Remember that survey by OK Cupid last year of their over 3 million users? The one that said Gay people are NOT a threat to straights, and that most gay men are NOT promiscuous? Well someone posted it on twitter recently and I wanted to show, hopefully once and for all, why it is a load of holy baloney. I have written about it before but not in enough scientific detail to convince people how rubbish it is. So here goes:
According to OK Cupid a survey of its millions of users has found that:
1.Gay people are not sexually interested in straights.
‘The subtext to a lot of homophobic thinking is the idea that gays will try to get straight people into bed at the first opportunity, or that gays are looking to “convert” straights. Freud called this concept schwanzangst; the U.S. Army calls it Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.
We combed through over 4 million match searches, and found virtually no evidence of it:
- only 0.6% of gay men have ever searched for straight matches.
- only 0.1% of lesbians have ever searched for straight matches.
- only 0.13% of straight people’s profile visitors are gay.
In our dataset, there was not a single gay user, male or female, who primarily searched for straight people.’
- Girls who like guys
- Guys who like girls
- Girls who like girls
- Guys who like guys
- Both who like bi guys
- Both who like bi girls
- Straight Girls Only
- Straight Guys Only
- Gay Girls Only
- Gay Guys Only
- Bi Girls Only
- Bi Guys Only
2. Gay people aren’t promiscuous.
‘It turns out that a tiny fraction of gays have
single-handedly two-handedly created the public image of gay sexual recklessness—in fact we found that just 2% of gay people have had 23% of the total reported gay sex, which is pretty crazy’
This figure got bandied around the internet A LOT when the survey was published. Because, Ithink, it really suits the conservative move amongst many gay people, to show how gay men are not ‘slutty’ – except for you know, those ‘sluts’. And to say only 2% of gay men are having nearly a quarter of ‘gay sex’ (whatever THAT is), really supports this conservative agenda.
But AGAIN there are NO NUMBERS. When I set up my OK Cupid profile nobody asked me how many partners I have had to date. And so it must be a separate ‘questionnaire’ or question posted that users have the choice to answer or not. There is no indication how many people answered the question, and how many gay men did.
Also this is not Grindr. It is not just a casual sex site, though some do use it for that. OK Cupid is marketed as a ‘dating site’ where you can meet your ‘true love’. People often LIE about how many partners they have had. Even gay men. Especially when they are looking for a ‘relationship’.
Even if this information is ‘true’ within the limitations of the research, the fact they have extrapolated from the users of OK Cupid to the whole (eg gay) population is RIDICULOUS. OK Cupid is international and so although ’3.2 million users’ is a lot, this is in a number of countries, including the USA. There are many other sites and some particularly ‘gay’ or ‘men who have sex with men’ sites that er…men who have sex with men, use a lot more than OK Cupid. But no,they have presented their ‘findings’ as if they say a truth about all gay men everywhere.
The lack of care for methodological rigour, I found with this ‘survey’ to be astounding. Not in itself, because it is a commercial website looking for business. And also seems to be touting a political viewpoint for some reason or other, supporting Gay marriage and the repeal of DODT. Maybe it was just trying to sell itself to good liberal customers. I don’t know.
What astounded me was how happily people posted and re-posted the survey online. Even ‘science’ people like Ben ‘Bad Science’ Goldacre, who normally analyse and critique terrible surveys, especially if they get a lot of media attention.
My conclusion was that when it comes to sex, people, including scientists, just don’t seem to care about research rigour, or ethics, or anything really. It’s only sex. It’s only sexual identity. So, they missed all the entire population of people who identify as BISEXUAL out of their survey? So, who cares? It says GAY MEN AREN’T SLUTS. That’s news!
Mark Simpson, who also looked with horror on this survey and the following media hype of it, had this to say of its claims to being scientific:
‘Choke on my statistical reality’…
I did choke. I still am really. Not on OK Cupid’s approach to ‘statistical reality’ but on people’s willingness to swallow whole, lies about sexuality.