It’s time to bury the “body count” question

First seen in The Montana Kaimin

You’re in bed getting frisky, and your partner blows the mood by asking you what your “number” is. My telephone number? No. He wants to know your body count. How many people you let get to home plate– sex, if there’s still any confusion about that euphemism.

Any sexual partner asking your body count inhibits a necessary conversation about safe sex and consent. The question reiterates a double standard of shameful female promiscuity and prideful male promiscuity.

But here you are. It’s late at night, and the candles are lit. You think about pulling the detailed tome of your past loves, hookups and romantic mistakes off the shelf. You think about reliving your past to remind yourself of all the growing pains it took to learn your worth and values. But you figure, better not.

Then the problem is, what counts as your number? Is it serious relationships, sober hookups, any sexual activity at all? Or is it just anyone lucky enough to penetrate you? Is there a statute of limitations? Does high school count? What about freshman year of college – that was a crazy one.

Talking about a partner’s number is a poor substitute for important conversations about sexually-transmitted infections and sexual history. Engage instead in a conversation about safe sex, consent and intention. Body count suggests that a woman’s worth is directly connected to her sexual history, and the question begs a woman to quantify how worn-out her vagina is.

If my number’s under 10, am I a prude? If it’s over 20, am I a slut? If it’s zero, am I even female? Before you ask anyone this question, ask yourself why.

What information are you trying to uncover before becoming intimate with this person?

If a girl answers and her number is exorbitantly higher than the man’s, it might hurt his ego, which could hinder his performance. Male egos can be fragile. Women, on the other hand, are used to being minimized by society and simply carrying on.

No matter how great their mind, beard, body, face, or laugh are, they do not have the right to ask you to divulge your past. Your sexual journey is your story. It probably wasn’t easy, and it likely won’t be in the years to come. You probably did things you’re not proud of. Don’t let someone force you to relive it. You made it through. You’re still making it through.

We are all sexual creatures, whether we decide to be celibate or (safely) have multiple partners every weekend. The important thing is to treat each person with respect. Asking a woman’s body count is not respect. You are attempting to pin a number on her character, whether you know it or not.

Ladies, if a guy asks you your number, show him the door. He can come back when he learns some respect. It’s ok to talk about sex like adults without forcing an uncomfortable divulgence of personal history. Your genitals will thank you for preventing their suffering through chlamydia or gonorrhea.