I got to watch the movie, What’s your number? starring Anna Faris (whom by the way, I find quite entertaining) while in campus. I thought it was quite a bold move by Hollywood producers, to settle on such a story line seeing that many people, are quite uncomfortable discussing the number of sexual partners they have had in their lifetime. And more so if they happen to be female. But that’s what Hollywood is synonymous for, pushing boundaries. So here was the character of Anna Faris, a female, talking about 19 partners already!
I also found the movie quite thought provoking in the sense that several critical questions arise just from watching it; Is it necessary to keep count of the number of sexual partners one has had? Could one of them end up being a lifetime partner? Is it OK to have quite a large number? Is a woman cheap for admitting to having so many?
A 2014 Kenya Demographic & Health Survey draws the conclusion that 2 out of every 5 Kenyans have 2 or more sexual partners. The introductory line of an article on the Standard Digital website dated January 15 2016, by Paul Wafula states;
A man in Kenya has an average of 7 sexual partners in their lifetime compared to 2 partners for women on average.
I am not utterly convinced by the latter statistic judging by the fact that many people are hardly, entirely truthful when discussing their sex lives. For women, this is worsened by the patriarchal societies we come from, which arrogantly assume that women should be sexually pure. If not, to at least pretend to be and to sound convincing enough.
I emphasize on the word arrogance since men have always been treated less harshly in matters, sexuality, unlike women. In some African societies, for example, polygamy and the keeping of concubines by men is endorsed and the women expected to automatically accept it as manly nature. It is quite interesting to note that some women in such societies, participate in creating situations for their husbands to have additional sexual partners.
Just this past week, I encountered a very weird scenario when an older woman complimented me on the gap between my two front teeth. She then proceeded to inquire from me on whether I was married. When I replied in the negative, she mentioned that looking the way I did with that gap, she would not mind getting me as a second wife for her husband. She seemed to be half joking, I really wanted to believe but then while speaking in a low tone, she sounded equally, half serious.
I asked her whether she wouldn’t be afraid if I proved to be a competition assuming her husband fell hard for me and ended up forgetting all about her. To which she replied with a sense of confidence that since I would be the younger wife, then I would definitely be under her instructions. To be quite frank, this conversation which I guess had been intended to be good natured, ended up leaving me feeling very funny in a weird kind of way.
In Africa, it is not entirely uncommon for women to find additional wives for their husbands. This further proves the liberal nature that male sexuality has been accorded by society. And seeing that this woman was from my mother’s generation and had probably been brought up in the village like many of that generation, she must have been well versed on tradition.
We cannot entirely blame her for being backward in her reasoning since women in my generation too, have been forced by society to excuse men for having multiple sexual partners. I keep hearing the notion that men cannot survive long periods without sex and elaborate explanations as to why this is so. Women on the other hand are usually branded slutty for having several sexual partners no wonder the inherent need to fiercely guard their number as a secret.
So if it is indeed true that men cannot go long periods without sex, then they must be highly sexually active in their lifetime, from the very first time they experimented with sex. This first time being perhaps in their teenage-hood and all the way to their late 20s and early 30s, depending on the time they settled down in marriage. Then the average number of sexual partners for Kenyan men, could actually be higher than what is given in the survey. The same applies to women who have over time taken to keeping their true number a well guarded secret.
With the onset of the HIV/AIDS scourge, openly discussing one’s number is made all the more complex for fear of the sexual stereotypes that come along with that admission. It is often assumed that a man or woman who unashamedly admits to sleeping around may probably be having some sexual disease of some sort that he/she is spreading around.
High libidos are many times frowned upon as being proof of one’s promiscuous nature. A woman in a marriage may feel inhibited initiating sex as a result of the sexual stereotypes attached to women who seem to be possessing high libidos. Society has created situations where, a woman is not supposed to seem too eager to have sex. Yet the man should exercise confidence in asserting for sex, irregardless of whether he wants it from one woman or several women.
However, with the knowledge that HIV/AIDS is in existence, wouldn’t it be important to hear a truthful account of one’s sexual history that you had an intention of getting into a sexual relationship with? And wouldn’t it be unnecessary to hold it against the woman because of her number, if you too as the man, equally has a number bordering on the same?
And while women have always felt the pressure to cover up for their sexual indiscretions, some high profile women have gone against the norm and publicly spoken about their number. At some point in time, Ex supermodel, Janice Dickinson admitted to having slept with close to 1,000 men in her lifetime including actor Sylvester Stallone. Knowing how Janice is, I’m sure she cared less what people might think of her. Proprietor of House of DVF famous for it’s iconic wrap dresses, Diane Von Furstenberg in an interview with Post magazine sometime in 2015, centered around her memoir The Woman I Wanted To Be openly stated, “I slept with a lot of people and I’m glad I did.”
It would be unnecessary really, to hold it against these women for being openly unapologetic of their sexual past. As a matter of fact, I find these women quite comfortable with the way they chose to live their lives whether society would eventually judge them for it or not. I tend to think that they derive their confidence from the fact that irregardless of what could have been considered slutty by others, these women ended up to achieve notable feats in their respectable fields thanks to their individual talents.
The decision to openly discuss one’s number depends on an individual and whatever he/she expects to achieve with the admission. Whether it is necessary or not to keep track of one’s number depends solely on the initial drive behind it. However, sexual health shall always remain very important and something to keep in mind while engaging in sexual activities.