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Culture & Religion

Combating the Stereotype of the Salacious Young Man

The notion that men are only interested in one thing is a false one, says professor Andrew Smiler. He has compiled statistics suggesting that our culture’s view of the young male is all wrong. 

What’s the Latest Development?

Statistically speaking, the Fonz, Barney Stinson and Charlie Harper do not exist, or at least not with the frequency we all assume they do. The salacious young man whose only objective is to bed as many women as possible is an unfair stereotype, says Andrew P. Smiler of Wake Forest University and author of the new book Challenging Casanova: Beyond the Stereotype of the Promiscuous Young Male. “According to Smiler, research shows that only 15 percent of guys have three or more sexual partners in any given year… Expand your sample to three years, and that number drops to 5 percent.”

What’s the Big Idea?

The idea than young men are only interested in sex and seek an endless amount of new partners is what Smiler calls the Casanova Complex, after Giacomo Casanova, the 18th-century Italian who famously reported bedding 116 women over a 40-year span. “Today’s Casanovas may be glamorized, but they’re also presented as being at the mercy of their libidos… That’s not a celebration of men—it’s an insult, a reduction of half the human race to a stereotype. And it is a stereotype that has emotional and practical consequences.”

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