From the moment we take that first big plunge into womanhood, we start counting. We count on fingers and toes the men we’ve had sex with. We torture ourselves by making lists and comparing ourselves to our friends and even worse the girls we hate. Why are we so afraid to venture away from purity? “Well I’ve only slept with three people..” Pause to look around at the girls in the room who are biting their nails or furiously texting their other friends. They feel judged and exposed because they’re well aware that they’re the whores to the one speaking’s madonna.
So what is this number thing anyway, and why is it stressed so intensely? I personally stopped counting when i surpassed my mother’s number (a “baker’s dozen”). Does that make me a whore? No. I’m just a girl with boundary issues who feels the need to use her vagina quite regularly. I also stopped counting in order to avoid long nights sobbing into my Ben & Jerry’s. That’s the thing though isn’t it? We start counting in order to place a boundary on ourselves. Not to actually remember the men we’ve slept with, and who would want to anyway? Some of those are mistakes that we’d love to forget, and when we’re counting they just hang over you like a rain cloud.
I remember battling with numbers. I got to number nine before I started revising my list. Well, he doesn’t count because it was awful and awkward. If he doesn’t count than neither does he, and my 7 becomes my 5, and my 5 gets thrown to the dogs to make room for my new 8 and then before you know it, it’s a never ending story. Yuck, no thanks! I let all of the men fall away, the only ones I really choose to remember are the those who actually made it mean something. It doesn’t matter if you have sex with 5 people or 85. The number’s irrelevant, what matters is how those 85 men made you feel as a woman. If they were all fantastic experiences and you have no regrets than more power to you. However, if you’re the type of girl who wakes up in the morning feeling ashamed not because he was number 10, but because it was a bad experience than stop. Throw on last night’s party dress, slip on those broken heals and take that walk of shame home because you have a lot to think about. Sex always has the opportunity to be bad. Chemistry can be off, boundaries could be overstepped, you realized your beer goggles had fooled you yet again, but to feel shame is different. If you wake up from one night stands feeling ashamed then put yourself on sexual probation. You may be someone who requires more intimacy and trust, you value the relationship over the sexual experience itself. That’s perfectly fine just as having great one night stands is fine. Do not have sex that you feel ashamed of, and do not let other people’s ideas of how you should be and how you should act make you ashamed.
I have never met a man who judged me for the amount of people I’ve been with. To my face anyway. Besides the guy who upon hearing that I wanted to write a book about the men I’ve slept with said, “Wow. You’ve slept with enough men to write a book?!” But he was an asshole so I put my cigarette out in his beer. I’ve actually never even heard of a man who keeps track of the number of partners he’s had. So why should we? As a straight woman I can’t say what it’s like in the gay/lesbian community, but in the straight world the number game appears to be a way for women to judge other women. Looking back at it, the amount of pressure I put on myself to keep my number down was absolutely absurd. Screaming at my “ex lover” saying, “You’re number 11 Pat, I can’t take that back!” Is just embarrassing. My God, what a dumb thing to say, and what an even dumber thing to stress out about. Don’t use the number system to keep your sexuality in a cage. Practice emotionally and physically safe sex. Know what kind of sexual relationships work for you and settle for nothing less.