Thought Catalog

Why Your “Number” Shouldn’t (And Doesn’t) Matter, Whatever Your Gender

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I previously started writing this response as vaguely as possible because I didn’t want to step on anybody’s toes one way or the other, but I came to realize that writing about something in a vague way is extremely difficult, and I don’t mind stepping on anybody’s toes when they stomped on someone’s feet first.

The original article put forth the idea that women shouldn’t be having as much sex as men — and that, in the author’s opinion, the women who are offended by this double standard really shouldn’t be because we don’t even personally know the guy writing the article. In case you haven’t already seen the quote that I’m going to focus on, here it is:

“I realize those of you out there with echoing vaginal tunnels will take issue with my shaming of you and your lifestyle, but why are you allowing me to fill you with shame in the first place? You don’t even know me.”

That’s true. I do not know this guy, but I am offended because I am a woman and the article clearly states that it is directed at women. Directing an insult at an entire gender is one thing, but then having the nerve to ask why it’s offensive to them? How is it not?

If you took a knife and pointed it directly at a person in a thrusting motion, you wouldn’t then begin to ask why they let you stab them. You stabbed them. It’s over. You made the decision and you cannot detach yourself from the situation entirely by making it “seem” like their fault.

No one is making anybody read that opinion, but there will definitely be some women — and men — out there who are relatively active when it comes to reading opinionated pieces on the internet and they will be offended, regardless of who they’re sleeping with. They might even feel shame, because you are actually directly shaming particular human beings.

You can definitely shame a person even if they have never done anything “shameful” before in their lives. The implication is that only women who feel bad about sleeping with a certain amount of people should feel shamed by this article, but easily someone who has never had sex could read this and be hurt. They see that some men look down upon the women they have sex with almost instantaneously. Which is an interesting idea in itself: If women aren’t supposed to have as much sex as men, who the hell are all of these guys sleeping with anyway?

The double standard that one gender ought to partake in less sex than the other is so old that it’s almost unbelievable that anyone still thinks that a woman is less pure once a man has touched her. But why is it that the people who are shaming are almost always having way more sex than the person who is being shamed? Men are out there sleeping with tons of people but the moment a woman does the same, it is stressed that this will make her unclean and impure. And this can be clearly stated, or conveniently implied in forms even like that fifth grade sex ed where the boys actually learn about sex and the girls just learn about their developing bodies and receive pads and deodorant. It’s kind of strange that even when girls are as young as 10, that we’re not supposed to even learn about sex like the boys are, as they go parading around talking about wet dreams and how the one class clown asked about anal.

If two consensual adults decide to have sex, it’s important to notice that there are in fact two people involved, and if one of them is immediately going to shame the other afterward, then that person has a clear misunderstanding of intercourse in the 21st century. With today’s contraceptives and general knowledge of the human body, there is absolutely no reason why women should be seen any differently when it comes to being sexually active. There is an obvious anatomical difference in males and females, but the only ultimate risk is pregnancy, which of course, is visible in a woman. Yeah, everyone can see clearly that she has had sex before, but to only shame the woman for this is absurd and also severely ill-informed in regards to the birds and the bees.

Men are also having sex! How can this go unnoticed? Why is this conveniently tucked away when a woman is being essentially besmirched?

The number of people you have slept with can only affect you, unless you were uninformed about safe sex because the people around you thought that you shouldn’t be having it at all, and you have contracted an STD, in which case, yes, that could affect someone else. But ultimately, it doesn’t matter how many people someone has slept with, regardless of gender.

It’s very clear that sex is a part of life and if someone wants to have it casually with hundreds of people, or with every person they date, or after marriage with one person, or never at all, or only with themselves — in whichever way you could hope to want it, more power to you. That’s your business, and maybe the business of that other person you share your private parts with. But everyone else whom you don’t invite into bed? Should be reminded that it is nobody’s goddamn business. TC mark

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