What seems like a title for a romantic comedy where women are asked for their phone numbers (an equally annoying number ask, at least when unwanted), “What’s Your Number?” is based on a different premise–how many people you have slept with in your now 30-something unmarried state and if that number is going to impact your future relationship prospects.
Out next week, “What’s Your Number?” has all the makings of another rom com that repeats the tired clichés about women and sexuality that haunt us in the mainstream media.
A description of the movie via Yahoo,
“Ally Darling embarks on a quest to find the best “ex” of her life, by any means necessary, when she reads a magazine article warning that people who have had 20 or more relationships have missed their chance at true love.”
There is a good chance that the movie ends with her finding true love with number 21 and the whole number thing is bullshit. I guess we will have to wait and find out.
But the initial question stands, do women in our generation give a crap about their “number?”
This is the question that NY Post reporter Sheila McClear asked a few feminists including Jessica Valenti, Megan Carpentier and myself in response to the upcoming flick. And unsurprising to no one, all of us concluded that a “number” is antiquated, juvenile, outdated and something women rarely talk about and if they do it is to joke.
“I don’t know any grown people over the age of 30 who think that way [about numbers],” says Simone Grant, the pseudonym of a 41-year-old Manhattanite and active dater who writes a dating blog called Sex, Lies & Dating. “It’s just such a juvenile way of thinking about sexuality.”
“Twenty is not an outrageous number” given the character’s age, she adds.
Yet the producers of the movie were nervous that 20 might be too high and could potentially turn off the audience And they may be right, but that’s not really a good thing.
It’s true worrying about your number can be childish or outdated, but the reality is that it is a judgement we are faced with sometimes, whether from friends, the men we are dating, our mothers or even larger cultural forces. Sadly, many women do internalize the belief that their worth is connected to how much sex they have had–whether it be that your number isn’t quite high enough or it is “too” high for what is currently socially acceptable.
But the bottom line is if women are upset about how many people they have had sex with, it is either because the sex has been terrible or because of external social pressure and faux-moral judgement. Despite what the anti-sex set may believe, how much sex you have today, does not impact your ability to be in a successful relationship later. So any pressure to worry about your number is a sexist holdover that hinges on the belief that women should only have sex with “the one” so they can keep him and not because they actually enjoy sex themselves.
I’m sure the producers weren’t trying to sound like a bunch of bible thumpers but….