Nadia Bokody: Why you should never ask a woman for her ‘body count’

We’ve all requested this query sooner or later however whereas it may appear innocent, its origin is rooted in “slut-shaming”, says Nadia Bokody.

A couple of weeks earlier than I met my girlfriend, I matched with a lady on Hinge and we exchanged numbers.

We made small speak over textual content, and I discussed I used to be a late-bloomer lesbian (a lady who doesn’t come out until later in life, normally after long-term relationships with males), then she requested me a query …

“So, how many women have you been with, then?”

Having written brazenly about my intercourse life for a few years, I’m not averse to sharing intimate particulars about myself. Part of the rationale I’m so candid in my work is as a result of I’m an advocate for smashing the disgrace surrounding usually taboo subjects.

However, that is one query I usually keep away from.

Not as a result of I’m embarrassed concerning the variety of individuals I’ve slept with, however as a result of it’s an inquiry rooted in slut-shaming and homophobia.

When we ask a lady what her sexual quantity is, what we’re actually doing, is searching for to assign her worth primarily based off a perceived stage of morality. “Good” ladies, we’re taught, don’t sleep round – these are the ladies who get picked as girlfriends and obtain “wife material” standing.

Conversely, promiscuous ladies are thought to be morally corrupt, an ordinary which hardly ever carries over to males. (We see this within the well-liked adage, “A key that opens many locks is a Master Key. But a lock that opens to many keys is a worthless lock.”)

Among LGBTQ+ individuals, the “body count” (a colloquialism for the variety of individuals an individual’s slept with) query carries extra hurt; perpetuating the falsehood that sexual identification have to be legitimised by intercourse.

The implicit suggestion being, queerness can’t exist within the absence of queer sexual expertise; a line of reasoning which is especially marginalising to bisexual individuals who’ve solely had reverse gender relationships.

It additionally creates a type of lose-lose scenario for ladies: we’re damned if we do, and damned if we don’t. Those of us who’ve had few sexual companions are deemed boring and prudish (or not “gay enough” if we’re LGBTQ+), and people of us who’ve had intensive experiences are labelled “loose”, “used up” and missing in ethical judgment.

And slut-shaming tradition exists exactly due to this sexual disenfranchisement.

Women with sexual company finally threaten the system that depends on controlling our bodily autonomy and self-image as a result of we’re much less prone to view ourselves by the lens of the male gaze.

This means we’re subsequently much less vulnerable to advertising that tells us we have to purchase issues (diets, magnificence merchandise, beauty enhancements) to be extra palatable to males and make ourselves smaller for his or her consolation – bodily, sexually, emotionally, and intellectually. Read: “Don’t be too ambitious/too loud/too brash/too bossy/too sexual. Men don’t like that.”

The difficulty is, slut-shaming tradition is simply insidious sufficient that, even these of us who’re most harmed by it (ladies and LGBTQ+ individuals) assist to perpetuate it.

It’s not simply males holding the “body count” ideology alive; ladies are conditioned to consider it’s one way or the other related, too – as a marker of a possible associate’s character, or a affirmation of their sexuality – when the truth is, all it reveals is our incapability to totally humanise a lady past her perceived sexual foreign money.

Instead of asking ladies about their sexual historical past, we’d do higher to indicate curiosity concerning the issues that make up the inside of their lives and assist form their outlook on the world. We’d study much more a few date or associate by inquiring about what drives and excites them, scares them, or presents challenges for them.

I by no means answered my Hinge match’s query that day. Instead, I quietly unmatched them, and deleted their quantity from my cellphone. Which, because it seems, was an excellent factor. Because shortly after, I met my now-girlfriend.

Incidentally, neither of us have any thought about what one another’s physique counts are, nor do we’ve got plans to debate it.

Frankly, I don’t care what number of “keys” have opened my girlfriend’s “lock”. I have already got the password to unlock her Netflix account, and that’s actually all that issues to me.

Follow Nadia Bokody on Instagram and YouTube for extra intercourse, relationship and psychological well being content material.

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