Sex and the Jewish Woman

Information provided by some 100,000 American women, responding to a national survey by Redbook magazine on female sexuality, indicates that Jewish women engage in less pre-marital and/or extra-marital sex than do Catholic or Protestant women but that very substantial numbers of Jewish women do engage in such activities.

The results of the survey, released several days ago, were obtained from responses to a questionnaire published in the October, 1974 issue of the magazine. The women responding were mainly between the ages of 20 and 34. The study was described by the magazine as one of the largest ever conducted on the sexual practices of married young, middle-class women.

The study showed that 73.1 percent of the Jewish women reported they had had pre-marital sex, compared with 78.6 percent of Catholic women and 80,5 percent of Protestant women. After marriage, 26 percent of Jewish women said they engaged in extra-marital sex, while 26,7 percent of the Catholic wives and 31.1 percent of the Protestant wives said they did.

The number of Jewish women reporting both pre-marital and extra-marital sex also was the lowest among the three groups–17 percent, compared with 19,4 percent of Catholic women and 23,7 percent of Protestant women. The percentage of Jewish women answering the questionnaire was 3.7, roughly comparable to the Jewish proportion of the total American population.

The data on ages and religious backgrounds of the respondents was based on replies from all women answering the questionnaire, which also indicated that 95 percent were white. The data on sexual behavior was based on an analysis of a subsample of 18,349 replies made by a professional statistical organization.

RESPONSES TOWARD MARRIAGE

The study also showed that of the three religious groups, Jews had the largest positive response when asked how they would rate their marriage. Of those answering, 76.6 percent of the Jewish women said their marriage was good or very good, while 75.1 percent of the Catholics and 74.9 percent of the Protestants said the same. Despite their high appraisal of their marriage. Jewish women said they were the least happy of the three groups. Only 52,2 percent of the Jews said that they were happy most of the time, compared with 53.7 percent of the Catholics and 57.6 percent of the Protestants.

Another aspect of the study showed that sexual satisfaction is related significantly to religious belief. The study noted that regardless of age group “with notable consistency the greater intensity of a woman’s religious convictions the likelier she is to be highly satisfied with the sexual pleasures of marriage.” Also, the stronger the religious feeling the woman said she had, the happier she said she was.

“There’s a strong co-relation between how religious a person feels she is and her outlook on life.” Richard Eberhart, research manager of Redbook, told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

WOMEN RELIEVED FROM SEXUAL GUILT

Of the strongly religious, 67.2 percent said they were happy most of the time, while 50.1 percent of the not religious said they were happy most of the time. The study admits that without further research, the reasons behind the findings cannot be provided. However, the magazine did suggest that “because increasing numbers of enlightened ministers, rabbis and priests have been teaching that sexual pleasure is not only a legitimate expectation but also a necessary element in a good marriage,” women could be more relieved today from sexual guilt and inhibition.

The study was designed to see how cultural changes have affected the sexual practices of married women of all ages since the landmark report by Dr. Albert Kinsey 22 years ago. The date has been donated to the Institute for Sex Research, Inc., founded by Dr. Kinsey at Indiana University.

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