Why I won’t tell anyone my number and why that makes me sad

Do you know your number? I read a buzzfeed article with tips on how to stay awake during boring meetings. They suggested you try to remember everyone you were ever with.
So I spent a rather thoughtful meeting taking, what seemed like, intense notes and then shocked myself. This prompted me to have a conversation with my friend (I gave her the tip for boring meetings) and she was equally shocked by her number but for entirely other reasons.
Our discussion centred on how we were happy to tell each other our numbers but we certainly wouldn’t share our numbers with other girls or indeed our partners.
Why is that?

Why did we feel that our reputations would be negatively altered if we revealed how many people we had slept with? Why does that still matter? It angers me and it annoys me for so many reasons. I am not solely a number, a statistic made up of sexual partners. I resent the implication that my sexual worth is tied to it. That my worth or integrity is tied to it.
Sex is precious and I won’t ever claim that it’s not; my ability to have it is one of the things I prize most highly in life. But it’s not a finite resource and the more sex I have doesn’t mean that I am depleting my allocation. Or anyone else’s for that matter.
Neither does it make me a lesser person. It means nothing. It has no bearing on any other part of my life. So why do I need to hide it?
It particularly irks me that I feel the criticism most harshly from my own sex*. It makes me sad that we’re still pitted against each other in this way. Don’t we have enough to deal with!

I think what cemented my resolve about disclosing my number was with a recent partner. He was fixated on it, unhealthily so and to a point where it was a factor in our breaking up. But not in the way you might think. He claimed he never judged me for it but for some reason he felt he was emasculated by it? He felt, as a man, that he should have been with more people than me and in general (who sets the number that dictates this, where was his benchmark?). I won’t even try to decipher what logic he used to arrive at that. No matter what I said to alleviate it, it never helped. He was fascinated with what I had gotten up to previously, what I’d tried and what I hadn’t. Initially I was happy to share never thinking that every nugget I gave him would be used against me. So I started lying, I pretended that I hadn’t done things, and when I eventually reluctantly acquiesced to alluding to my number, I dramatically lowered it.
Now this is probably an extreme example but it hasn’t left me feeling any better about how men or women perceive sex. It just makes me weary.

I would hope to get a better reaction if ever I’m asked, but more than that, I’d hope not to be asked. And not because someone is afraid of the answer but because it genuinely doesn’t matter.

I don’t think a person should be allowed to judge another person for how many people they have or haven’t slept with. Put it in context: do we ever ask ‘how many people have you ever had a pint with?’ or ‘How many people have you ever shared a meal with?’ ‘How many people have you been close with, or shared emotions with?’ We have so many interactions with people, some intimate some not we should shake off this judgement we reserve for sex.

How many? Well, more than my mother and less than Russell Brand – I hope.

 

 

 

*as much as I ever submit to criticism, which isn’t much

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