My number has zero bearing on who I am as person, nor does it suggest anything about my morals.
It goes without saying that at some point in your life someone will ask you about your 'number.' Whether it be a one-night stand, a friend, or some fling you have while you're in Rio for the summer, the question will be tossed your way. In those instances, what will you say? Do you plead the fifth or perhaps round down? Or, like me, do you reveal the truth, shrug, and move on in the conversation? At that point, even the weather is a more interesting and important topic.
According to Tracey Cox, a self-proclaimed expert in the way of sex and relationships, if you do answer that question and you're over 30 years of age, the "correct" answer is 10. Eye roll. Since we're discussing self-proclaimed experts, I'm a self-proclaimed pizza-eater expert, and I say two slices is never enough. In what area is your line of expertise?
Cox says she knows this because "because every female I know (barring those who married their childhood sweethearts) answers 'ten' whenever they're asked by a partner how many people they've slept with." Ten, apparently, is two more than the "official" figure for the "average" woman's lifetime, whereas men get 12 as their "official" number. What Cox basically wants us to know is that number 10 is our best friend in these situations, if we choose to answer at all. Honesty, of course, will just get you judged by whomever is on the receiving end of your number confession. But you probably already knew that.
Despite this, Cox's column makes a fairly decent point: "I don't think it's a question anyone should answer anyway. The reason why is this: numbers mean nothing without knowing the circumstances." True. But can we take it a step further and just say I don't care, you don't care, and let's care about something else together? Yes? OK. Cool.
I have never judged anyone for the amount people with whom they've slept. I have friends who have slept with one guy then married him, and other friends who have slept with close to 100 people and are still out there going strong. I don't believe in running around asking people that question, but it does some times come up, and the truth can be revealed. I, in turn, have revealed my true number, and afterward it was all, "high-five, woohoo, so where are you spending Labor Day?" Judgment was not part of the equation, and lingering on the numbers was pointless, so why wouldn't we talk about Labor Day plans instead?
However, Cox is very adamant that you, ladies, will be judged for your number. No matter who you tell, outside of doctors and therapists, your number is what defines your level of promiscuity. Her cure for that judgment is to NEVER, EVER tell anyone your number. To do so is the kiss of death! Babies will be crying in the street! Men will be running from you! Your friends will call you a "slut" and throw Twinkies at you while condemning every past sexual choice you ever made! It. Will. Be. The. End.
But if you are judged, do you care?
If a friend judges you for anything, they're not a friend. If a potential boyfriend runs for the hills, it was never meant to be. And if it's a stranger? Well, do you really care what a stranger has to say?
Women are put into a box in which they are still not allowed to be sexual beings. We are not allowed to enjoy sex, sleep around, or do anything else sexually that has long been attributed to "manly" behavior. We are constantly subjected to that whole double standard thing. It's not just unfair and sexist, but archaic.
We have to own our sexuality. In owning it, we accept the sexual decisions we've made, are responsible when it comes to safe sex, and honest with our partners. While we don't owe anyone an explanation for our past, we do owe it to ourselves and others not to place so much emphasis on that number. My number has zero bearing on who I am as person, nor does it suggest anything about my morals, ethics, or how I was raised — despite what Twitter trolls may try to tell me several times a week because of the topics I cover. The same goes for you, and everyone else.
In subtracting any power associated with the amount of people with whom we've had sex, we can be one step closer to moving past the drama and judgment that comes with it. What you decide to tell people is your choice, and I won't tell you any differently. Telling you what to do is Tracey Cox's expertise; I'm just here to make sure you don't skimp on your pizza intake.