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What do you answer when you're asked with how many people you had sex with?

One of the most common psychological roadblocks for women (some men will relate too) that hold them back to experience sexual pleasure is slut-shaming.

In a British study, it came out that 52% of women lie about the number of bedpartners they had. It’s been said that on average they minimize the amount 3 times to its reality and men do the opposite, they exaggerate. A later study showed that when the tests were done anonymously, the results were much more variating with the women than when for example a researcher was interviewing or when there was a lie detector. For men, there was hardly a difference in answers.

Women fear they will be seen as less valued or easy to get and fear to have less chance of having a respectful steady relationship… As men would start treating them differently because of the sexually expressive nature of the woman would be intimidating or they are unconsciously conditioned to handle this expression unrespectfully.

When someone asks me now with how many people I had sex, I tell them I lost count when I started to question the term and meaning of 'sex'. Many people would refer to it as penetration of the man's penis into a woman's vagina. People then stumble on my question, so if I have sex with a woman, it doesn’t count because there was not this type of intercourse? I can think of examples where the sex with a woman was way more pleasurable and intense than the 5 min experience I had with a guy who I barely felt and left me to feel used and disappointed. And how does this weigh up to having a relationship with someone and sharing sexuality for multiple years? Both would be +1 on your counter if you’d follow this trend. But would it also feel that way?

Penetration is not really what sex means to me. That’s maybe what I would call 10% of my sex life. I prefer to see it as a more holistic experience of intimacy with the exchange of sexual energy. I had situations I felt I shared so much intimacy with people, by just having eye contact (gates to the soul) and holding hands, or by dancing, by giving a massage, during sexting, by playing and cuddling, the intimacy I share with myself! I’m not talking about a common hug with friends, but about an awareness of both partners that sexual energy is active during the exchange.

Slut-shaming is done by society, friends, men & women, family and religion but also by ourselves. We can’t change other people, only ourselves!

I hear many women holding back sexually because of the fear of shame that this counting-question brings them, even if it’s just in their own minds. Women not choosing for pleasure, holding back in intimacy, not growing in sexual expression… This is something both men and women don’t want, right?

So here is my call: I stopped counting and asking this question a long time ago, will you too?

Minne Marlo

Credits for this picture go to the beautiful friends I made in the co-living project in Aachen last month. Thank you Christina Spoe for modelling andJay Ngai Photography for taking the picture.

© Last update in 2020 by Minne Marlo. Proudly created with LOVE.