Sextistics – What does your number say about you?

Words by Michelle Andrews.

“So what’s your number?”

The countless times I have asked/been asked this question is ridiculous. It almost always pops up around that point in a friendship where you are comfortable enough to fart in front each other and share horrific personal stories about awkward hook-ups at seedy nightclubs. You know: the point where you can relate about sustaining severe lower-lip-bleeds from boys who tried to “seductively” bite you on the Noizy dance-floor (and the fat-lips that shamed you for days afterwards). Cue collective shudders across Melbourne.

In fact, I went through a stage (probably 18 or 19 years old) where I was so fixated on what everyone’s ‘number’ was, I wished there was some magical power that could show a hovering digit above every person’s head as they passed me on the street. I was obsessed. I would meet someone and instantly wonder how many people they had hopped into bed with, as if it was an indication as to whom they truly were as a person.

Obviously, that’s a pretty childish concept.

I guess probing for someone’s number is an attempt to quantify them. Assign each person a figure so that we can more easily categorise them: slut, easy, normal, prudish, frigid… you get the idea.

We crave the number so we can form what we believe is an accurate personal judgement in our minds.  Because let’s face it – people think about sex all the time.  There’s always that lingering curiosity about the privacy and secrecy of each other’s sex lives. It’s that hovering interest that begs us to ask the question; how much is everyone else getting, and how much is the right amount? It’s why we love a celebrity sex scandal, and it’s why we all go into a hysterical melt-down when there’s a nude photo-leak – we will jump at the opportunity to peek around the doors of each other’s private lives.

So what number makes you normal? Are you a slut? Are you an outlier? Are you an anomaly?

Let it be known – according to society, we are all toeing an incredibly fine line. The only question is: where the fruit is the line? At the moment is seems to be a moving, disappearing, re-emerging and fucking transforming-mutant-ninja-turtle line that most of the time we can’t even understand or rationalise.

The problem is that sexuality is littered with stigma. No matter what realm of society, there is always a going to be a conception of what constitutes incorrect sexual behaviour, whether it is religious, political, professional or otherwise.  These days, there are so many competing voices it’s hard to reach a point of view without being influenced by other people or institutions in our lives.

There is no shortage of opinions when it comes to how many sexual partners is the ‘correct amount’. Your parents and the church are probably pushing for one… total, ever. Your friends are probably happy as long as you’re ‘respecting yourself’ and ‘know your limits’. The characters of Sex and The City have been telling you for years that no number is too high – so get out there and score some lovin’ sister!

It’s an unfortunate reality, but I think we all go through a stage of wrongly judging each other’s sex lives.

I distinctly remember 18-year-old drunken antics with friends after a night out- we would each guess the ‘number’ of complete strangers based solely on their appearance, and if we got it right (sloshed people in kebab shops were surprisingly open to revealing their sexual exploits to us) we would shout the other person a kebab.

As I’ve (slowly) matured (thank-god… I was spending a lot of money on my friend’s kebabs), I’ve realised that a person’s ‘number’, says very little about them. At the end of the day, how does it affect me if you’ve slept with none, or one, or one hundred? If you’re single, and if you are in control of your own body, why should anyone care what (or more specifically who) you do?

Whether you are a 30 year old virgin, or an “experimental” 17 year old – at the end of the day your body is your body. It’s not up to anyone else to decide how you use it or what is deemed socially acceptable. It’s all about ensuring that your sex life is on your terms, and that you are comfortable.

Screw society (if you want to), there is no correct or incorrect number.