I've never been slut shamed. I have, however, been number judged. Or number doubted.
You see, my sex number is a solitary single digit. Just…one. I'm not ashamed of my number. But I don't shout it from the church tops either. While high sex numbers result in "slut shaming," low numbers, especially my solitary number, usually elicit an equally strong, but opposite, reaction.
When you're low on the numbers list, people either think you're lying or they look at you like you're a freak. The lying reaction I completely understand. I mean, clearly, all women MUST be ashamed of their sexual numbers, right? So if I throw up a one, I'm just saying that so society thinks that I'm chaste and good and pure. Really, my number must be higher…I must be hiding something.
That reaction always makes me smile inside. Because I love, love, love the idiotic notion that a high number means more experience, more sexual prowess, more…of everything. One must mean prude. One must mean innocent. One must mean that my legs were sealed tight, chastity belt locked on, with the key hidden away for Prince Charming.
One is not vestal virgin white for me. The number isn't representative of a puritanical choice, a religious alignment or suppressed sexuality. One, to me, is my husband, who started off as my boyfriend the summer before my senior year of high school.
I don't remember a chastity belt. But I was mad for the boy. Mad! I was so crazy in love for the boy that I followed him to a university in the Midwest that was located in one of the most conservative states in the country. I was raised to be liberal, a staunch Democrat. Yet, here I was relocating to Dole country.
And, somehow, through four years of blurry, insane college years, I stayed crazy in love with the same boy. Even when there was a really cute editor at the college paper, and all those fun fraternity boys with their Abercrombie & Fitch caps worn backward (shut up, it was the late ‘90s).
How does a young college girl not end up madly infatuated with someone other than her boyfriend? Or perhaps the better question is, how did I make it through college without beer goggles or one crazy night of careless disregard?
The truth is…I didn't. The careless disregard just happened with the same guy over many years. When people find out I've only slept with one man, they often insinuate that I must have settled. That I didn't want more. Didn't need more. Couldn't get more.
But I made the choice to be with one person, because I loved him. Did I ever crush on anyone else? Of course I did! But not in a "Wow, I really want out of my relationship" kind of way.
Even as a married woman, I still look. Men look, women look, we all look. It's natural, normal. Fun.
The biggest question that I think people have about the number one is, "Don't you ever wonder what it would be like with someone else?" Obviously, the answer is "Yes!" Of course I wonder, and a part of my mind is curious. But that's where the higher numbers come in.
I love hearing the kiss-and-tell stories of my higher-numbered girlfriends and their experiences with their boyfriends past. And, come on, there is always the beauty of the mind. And celeb crushes — I'm partial to Alexandar Skarsgard.
The idiotic truth about sex numbers is that they mean nothing. I don't feel deprived, because I've only had sex with one person. What I've always loved about math is that it is never just about one number, it's about how the number works out with other numbers. One isn't one for one's sake. The beauty about numbers is what you do with them. How you use them.
I've never believed in labels, in "sluts" or "prudes." Low numbers can result in a high sexual volume. And high numbers can result in low sexual volume. You can play with the numbers all you want. We can all be sexual accountants and manipulate the books to make the numbers work in our favor.
My equation doesn't end with one. It began with one and then it became much more. My husband and I have now been together for almost 17 years. We were married a week before I turned 22, a few months after I graduated from journalism school.
We've kept it real for 17 years. I've never been bored. And now we have two kids, and a cat that is geriatric and insane.
As for my number, I am one and I'm proud. You should be, too. No matter what your number might be.
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