Earlier this month, the movie world released What’s Your Number, a film about a 30-something year old circling back to her exes in search of an answer – was one of them “the one?” Protagonist Ally, played by Anna Farris, finds herself fired from her job and, even worse, unmarried. The horror! Lisa Schwarbaum describes the movie with wit on Entertainment Weekly.
The movie’s central punch line is this: Ally has had sex with 20 guys. That makes her — wait for it — a whore. I know, it’s a pretty dull punch line, but screenwriters Gabrielle Allan and Jennifer Crittenden couldn’t get enough.
The movie makes me wonder – what kind of audience thinks this crap is funny? Some adorable blonde girl running around for 106 minutes panicking that she’s slept with too many guys? We’re in 2011, for Christ’s sake. I thought we were over the whole obsession with the ancient formula:
Women = purity = virginity
Twenty men? Is it really all that high? As Jessica Grose points out in Slate, Ally’s number of sexual partners is actually quite modest: “Think about it: Ally is in her early 30s in this movie and lost her virginity in her teens. By my calculation, she’s had an average of 1.4 partners a year. That’s hardly ‘whore’ territory.”
Certainly at Brown, this anti-feminist discourse is largely rejected. That’s not to say that everyone has had tons of sexual partners. Many of my friends complain that their numbers are too low. But still, as Brown students we’re slower to pass judgment about too few or too many. We’re young so it’s understandable to not have had that much experience. And we’re in college so it’s also understandable to have had tons of experience. But what about outside of Brown? Will I wear my number like an eternal scarlet letter once I exit the Van Wickle gates?
I haven’t kept count. But looking back on it, my number’s gotta be around thirteen or fourteen. So am I a slut? I’m not sure. I guess fourteen – when I see it in print like that – yeah, that looks a little high. I’ve had sex outside of monogamous relationships. In the past six months, I’ve had five different partners. Also, I write a sex column. I feel like the evidence might be stacking up against me. Aw shucks, I’ll never find a man in the real world. My vagina will be so loose by the time I’m ready to settle down – who will ever want me then?
My sister, Maddie, slept with many, many men before settling down last year, at age 28. Upon my asking her about it,
“Lie,” she said.
“Lie?” I asked.
“Lie. Max (that’s her husband) has no idea how many guys I’ve slept with. I think I told him six.”
“You said six? And he believed you?!”
“I know, it’s pretty remarkable. Men are idiots.”
Well, there you go. My brilliant sister’s advice. If you’re nervous that your count is too high or too low, one solution is to simply lie.
But solutions like that are still built on that ancient formula:
Women = purity = virginity
And I’m getting sick of it.
If I wrote a movie called What’s Your Number? it would feature an adorable brunette enjoying her life and running around having lots of sex – some of it bad, some of it excellent.
Instead of worrying that no one will ever desire me in the future, I focus on what I’ve got right now. I don’t know if my future husband will be upset with my number. But I’m not attracted to someone who has those sort of retrograde values, anyway. I also don’t know if I will look back on it and regret it all. But I do know that for now, I’m having fun and learning a lot about what I like and what I don’t.
Apparently, American audiences are also sick of the ancient formula. What’s Your Number was a flop in the box office and has received awful reviews. It seems like the American public has also weighed in: 20 isn’t that high. Get over it.