There are a few ways I could have written this article. The first, would have been to touch the topic on the surface and conclude that people who worry about body count (the number of sexual partners a person has) are usually from a narrow-minded culture who don’t see women and men as equal and think that a woman should never sleep with more men than she can count on both hands. Either that or I could have just started with ‘Hi my name is Filomena and my body count is XXXX’ – throw in a few extra X’s for the shock factor – and then just patiently waited for people who have absolutely no right to comment on how I live my life to pass judgment and make unnecessary remarks.
But see this is the thing, do we as humans ever have the right to define or police a person’s sexuality? No, we don’t, but we do it anyways. We have been brought up in a world where women in particular are deemed to be sluts if they have a high number of sexual partners. She loses her value as a woman, she is no longer desirable or worthy of love because of course, the number of men she’s given her body to is a reflection of how much respect she has for herself.
But why is it always women? Why do women always get the short end of the stick? I can’t think of a single male who would ever be concerned about his body count. Heck, most of them don’t even know what theirs is! But God forbid a woman ever loses track of how many men she’s slept with – it is the crime of all crimes. You’re a woman. You’re supposed to know how many people you’ve had sex with. You’re supposed to keep your number low because like cars, your value decreases the more you’ve been ‘used.’
What saddens me the most is that certain cultures actually promote men to have multiple mates. They entitle it. And to me, this is where the whole body count craze becomes a gender thing. They endorse the idea of men having several partners. In fact,men are praised for it because there is nothing degrading or belittling about having more than one partner if you have the ‘privilege’ of being a man. And it is usually the same people who worship men for their promiscuity that regard women with a high body count as whores.
This brings me to another issue.
What exactly is a high body count? What I consider as high is very different to what you may regard as high. The notion ‘high body count’ varies from person to person. There is no global agreement as to what constitutes as a high body count number, so why do some of us hold it with so much significance?
I have a group of female friends who hold body count with remarkably high regard. Who believe that exceeding a certain number of sexual partners is something to be ashamed of. This way of thinking made me raise all sorts of questions. For starters, is it just an African thing? Have we been conditioned to believe that as women of African descent, we should remain as pure as possible if we wanted to be worthy enough to secure a husband? After all, it is my African friends in particular who are so infatuated by this.
Out of curiosity, I decided to ask a few male friends to get their perspective, and to try to make sense of it all. The men I queried were all of different ages, races, backgrounds and beliefs, and although some of them felt that a woman’s number shouldn’t be looked at in isolation. The majority were of the opinion that a woman’s body count does matter. Some even admitted that they would look at a woman differently if she had what they considered to be a high body count. I must say, I was genuinely gobsmacked by some of their responses:
“To me personally it’s very important. I look at a woman very differently depending on the number of men she’s slept with and I don’t think the same applies to men. If a woman your age has slept with 15 men or more I consider her to be a bit of a slut” – anonymous male, age 28
“Yea, I do feel it’s important. Many guys would not take a woman seriously if they knew she’s been around. Hence why men like to be with a woman who isn’t very well known,” – anonymous male, age 26
“A key that can open many locks is a master key. But a lock that has been opened by many keys is worthless. Double standard, I’m afraid” – anonymous male, age 33
“Guys behind the scenes they talk about this stuff, particularly if they’re settling down with a girl. If they only want to be with her once, they don’t really care. In fact they nearly like that she’s been with loads of people because they know she’s easy and a sure thing. But for the purpose of taking her home to your parents, that’s a whole different ball game,” – anonymous male, age 33
“If you think about how men and women evolved sexually, you will see that it doesn’t really make sense for a female to be promiscuous. In fact, it can be detrimental,” – anonymous male, age 32
“Does it matter to whom? The individual? or society in general? In case of the individual, no it doesn’t matter. In the case of society, yes it does matter. It matters to men. It is best for a woman not to discuss it at all. No man wants to hear it,” – anonymous male, age 31
It doesn’t take a genius to figure out what this says about society as a whole. But instead of concluding that this whole fixation with body count is down to culture and gender alone, I’ve decided to keep the topic open for discussion.
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