The Motley Current Affairs Team have collated the sexiest survey ever performed in UCC because who doesn’t need some statistical sexual voyeurism in their lives right now? Written & compiled by John Hunter and Alana Daly Mulligan.
COVID-19 has impacted our lives in many ways: online learning, reduced travel, restricted gatherings, closed bars and restaurants, the list goes on. But an area that hasn’t gotten as much media coverage is those intimate moments we all enjoy: sharing in bed, or seedy back alleys, or supermarket toilets, or the front seats of a Fiat Punto because his bloody gear bag was in the back. Yes feeling, fondling, felating, fingering, felching, and fucking have all been affected by the pandemic. Naturally, we here at the Motley Current Affairs section being the sex symbols we are, thought it imperative to document how COVID crushed UCC student copulation patterns, so we sent out our ‘super sensual sexy survey’ to find out. These were the results.
The Foreplay to the Survey
This survey was carried out from the 10th February to the 18th February 2021. The survey received 177 responses from students across the four colleges in UCC. The survey was entirely anonymous although students were asked to give their year and degree programme.
Beginning with the largest group, over half of respondents were single people, and thankfully it came to an even number of them so keep your eyes peeled because there is enough for everybody. Under half have been single for one year or less, potentially showing that many relationships may have ended due to the pandemic and lockdowns.
Unsurprisingly, single people’s romantic relationships have been negatively affected by the pandemic, with 36.4% of respondents saying that it has had a ‘very negative’ effect and 34% saying that it had a ‘fairly negative’ effect. Common reasons for this include people being unable to meet and get to know new people, with some sharing that they were unable to connect with a person over the internet, showing the limitations of virtual communication.
Over half of respondents say that they don’t have casual sex, a perhaps surprising result given the, perhaps anecdotal, lessening cultural sigma surrounding casual sexual relationships, as well as the ease at which it can be obtained through hook-apps, and the availability of contraceptives. For those who do engage in casual sex, just over 60% say they haven’t done it during the pandemic.
People in Relationships
Over 40% of respondents are in a relationship, with over 80% having been in their relationship for a year or more, which is another indicator that many relationships may not have made it through the lockdowns. Nearly a third are currently in long distance relationships, while the remainder either live with their partner or live within 5km of each other.
Respondents in relationships generally feel that the pandemic has negatively affected their romantic relationships, but not to as extreme a degree as single people. The majority in this group believed that the pandemic had a ‘fairly negative’ effect on their romantic relationships, with the second most popular answer being that it was neutral or had little to no effect. Common complaints among this group were that many were unable to see or be intimate with their partner. Some couples that lived together believed that the lockdown had put a strain on their relationship due to them being unable to see other people, but others responded by saying that it had strengthened their bond and now have a stronger relationship.
Most respondents have sex regularly with their partners, with many going between the sheets multiple times a week. But unfortunately many have been unable to perform, not due to erectile dysfunction or because they had to attend a pulse-pounding pottery exhibit, but because, as one respondent put it, “the pandemic is cock-blocking us”.
Dropping our pants and getting down to the task in hand, the survey results showed that the vast majority of respondents have found themselves reaching for the Kleenex as 86.2% of singles and 76% of people in relationships say that they partake in that most sinful pursuit of bodily pleasure. If it’s true that Jesus weeps every time we do it, then his tears sure do come out of a strange place.
Among both groups, over a third of respondents say that they have been masturbating more during the pandemic. While many feel satisfied and sexually confident afterward, a sizable number of respondents shared feelings of shame, guilt and disgust, with some saying they felt ‘body dysmorphic’. And while basically all coupled people said that their partner had no issues with them masturbating, following this just over 16% said that it had somehow affected their relationship, with some saying it caused arguments.
Looking at the LGBTQ+ community results we can see a common trend: predominantly positive results that show that attitudes have changed, but also results that show that there is still so much work to be done.
Over 75% of respondents said that their sexuality and gender identity is accepted at home, and 61.6% feel that they can fully express their sexuality and gender identity. While these numbers do show that most respondents are able to be who they are at home, it also reveals that for some an ‘accepting’ environment may not be enough for them to be comfortable to fully express who they are.
When it comes to porn, nearly 70% of UCC students are tuning into porn sites, or turning their attention towards the victimless crime of fan-fiction erotica. 74% of respondents are visiting PornHub to get their content, but other sites include Bellisa, RedTube, XVideos, OnlyFans, and some brave soul is emptying the wank-tank via Wattpad, talk about a blast from the past. For 20% of masturbators, porn is a must in their self-love sessions, 55.7% of participants only use it sometimes, and just under 25% don’t wank and watch (or Wattpad). The last year has not only seen a spike in COVID figures, but spikes beneath the sheets, 21.3% are watching more porn, while 70% said their porn consumption remained about the same.
In response to the sliding scale question “porn makes me feel good about myself” only 4.2% of students agreed wholly with the statement. Sitting on the other end, was 40.6% of students who did not think porn made them feel good about themselves. When it came to how useful porn was as an educational tool, the consensus was largely unsupportive of the medium, although 3.5% have attested to its usefulness.
Nude culture is big in UCC, 62% of respondents share / have shared explicit images. While 67% of those who answered have received nudes, 55% reported receiving an unwanted nude. Worryingly, 1 in 10 respondents have had their explicit images shared without their permission and 1 in 100 admitted to sharing someone else’s nudes without someone’s consent. These are of course only representative of those who were honest about sharing explicit images, the reality could indicate a much larger number of people participating in this despite the illegalities of such.
OnlyFans is a phenomenon which has popped up in Ireland in the last few years. It offers users the chance to curate digital content and monetise it. Somewhat naturally, sexual content has become quite common on the platform. It recently has been embroiled in the Image Based Sexual Abuse scandal where explicit images sold by individuals on the site were leaked via a Discord server in December 2020. When respondents were asked if they used OnlyFans to share explicit content, 1.7% said they used the platform. Those respondents had positive feedback about the site, saying that earnings made via the site helped supplement income and alleviate the stress of losing their jobs during the pandemic. They noted the empowerment found in the sex work community and the self-confidence they found through their bodies. However, they noted the high pressure in keeping their work a secret and the mental health impacts of such. It should be noted that Motley reached out to a number of students who use OnlyFans as a source of income for comment but all were worried about their privacy and safety, meaning that no such interviews ever took place.
When it came to what people thought of the platform, the results were more complicated. We assessed popular opinion via a series of multiple choice statements, balanced and based on different aspects of the arguments and opinions relating to the online platform. There was also a section where people could expand on their thoughts. Many people were supportive of the platform and those who used it to sell explicit images. However, a number of concerns were raised around the culture that surrounds OnlyFans. Respondents demonstrated worry over the young age of many of the users, believing there needs to be more regulation to stop those who are under 18 from using and being used on the platform. Respondents also expressed concern over the glorification of sex work and the dangers of the platform being masked as a feminist exercise when individuals were making themselves the subject of objectification. Other commentators responded that the platform was allowing individuals to be empowered by capitalising on the patriarchal power structures which was a good thing.
Finishing (almost there, just keeping doing what you’re doing)
As we wrap up (and encourage you to do so too), there’s a lot to take in from this survey. On one hand, it tells the story of loving during a pandemic: others and ourselves. On the other hand, it shows us how lonely we’ve become, how difficult this experience has been on the student body’s students’ bodies: our sexual wellbeing, and by extension, mental wellbeing. There is of course the insidious side: image-based sexual abuse is happening in our University, people are sending unwanted explicit images, among other issues. Then, there is the contentious subject of sex work and the opinion of students who participate in it. As a community, we need to consider how damaging our attitudes are of those who do sex work, but also in equal measure, not be afraid to highlight the power imbalances of such. To take a quote from Charles Dickens’s Hard Times out of context for the sake of the book’s title, “Do the wise thing and the kind thing too, and make the best of us and not the worst”. It’s all we can do now in these difficult moments when we are feeling disconnected is try and do our best by our digital relationships, and our in person flirtations for all those lucky enough to have that right now.
People in Relationships
“It’s moved our relationship into a more serious place. Thinking about getting a dog…”
“I live alone so my partner is my support bubble. Because of the pandemic I can’t see my friends or family so it puts a lot of emotional pressure on the relationship as it is my only outlet now. The added stress and fear it’s brought along with decreased mood and increased expectation has caused disagreement.”
“Generally I feel more attractive when I’m masturbating as you get caught up on the fantasy or sensation. Often after I’ve finished I feel bad though if I’ve watched porn due to ethical issues involved.”
I feel good about myself but it’s not the same as having sex with a partner – it doesn’t give me the same experience
“I can feel lonely sometimes. But once I get into it it’s nice”
“I see only fans as a way for people but particularly women to recognise the world views them as a sexual commodity and to be the ones to earn the money from that. I completely support anyone who chooses to do so [but] my fears of the site stem from the continued attacks to take images to degrade these women. My fear is how they could be shamed and stigmatised because our society is cruel, not because they’ve done anything wrong.”
“I spent the first lockdown using Only Fans (and other sites) to supplement my income. It required a lot of effort to build a platform via from scratch as I had to work anonymously. Through online sex promotion, I found a wonderful community of sex workers who were very supportive and uplifted one another in our work. As a queer person, it was empowering to see others with bodies like mine celebrating their physicality and sexuality. This said, I struggled at times and became overcome with dysphoria. I would often worry about being ‘caught’. I eventually ceased using the platform for those reasons, in addition to the stress and uncertainty around income.”
“I use it as a source of income, it has helped me become more confident with my body and being naked”
“I myself have an onlyfans profile and I consider myself a sex worker, since losing my job to COVID. I am very grateful for the income.”
“I ticked the box indicating it is the person’s fault if a leak happens. That is not my exact belief as it would be irresponsible to deny that this is a possibility when signing up to such work. It shouldn’t happen, but it does. I personally consider it a risk of the job but people should be informed why this shouldn’t happen, if anything from the past year is clear, it’s that young men are not getting appropriate sex education particularly when it comes to respect and boundaries.”