Each sexual conquest – in a strange bed, familiar bed, truck bed or beyond – is dominated by a number. No, I’m not talking about age. I’m not talking about money. I’m not talking about your local authorities’ phone number, just in case she decides to go “Fatal Attraction” on you and boil your pet rabbit when you don’t call. I’m talking about the Magic Number.
The Magic Number, made famous by sorority sisters’ drunken Truth-or-Dare sessions (just before the naked pillow fight, of course), is the number of sexual partners a person has had. Most of us have heard the “girls round down, boys round up” theory, but Isla Vista’s widely perceived hit-it-and-quit-it culture has blurred these gender distinctions, lumping us all into a category of people whose Magic Numbers rival a Magic Kingdom entrance turnstile.
But, when it comes to the average Isla Vistan’s number, does the stereotype fit? John Baldwin doesn’t think so. As part of Sexual Responsibility Week, Professor Baldwin, half of the Human Sexuality (Soc 152A) super-duo, presented data from his and his wife’s studies on UCSB students’ sex lives. Turns out, the majority of Isla Vista students screw within the confines of their personal values, not the values of some chump out-of-towner strutting down Del Playa Drive with a video camera on Halloween.
I took personal interest in John’s presentation, partly because the statistics reflect me personally, but mostly because I’m paid to represent you lovelies each week. Therefore, I decided to zero in on an article from the New York Times that John was kind enough to share, entitled “Casual Relationships, Yes. Casual Sex, Not Really,” by Alex Williams.
According to Williams’ article, the modern woman has departed from her ancestors who spent their Saturday nights “waiting for ‘him’ to call.” We’ve got balls; we’ll storm the scene, call the shots and take your money before you’ve even had the chance to strum some Jack Johnson for us. We’re not afraid to see more than one dude at once, and we’re definitely not afraid to leave them all in the dust if they fail to tickle our fancy. However, we aren’t as quick to tickle his fancy as one might think, if you catch my drift.
One thing that hasn’t changed is that the responsibility usually rests on the woman’s shoulders to place the consent in consensual. Sure, many of us will dance, wink, flirt, kiss and touch ’til our 4-inch stilettos can’t hold us up any more. Yet, getting a girl to say yes to, “Wanna rest those weary feet at my place?” may be hard, and getting the final nod to, “Shall I get a condom?” may prove even harder. But this rejection might not have much to do with what happened back at the party; it’s all about the number.
Whether it’s because women are afraid of getting a bad reputation, or it’s because she feels the number says something about her moral stature, that number has been ringing in our heads since the day we tore up our V-card. Of course, there are a marginal few among UCSB women who lost count sometime after October of 2005, but statistics show that a majority of us still consciously, and even reluctantly, click the counter with each new pecker that penetrates.
In fact, many women have put a limit on their Magic Number, vowing not to go over 20, or 10 or even five. According to Williams, a woman often determines a “last number” before she hits the “wrong number.”
Now, what warrants a click on the counter? This is where personal opinion comes into play. For some, it’s any and all penetration, pure and simple. Other women allow themselves a grace period, giving themselves a minute or two to stop the act before it’s emblazoned on their permanent record. Some women don’t count anal. And then there are the women who don’t count anything under six inches… just kidding, boys.
No matter her number, you can bet that the average woman has enough self-discipline to decide her limits early in life. There’s a reason The Count was my favorite Sesame Street character.