Monday, January 19, 2009

Does It Count?

Even though I realize that it’s ridiculous for the same society to teach women to be chaste that nudges men to pursue sex like a sport, I’m not immune to the pressure. If my middle school math teacher was right, though, when she taught me that an average is the total sum divided by the number of items, in this case people answering the question, “How many people have you slept with?”- it’s impossible – IMPOSSIBLE- for women to have a lower average number of partners than the average number for men. (For a more detailed explanation, see “The Myth, The Math, The Sex”.)

As a result of this incongruence between reality and propriety, most women, including myself, have questioned whether bad sex should count in her official number. Considering that there’s scientific evidence that quality is much more important for women than quantity –which means that a woman in a dry spell is left even more frustrated by bad sex than if she had continued to have none at all- there might even be a case for bad partners counting as a negative number, thereby reducing your count for suffering through it politely.

Men have incentive in the opposite direction, to inflate their numbers, and so even tripping into a stuffed animal or a haphazardly placed angel cake might count. Seriously, an informal survey of my guy friends revealed that even one…uh…ingress, um, dive?...ok, fine – stroke - counts. At women’s brunch tables everywhere, however, this debate is alive with no consensus in sight. I have no answer, but House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has added an interesting dimension to the conversation.

If you watched this far, you've just been Rickrolled by the most powerful woman in Congress. The Rickroll, an internet meme that started a few years ago, is basically a prank in which unsuspecting viewers are tricked into listening to Rick Astley's 1987 hit "Never Gonna Give You Up". The classic Rickroll is when someone is tricked into clicking on a link that takes them to a video of the song.” – January 15, 2009

Consider: if I click on the link to a video like the one above, but close the page before Rick Astley’s music video starts, did I really get rickrolled? I’m not saying; I’m asking. I’m dying to know your thoughts.


  1. I think it would be really interesting to compare the average number of partners, say, a 23-year-old woman has had in 2009 versus the average number of partners a 23-year-old woman had in 1994. It seems like over the past ten years, women have become increasingly sex-positive and are more open and honest about the number of partners they've had. (Or maybe it's just that I moved from suburban Atlanta to more liberal places.) That being said, as a young woman in 2009, I actually feel like there is a ton of pressure on me to go out and seek out a lot of sex partners, and that it's ok to a certain point. That's not my style at all (really) and I actually feel like I am getting some flak for it. Go figure.

    And with regard to the Rickroll... if a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound? : )

  2. I want to reference Wikipedia here:
    "Sexual intercourse, also known as copulation or coitus, commonly refers to the act in which the male reproductive organ enters the female reproductive tract."

    That means, having bad sex or even one stroke counts as sex because the male reproductive organ has entered the female reproductive tract.

    So according to this definition it should answer your question if one stroke or bad sex counts as sex. However, this is just the very plain dictionary definition. Since women are never...lets say... simple (in a good way), it might be a little bit more complex for a woman to answer that question for herself. Which leads back to you: You probably have to make your own definition.

    What I just described might also be the reason, why men have higher numbers of women they slept with then women with men. Men just go straight by the definition. Hence, they are not lying or inflating or anything. They just try to keep it simple and exact ;-)

    I guess now it is on all the women in the world to answer this question for themself. And also for you Ivy, I guess the question is still unanswered. But I am sure you will find the answer...

  3. Erica, there is no decision a person can make that doesn't piss SOMEBODY off. You do your do, girl.

    Benjamin, if I weren't your gf and you posted with no name, I would still know from your post that you're a man. May I never know your number.

    Does anyone ever just give your ob/gyn a range instead of a specific for # of partners?

  4. ... or we are all becoming a little more manic with the passing of the years!

    I loved this conversation! As for the numbers... if it was bad sex we most likely want to forget it... but since we are honest with ourselves we know to count it. Still prefering not to disclose any numbers.

    This is such a jumping off point. I had a conversation several years ago about the number of sexual partners that you have come in contact with (so including the web of partners that your partner(s) have been with).

    I am with Ivy... I would like not to have the conversation because what good is it going to do in the long run.

    I think my doc usually asks for a range. But when you get into my range is another one going to really make a difference? :-) lol.

  5. Ah Ben.... trusting your morals to the all knowing hands of Wikipedia!

    It's definitely an interesting debate, and may I add one more thought to ponder - does it count if you don't remember it?

    And my doc, she stopped asking me a long time ago and just keeps her fingers for that long awaited day when my number hasn't increased from one year to the next :)

  6. So I'm jumping in a little late here- the Friday morning blog-reading time-wasting free for all didn't start until Saturday for me this week. I just wanna throw this in there, and maybe it's a moot point, but still- maybe the issue is that our culture is too obsessed with numbers altogether. Especially in this context, I think it's pretty revealing that, as Ivy mentioned, men focus on quantity, whereas women tend toward quality. We have a scale for measuring quantity- numbers- and of course, that's what we use when talking about our sex experience/ past/ life (or death as the case may be). Head count (hahaha!) is the quantifiable, we could even say male, way of looking at sex; but a count isn't going to work at all for a quality-based (female, if we're continuing with this binary) assessment. It's the patriarchy! It's fucking everywhere! (And I meant that as an adverb, but I like that it works as a verb here too.)

    Anyway, if we are going to stick to a number system, yes, start with introducing negative numbers. I also think it would be helpful to start using fractions, which would account for circumstances and quality of the sex in question. For example, you've been pursuing a certain someone, you finally get them, and the sex isn't great. Or good. Ok, it's terrible. But you've accomplished a goal, so surely that should be factored in there. Maybe the let down guy counts as .2 instead of 1 or -1. That'll make things awesomely complicated, and most importantly, when some one asks what my number is, I can say pi. And no angel food cake need be involved.

  7. o, by the way, ivy, this is laura. hi. i don't know if my unmistakable voice really comes across in that post. because ya know, there's no sound.

  8. Laura, I totally knew that was you when you wrote, "Head count (hahaha!)"

    Jo, I've totally had that debate before, too, about whether it counts if you either don't remember it happening OR if you actually hallucinated it happening. Jury's out. It's a complicated, shades of grey world we live in. :)

  9. Coming in late with a comment from the "sanity challenged" crowd--sex, like women, is complicated, but numbers are not. If the volumes written about the ultimate act of love (or depravity, depending on circumstances) have shown me anything, it's that when you attempt to combine a simple thing with a complex thing, what you get is simplexity--in other words, something that makes absolutely no sense. Like that law of averages governing partners, the numbers may say one thing, and we're tempted to believe them because we sooo want to believe that this crazy world we live in can be quantified and controlled, but reality really doesn't give a shit about what we found on our TI-94 graphing calculator.
    Which is why I try to abstain from referencing numbers or ranges whenever possible in regards to my history, because not only have I discovered a few encounters in my past that I did not remember, thanks to my only recently diagnosed schizophrenia I have also remembered sexual episodes that in fact never happened. I guess my point is this--YOU know if you had sex or not. It doesn't matter if it was bad/good/forgotten, it happened. The only cause for lowering one's tally is when you find out one of your affairs was actually a psychotic delusion. But if a real person sticks a real ding-dong in a real hoo-ha, light a smoke baby--sex has occurred.



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