, you know? If five people are reading my blog and five thousand are reading Joe's blog, then every random thing Joe does gets hundreds of points, and no matter how hard I push I'll get five points or less.

The result is that when you're using the site, unless you're big and in the center of attention, you feel somewhat puny and insignificant, and it starts to piss you off. I left Tumblr twice and came back each time before the blogging software is still so powerful. I'm using it to power a few projects right now. But what was once this quiet, soft experience is now the posterchild for excessive online assholery.

{/geek}

I kind of worry about the people who, rather than using numbers to confirm their thoughts about reality, use numbers to kind of forge this artifical game-like one. Where you know exactly how and why you're the minority in every field you can imagine.

I felt this to some extent about GPA and SAT scores in high school: Some fairly smart people waste themselves with such brutal fucking efficiency, striving to get ten points higher on a 2400-point scale. At the end of thirteen years of school, you've spent almost all your time learning to fill out dots like a machine. Then you tout your dot-filling scores to other students like it's a good thing you managed this without going insane.

I was on the other side of this, because I decided to write a novel my senior year rather than do classwork. I spent a year at a NJ public school, and tons of debates I'd have with friends suddenly ended with "Your thoughts don't mean anything, you're at TCNJ." There's this feeling among certain assholeprep circles like your college determines your rank in life. When those are the people you grew up with, you end up feeling puny and insignificant, like you somehow failed and are doomed to failure in life and love because you're not at Princeton twenty minutes down the road.

Now I'm at art school, with a lot of bright cheery people who are talented as hell and aren't particularly good at math, and within about a month of arriving I found my depression was easing up. There's a relief to being among people who've given up trying to compare themselves to other people, and just spend their time doing their own thing and appreciating other people doing other things. I find that every time I feel the urge to compare myself objectively to somebody else — a bigger partier, or a better dresser — it makes me irrationally unhappy. So I do what I like, and avoid pointless competition and surveying, and I'm feeling better now than I ever have in my life.

So when I see a survey like this, there's a part of me that says: "Instead of making this survey, these kids could have been planning out an orgy." Then I feel bad. Then I decide to write an indulgent comment about it, and everything gets better.
posted by Rory Marinich at 12:22 AM on February 20, 2010 [10 favorites]


who are the 1.2% who don't consider vaginal intercourse to be "sex"?

Gay men, perhaps?

I was struck by the 50% or so who didn't consider oral sex to be sex. Was Clinton educated at MIT by any chance?
posted by PeterMcDermott at 1:05 AM on February 20, 2010


I was struck by the 50% or so who didn't consider oral sex to be sex. Was Clinton educated at MIT by any chance?

I think this is a pretty common idea among young Americans. It would count for the purposes of cheating, but it doesn't count for the purposes of losing your virginity. Oral sex is a step on the way to real sex. When you're a teenager it's easy to have a months-long relationship consisting entirely of oral sex.
posted by creasy boy at 4:18 AM on February 20, 2010


I went to a liberal arts college in southern california, a school where every other person seemed to finally be breaking out of a long-repressed shell or acting out fantasies of what their (sexual) life as an artist should be. after having met the third or fourth self-mutilating girl (what is it with cutters anyway?) and oh so many kids who were doing porn or stripping on the side I always used to wonder where the normal kids or even the conservative ones (read: virgins) went. they weren't here, we were just the fucked up kids in our high schools who all individually felt like the only gay kid in a hundred-mile radius must have felt like. I have my answer now. they go to mit.
posted by krautland at 4:29 AM on February 20, 2010


and caltech, probably.
posted by krautland at 4:29 AM on February 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


I was struck by the 50% or so who didn't consider oral sex to be sex. Was Clinton educated at MIT by any chance?

I think the majority of people at the college age or younger consider oral sex to a be a sexual experience but not sex. It's the same with being fingered (even though there's penetration). I think the majority of people at that age believe that sex is a penetration-using-a-sexual-organ activity only.*

* I say this being ~ 2 years out of university full-time.
posted by Hiker at 4:41 AM on February 20, 2010


Cute project, but essentially meaningless. Respondents were self-selected and 60% of the students did not participate. It also looks like a group decided to skew the results: "floorcest" is not a thing. Not at MIT. Not anywhere.
posted by clvrmnky at 6:39 AM on February 20, 2010


"floorcest" is not a thing. Not at MIT. Not anywhere.

Sure it is. At my school the kids who live in suites call it "suitecest."
posted by Solon and Thanks at 7:29 AM on February 20, 2010


MIT students, is there anything a statistical analysis of a computer survey won't help you understand?

It may not come as a surprise to some that Senior House takes the cake for both floorcest and anal sex.

Ah, Senior House, good times. I can't remember the specific type of sex, but as I was a visitor it wasn't floorcest. Senior House is known as the on-campus housing that's most, um, alternative/social friendly. It's not particularly a gay house (I think you have to go off-campus for that), but it attracts residents who are outside the boring nerd stereotype. They also put on Steer Roast, which at least in the 90s was the closest to a drug-fueled bacchanal that MIT had.
posted by Nelson at 8:07 AM on February 20, 2010


By the way, McCormick is an all-girls dorm, which probably explains some things.
posted by Lazlo Hollyfeld at 8:42 AM on February 20, 2010


Oh, and they cracked down on Steer Roast post Scott Krueger.
posted by Lazlo Hollyfeld at 8:45 AM on February 20, 2010


There is a stereotype that MIT is a land of asexual nerds. That’s not quite true. Our survey found that 42 percent of students consider themselves virgins

FAIL.

I knew ONE virgin at Hampshire. ONE. A whole ONE. That may be the other end of the freak spectrum, but really, I think that at most colleges the virginity rate is WAY lower than 42%.

Also, "floorcest" is a thing. At Camp Hamp, it was called "modcest" (our on-campus apartments were "mods" short for "modular housing units") and the saying "Mod booty is bad booty"was as common as work-place aphorisms like "don't stick your pen in the company ink" or "don't shit where you eat."
posted by grapefruitmoon at 10:14 AM on February 20, 2010


I'm sorry, but who the hell cares about sex at MIT? Why MIT? Is it because of the nerd stereotype?

I assume so. I mean, it's mildly entertaining with context, as any pointless stats can be (e.g. the Senior Haus and CMS numbers are no surprise, but I would not have predicted Course 5's ranking in the virginity list), but in the end the message is "some college kids have a lot of sex, some have less, and the details are different in different places." Um, OK?

Oh, and they cracked down on Steer Roast post Scott Krueger.


Along with everything else, yeah. It's still very definitely going on, mind, but these days it's a much bigger pain in the ass to organize, run, and keep admins from shutting down the event. Plus it can't be nearly as open to non-MIT people/people not on the guestlist for liability reasons.

"Floorcest" is not a thing. Not at MIT. Not anywhere.

Completely wrong. It definitely exists as a concept. The dorms have different cultures that've been more or less consistent for decades, and based on that students generally choose a dorm (and a hall or suite within that dorm) that they'll stay in for the next four years. If you're living and socializing with a group of 40 people for 4 years, dating within that group (and having a dramatic breakup with the person you were dating) can really affect everyone else. Ergo, the snarky name.
posted by ubersturm at 10:42 AM on February 20, 2010


I actually assumed the sex wold be much more liberal at MIT. Am i alone and/or mistaken in having the idea that the various nerds are especially kinky?
posted by cmoj at 10:52 AM on February 20, 2010


cmoj: Am i alone and/or mistaken in having the idea that the various nerds are especially kinky?

Yes. In my experience, what they mostly are is grateful.
posted by DarlingBri at 11:08 AM on February 20, 2010


Breaking news: Humanoid creatures attending MIT have own "thoughts," "feelings." Film at 11.
posted by range at 12:01 PM on February 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


They also put on Steer Roast, which at least in the 90s was the closest to a drug-fueled bacchanal that MIT had.

I have some very fond fuzzy recollections of Steer Roast. Good times indeed.
posted by scalefree at 2:34 PM on February 20, 2010


One of those memories is coming back to me through the haze. Something to do with candle wax dripping onto a young lady's torso. That & the sight of a whole cow being roasted over a fire; it ain't called Steer Roast for nothing. Anyway. Carry on.
posted by scalefree at 2:41 PM on February 20, 2010


I'm sorry, but who the hell cares about sex at MIT? Why MIT? Is it because of the nerd stereotype?
MIT students care. This is from the student newspaper there. They actually devoted most of that issue to sex. The rest of the coverage is here. There were some predictably humorous responses to it the next week.
posted by martinX's bellbottoms at 2:48 PM on February 20, 2010


cmoj, my experience parallels yours, as a geek who sleeps with geeks. CWRU geeks, though, not MIT geeks.
posted by mismatched at 3:17 PM on February 20, 2010


For comparison: The november 2001 issue of "Counterpoint" (Wellesley's magazine) has an article about sex there and at MIT. Graphs start on page 15/16, and include virginity by major (and residence), both at Wellesley and at MIT, among other stats. Here's a link to a PDF of the issue (from archive.org): link

Highlights:
- weirdly, the distribution of # of sex partners is nearly identical for Wellesley and MIT students surveyed.
- "Humanities" majors at MIT had lowest virginity rates (20% were virgins). Complete list of virginity percentage my major at MIT from the 2001 article:

"Humanities": 20
Aero/Astro: 23
Civ. E: 25
Materials Sci: 25
Physics: 25
Management: 27
Architecture: 29
Brain & Cog Sci: 29
Math: 29
Chem E: 46
Mech E: 46
EECS: 55
Econ: 60
Chem: 67
Bio: 73

So, some vague similarities among these data and the 2009 data... The surveys probably aren't very accurate though, given the self selecting respondents, as well as the widely varying number of students in each major.
posted by sentient at 3:33 PM on February 20, 2010


Re: "floorcest"

Completely wrong. It definitely exists as a concept.

Fair enough, but I am not convinced it exists beyond a cute neologism. Dorms and suites have existed for decades at these schools, and I've never heard of this concept. Relationships are messy and we have a lot of notions about how to minimize those messes, or notions of how to cause those messes because we don't care. You aren't supposed to sleep with your roommates, either, but that rule gets broken a lot.

http://philosophicalhigh.blogspot.com/2007/06/dating-on-your-floor-aka-floorcest.html

Yeah, I googled it.

I've of the opinion that anything that gets on the Urban Dictionary is almost surely a local neologism, and probably not going to be around past a few years of student rotation. Sort of like those scenes in How I Met Your Mother when one of them mentions some neologisms the writers just made up, forcing them to do a series of flashbacks to explain it.
posted by clvrmnky at 8:50 AM on February 21, 2010


Hey, would anybody mind if I added a "pubichealth" tag?
posted by Pronoiac at 5:11 PM on February 22, 2010


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