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The Daily Tar Heel

Column: How much sex is too much sex?

DTH Photo Illustration. Savannah Bradley asks how much sex is too much.

Who determines the body count threshold? I’m not sure. As a teenager, I assumed it was Carrie Bradshaw, Cosmopolitan or those sex scientists they’d get to fill time during the afternoons on NPR. Now, TikTok is slowly smoothing my brain. 

In one TikTok posted by @tommyunold, a frat boy dressed like a randomized Sim tries his hand at gonzo journalism. “What’s your body count?” he asks a girl on the street, coaxing her into answering on his iPhone microphone. “Zero,” she says. He’s flummoxed — why? She continues: “I’m a virgin.” The two shake hands and part.

Upon further exploring TikTok’s bizarre, misogynistic underbelly, @d4ylin, a self-proclaimed “king of pain” who looks like he’s bordering on 40, duets a video of a teenager detailing the 17 people she’s slept with. “Her poor dad,” the video text reads.

As a teenager, I (albeit unconsciously) tethered my value to how many people I’d been sexually involved with, and thought of it as a feminist statement. I craved seeming hot and empowered sex. Fourth-wave feminism recalled the 1970s' Sex Wars and chose a definitive side: sex-negative feminists were dusty and out-of-touch, and sex-positivity was the future. 

These academic debates trickled down to social media platforms like Twitter and Tumblr, regurgitated onto cute infographics and soon landed onto the feeds of teenagers like me. One aphorism from that time has always stuck with me, filed away in the cloisters of my mind for safekeeping: Be a slut! Do whatever you want!

It was a tentative question: How much sex should I have to prove I’m cool and liberated, but not so much that I seem like the leader of that Nxivm Sex Cult? The internet of five years ago gave me the same conflicting answers as today: Have sex every day. Wait, no, have sex once a week. Actually, sex twice a week is the most sustainable. 

I began Nate Silver-ing my sex life, documenting everything into a mental spreadsheet. If I didn’t hit my arbitrary quota, I felt like I was lagging behind. I assumed being sexually prolific made me interesting, glamorous and validated my worth. 

Now, as a boring adult, the world seems less oblique. The power politics of sex-negativity and sex-positivity are too flashy. 

Sex “normalcy” —  literally doing whatever you want, as long as everyone consents and you don’t tie your inner worth to sex — seems a lot more prudent. 

Sex scholars agree. In a 2015 op-ed for Psychology Today, Dr. Robert Weiss writes, “If you’re comfortable with the amount of sex that you’re having, then you’re having the right amount of sex. Period. Even if the amount of sex you’re having is 'very little' or 'none at all.'” 

Regardless of how much sex you have (every day to none) or the number of sexual partners you have (30 to 0) — it's your choice. 

When evaluating your sex life, ask yourself: What does being sexually successful look like to you? Is it having sex a couple of times a week? Is it abstaining from sex altogether? Is it asking your partner to put on a Rameses costume and then suggestively read out the lyrics to the school anthem? 

Hey, you do you. It’s nobody's business but your own. 


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