New research: The impact of social lockdown on sexual desires and behaviors

New research has revealed how the Covid-19 pandemic has affected our sex lives, with changes in sexual desires and behaviours due to the lockdown restrictions. The study, published in the Journal of Sex Research, found that women showed a significant reduction in levels of sexual desire during lockdown.

The research also found that participants engaged in less sexual behaviours – including masturbation, porn, sex with a partner and using technology for sex – during lockdown, but that men reported significantly more sexual activities than women, and LGB people significantly more than heterosexuals.

Mark McCormack commented: “Our research shows that lockdown had a real impact on young adults’ sex lives and sexual desires, not least engaging in fewer sexual activities in general. It highlighted important differences according to gender and sexual orientation. For example women, lesbian, gay and bisexual young adults reported lockdown had a much greater negative impact on their sense of wellbeing which requires further attention. The de facto criminalisation of casual sex due to social restrictions has received little attention from policymakers over the past year, this will need to be addressed as we move out of lockdown and consider the consequences related to sexual health and the potential for a marked increase in casual sex over the summer this year.”

An accessible overview of the paper is availabe at The Conversation.


New article on gender-collaborative training in sport

This article draws on a year-long ethnography of elite university sport to call for gender-collaborative training in segregated sports. The article is free to access and available here.

Gender-collaborative training in elite university sport: Challenging gender essentialism through integrated training in gender-segregated sports

M.F. Ogilvie and Mark McCormack

Competitive teamsport at university level is predominantly segregated by gender in many western countries, despite concerns that gender segregation in sport can perpetuate sexism and gender inequality. While policies and activities seek to challenge sexism and gender inequality, the use of gender collaboration within a gender-segregated system as a method to achieve this has received little attention. In this article, we draw on a year-long ethnography of elite sport and 48 in-depth interviews with elite male and female athletes at a British university to explore the impact of various forms of gender mixing during training, which we call ‘gender-collaborative training’. While men’s and women’s teams competing against each other in practice matches resulted in gender-essentialist narratives attributing difference to biology, gender-integrated practices and workouts provided opportunities for men and women to train together without the gendered sport-specific associations that can reproduce sexism. We call for gender-collaborative training to be adopted by gender-segregated teams, and suggest that where there is resistance to any integration, teams start with mixed physical workouts and progress to mixed sport-specific training and then mixed competitive training.

New “Response” published in Sexualities

I have a new publication in the journal, Sexualities. This takes the form of a “Response” to an article by Sarah Diefendorf and Tristan Bridges. The argument in the original article was that a methodological paradox exists in research on men and masculinities — that decreased homophobia demonstrated in quantitative research is not evident in qualitative research. I profoundly disagree with the arguments in the article because: 1) such a result is not a paradox but an effect of different sampling strategies; 2) the supposed result only occurs by a systematic exclusion of publications the authors disagreed with, including from sexual minorities, women and people of colour; and 3) this speaks to a broader issue about “critical” theory trumping systematic methods in some masculinities research; including from one of the Editors of Men and Masculinities.

My response is available here, and I provide a discussion of inclusive masculinity theory because it was so mis-represented in the original article. Diefendorf and Bridges appropriately used their right to reply. I remain surprised the original article passed peer review and was not retracted after the issues were raised, but I am grateful to the Editors for enabling the academic debate–which has to be central to the role of academic journals.

Independent Voices article on Age Verification and BBFC report

The BBFC published a report about young adults’ porn consumption and parental perceptions of porn. The report is not available publicly, but has been reported in the media and copies are provided on request. The report as many issues – for example, referring to people aged 16-18 as children and equating kinky sex and/or BDSM as violence – but in this piece I focus on the problems of this approach to pornography and the failures of sex education.

My piece, with links to the information mentioned above, is available here. 

5 Live Drive

I appeared as a discussant about new porn verification laws scheduled to come into effect on July 15th, 2019, on BBC Radio 5 Live Drive – at 2 hours 45 minutes into the show:

The Puzzle of Sexual Orientation

The leading journal Archives of Sexual Behavior has a special section in its new issue, The Puzzle of Sexual Orientation. I am delighted to be a co-author on an article with Prof. Ritch Savin-Williams and others that provides evidence for “mostly gay” as a sexual orientation category. I have further research with Prof. Savin-Williams on this issue currently under review. The current article, Gay, Mostly Gay, or Bisexual Leaning Gay?, is available here.

Gay, Mostly Gay, or Bisexual Leaning Gay? An Exploratory Study Distinguishing Gay Sexual Orientations Among Young Men

Ritch C. Savin-Williams, Brian M. Cash, Mark McCormack, and Gerulf Rieger

This exploratory study assessed physiological, behavioral, and self-report measures of sexual and romantic indicators of sexual orientation identities among young men (mean age = 21.9 years) with predominant same-sex sexual and romantic interests: those who described themselves as bisexual leaning gay (n = 11), mostly gay (n = 17), and gay (n = 47). Although they were not significantly distinguishable based on physiological (pupil dilation) responses to nude stimuli, on behavioral and self-report measures a descending linear trend toward the less preferred sex (female) was significant regarding sexual attraction, fantasy, genital contact, infatuation, romantic relationship, sex appeal, and gazing time to the porn stimuli. Results supported a continuum of sexuality with distinct subgroups only for the self-report measure of sexual attraction. The other behavioral and self-report measures followed the same trend but did not significantly differ between the bisexual leaning gay and mostly gay groups, likely the result of small sample size. Results suggest that romantic indicators are as good as sexual measures in assessing sexual orientation and that a succession of logically following groups from bisexual leaning gay, mostly gay, to gay. Whether these three groups are discrete or overlapping needs further research.

Homophobia in Sport Inquiry, DCMS

Today, I am giving evidence to the Department of Culture, Media and Sport for their inquiry into Homophobia in Sport. I will be giving evidence on broader issues of homophobia in contemporary society and among young people, including education and sport. You can read the notes I submitted to the inquiry in advance of my oral evidence, here.


I have undertaken independent research funded by Durex on technology and seCondom Emojix, and safe sex education. This more recent study has been used as part of the campaign for a condom emoji, which I support. See more about the campaign from Durex, here.

New Research Report on Condom Use and Sexual Health

My research funded by Durex examines how young people discuss safe sex, their use of condoms and the potential for a condom emoji. The full report can be accessed here.

Condom Emoji

Talk at Center for Men and Masculinities, SUNY Stonybrook – Manhattan

My talk is titled ‘Those cuddling Brits: Spooning, intimacy and the transformation of masculinity’. Details on the attached flyer.

Click to access M%20McCormack%20Seminar.pdf