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Does 'Body Count' Matter?

Updated: Sep 27, 2023

We see it all over the news, media outlets, podcasts and social media.

The body count discussion.

It's one of the most controversial debates of the 21st Century.

But before we can talk about body count, we have to clarify what we mean when we say body count, as it is generally only used to describe hetero-normative penetrative sex. Oral sex, foreplay, kink play, and queer sex are often disregarded as less intimate than traditional penis-vagina penetration.

This can be incredibly discrediting to queer relationships, as many queer couples place less emphasis on penetration as a part of sex.

For bisexual women especially, society tells us that the women they sleep with or have relationships with 'don't count', that WLW relationships are less real, less serious, less valid, than hetero-normative relationships.

The stigma against having multiple sexual partners can be attributed to a complex mix of cultural, social, and psychological factors.

The religious concept of 'waiting until marriage' is a deep-rooted tradition which emphasises monogamy and purity, and discourages pre-marital or extra-marital sex. It's this religious purity culture that introduced the concepts of shame, sin, and modesty into our wider society.

Gender based double standards often come into play. Men generally face much less stigma for having multiple sexual partners than women do. Traditional gender roles have assigned women to the role of caretakers, mothers, and homemakers. Any deviation from these roles, such as having multiple partners, has been bet with societal scrutiny. Whereas, historically, men have been allowed to be unfaithful. Kings, politicians, and working-class men alike, would be allowed or even encouraged by society to keep a mistress as well as a wife, to have extra-marital affairs, and to have sex at their desire.

On a more individual level, some people may feel jealousy or insecurity when confronted with their partner's sexual history, this could come from a lack of sexual experience themselves, or from a previous partner breaking their trust. They may associate a higher body count with a higher likelihood of cheating, but this is not always the case.

Limited sexual education and dialogue can contribute to these biases. When people aren't well informed about healthy relationships and sexuality, they may rely on stereotypes and judgements.

While society may place importance on sexual history, many individuals and communities are working to challenge these stereotypes, promote gender equality, and prioritise consent, respect, and open communication in relationships.

It's important to recognise that these societal stigmas can carry with them harmful consequences, such as slut-shaming, toxic masculinity, and purity culture.


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