I’ve heard a lot of talk lately about people’s “number.” It’s all over the place. It’s in this article. It’s in this movie. It’s in this survey and this one and this one. There is no shortage of places to find this topic. Recent CDC data shows that men between the ages of 25 and 44 reported having slept with a median of six women, while women in the same age range said they had slept with a median of four men. First of all, those numbers seem really low to me. Second of all, who fucking cares?? Why do we keep having this conversation? What are we even counting to get to that number? Hand stuff? Mouth stuff? Or just PVI? A person’s number is just that, a number. It ultimately doesn’t matter, like age (of consenting adults) or the actual number of servings in a package of Top Ramen. You’re gonna eat the whole fucking thing anyway so what does it matter if it’s two servings?
[EDIT: after receiving a comment from the author of that article, I realized this entire paragraph was irrelavent.Thanks, mrscallmecrazy!] The first article I linked to called, Breaking Down the S-Word, brings up some interesting points
, some without even meaning to. The author does a great job of trying to undo the way we think about female sexuality. However, then she admitted to not being honest with her then-boyfriend about her number, but in the beginning of the article, she also mentions not wanting her mom to read her article because she says “slut” so much, essentially, she’s still not being honest with the people who should love her more than anyone else does. I think she was trying to say that she has grown and can now be honest with her now-husband, but without intending to, she is subtly reinforcing the culture that if a woman has had sex with more than [insert arbitrary number here] men, she is a slut, or at the very least should be ashamed. The author’s words say that we shouldn’t put value to our number and that we shouldn’t be made to feel shame no matter how high that number is. My issue is that I’m not convinced the author believes that herself since she says, “Do I wish Shaun was my first? Um… well… um… is my mom reading this today? Then, yes. If she’s not reading this… probably not.” I could be reading more into that than what is there. Maybe she’s joking. But when we make light of not being honest (like she is about not wanting her mom to know), we aren’t truly sending the message that it doesn’t and shouldn’t matter how sexually active we are. The undertone is still there, and a lot of people still think that way.
I have had pretty candid conversations about myself. My friends and family probably don’t know my “number,” but if I’m being totally honest, I’m not sure I know my own number for absolute sure. I could probably go through my memory and figure it out, but I will say that it’s somewhere north of 15 and south of 20. Even that could be higher if I hadn’t been in a relationship throughout college. I can say that over half of my partners were one night stands and over half of those left were flings with little to no emotional attachment. I guess that makes me a slut. I’ve only been serious with and about two men. One was my first, who I dated for four and a half years. The other is my current boyfriend who means more to me than I could ever express. Do I consider every sexual experience I’ve had a win? Absolutely not. In hindsight, there are some nights I should have gone home alone, some men I should not have gotten involved with, but I don’t regret my decisions. I learned who I am and what I enjoy. Every choice I’ve made has brought me here, to this place of happiness. I really believe that you can never truly be happy with another person until you can be happy with yourself, alone. Every choice I’ve made brought me to a place where I was totally and completely content within myself. Only then was I in a place to meet someone who would become really important to me.
I actually really love the movie, What’s Your Number?. I think it brings these issues to light. I like that Chris Evans’ character tells Anna Faris’ character that her number and the crazy stories that come along with it are his favorite thing about her. That’s what we should all be like. In some ways this movie does reinforce the idea that a woman’s number should only be so high – just about every character except for Chris Evans’ holds that opinion. But the main character does come to a place of acceptance with herself and that is the message that’s important.
I’m tired of this conversation, not because I think we should all be out there having sex with everyone else. But because I think we all need to respect each other’s decisions whether that be to wait until you’re married to have sex or to try to have sex with as many people as you can like Barney Stinson and everywhere in between. At the end of the day, your decisions in no way impact my life nor do mine affect yours. So why are we still calling each other sluts?!