This question, “how many people have you slept with?”, which can be a hilarious conversation with your girlfriends over wine and cocktails, can be a deal breaker when it comes to romance, haunting the beginning of many relationships or at the very least, a big slutty elephant in the room (depending on the type of guy you’re with).

The general expectation is that girls should have slept with few men or else they are a ho, boys on the other hand, can happily sleep with whoever they like, if anything, it’s extra man-points. The disgustingly sexist phrase “a good key can open many locks, but a good lock can only be opened by one key” comes to mind.

I’ve certainly been made to feel ashamed of my number by boys in the past. One male friend told me the rule is: Under 10 = good girl, 10-20 = naughty girl, over 20 = slut, and my ex could never get over my number, despite his being higher(!!).

Well I’m sorry, but something doesn’t add up here. Every heterosexual sexual encounter requires at least one member of each gender. So if boys have prerequisites for the number of men they would like you to have slept with, they are limiting their own opportunities to sleep with women.

How many people should I have slept with?

Now if we’re to believe the stats, on average women have slept with 7.7 men each, and men have slept with 11.7 women each (NATSAL, 2013). Well, I think we can all agree that the law of averages reveal that this is a load of bull: heterosexual men and women ON AVERAGE must have slept the same number of people. Because otherwise, where are these extra 4 lays which men report, coming from? Someone must be lying here. Legend has it that one should divide a man’s number by three, and multiply a woman’s by three, to reveal their true number of shags. But again, that won’t work. That would leave women on 23.1, and men on 3.9 each.
To be honest, whoever is lying, the numbers in this survey to me appear to be rather on the low side. So why do we feel the need to lie about our sexual history? As long as we are being sensible: using condoms, getting checked for STIs regularly, and looking after our safety and emotions when sleeping with people, it shouldn’t, in this day and age, be something to be ashamed of. If Sex and the City tells us anything, it’s that we are sexually liberated aren’t we? Apparently not.

Well, society, if you want me to be ashamed of my “number”, I’ll give you my numbers:

400 hours spent volunteering with adults with learning disabilities

11,000 miles travelled and 3 months given to volunteer in Sri Lanka with mental health organisations

1 year spent in a low paid job, looking after people with brain injuries

7 months spent training for a half-marathon to achieve a personal goal

3 years spent studying to gain a BSc with Hons

0 fucks given about your sexual expectations for me

So next time you suspect sinister intentions when someone asks you about your number, just remind them: If you want to judge women for their “numbers” you should look at the bigger picture.