Strauss-Kahn made headlines for allegedly assaulting a hotel worker. The folks at Newsweek decided to follow up on the story with a bit of sensationalism. In “Hotel Confidential“, Bernstein and Ellison begin with “It’s the dirty secret about business travel. Many married men expect sex along with their room service, according to a NEWSWEEK poll.”
The poll asked about what the men did on business trips. 8% claim to have cheated on their spouse. 3% claim they made a pass at a hotel worker with a reported 55% failure rate and a 27% success rate. 9% claim they booked a massage via their hotel and 11% claim an attempt at sexual contact occurred. Interestingly, none of the men claimed to have initiated this. 2% claimed they had sex with a hotel worker, 6% claimed they had paid for sex and 21% admitted they had thought about cheating.
Now, let us crunch the numbers and subject the key claim (many married men expect sex along with their room service) to some critical thinking.
The claim itself could be taken at least two ways. One interpretation is that many married men expect sex while traveling on business. The other is that many married men expect sex to be provided sex by people associate with the hotel. This could mean that they expect sex from the people who provide room service or that they expect to be provided sex via the auspices of hotel employees but not with said employees.
Taking the numbers as presented, 21% of men thought about cheating. That cannot reasonably be taken as counting as expecting sex. The 8% who claimed to have cheated can probably be taken as expecting sex when they travel (but even that is an inference), but that hardly counts as many. The 11% of the 9% who booked massages in which sexual contact was attempted also does not seem to constitute a many. The 2% who claimed to have had sex with hotel workers is also not a many. The 3% who made a pass and presumably expected sex also do not seem to constitute a many.
Of course, it would be an error to take the numbers as presented. After all, polls have a margin of error that must be taken into account when considering the results. Assuming that the survey was done properly, the margin of error for a survey of 400 people is 4.9%. While this means that the percentages could be higher, it also means they could be lower (although not reduced to 0%). Given the small size of the survey and the rather small percentages, it would not be very reasonable to take much away from this survey. It certainly does not support the claim that many married men expect sex along with their room service (taken in any of the ways mentioned above). I have no doubt that some men do, but no evidence is given that shows that many do.
This discussion should not be taken as dismissing the harassment of or assaults on hotel workers. That clearly happens and is reprehensible. It is also good that the matter is getting media coverage. However, Newsweek seems to have rather dropped the ball on this matter.