Numbers on very different scales



If there is one thing for sure it is that we are creatures of habit. Habitual in routine, with schedules. Whether we know it or not, with numbers too. Us humans work better when we can organise numerically. We’re talking age, dates, time, it’s all numerical and they are all social constructions, that aren’t really all essential, but are put in place anyway so we can comprehend life more simply. If I ask how old someone I have just met is, first of all comes their numbered age. Following that, if it is close to my age, I’ll then ask what school year they were in. One year above, or one year below. Us humans, we need to categorise, it’s just how we’re wired. 

Something that is also numerical? The number of people we have slept with. I don’t really know why, maybe it whittles down from the phrase of ‘notches on a bedpost’? How many notches do you have sort of thing? But for as long as I can remember, it’s a number, often protected and guarded by one’s self, that is carried with us, no matter what the circumstances and back-stories may be. Much like a Sim with it’s green diamond health bar upon its head, the number of sexual encounters with different people, is a number that we wear above our heads very similarly.


In a society striving for inclusivity, diversity and equality, why do we still see women openly and proudly enjoying sex just as much as the man sat next to her as an unladylike quality?


Of course we all have our own ideas of how many is too many, how little is too little, and what constitutes as a red flag of sin. Each of us with our own interpretations of what’s the ideal figure for a potential future partner, and how many your friend can ‘be on’ before you start gently nudging them to the idea that they should probably start thinking about settling down and marrying soon. And like many other social constructions, the concept is filled with paradox. In school we spent most of our late education years fearing what people may think if our number was too low, in university shying away from a figure that was deemed too high. In blossoming relationships we constantly question what number is okay to admit, and in new friendships we wonder how to broach that juicy topic. There’s not much consistency when it comes to how many sexual partners one should have in their lifetime, but one thing that is consistent? Women should never sleep with as many humans as men do. And while, a number may just be a number, a women’s 10 is very much a man’s 1 (it’s like dog years but with sex – like I said, we even have to age dogs with understandable numbers) and trust me, the way a women’s ‘notches’ stack up is a far different story to how a man’s does. 

We saw this exact scenario in this year’s infamous Love Island, and I’m talking specifically Adam Collard and Megan Barton-Hanson. The stark comparison of reception is indisputable. While, some viewers found Adam’s chopping and changing of ‘coupling’ somewhat distasteful, there was no ground for hatred and judgement, since he was just that ‘kind of guy’. We’ve all met them, those men that cannot just settle for one woman, can’t make up his mind, but we avoid and leave it at that. However, the response to Megan’s similar carefree mindset was a whole different kettle of fish. Throughout the summer, we witnessed Megan openly owning (what a woman) her exotic dancing past, having sex with two different men, all while keeping her options open on the back burner, kissing a few frogs. Her narrative was no different to Adam’s however perceived noticeably more damaging to young girls, grounds for concern of her self worth and foundation for a great deal of people questioning how she can be so “unladylike”. 


It’s absurd. In a society striving for inclusivity, diversity and equality, why do we still see women openly and proudly enjoying sex just as much as the man sat next to her as an unladylike quality? Why is it that men are often applauded by their peers for their promiscuity yet women appal the same people doing just that. 

The number above one’s head, defining their sexual history in so much of a single figure is reductionist, but maybe it is something that us humans need in order to categorise and process. We spoke about this, we like numbers. Okay, I can accept that. But if a numerical inclination is what’s necessary then we must strive for a one scale fits all situation. No more dog years for men vs women. If you’re okay with men sleeping with multiple partners, then you must be okay with women doing just that in the same non-defining manner, as we saw Adam and Megan doing so this summer. It takes two to tango, and society must start getting it’s head around the fact that it’s okay for women to like tangoing too. 


– This article was written by Eleana Davidson

Leave a Reply

Your e-mail address will not be published. Required fields are marked *