Columbia University student blog Bwog.com recently crunched the numbers on a question it frequently asks Columbia seniors in its quirky senior survey: Would you rather give up oral sex or cheese? The results of the fascinating statistical survey, which is intended "to share the knowledge and advice they’ve culled... over the past four years," offers a glimpse into the mind of a Columbia student.
Here's a graph of the findings, via Bwog:
Sex vs. A NICE BRIE?! Baffling questions indeed. The sample size and methodology:
Yes, read that again. According to this small sample survey (only 222 Columbia students), 64% of Columbia's women and 53% of men said they’d prefer to give up oral sex in favor of cheese.
One of the questions that is frequently criticized [in the Senior Wisdoms] is “Would you rather give up oral sex or cheese?” which has been a staple question since the surveys began. My hypothesis is that Columbia/Barnard senior women are more likely than their male counterparts to say that they’d rather give up oral sex than cheese. Any sexual activity in a heteronormative collegiate (I assert Columbia is heteronormative, though that may be up for debate) environment serves as social capital for men more than women. This is evidenced by various sexual tropes and their accompanying social disparity and moral double-standard: a sex-positive woman is a “slut” or pegged as promiscuous, while a man of the same inclination is thought of as virile or a “stud.” Aside from whatever pleasure might be gained, sex of any kind does not really serve the same purpose of social capital for a woman as it does a man in a heteronormative environment, so it makes sense that oral sex would be something of less importance to her if she were asked to pick between that and, say, a nice brie.
I reviewed 222 Bwog interviews dating from 2006 to 2012 via their website and noted the preference for oral sex or cheese as well as the gender of the person answering. If the answer was unclear or if they refused to answer, I marked that as “no answer/unclear.” 119 men’s answers were recorded along with the answers of 103 women. Men represented 54% of respondents while women represented the remaining 46%. This roughly corresponds to U.S. News and World Report’s demographic of Columbia as being 53% male and 47% female. Each undergraduate class has approximately 1500 students. Despite a relatively large size, I will discuss problems with the sample later. I compiled the results, broke them down into graphical presentations and then determined a confidence interval for a 95% confidence rate: approximately ± 9%.
The results were as I hypothesized, though because little to no information as to why graduating women at Columbia were more likely to state a preference for cheese than oral sex, it cannot be said that the aforementioned “culture of awkwardness” or availability of cheese contributed to the results. 46% of women would rather give up oral sex than cheese, while 36% of men reported the same attitude.
Over all, a fromage-centric attitude prevailed through the sample, with a full 42% of seniors who answered the question reporting that they’d give up oral sex before giving up cheese. For those who said they’d give up cheese, lactose intolerance was commonly cited, as were other dietary restrictions. The percentage differences between the sexes don’t change much if non-respondents and unclear answers are removed. Of those who answered the question directly, 64% of women and 53% of men said they’d prefer to give up oral sex in favor of cheese: 58% of seniors overall, then, would seem to prefer cheese to oral sex.