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back to ba(sex): more money, more orgasms and vice versa

Image: Tom Morris

Image: Tom Morris

Join Lip’s Sarah Iuliano for her new fortnightly column on all things, sex, sexuality, sexual health, and more!


Earn more money than your partner and you’ll have better sex: sounds too good to be true, right?

A study by Time Money magazine of married couples aged 25 and over has found women who earn as much or more than their husbands (sorry, heteronormatives again) were more likely to classify their sex life as proper sexy. Where women were on par with their partner’s earnings, 51 per cent of all couples rated the sex as being ‘hot’ or ‘very good’. Yes, in those exact, technical terms. This compares to just 43 per cent of all other couple samples with non-egalitarian economics.

These sex and money studies are a bit of a trend. A study published in the International Journal of Manpower – such an interesting title – found a correlation between having more sex and earning more from paycheque to paycheque. The research showed people in Greece who had sex more than four times per week earned 5 per cent more than everyone else employed during the study. It seems there’s a bit of a cycle here in these results. Earn more money, have better sex, have more sex, earn more money.

It must mean heterosexual Australian women are having a dismal time in the bedroom, right? It’s not entirely inconceivable with a national gender pay gap at 17 per cent. Australian women would have to work, on average, 64 more days last year than their male colleagues to earn as much. Depending on your career path, you could experience a pay gap of nearly double the national average. Based on the federal government’s Workplace Gender Equality Agency’s figures, do not choose to work in finance or health if you want a rich, healthy sex life. Also, don’t move to Western Australia any time soon, for here be dragons: the nation’s worst state and territory pay gap.

Let’s think a bit critically about these results, instead of being racked with agony about it (I am, of course, speaking perhaps a little too loudly for myself here as a poor student.) Not to get all soppy on you, but the magazine’s research also found there were stronger feelings of love in male partners who earned as much as or less than their wives. There seems to be a lot of musing – mainly from mother figures in the media – that vanilla sex is supposedly better with love. Apparently it goes for all different types of sexual lifestyles too. I had a kinky friend recently tell me that even kinky sex is better when you’re in love.

However, the level of relationship satisfaction wasn’t mirrored in the Time study’s wives who felt a significant extra burden in sharing – or constituting – the family finances on top of a myriad of domestic responsibilities still not shared. Maybe love has something to do with sex being better, what with all the chemicals supposedly swirling around your brain, your body and your nether regions. Still, equal-earning women rated the sex as better. So, let’s look past love and on to better things: ideas of equality.

As highlighted by Seattle-based sociologist Dr Pepper Schwartz in the article announcing Time’s romance and finance results, other researchers have found a link between egalitarianism and sexual satisfaction. So therefore, egalitarianism extends from wallets to domestic duties and on to the bedroom. It suggests communication, deliberation and compromise. Communication suggests consent and negotiating intimacy to ensure both partners are satisfied within their personal boundaries.

It seems researchers are focusing too much on power as a form of sexiness, when really communication reigns sexily supreme. One thing to bear in mind from things like Time’s research is that these studies demonstrate correlation and not causation. Having unequal economic power does not mean you will be unsatisfied for the course of your affair. Having unequal say will.

 Catch Sarah next fortnight with another instalment of Back to Ba(Sex), Lip’s new column for all thing sex, sexuality and sexual health!
Next time, Sarah will be taking a look at sex education and how it differs for LGBTIQ identifiers. 

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