Jenny from the Block. Has She Really Been Around the Block?
As you are probably thinking from the series title, The 27 of 2017, what does that number 27 represent? I'm sure you can construct it to mean a lot of things and you might just be right. But before I talk about what it means, I want to talk about something else more important first.
We always seem to compare one another. We look at different criteria to do so to create an universal "normal" or "average". We hear those words being tossed around so often; whether it be in schools, hospitals, media, or even by ourselves, they follow us around even without our acknowledgement of their impact. There is an average height for a specific age and gender with a specific average weight attached to that number. We look at averages of individual marks by subject, the average of the class test or overall term mark, or even the average grades of all the students at the school. But when it comes to sex, love, and relationships, what has society deemed as average?
Often times when we think of average in terms of the umbrella of sex, love, and everything else in between, we think about "the number". That number often comes down to the number of sexual partners we have had. Often times, when I was younger I would think of that number having a direct proportionality to the number of people we have been in official relationships with - now I definitely see that there is much more of a grey area than this. What is with this obsession with "the number"? Sure, if you are getting sexually involved with someone, it might be something to consider for health reasons. But if that person has a clean bill of sexual health then what is its purpose? We draw conclusions from these numbers whether we like it or not.
I remember when I was entering into that four-year relationship with someone far more senior than I, I asked. At that time, my number had been one. One singular person on one singular occasion. His number astonished me. 12. I was going to become lucky number 13. I thought about it for a moment. He told me his last relationship lasted 3 years and that he started "dating" when he was 15. That gave me a 12 year window to fit the other 11 women in. That gives us about 0.92 women per year. Now if he had another longer relationship, which I'm sure he did, then he would have to squeeze the women into a shorter time period. I wonder what they looked like? They must have been more sexually experienced than I. The last person he dated, which he so seemingly referred to as his ex, even thought he has had somewhere between 1 and 12 exes, was 10 years his senior, which means that she has a huge window, with two kids of sexual partners and experience. How on earth could my one measly two minute experience of "sex" help me hold up to these other 12 women?
I look back at this moment now and laugh. Obviously I was coming from a place of a highly insecure 19 year old but there was something poignant to take away from that whole thought process - why did I care and why did it matter? The number of sexual partners or encounters we have had have no relation to our worth or value in society or in our own lives - especially not in our dating lives. Trying to make assumptions about someone based on that number is absolutely ignorant. And I definitely was ignorant enough to make assumptions about him because of his number. I think it kept me in this insecure and inferior mindset in the relationship for the entirety of its span. That number shouldn't have mattered but I let it matter because of the assumptions I held towards it.
Now my number being somewhere in the range of my old number and his number when I met him, I think differently about it all. Life is about experiences and sex is a part of that experience. Some people make it a larger part of their experience than others and that is okay. My number has increased and I have had a different experience with sex in the past year than I have in the past four years of being in a relationship but that says absolutely nothing about my character, nor should it about yours. Your number, whether you choose to share it or not, is your own. Now, I look back on it as experiences and encounters with others, not as some dictating factor. Has Jenny from the block really been around the block? Who is to decide how long that block should be?
What does that 27 represent? Well you're just going to have to keep reading the blog to find out.