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Why Do Both Male And Female Students Lie About How Many People They've Slept With?

18/03/2014 12:32 GMT | Updated 18/03/2014 12:59 GMT
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Both male and female students lie about the number of sexual partners they have had in order to fit in at university, or avoid being called a "slut", it has emerged.

Students will either lower their number, due to the widespread stigma around promiscuity, or raise their number, as they believe it is necessary to have had sex with a certain amount of people by the time they start their degree.

These disturbing anecdotes reveal the wider repercussions of a campus culture which shames those who "sleep around", and ostracises those who have not lost their virginity or who have had what is considered "too few" partners.

A recent survey by The Tab showed 25% of female students will lie about their number compared to 22% of their male counterparts.

The study quizzed 12,700 students at 36 universities across the UK and found although the average student has slept with nine people, many students are likely to distort their numbers.

It revealed of the quarter of female students who lied, only 5% would bump up their number whilst the other 20% would lower the amount.

One student at the University of Reading told The Huffington Post UK she lied because she wanted to hide her identity of being a "massive slut", while another said she inflated her figure in order to fit in.

Many female students may feel under pressure to lie about their numbers due to the criticism fired at them for sleeping with either too many or too few men.

This sexual dichotomy can be seen with the treatment of Exeter University student, Elina Desaine.

After having won the UK's Horniest Student award, and saying she believed students should sleep with two to three people a week she faced widespread criticisms - with allegations of slut-shaming from her own university.

The ramifications of criticising pride in sexual behaviour illustrates the increasing levels of double standards at university and how students are finding it difficult to understand the fine line between "sexy" and "slut".

students

One diagram from a Tumblr site shows the impossible demands women face

One undergraduate at the University of Bath told HuffPost UK: "Girls tend to lie because its more acceptable for boys to have a bigger number ... boys lie for ego purposes."

The Tab found boys are more likely to say they've slept with a larger amount of people than in reality.

Of those surveyed, 12% of boys claimed to give a higher number when asked, with 10% admitting to lowering it.

One University of Liverpool student told us he used to lie about his number but doesn't anymore: "I've lied about my number a couple of times in the past, mostly because guys are expected to have slept with tons of girls, and it's easier to exaggerate a little bit than tell the real number and have an embarrassing conversation.

"I'd be bothered more by someone lying to me than their high number."

At a recent conference on lad culture, researchers claimed young males were being peer pressured into losing their virginity and sleeping with as many people as possible.

Isabel Young, a researcher at Sussex University, said males faced intense pressure around their sexual behaviour, and particularly if they belonged to sports teams.

"Young men are peer pressured into losing their virginity, and being made to believe it is degrading to go home alone."

So is there a limit to what an acceptable number of people to have slept with is?

A female student from Cardiff University told us they faced being judged by males if they have had sex with more than 15 people, but another student from Bristol disagrees.

She says: "If you like some one it shouldn't matter whether you've slept with 175 or 0.75 people in theory."

What's Your Number?, a film released in 2011, parodied the obsession around the number of sexual partners and how this might negatively impact your chances of a successful relationship and finding "true love".

The university most likely to lie about their number is St. Andrews, with an overwhelming 66% of students being untruthful to their peers.

The Top Ten Biggest Liars on Campus

The most honest university was Sterling, with only 12% of their respondents admitting to have lied about their sexual exploits.

The Top Ten Biggest Liars on Campus

Another male student blames lad culture for dishonesty, telling us: "I think the reason for many to lie about the number of people they've slept with is due to the pressures on keeping up appearances with a 'macho' culture, which sees sexual conquests as proof of masculinity."

Furthermore, one student confessed that, as a virgin, she felt compelled to lie about her number in order to fit in.

"It's so accepted at university that it is difficult to admit that you aren't at the same level as everyone else," she says."All of the jokes and the I have never games are things you can't play without people either knowing you are lying, or finding out."

Overall, students appear to be adjusting their number for fear of being judged by their companions. Whether it be bolstering a number to seem more impressive, or lowering it because they don't want the stigma of sleeping around.

Other studies have proven the correlation between women lowering their number and men raising theirs is a significant trend - demonstrating that a notion of double standards in promiscuity still exists and especially on campus.