Extramarital sex is permissible for men in half of societies, but it is permissible for women in only one quarter. This double standard—controlling female sexuality more than male sexuality—has been traced to the desire to insure the paternity of heirs. It has also been attributed to the unequal power between the genders— inequality that supports a man's sense of ownership over a woman. Masculine roles, by contrast, often encourage sexual adventuring.
In western Anglo-Saxon countries, including England, Ireland, Canada the U.S.A and Australia and New Zealand, the view towards adultery is usually very negative. This can be traced back to the Christian teachings on marriage and sexuality. 80% of U.S. citizens condemn extramarital relations and believe they are ‘always wrong’, and the figures are similar in other Anglophone countries. Ireland (80%), Northern Ireland (81%), Great Britain (67%), Australia (59%)*. These results give the impression that these countries continue to support sexual exclusivity between spouses, however, the infidelity statistics prove, that at least one fifth of those people who believe infidelity is ‘always wrong’ have been braking there own rules.
Christianity influenced not only Anglophone countries, but also many other regions, including South America and continental Europe.
In South America, there is a very conflicting portrayal of their stance on infidelity. On one hand, the Roman Catholic Church still remains extremely powerful, and the inhabitants of the various countries are extremely religious. However, as Pamela Drukerman, author of ‘Lust in translation’ says “I didn’t find evidence anywhere in the world that religious people are particularly faithful.” And it would seem that South America falls under this statement. With the decadence of Carnevale each year, where the government hand out condoms on the street, one can highly doubt that fidelity is anyone’s top priority during the celebrations.
Europeans seem to be on the other end of the spectrum to their Anglophone counterparts, with several of their political leaders indulging in adultery in plain sight of the public, and experiencing little to no repercussions over their liaisons. Europeans, especially the French and Italians, have always had a reputation for being less prudish about sex and taking lovers, and also for being great lovers themselves.
In other societies, casual sexual liaisons outside marriage are widely accepted both for men and for women. This is the case in parts of Africa. Where children are regarded as belonging to broad kinship groups, there may be less concern with paternity and with controlling female sexuality. In urban Nigeria, for example, two-thirds of men and one-third of women in monogamous marriages reported that their most recent sexual encounter was with someone besides their legal spouse.
Despite the lack of statistical data in Russia and elsewhere, researcher and journalist Pamela Drukerman has conducted a firsthand investigation in infidelity around the world. And according to her information, “women in their forties, by necessity, only date married men. That’s because, since the life expectancy for Russian men has fallen so sharply (to 59) that by age 65 there are just 46 men left for every 100 women.” Russian men seem to take advantage of their limited supply; with every man being questioned admitted that he was not monogamous in his relationship.
The strictest countries in the world are those in the Middle East, where adultery is still seen as a terrible crime, and, in countries ruled by Sharia law, it is punishable by death. This does not mean that adultery does not occur, just that it is not admitted to, as it would be worth the person’s life to confess. Hint; don’t take your secret lover on a little rendezvous in the United Arab Emirates!
*1994 International Social Survey Program. Infidelity - Cross-cultural Perspectives - family https://family.jrank.org/pages/883/Infidelity-Cross-Cultural-Perspectives.html#ixzz0oHrGJyFu>