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Tuesday, December 6, 2011

How many women have you slept with?

A review of Casanova's memoirs appeared in the New York Times a week ago. The first paragraph:

"PARIS — Giacomo Girolamo Casanova was a gambler, swindler, diplomat, lawyer, soldier, alchemist, violinist, traveler, pleasure seeker and serial seducer."

So far Casanova sounds like an energetic, high-IQ scamp, and possibly even a sociopath. Certainly anyone who worked as a swindler and alchemist had to be dishonest. Gamblers often have low self-control, and soldiering occasionally attracts those who exult in destruction.

But then, halfway through the review, came the following surprise:

"Despite his many adventures, Casanova was best known as a libertine. His first sexual encounter, he wrote, was at 11, when he was groped by the sister of his guardian. During his lifetime he claimed to have seduced 122 women, including a nun."

You'd think that the man whose name is synonymous with seduction would have claimed more than 122 women. Perhaps Casanova was not a sociopath after all, but a (relatively) honest man who enjoyed the company of women.

There are certainly many guys who claim to have slept with far more.

Wilt Chamberlain once famously claimed to have slept with 20,000 women. He is also known for his quote that nobody roots for Goliath, but the two statements are somewhat contradictory: if his first claim was true, he had at least 20,000 fans. But the first claim is of course a lie. In order for that to have occurred he would have had to  have slept with 1.37 women a day from the age of 15 up until his autobiography was published in 1991 -- with absolutely no repeats. People who knew him said he was often awkward around women, and spent many of his evenings home alone. The scoring he was best at was on the basketball court, where he once single-handedly racked up 100 points in an NBA game. 

A bombastic fellow once told me -- when he was 40 -- that he had slept with 10,000 women. When I did the math for him, he somewhat sheepishly said, "Well, hundreds, anyway."

(I'm not even sure that's true.)

Basically, any guy who throws out a huge round number at you either hasn't kept count or is full of, well, hyperbole.

I once read that the average man sleeps with six women in his lifetime. That number may be dated now that we live in the age of the internet, which allows like-minded people to hook up much more efficiently. (There's also the question of what you consider sleeping with a woman: do oral sex and mutual masturbation count? Some say yes, some no.)

Every now and then it occurs to me that men who stick with the same women in fact are the ones with higher sex drives, since they never get bored. And that men who constantly need new sources of sexual stimulation in order to get excited -- the hard core womanizers, who tend to get bored quickly -- are the wimps. It takes a real stud to be excited by the same woman for decades.

On the other hand, supposedly one in every sixteen men in central Asia is a direct descendant of Genghis Khan. He, and his sons and grandsons, all enjoyed absolute power, and enjoyed their absolute power as well. And no one ever accused Genghis of being a wimp. (It's generally considered hard to conquer all of Asia, the entire Middle East, and a third of Europe without a higher than average testosterone level.)

The fact is that most men who can, will sleep with as many women as possible. Think of recent dictators who have done as they pleased in every other regard. (Fidel Castro, or Kim Jong Il, or the Sultan of Brunei.) Their numbers put Casanova to shame. Of course, they're not really competing in the same game. Casanova seduced, they order.

Or consider how guys will take advantage of their fame. (Think Muhammad Ali, or Pablo Picasso, or Warren Beatty, or Mick Jagger.)

Or their money. Billionaires are not generally known for their chastity. 

If you're extremely rich and famous and powerful and you have a position which requires a certain amount of decorum, you're almost certain to embarrass yourself. (Sylvio Berlusconi, Dominique Strauss Kahn.)

Men generally behave as evolution has selected them to, to spread their seed as widely as they can.

I have a friend who took a year off from college to work as a steward for a major airline, back in the 1970's. The home base for the stewards and stewardesses was in San Juan, Puerto Rico. My friend had two roommates there. The three of them were just about the only heterosexual guys in a place which was 90% young, single women. So they referred to their base as "Candyland." By my friend's count, one of his roommates slept with 52 women that year, and the other with 70. (My friend slept with 12.)

I know my friend well enough to know he's honest about these things. He's also good-looking and charming. Although he's long since been put out to pasture (i.e., married), in his day he was an unstoppable force. I was talking to him the other day, and the subject turned to women, and his final score, which was roughly 80. He grumbled that it should have been higher, then growled, "And I'm a damn handsome guy, too."

But he shouldn't grumble too much. At 80 women, he is way above the national average. Another 42 and he would have been right up there with Casanova himself.

And those two guys were honest about their numbers.


Anonymous said...

Brings to mind my fave Zappa

John Craig said...

G --
Just listened; yecch.

Anonymous said...

I thought you'd like it. All those freaky stoners at college you stayed well clear of at college loved this stuff. They all became commies and subversives. Good stuff

John Craig said...

Zappa was noting but a poseur pretending to be a musician. He never wrote a tune worth listening to in his life.

Anonymous said...

I'm not a Zappa aficionado, but I disagree. He was subversive, random, and pretentious. But some of his stuff had verve and humor that most of the prog-rock of his era lacked. He's no longer around, but I suspect if he was still around he'd be spending his time playing golf with Alice Cooper. :)

John Craig said...

Alice Cooper was pretentious too, but at least he wrote some memorable tunes.

Anonymous said...

I thought AC's stuff was cookie cutter.

John Craig said...

Ah, but it was sweet.

Zappa's stuff was just a doughy waste. And what kind of pretentious moron names his children Dweezil and Moon Unit?

Anonymous said...

Your characteristic open mindedness to the fore, as ever ;)

Anonymous said...

PS I think you need to move all the comments to another post. I'm off topic as ususal:)

Brian Fradet said...

John--2 things. One is that in my experience men who quote huge numbers are total exagerators, from what I can observe. Secondly, why do people (like yourself) use the word "sleep" when they really mean "have sex with" or the like? Some things I will just never understand. Unless, of course, I simply don't understand what the word sleep means. In many cases those who sleep with women don't actually have sex with them, and vise versa. Right, I get what you mean, but why bother to say "sleep" when you really mean "sex"? :) B

John Craig said...

Brian --
I agree that a lot of men exaggerate their numbers, some by a lot. And you're right, "sleep with" is technically wrong, but no one misses its meaning,it's not meant to delude, and it sounds less harsh than "screw."

Brian Fradet said...

John--not to belabor the point but sleeping is apples and oranges different than having sex. Of course I understand what people mean because "sex" is so frowned upon in our society, sexual guilt, taboo around sex, etc hence the euphemism sleep. I just find it annoying to use the word sleep when I really mean something very different. Well, I'm feeling tired now, so I'm going to lie down and have sex--you know what I really mean, sleep. Thanks for letting me vent. Brian

Anonymous said...


Great post today, really enjoyed reading it along with the comments.

Just as your post stated...I'm an average guy.

Mad Dog

John Craig said...

Mad Dog --
Thanks; very few ways in which you're average.