A lot of people have a real problem with the new Anna Faris movie WHAT'S YOUR NUMBER?.
Quick movie synopsis so this blog post makes sense:
- Anna Faris plays a single woman named Ally Darling who is searching for love.
- Ally Darling reads an article in a magazine which says that women who sleep with an excess of 20 men significantly decrease their changes of getting married.
- Ally Darling has slept with exactly 19 men.
- And so Ally gets back in touch with all 19 men she's slept with an in effort to make it work with one of them so that she'll never hit the dreaded 20-notches-on-the-bedpost mark.
- I don't know what ends up happening because I didn't see the movie, but I'm going to bet she ends up with the adorable Colin (Chris Evans) who elects to help her on her mission, because I've seen a romantic comedy or hundred in my day.
At the root of this criticism is the movie's suggestion that a woman's sex number should matter at all. How could it possibly be that in 2011 we're still chiding women for entering the double digits and congratulating men who do the same?, the movie's critics ask. And, more importantly, who says that number - or any number - makes the character of Ally a slut? Valid questions given the sexual equality both genders seem to share today.
Some critics question whether or not the movie is a mirror of the real world or an exaggerated tale of less sexually liberated times. Do women really still care about their sex number? Is there really such a thing as a slut? Do women really believe any of that matters to men? And...does it?
I can only speak for my corner of the 21st century female world, but the women I've talked to about this subject both in response to the film and over the year I've been writing this blog say yes, it does matter. I've covered this in a few posts over the years, first in "Reclaiming the Word Slut" and then again in a piece on "Whether or Not to Share Your Sex Number with Your Significant Other". From those pieces and some additional research, here are the top reasons why their sex number matters to most women:
- Sex is a deeply personal act to many women that they only want to engage in with select people. To this group the number isn't just a number but a memory of a person and an experience that they aren't comfortable collecting en mass.
- Women are afraid that if their number is too high men will think they are sluts and not want to date them. We'll get into this more in a bit.
- Women are afraid that if their number is too high other women will think they are sluts and judge them.
- Women are concerned for their physical and sexual safety and would prefer to avoid potentially endangering either by simply not engaging in casual sex.
Call me a Comm. major, but maybe if we explore why men care we could open a dialogue about why they should or shouldn't and how we as women do/don't feel/behave response?
I have spoken to zero men about this, but here are a few starter ideas:
- Men don't want to envision their girl with any other guys, let alone a high number of other guys. Therefore the lower the sex number the fewer men they have to imagine sleeping with their one-and-only. This issue is rooted in insecurity and competitiveness. Also, I feel the same way.
- Men fear that a woman who's slept with a lot of men might value sex more than she values commitment. In other words, girls who "sleep around" are more likely to cheat on you. Again, insecurity but with a layer of a lack of understanding about how women feel about the sex they're having. Yes, some may have a "sex addiction" that could lead to infidelity. Others may simple be comfortable with casual sex as single women but fully committed to one partner once in a relationship.
- Men think a girl who has slept with X number of guys (X being a number they deem high) is dirty - as in, she may have a sexually transmitted disease and/or she doesn't value her body/self/health/safety enough.
- Men fear that if their girlfriend has slept with more people than they have that she'll view herself as more experienced or actually BE more experienced giving them a disadvantage in bed.
- Like the above, but with a tweak: men fear that if their girlfriend has slept with more people than they have that she'll view them as less of a man. The "what's wrong with him?" perspective.