September 21, 2017

Hey, What’s Your Number?

But did I carry the one? (This image was made by Loadmaster (David R. Tribble).)
But did I carry the one?
(This image was made by Loadmaster (David R. Tribble).)

By Alexa Day

(Welcome to Lady Smut’s #ThrowbackThursday! Let’s celebrate the beginning of the school year with a little math. This post from May 2015 is all about the sexual history calculator and the intriguing calculus of our sexual pasts.)

In yesterday’s Sexy Saturday Round-Up, my colleague Elizabeth Shore provided a link to a sexual history calculator. It’s over on Slate, and it collects your age, your gender (I know, I rolled my eyes here, too, but it’s necessary), and the number of people you’ve slept with. You plug this information in, and after a brief pause, during which the calculator wants to reassure you that this is supposed to be fun for you, you get a chart that compares your info with that of other people in your age group.

Simply put, the calculator is here to tell you — just for fun! — whether you’ve slept with more people or fewer people than the rest of your demographic.

So, just for fun, I plugged in my info, and just for fun, I got back the entirely expected response that I’ve slept with more people than most women in my age group.

This is not a surprise to me.

For one thing, I’m unmarried, so I’m still counting. That number is going to keep rising. I don’t think it will continue to rise as quickly as it did when the younger Alexa had fewer things to occupy her time, but who knows for sure?

For another thing, I’m convinced that a lot of women lie about The Number. I understand in large part why this happens, but I have so little patience for that. Seriously, if we’re going to stop slut-shaming, we need to start by treating ourselves better, don’t we? I don’t know if men lie about The Number or have the same reasons for lying as women do, but I am aware that they are not being shamed for having higher Numbers in the same way as we are. No doubt this is why we have to plug our gender into the calculator.

In any event, I was more troubled by my initial inability to account for everyone on The List. You know, the one that generates The Number. I stared at it after I plugged it into that little box and asked myself, “Is that right?” And then I went back into the dusty and neglected archive that is my long-term memory and tried to name names. Then I became hungry (this took about 45 seconds) and decided to go with the number I had.

It’s probably right. I think. But I pledged to spend the rest of the day really trying to think about this. After all, I should probably know with some level of certainty what The Number is, right? And isn’t it kind of sad not to be able to put a name with each and every face in my sexual history? Shouldn’t I be troubled with the ease with which I forgot someone who was, if only for a few hours, part of my life?

Well, now I’m not so sure.

Once you get past personal health concerns, so that you know exactly who to call in the event of unpleasantness, I’m not sure there’s a need to know exactly how many people you’ve slept with. It would certainly be nice to know, but is it truly necessary? The consideration of one’s sexual history as a whole is probably deserving of more consideration.

How many did you regret?

How many taught you something?

How many did you love?

Smaller numbers, perhaps, but more important subsets.

I will probably still try to reconstruct The List so that I can verify The Number. On the one hand, the memory defect bothers me, and on the other, I feel driven to have an accurate number. But in the meantime, I’m okay with having a highlight reel until I can create a director’s cut.

As long as there’s plenty of hot, buttery popcorn.

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  • Madeline Iva

    Does one want The Number to come with a list of correspondingly funny, sexy, great stories about these encounters? I hope so! Then it would seem an excellent thing to work ones way towards a big fat number.

    Reply to Madeline Iva
    • Alexa Day

      This one absolutely wants The Number to come with awesome stories! I think The Number is part of a rich life experience — and I think that’s true even for women who want to keep The Number low (even as low as one). Those women just have fewer stories.

      But yes, my personal goal is to have an attractive slipcovered box set with marbled endpapers. 🙂 The Number: Volume Four.

      Reply to Alexa Day
  • krblake

    Hmm. I thought my number was relatively low, but it turns out when it’s compared to others in my age group, I’m a slut. Who knew?

    Reply to krblake
    • Madeline Iva

      Conversely, the other people in your age group aren’t getting any. So sad.

      Reply to Madeline Iva
      • Alexa Day

        That is sad. It’s all perspective, isn’t it?

        Reply to Alexa Day
  • Elizabeth Shore

    All I can say is, I think you’re having a lot more fun than I am, Alexa. 🙂

    Reply to Elizabeth Shore
    • Alexa Day

      I do believe in taking fun kind of seriously. After all, who knows how long I have before someone puts a ring on it, or I walk out in front of a bus, or some other surprise alters my trajectory?

      I’ve always thought that you and I were having about the same amount of fun, though. Not so? 😉

      Reply to Alexa Day
  • Alexa Day

    Reblogged this on Alexa J. Day and commented:

    When it comes to The Number, how much approval do we really need?

    Reply to Alexa Day
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