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In human [[sexual behaviour|sexual behavior]], '''promiscuity''' refers to [[casual sex|casually]] between many partners.<ref>http://www.answers.com/topic/promiscuity</ref> Behavior includes sex with partners that are not one's [[spouse]]. Promiscuity is usually considered ethically incorrect. It is common in some animal species. It should not be confused with [[polygamy]]. Human male heterosexual promiscuity is often referred as ''womanizing''.
   
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In [[biology]], incidents of promiscuity are usually called '''extra-pair copulations'''.
   
'''Promiscuity''' is the practice of making relatively casual and indiscriminate choices. The term is most commonly applied to [[sexual behavior]], where it refers to a person who does not limit their [[sex life]] to the cultural norm, typically one partner, or to the framework of a long term [[monogamy|monogamous]] [[sexual relationship]]. Because of the popularity of this usage, the remainder of this article discusses sexual promiscuity. It is worth noting that people who are called "promiscuous" under this usage, may in fact be quite selective in their choice of [[sex]]ual partners.
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==Human promiscuity==
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What [[sexual]] behavior is considered socially acceptable, and what behavior is "promiscuous", varies much among different cultures. Behavior that is considered promiscuous for a married or unmarried individual in one culture may be considered acceptable in another culture. Within a culture, men and women are not necessarily held to the same standards. For example, a man may or may not be considered promiscuous for engaging in sexual activity with someone he was not married to, even in cultures where a woman would be considered promiscuous for the same behavior.
   
Promiscuity is discouraged by conservative modern day religions. However, some [[sect]]s, [[cult]]s, and religious orders have a place for promiscuous behavior. For example, there were special examples of religious prostitution in ancient Mesopotamia, Greece and Rome.
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Accurately assessing people's sexual behavior is difficult, since there are strong social and personal motivations, depending on social [[Social control|sanctions]] and [[taboo]]s, for either minimizing or exaggerating reported sexual activity. Extensive research has produced mathematical models of sexual behavior comparing the results generated with the observed prevalence of [[Sexually transmitted disease|STDs]] to statistically estimate the probable sexual behavior of the studied population.
   
==Human promiscuity==
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The number of sexual partners an individual has varies within a lifetime, and varies widely within a population. In the U.S., a 2007 national survey had the following results: the median number of lifetime female sexual partners reported by men was seven; the median number of male partners reported by women was four. Twenty-nine percent of men and nine percent of women reported to have had more than 15 sexual partners in their lifetimes.<ref>[http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/19374216/ New survey quantifies the sex we’re having] MSNBC</ref> Studies of the spread of STDs consistently demonstrate that a small percentage of the studied population have more partners than the average man or woman, and a smaller number of people have fewer than the statistical average. An important question in the [[epidemiology]] of venereal diseases is whether or not these groups copulate mostly at random (with sexual partners from throughout a population) or within their social groups ([[assortative mixing]]).
What is considered socially acceptable [[sexual]] behavior, and what behavior is regarded as "promiscuous", varies widely among different cultures. In some contexts, a woman who has sex with any man other than her husband is considered promiscuous, while the term may not be applied to a man from the same culture likewise having extramarital sex. In other cultures, the term may be applied to anyone who has more than one lover at the same time. In some sections of industrialized societies, it is likely to be used only when describing people, usually women, who have large numbers of sexual partners with a seeming lack of discrimination. In those cases, there is no ''set number'' of partners that would be considered excessive, meaning that what some might consider to be a high number of sexual partners, others might not.
 
   
It is difficult to accurately assess people's sexual behavior, since there are strong social and personal motivations to either minimize or exaggerate reported sexual activity, depending on social [[sanctions]] and [[taboo]]s. The best [[statistics]] of human sexual behavior are derived from research into sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). Extensive research has been conducted to study different mathematical models of sexual behavior and to compare the results generated with the observed prevalence of STDs to try to estimate the probable actual sexual behavior of the population.
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A 2006 comprehensive global study (analysing data from 59 countries worldwide) found no firm link between promiscuity and sexually transmitted diseases.<ref>{{cite journal |author=Wellings K, Collumbien M, Slaymaker E, ''et al'' |title=Sexual behaviour in context: a global perspective |journal=Lancet |volume=368 |issue=9548 |pages=1706–28 |year=2006 |pmid=17098090 |doi=10.1016/S0140-6736(06)69479-8}}</ref> This contradicts other studies.<ref>[http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/3610487.stm Promiscuity fuels spread of HIV/AIDS] BBC</ref><ref>[http://gateway.nlm.nih.gov/MeetingAbstracts/102221472.html Relation between sexual promiscuity, drugs abuse and HIV infection in Buenos Aires, Argentina.] study available at National Library of Medicine</ref>
   
People's numbers of sexual partners, both over their lifetime and concurrently, varies widely within any population. Studies of the spread of STDs have consistently shown that a small minority of the population have more partners than the average, and a small minority have less than the average{{Fact|date=February 2007}}. One important question in STD [[epidemiology]] is whether these groups have sex mostly within their groups (so-called [[assortative mixing]]) or at random.
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===Male promiscuity===
   
===In the United States===
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The words "womanizer", "player", "skirt-chaser" and "[[Rake (character)|rake]]" may be used in reference to a man who has [[Affair|love affair]]s with [[women]] and will not marry or commit to a relationship. The names of real and fictional [[seduce]]rs have become eponyms for such promiscuous men. The most famous are the historical ''[[Giacomo Casanova|Casanova]]'' (1725-1798),<ref>{{cite book|title=Love, Sex and Marriage: A Historical Thesaurus |author= Julie Coleman|year=1999|publisher=Rodopi|id=ISBN 9042004339|url= http://books.google.com/books?id=lfSC4fpiW64C&pg=PA286&ots=kuCVvK5CwE&dq=Womanizer&ie=ISO-8859-1&output=html&sig=MSGQp0oJYPdBilA1Feiy2xzqsvQ}}</ref> and the fictional ''[[Don Juan]]'' who first appeared in the 17th century, ''[[Lothario]]'' from [[Nicholas Rowe (dramatist)|Nicholas Rowe]]'s [[1703 in literature|1703]] play ''[[The Fair Penitent]].'' James Bond is also a fictional character that can be considered a womanizer.
Increasingly, teenage sexual encounters in the United States do not occur in the context of a romantic relationship, but in an impersonal, merely sexual "hook up."<ref>[http://www.whygendermatters.com/ Why Gender Matters], Leonard Sax, M.D., Ph.D., 2005, Doubleday books, p. 132.</ref> One thing "nearly everyone agrees on is that STDs and risky 'anything but intercourse' behaviors are rampant among teens."<ref name="risky">{{cite journal | author=Anna Mulrine| title=Risky Business| journal=U.S. News & World Report| issue=May 27, 2002}}</ref> The "impersonality of twenty-first-century adolescent sex victimizes girls" and "plenty of harm" is done to boys as well.<ref> [http://www.whygendermatters.com/ Why Gender Matters, Leonard Sax, M.D., Ph.D., 2005, Doubleday books]</ref> When taking part in hookups "the kids don't even look at each other. It's mechanical, dehumanizing. The fallout is that later in life they have trouble forming relationships. They're jaded."<ref>Dr. Marsha Levy-Warren, as quoted in {{cite journal | author=Anne Jarrell| title=The Teenage Face of Sex Grows Younger| journal=New York Times| issue=April 2, 2000}}</ref> This is a "profound shift in the culture of high school dating and sex."<ref name="boston">{{cite journal | author=Alexandra Hall| title=The Mating Habits of the Suburban High School Teenager| journal=Boston Magazine| issue=May 2003}}</ref>
 
   
Between 1991 and 2001 the number of high school seniors in the United States who reported that they have had sexual intercourse dropped from 54% to 46%.<ref>[http://www.cdc.gov/MMWR/preview/mmwrhtml/mm5138a2.htm Trends in Sexual Risk Behaviors Among High School Students --- United States, 1991--2001], Center for Disease Control, Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, 2002] </ref> However, the "dominant form of teenage sexuality has changed" in that time period. "It is not penile-vaginal intercourse anymore. It's oral sex."<ref>[http://www.whygendermatters.com/ Why Gender Matters], Leonard Sax, M.D., Ph.D., 2005, Doubleday books, p. 121.</ref> It is usually boys who receive oral sex, and the girls who give it. When girls provide oral sex "they do so without pleasure, usually to please their boyfriend or to avoid the possibility of pregnancy."<ref>The Body Project: An Intimate History of American Girls, Joan Brumberg, Random House, 1997, p. 190.</ref> This is the "heterosexual script that entitles boys and disables girls."<ref name="teenage face">{{cite journal | author=Anne Jarrell| title=The Teenage Face of Sex Grows Younger| journal=New York Times| issue=April 2, 2000}}</ref>
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During the [[English Restoration]] period (1660-1688), the term ''rake'' was used glamorously: the ''Restoration rake'' is a carefree, witty, sexually irresistible aristocrat typified by [[Charles II of England|Charles II]]'s courtiers, the [[John Wilmot, 2nd Earl of Rochester|Earl of Rochester]] and the [[Charles Sackville, 6th Earl of Dorset|Earl of Dorset]], who combined riotous living with intellectual pursuits and patronage of the arts. The Restoration rake is celebrated in the [[Restoration comedy]] of the 1660s and the 1670s. After the reign of Charles II, and especially after the [[Glorious Revolution]] of 1688, the rake was perceived as negative and became the butt of moralistic tales in which his typical fate was [[debtor's prison]], permanent [[venereal disease]], and, in the case of [[William Hogarth]]'s ''[[A Rake's Progress]]'', venereally-caused [[insanity]] and internment to [[Bethlem Royal Hospital|Bedlam]].
   
In 2002 the doctors who run the [[National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health]] reported a "dramatic trend toward the early initiation of sex."<ref>Adolescent Sexual Behavior and Sexual Health, Renee E. Sieving, Jennifer A. Oliphant, and Robert Wm. Blum, Pediatrics in Review 2002 23: 407-416.</ref> According to the American Academy of Pediatrics "early sexual intercourse among American adolescents represents a major public health problem. Although early sexual activity may be caused by a variety of factors, the media are believed to play a significant role. In film, television, and music, sexual messages are becoming more explicit in dialogue, lyrics, and behavior. In addition, these messages contain unrealistic, inaccurate, and misleading information that young people accept as fact. Teens rank the media second only to school sex education programs as a leading source of information about sex."<ref>[http://aappolicy.aappublications.org/cgi/content/full/pediatrics;107/1/191 Sexuality, Contraception, and the Media], PEDIATRICS Vol. 107 No. 1 January 2001, pp. 191-194</ref> Research has "found a direct relationship between the amount of sexual content children see and their level of sexual activity or their intentions to have sex in the future.... The study found that films, TV programmes, music and magazines usually portrayed sex as 'risk-free'. Sex was usually between unmarried couples and examples of using condoms or other contraception were 'extremely rare'."<ref name="JAH media">{{cite journal | author=Sam Jones| title=Media 'influence' adolescent sex| journal=The Guardian| year=March 22, 2006}}</ref>
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===Female promiscuity===
   
In a 2003 study, 89% of girls reported feeling pressured by boys to have sex.<ref>[http://www.kff.org/content/2003/3309/sexsmarts_gender_roles.pdf Kaiser Family Foundation]</ref> Before "age 15, a majority of first intercourse experiences among females are reported to be non-voluntary."<ref>[http://aspe.hhs.gov/HSP/cyp/xsteesex.htm BEGINNING TOO SOON: ADOLESCENT SEXUAL BEHAVIOR, PREGNANCY AND PARENTHOOD], US Department of Health and Human Services</ref> When teens become sexually active at 15 years of age or younger they are six times more likely to drink alcohol once a week or more, four times more likely to have smoked marijuana and three times more likely to be regular smokers of cigarettes.<ref>National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy, 14 and Younger: The Sexual Behavior of Adolescents, 2003</ref> Other research also shows that "risk behaviors often appear in clusters; parents who detect their children engaging in one risk behavior should be alert to the possibility that there may be others. For example, many teens are either using drugs or alcohol at the time of their experience with first sexual intercourse."<ref name="risk">{{cite book | title=The Romance of Risk| last=Ponton| first=Lynn| date=1997| pages=97| publisher=HarperCollins| location=New York}}</ref>
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Since at least [[1450]], the word "[[slut]]" has been used, usually pejoratively, to describe a sexually promiscuous woman.{{Fact|date=November 2008}} The terms "[[slag (slang)|slag]]", "[[trollop]]", "[[skank]]", "[[ho]]", and "[[slapper]]" are also used across the English-speaking-world to describe sexual promiscuity in a woman.
   
According to the US Department of Health and Human Services early sexual experiences are a problem for several reasons.
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In German, the word ''Schlampe'' is roughly equivalent in to the English term, ''slut'', in describing a promiscuous woman.
   
<blockquote>
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==Nature versus nurture controversy==
First, the younger the age of first sexual intercourse, the more likely that the experience was coercive, and forced sexual intercourse is related to long lasting negative effects. Secondly, the younger the age of first sexual intercourse, the greater the risk of unwanted pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections. This is because those who begin having sex at young ages are generally exposed to risk for a longer time, are less likely to use contraception, generally have more sexual partners, and tend to engage in higher risk sexual behaviors such as alcohol or drug use prior to sexual intercourse and having multiple concurrent sexual partners. It must be recognized as well that early intercourse is frequently not voluntary. Among females, as noted above, the majority of initial sexual experiences that occur at age 14 or younger are non-voluntary.<ref>[http://aspe.hhs.gov/HSP/cyp/xsteesex.htm BEGINNING TOO SOON: ADOLESCENT SEXUAL BEHAVIOR, PREGNANCY AND PARENTHOOD], US Department of Health and Human Services</ref>
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{{main|Nature versus nurture}}
</blockquote>
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[[Evolutionary psychology|Evolutionary psychologists]] propose that a conditional tendency for promiscuity is inherited from our [[hunter-gatherer]] ancestors. Male promiscuity, they say, was advantageous because it allowed males to father more children. Female promiscuity, on the other hand, is said to have allowed female ancestors to have children with superior genetic potential.
   
Girls will often become intoxicated before engaging in sexual activities because it "numbs the experience for them, making it less embarrassing and less emotionally painful."<ref>[http://www.whygendermatters.com/ Why Gender Matters], Leonard Sax, M.D., Ph.D., 2005, Doubleday books, p. 128. See also comments made by Dr. [[Drew Pinsky]] on NPR's Fresh Air, September 23, 2003.</ref> A girl is "far more likely to feel used and abused after a typical" hook up.<ref>[http://www.whygendermatters.com/ Why Gender Matters, Leonard Sax, M.D., Ph.D., 2005, Doubleday books]</ref> Girls who date or hang out with older boys are "more likely to be pressured into having sex, more likely to get a sexually transmitted disease, and more likely to experience an unwanted pregnancy."<ref>[http://www.whygendermatters.com/ Why Gender Matters, Leonard Sax, M.D., Ph.D., 2005, Doubleday books, page 136.] See also Mike Males, Adult Liaison in the Epidemic of Teenage Birth, Pregnancy and Venereal Disease, Journal of Sex Research, 29:525-45, 1992.</ref> Girls who participate in girls-only activities are far less likely to experience a teenage pregnancy and less likely to be sexually active in general.<ref name="whitbeck">{{cite journal | author=Whitbeck, Les, et al| authorlink=http://cyfs.unl.edu/fawhitbeck.htm| title=Early adolescent sexual activity : A developmental study| journal=Journal of marriage and the family| year=1999| volume=61| issue=4| url=http://cat.inist.fr/?aModele=afficheN&cpsidt=1548752}}</ref> Participating in competitive sports has also shown to have a positive effect for girls. The "more involved a girl is in competitive sports the less likely she is to be sexually active and the less likely she is to get pregnant."<ref>[http://www.whygendermatters.com/ Why Gender Matters, Leonard Sax, M.D., Ph.D., 2005, Doubleday books, page 136.] see also {{cite journal | author=Sabo, Donald, et al| title=High school athletic participation, sexual behavior and adolescent pregnancy: a regional study.| journal=Journal of Adolescent Health| year=1999| volume=25| issue=3| url=http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?cmd=Retrieve&db=PubMed&list_uids=10475497&dopt=Abstract}}</ref>
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==Primitive promiscuity==
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''Primitive promiscuity'' or ''original promiscuity'', is the hypothesis that human race originally lived in a state of [[promiscuity]].<ref>Westermarck, chap. 3 p. 103-4</ref><ref>[[Bachofen]], ''Das Mutterrecht'', pp. xix-xx, 10</ref><ref>[[Bachofen]], ''Antiquarische Briefe'' pp.20-</ref><ref>McLennan, Morgan, Lord Avebury, Giraud-Teulon, Lippert, Kohler, Post, Wilken, Kropotkin, Wilutzky</ref><ref>[[Iwan Bloch|Bloch, Iwan]] ''Sexual Life of Our Time'', pp. 188-194</ref>
   
Boys are less likely to see sex as connected to an emotional relationship than girls. However, by the time a young man is "in his early twenties, he will rely on his girlfriend or wife to be his primary emotional caregiver."<ref>[http://www.whygendermatters.com/ Why Gender Matters, Leonard Sax, M.D., Ph.D., 2005, Doubleday books, page 131.] See also [http://eric.ed.gov/ERICWebPortal/Home.portal?_nfpb=true&_pageLabel=RecordDetails&ERICExtSearch_SearchValue_0=EJ558606&ERICExtSearch_SearchType_0=eric_accno&objectId=0900000b8000e7f1 Wyndol Furman and Elizabeth Wehner, "Adolescent Romantic Relationships: A developmental Perspective," in Romantic Relationships in Adolescence: Developmental Perspectives, ed. Shmuel Shulman and Andrew Collins (San Francisco: Wiley/Jossey-Bass, 1997), p. 21-36.]</ref> If he can not establish an emotional relationship with a woman, who does view sex as connected to intimacy, then he is more likely to become depressed, commit suicide or die from illness.<ref>Becoming Married and Mental Health: A Longitudinal Study of a Cohort of Young Adults, Journal of Marriage and the Family, vol. 58, 1996</ref> With all the issues and problems relating to adolescent sex, according to the Medical College of Wisconsin, "Ideally, [teens] won’t be having sex."<ref>[http://healthlink.mcw.edu/article/1031002160.html Close Parental Relationships Could Delay Adolescent Sex], HealthLink, MCW Health News, 09-13-2002</ref>
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==Extra-pair copulation in animals==
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{{Further|[[Animal sexual behaviour|Animal sexual behavior]]}}
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In the [[animal]] world, some species of animals, including [[bird]]s such as [[swan]]s, once believed monogamous, are now known to engage in '''extra-pair copulations'''. Although social monogamy occurs in about 90 percent of avian species and about 3 percent of [[mammal]]ian species, investigators estimate that 90 percent of socially monogamous species exhibit individual promiscuity in the form of extra-pair copulations.<ref name="Reichard,2002">Reichard, U.H. (2002). Monogamy—A variable relationship. Max Planck Research, 3, 62-67.</ref><ref name="Barash,Lipton,2001">{{cite book |author=Lipton, Judith Eve; Barash, David P. |title=The Myth of Monogamy: Fidelity and Infidelity in Animals and People |publisher=W.H. Freeman and Company |location=San Francisco |year=2001 |isbn=0-7167-4004-4}}</ref><ref name="Gowaty,Morell,1998">Research conducted by [[Patricia Adair Gowaty]]. Reported by {{cite journal | author=Morell, V. | year=1998 | title=Evolution of sex: A new look at monogamy | journal=Science | volume=281 | pages=1982–1983 | issue=5385 | doi=10.1126/science.281.5385.1982 | pmid=9767050 }}</ref>
   
Of US teens aged 15-19 that are having sexual intercourse almost all (98%) use at least one form of contraception. The most popular form, at 94% usage, are condoms and the birth control pill is second at 61%.<ref>http://www.kff.org/youthhivstds/upload/U-S-Teen-Sexual-Activity-Fact-Sheet.pdf </ref> Teen pregnancies in the United States decreased 28% between 1990 and 2000 from 117 pregnancies per every 1,000 teens to 84 per 1,000.<ref>http://www.kff.org/youthhivstds/upload/U-S-Teen-Sexual-Activity-Fact-Sheet.pdf </ref> Research in the United States has shown that pregnancy and STD transmission in sexually active teens has gone down over the past 10 years.{{Fact|date=February 2007}} Contraceptives lower the risk of conceiving a child, and if condoms are the method chosen they help prevent the spread of sexually transmitted diseases, but they are not 100% effective.<ref> http://www.ashastd.org/hpv/hpv_learn_myths.cfm</ref> Condoms provide little protection against the [[human papillomavirus]] (HPV), which may lead to certain types of cancer and [[genital warts]].<ref>http://www.cdc.gov/STD/HPV/STDFact-HPV.htm</ref>
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Two examples of promiscuous animals are the primates [[chimpanzees]] and [[bonobo]]s. These species live in social groups consisting of several males and several females. Each male copulates with many females, and vice versa. In bonobos, the amount of promiscuity is particularly striking because bonobos use sex to alleviate social conflict as well as to reproduce.
   
==In the animal world==
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==See also==
{{main | Animal sexuality}}
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* [[Cottaging]]
In the [[animal]] world, some species of animals, including [[bird]]s such as [[swan]]s, once believed monogamous, are now known to engage in extra-pair copulations. Although social monogamy occurs in about 90 percent of avian species and about 3 percent of [[mammal|mammalian]] species, investigators estimate that 90 percent of socially monogamous species exhibit individual promiscuity in the form of extra-pair copulations.<ref name="Reichard,2002">Reichard, U.H. (2002). Monogamy—A variable relationship. Max Planck Research, 3, 62-67.</ref><ref name="Barash,Lipton,2001">Barash, D.P. & Lipton, J.E. (2001). The Myth of Monogamy. New York, NY: W.H. Freeman and Company.</ref><ref name="Gowaty,Morell,1998">Research conducted by Patricia Adair Gowaty. Reported by Morell, V. (1998). Evolution of sex: A new look at monogamy. Science, 281, 1982-1983.</ref>
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* [[Extramarital intercourse]]
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* [[Hypersexuality]]]]
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* [[Premarital intercourse]]
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* [[Prostitution]]
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* [[Sexual addiction]]
   
 
==References==
 
==References==
<references />
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<references/>
 
==See also==
 
* [[Animal sexuality]]
 
* [[Human sexuality]]
 
* [[Ménage à trois]]
 
* [[Open marriage]]
 
* [[Polyamory]]
 
* [[Serial monogamy]]
 
   
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*[[Edvard Westermarck|Westermarck, Edward]] [1891] (2003) ''[http://books.google.com/books?id=ShU3N7_GaMYC History of Human Marriage Part 1]'' Kessinger Publishing ISBN 0766146189
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*Miller, Gerrit S. Jr. (1931) ''[http://links.jstor.org/sici?sici=0033-5770(193112)6%3A4%3C379%3ATPBOHS%3E2.0.CO%3B2-Z The Primate Basis of Human Sexual Behavior]'' The Quarterly Review of Biology, Vol. 6, No. 4 (Dec., 1931), pp. 379-410
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*KELLY CHAKOV [http://www.as.ua.edu/ant/Faculty/murphy/evol.htm NINETEEN CENTURY SOCIAL EVOLUTIONISM]
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*Weston, Kath (1998) ''[http://books.google.it/books?id=u3rJpB4F2yMC Long Slow Burn: Sexuality and Social Science]'' ISBN 0415920434
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*Lerner, Gerda ''[http://links.jstor.org/sici?sici=0097-9740(198624)11%3A2%3C236%3ATOOPIA%3E2.0.CO%3B2-L The Origin of Prostitution in Ancient Mesopotamia]'' Signs, Vol. 11, No. 2 (Winter, 1986), pp. 236-254
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*Fortes, Meyer (2005) ''[http://books.google.it/books?id=0Pq4JSC-JNMC Kinship and the Social Order: The Legacy of Lewis Henry Morgan]'' ISBN 0202308022 pp.7-8
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*LERNER, GERDA (1986) [http://www.wordtrade.com/history/womenshistoryR.htm Women and History vol. 1: The Creation of Patriarchy] [http://books.google.it/books?id=Zc318kI-TPMC] ISBN-13: 978-0195039962
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*''[http://www.alternet.org/story/13648/ The Virtues of Promiscuity]'' (2002) Sally Lehrman
   
==External links==
 
   
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[[Category:Anthropology]]
 
[[Category:Human sexuality]]
 
[[Category:Human sexuality]]
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[[Category:Psychosexual behavior]]
   
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In human sexual behavior, promiscuity refers to casually between many partners.[1] Behavior includes sex with partners that are not one's spouse. Promiscuity is usually considered ethically incorrect. It is common in some animal species. It should not be confused with polygamy. Human male heterosexual promiscuity is often referred as womanizing.

In biology, incidents of promiscuity are usually called extra-pair copulations.

Human promiscuity

What sexual behavior is considered socially acceptable, and what behavior is "promiscuous", varies much among different cultures. Behavior that is considered promiscuous for a married or unmarried individual in one culture may be considered acceptable in another culture. Within a culture, men and women are not necessarily held to the same standards. For example, a man may or may not be considered promiscuous for engaging in sexual activity with someone he was not married to, even in cultures where a woman would be considered promiscuous for the same behavior.

Accurately assessing people's sexual behavior is difficult, since there are strong social and personal motivations, depending on social sanctions and taboos, for either minimizing or exaggerating reported sexual activity. Extensive research has produced mathematical models of sexual behavior comparing the results generated with the observed prevalence of STDs to statistically estimate the probable sexual behavior of the studied population.

The number of sexual partners an individual has varies within a lifetime, and varies widely within a population. In the U.S., a 2007 national survey had the following results: the median number of lifetime female sexual partners reported by men was seven; the median number of male partners reported by women was four. Twenty-nine percent of men and nine percent of women reported to have had more than 15 sexual partners in their lifetimes.[2] Studies of the spread of STDs consistently demonstrate that a small percentage of the studied population have more partners than the average man or woman, and a smaller number of people have fewer than the statistical average. An important question in the epidemiology of venereal diseases is whether or not these groups copulate mostly at random (with sexual partners from throughout a population) or within their social groups (assortative mixing).

A 2006 comprehensive global study (analysing data from 59 countries worldwide) found no firm link between promiscuity and sexually transmitted diseases.[3] This contradicts other studies.[4][5]

Male promiscuity

The words "womanizer", "player", "skirt-chaser" and "rake" may be used in reference to a man who has love affairs with women and will not marry or commit to a relationship. The names of real and fictional seducers have become eponyms for such promiscuous men. The most famous are the historical Casanova (1725-1798),[6] and the fictional Don Juan who first appeared in the 17th century, Lothario from Nicholas Rowe's 1703 play The Fair Penitent. James Bond is also a fictional character that can be considered a womanizer.

During the English Restoration period (1660-1688), the term rake was used glamorously: the Restoration rake is a carefree, witty, sexually irresistible aristocrat typified by Charles II's courtiers, the Earl of Rochester and the Earl of Dorset, who combined riotous living with intellectual pursuits and patronage of the arts. The Restoration rake is celebrated in the Restoration comedy of the 1660s and the 1670s. After the reign of Charles II, and especially after the Glorious Revolution of 1688, the rake was perceived as negative and became the butt of moralistic tales in which his typical fate was debtor's prison, permanent venereal disease, and, in the case of William Hogarth's A Rake's Progress, venereally-caused insanity and internment to Bedlam.

Female promiscuity

Since at least 1450, the word "slut" has been used, usually pejoratively, to describe a sexually promiscuous woman.[How to reference and link to summary or text] The terms "slag", "trollop", "skank", "ho", and "slapper" are also used across the English-speaking-world to describe sexual promiscuity in a woman.

In German, the word Schlampe is roughly equivalent in to the English term, slut, in describing a promiscuous woman.

Nature versus nurture controversy

Main article: Nature versus nurture

Evolutionary psychologists propose that a conditional tendency for promiscuity is inherited from our hunter-gatherer ancestors. Male promiscuity, they say, was advantageous because it allowed males to father more children. Female promiscuity, on the other hand, is said to have allowed female ancestors to have children with superior genetic potential.

Primitive promiscuity

Primitive promiscuity or original promiscuity, is the hypothesis that human race originally lived in a state of promiscuity.[7][8][9][10][11]

Extra-pair copulation in animals

Further information: Animal sexual behavior

In the animal world, some species of animals, including birds such as swans, once believed monogamous, are now known to engage in extra-pair copulations. Although social monogamy occurs in about 90 percent of avian species and about 3 percent of mammalian species, investigators estimate that 90 percent of socially monogamous species exhibit individual promiscuity in the form of extra-pair copulations.[12][13][14]

Two examples of promiscuous animals are the primates chimpanzees and bonobos. These species live in social groups consisting of several males and several females. Each male copulates with many females, and vice versa. In bonobos, the amount of promiscuity is particularly striking because bonobos use sex to alleviate social conflict as well as to reproduce.

See also

References

  1. http://www.answers.com/topic/promiscuity
  2. New survey quantifies the sex we’re having MSNBC
  3. Wellings K, Collumbien M, Slaymaker E, et al (2006). Sexual behaviour in context: a global perspective. Lancet 368 (9548): 1706–28.
  4. Promiscuity fuels spread of HIV/AIDS BBC
  5. Relation between sexual promiscuity, drugs abuse and HIV infection in Buenos Aires, Argentina. study available at National Library of Medicine
  6. Julie Coleman (1999). Love, Sex and Marriage: A Historical Thesaurus, Rodopi. ISBN 9042004339.
  7. Westermarck, chap. 3 p. 103-4
  8. Bachofen, Das Mutterrecht, pp. xix-xx, 10
  9. Bachofen, Antiquarische Briefe pp.20-
  10. McLennan, Morgan, Lord Avebury, Giraud-Teulon, Lippert, Kohler, Post, Wilken, Kropotkin, Wilutzky
  11. Bloch, Iwan Sexual Life of Our Time, pp. 188-194
  12. Reichard, U.H. (2002). Monogamy—A variable relationship. Max Planck Research, 3, 62-67.
  13. Lipton, Judith Eve; Barash, David P. (2001). The Myth of Monogamy: Fidelity and Infidelity in Animals and People, San Francisco: W.H. Freeman and Company.
  14. Research conducted by Patricia Adair Gowaty. Reported by Morell, V. (1998). Evolution of sex: A new look at monogamy. Science 281 (5385): 1982–1983.
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