I am having a terrible problem working out how many people I've had sex with. Not because I cannot count, but because I don't know how to count them, or what counts. This all came about from a conversation with Captain who claims to genuinely not know how many people he's had sex with whereas I was fairly sure it was fourteen, with him as number fourteen. There has recently been a further development in the Doll Project, which will be an evening that I will spend in the suit, whilst many people take it in turns to fuck me. The number is already fourteen. Everything else notwithstanding, being fucked by more people than you have ever fucked in your life in the space of a few hours is fairly daunting.
Then I thought about it. Was it really fourteen? The more I thought about it, the less sure I was. I suppose it comes down to the rather basic question "what is sex?" which can sometimes be difficult enough in vanilla circles and gets even harder when you throw BDSM into the mix. Starting with the vanilla, because that is certainly how I started out, spending what should have been formative sexual years trying to decipher out what on earth people were so worked up about. Sexual activities, kissing aside (which still remains one of my serious turn-ons), were generally a bit dull and mildly uncomfortable. There was a lot of fumbling. An awful lot of fumbling. More fumbling than anything else to be honest - they didn't know what they were doing and I didn't really care except that perhaps they could be a bit quicker about it. I was very shy around the actual act of penetration. I didn't feel especially sexy. I had any number of body issues as a teenager and was never especially comfortable in my own skin on my own. I certainly didn't consider the act of sex sexy: penises were downright weird and boys appeared to treat them as if they had some sort of mind of their own which was distracting, to say the least. I spent a few brief months considering whether I was gay and having done the basic experimentation decided not. I found both men and women attractive. I liked kissing them. I just was left cold by anything else.
Having decided that fumbling about, whether with fingers, oral sex or variations on frottage probably didn't pass muster I basically discounted everything I did before I was eighteen as "not sex". Then came the "definitely sex". Penises and penetration were involved. One boy whose name I cannot remember and who was collected strictly for the purposes of losing my virginity (he had a car and his own room) and then never seen again. I had a couple of flings at University, including the one who introduced me to BDSM by pressing my face against the tiles of the shower whilst fucking me "because he could". Two long-term partners, strictly monogamous, account for the next eight years. Then we get into the territory covered by this blog, from which I can draw a clear five including Captain. So that's a firm and in some cases very well-documented ten. I feel almost virginal.
But what about all those shades of grey? Should I count people who I have played with but who, strictly speaking have not actually fucked me, although they certainly put objects in my cunt; does oral sex count; does strap on sex count? Putting sexual politics aside for a moment (I'm sticking to personal thoughts on the topic, whilst acknowledging that hetero-normative definitions of sex are very problematic), there are times when I have considered myself to be fucked, but would not have said I had sex with that person. Fucking machines, hitachi and strap-ons certainly fall into that category. Wikipedia has a handy list of all sorts of sex that isn't intercourse. What particularly interests me is that I have played with people who have barely touched any of my traditionally defined erogenous zones but who have given me more sexual pleasure than the entirety of my teenage activities, including times when I have absolutely, certainly had sex.
This leads me on to think whether "having sex" is even a meaningful category for me anymore, given that it doesn't seem to describe the effect that it appears to. I know that I don't consider sex to be a vital component of sexual enjoyment: in all probability I'd rather have really good play and then go home and masturbate than have sex. There are some times when only being fucked will do (admittedly, that's usually as part of a play session), but I think that's more because I crave the closeness and the sexual gratification of someone else alongside the sensation of fullness, which could be effected through any number of not-really-sex methods.
Of course, lists are only really good for comparing with other lists. They aren't especially useful for anything beyond that. It's terrible to reduce such powerful and intimate feelings to numbers. And, hopeless, kinky romantic that I am, I demand that there is more to sex than just jiggling my bits inside someone else's pieces. I'd like to think that my inability to give a figure relates to my better understanding and appreciation for BDSM, rather than just being unclear or forgetful. That the experience isn't measurable by the number of people involved but what was felt, by who and how. Which I guess is why I blog rather than carving notches into my bedposts.