As finals week nears, many students are crunching the numbers to determine how badly they can fail the final and still get an AB or staring at statistics to see how far from the mean their midterm score was. It isn’t hard to find a student though who is also focused on a different number — their number of sexual partners.
Within the whole population, the student body runs the gamut of having no number to speak of to having too high of a number to remember. Some seek to use these numbers objectively as a sign of social status or purity, often becoming obsessed with building or stifling their particular number. They build this number into their identity and feel the need to bring it up whenever possible, especially in sexual situations.
Forget crunching the numbers when it comes to sex, period.
Sexual activity is too intimate and subjective to be confined to the objectivity of numbers. For example, if one were to have a very intimate encounter with someone else but not partake in intercourse in the strict sense, that person thereby gets excluded from “the count” even if one had a sexual encounter with them.
This is especially the case in non-heteronormative acts where genital sex is not physically possible. If a partner only “counts” if there’s vaginal intercourse, then all people who’ve only had homosexual interactions are perennially stuck at zero. Without diving into assigning decimals for different tasks, it is clear that these numbers don’t make sense in the first place.
What’s more perplexing about the concept of counting is the stigma associated with someone’s “number” on both ends of the spectrum and the relationship these stigmas have to traditional gender roles.
It seems like once a student reaches college, it is the expectation that every guy’s number is above zero unless one is either religious, anti-social or inherently undesirable.
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Unsurprisingly, this isn’t actually the case. Whether or not someone chooses to partake in sexual activity has no bearing on their worth as a person and the only accurate assumption one can make about a person whose number is zero is that they — up to this point — have abstained from sexual activity.
Because of this, it is uncommon that those students who have yet to see their “number” rise be distinguished in a crowd unless they wave around their purity with pride.
On the other end of the spectrum, girls in particular are often stigmatized if their number is above a handful or deviates from the mean too far. This, again, lines up with the troubling gender role expectation that women are supposed to be more chaste than men and are considered “sluts” if they do not keep their purity.
Really, as long as one keeps their private adventures to themselves and engages in their sexual activity with safety and consent, there is no basis to be stigmatized as a result.
While we like to believe that numbers have values, sex is one place where they can be disregarded. Be yourself and conduct your sexual life as you see fit, without fear of being judged for keeping your “number” too low or too high.