A discussion with a man friend today went down the path of past sexual encounters. I was asked what my “magic number” is, how many people I’ve had sex with.
First I rolled back through years of uncomfortable teenage encounters followed by a string of boyfriends mixed in with some break-up one night stands. I narrowed it down to ‘between twenty and twenty-five’. Silence followed by my contemplative friend which lead me to start explaining who, where, what and why and a mish mash of desperate reasoning. My friend reassured me that he was just working his out and managed to round up to fifty.
This conversation prompted an internal monologue: why did I feel the need to defend my sex life to my male compadre? Is twenty-ish a number worth defending? What number is? I started falling down the Google rabbit hole trying to find a general consensus but had to stop after reading the vast amount of misogynist comments aimed at female contributors (this is a rant for another time) /femrant.
Turns out the ideal number is not a lot.
According to the box-office flop What’s Your Number? (2011) twenty is the penultimate number you can reach, thus the main character must seek an ex-partner to marry as she can’t possibly pass this. GQ magazine suggests that ten is the ideal number as “nobody wants a virgin, that’s just plain weird. But, quite frankly, neither do they want someone with so many notches in their bedpost that the mattress falls through the ceiling.” That rules me well out at the ripe age of twenty-three.
Regardless of hegemonic norms broadcast through mass media, my number is special. I remember each and everyone of sexual experiences and they have shaped me. They have helped me to discover my attractions, my sexuality and contributed to me overall identity. I am proud of my magic number, as should we all from twenty-ish to a thousand we have shared a relationship with another human and it has shaped us.
Love and rainbows.