EARLY SEX KNOWLEDGE: AGE AT FIRST KNOWLEDGE OF COITUS

Whereas in many preliterate cultures the knowledge of coitus comes early and naturally, the acquisition of such knowledge is, in our culture, much more belated and more often traumatic. Belated though it may be, the great majority of our sample knew of coitus before reaching puberty. Taking thirteen as an arbitrary age approximating the onset of puberty, and studying the percentages of only those who learned of coitus at thirteen or older, we can see a few interesting facts emerge. Of our sexually most restrained group, the incest offenders vs. adults, a full 36 per cent learned of coitus at or after age thirteen; this is the greatest percentage recorded. The peepers, of whom also a substantial proportion are sexually inhibited, are in second place with 32 per cent, and the exhibitionists are third. Conversely, one of the most sexually active groups, the prison group, is next to last in rank-order with but 16 per cent who had not learned of coitus before thirteen. However, the inference is weakened by the fact that about one fourth of the heterosexual offenders vs. minors and adults, both also sexually active groups, were ignorant of coitus prior to age thirteen. This curious fact is probably the result of their reaching puberty relatively late;

22 per cent of the heterosexual offenders vs. minors did not reach puberty until age fifteen or later. Since an interest in sex is intensified at and near puberty, and since interest leads to acquiring knowledge, it is reasonable to suppose that deferred puberty correlates with belated knowledge. This is substantiated by the fact that the incest offenders vs. adults lead in delayed puberty, and, as pointed out above, 36 per cent learned of coitus at or after age thirteen.

All in all, the age at which a male gained his first knowledge of coitus does not correlate with the age at which he had his first coitus, and correlates with age at puberty only in extreme cases (i.e., late knowledge with very late puberty, early knowledge with very early puberty). Evidently numerous variables are involved in a complex fashion.

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