Tuesday, October 27, 2009

900 Dudes

Sify news has an article up right now called: Sex Mad Oxford Graduate Has Slept With 900 Men. Despite its sensational title the story itself doesn't condemn the woman. It just quotes her extensively on how she slept with 900 men in nine years by swinging, sharing partners with her friends and picking up guys for one night stands. But a lot of people commented on the article to accuse the woman of being a slut or a sex addict.

There's already a great commentary by my friends over at the Revolving Door Commune Blog but I'm going to add my two cents anyway.

1. Is this woman have a truly insane amount of sex?

No. To have sex with 900 men in nine years, mostly in one night stands, you'd need to fuck about twice a week. If a woman had sex with one partner -- say, her husband -- twice a week or even a bit more I don't think anyone would think it unhealthy. People aren't shocked with how much sex she had, they're shocked by how many partners she had.

2. Is this woman a sex addict?

No. First of all, sex addiction doesn't exist. It is not recognized by psychologists. That's because you get addicted to a substance -- like drugs or alcohol. When behavior gets out of hand it is a compulsion. The term "sex addiction" was coined by some sex-negative crusader because "sex addiction" conjures up more negative imagery than "compulsive sexual behavior."

So, now that the simantics are taken care of, was this woman sexually compulsive? I don't think so. Since it isn't possible to scientifically define how much sex is too much sex, the definition of sexual compulsion centers around one important criterion: did the person engage in the behavior because he or she liked it, or was the person unable to stop themselves from engaging in behavior that brought them no pleasure. When the woman in the article talks about her experiences she says things like "we just made sure we all had fun and enjoyed ourselves" and "it was the most thrilling, satisfying, fulfilling thing I've ever done." If you take what she says at face value she's not sexually compulsive.

3. Did this woman take unreasonable risks?

Even the writer at Revolving Door Commune has a tone of disapproval about the number:

That many people definitely increases your risk for all sorts of STDs and pregnancy no matter how much protection you use, or what kind of pill you’re on. I mean, that’s just a matter of numbers.

Prompting me to ask: Really? How so?

The failure rate of nine years of birth control pills is the same no matter how many people you have sex with in that period. The failure rate of nine hundred condoms is the same whether they were all worn by one man or by nine hundred different men. And, hypothetically at least, someone who knows they are taking a risk is more likely to be careful.

4. Is what this woman did therefore a sex-positive thing?

I don't know. I can't say it is, I can't say it isn't. On one hand I don't believe this woman is mentally ill and I completely support her right to do what she wants with her sex life without being judged. I believe sex is fun and good for you and as long as you're enjoying yourself I don't think there's a limit to the number of people you can fuck.

On the other hand she clearly has a reason for doing what she is doing. I don't think it's compulsive sexual behavior or any other kind of mental illness but she must have a reason because if she just wanted to have a ton of sex it's easier to find 40 people and have sex with them 25 times each than to have sex with 900 people.

Now maybe she's just one of those people who gets obsessed with numbers -- like a collector trying to collect 900 shot glasses or action figures is something. In her case it's sex partners. If that's the case I think this woman subscribes to the idea that more equals better which isn't necessarily true.

She also talks several times about how she doesn't want to have a serious relationship, just fun sex. Many people -- dare I say most? -- believe sex breaks down into two categories: serious long term relationships and one night stands. She knows she doesn't want a relationship, so clearly one night stands are the only choice. Like a lot of dichotomies people believe in without ever examining them (sweet and sour, good and evil, Democrat and Republican) the false choice automatically rules out an entire universe of other possibilities. When I read about her I found myself wondering if she had seriously consider the possibilities of having a group of sexual friends.

But who am I to say that's the case. Maybe she has looked at the entire spectrum of possibilities and decided that one night stands are the way to go. As long as she's happy about her choice, everybody -- including me -- should shut the hell up.

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