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The double standards of sex

What is the average lifetime sexual partners that African men and women have?

That is a question I would really like an answer to but when I tried to Google the search term, I only came up with some American stats.

I suppose I shouldn’t really be surprised since we Africans are so squeamish about talking about sex. But I am going to guess anyway and say that it’s about 5 for men from most parts of Africa, and about 1.5 - 2 for women . In the US, the average for men is 7 partners, while for women it’s 4.

I am fascinated by the topic because last week, a male friend confided to me that he has slept with over 40 women in his life. And he’s only 28 years old!

I really tried to not let my jaw drop to the floor as he recounted tales of sleeping with girls from Congo, Egypt, Bostwana, Cameroon and all the far-reaching ends of our continent.

But I couldn’t help but feel that 40 women were far too many, even if he does claim to have used a condom with each partner every time. Of all those women, he claims that 28 were his steady girlfriends while the rest were either one-night stands or casual encounters.

Right now, you either envy this man or simply find him despicable!

So what’s an acceptable number of sexual partners then? What’s the number that won’t make you cringe too much if your potential life partner tells you he/she has slept with X number of people before you?

Where is the fine line drawn between being adventurous and being too adventurous?!

Personally, I think that anything that goes beyond what can be counted on one hand is a bit alarming. Actually, if a guy told me had had slept with anything above five women before me, I would feel uneasy about him because I would have to take my position on his second hand.

And anything into double digits would really have me flummoxed!

Am I being naive?!

But I suppose it also depends on a person’s history, how old they are and how much in love with them you really are.
I mean, my dear friend with the 40 notches on his bed post is now very much looking to settle down and get married. He says he’s put his Casanova days behind him and now just wants to slow down. And I am sure some girl out there will love and accept him regardless of his chequered sexual history.

But I don’t expect that that is an easy feat at all. I mean, knowing that you are number 40-something with a guy – and knowing full well that he’s sampled a bit of everything in the process – must be really daunting for a lady! What if you don’t have the same magic that he’s had with most of his other conquests? What if he falls back into his old ways the same way people cave on their diets?

Personally, I think that when a person’s conquests cannot be counted on both one’s hands and toes (unless sex is your profession) then the red neon alarm bell should definitely be going off in your head!

But what if the roles are reversed and it’s in fact the woman in the relationship who’s had 40-plus men in her life?

I asked my friend the question and he said he would NEVER so much as consider settling down with such a woman because such a number is far too large for a woman and she would have likely lost her ‘tightness’ down under after letting so much traffic through.


Talk about the kettle calling the pot black!

I mean I even set out a hypothesis for this man. What if a woman has had 40 lovers and has had sex with each of them only five times (for a total of 200 times), whereas another woman has had one lover but has had sex with him 500 times.
The first woman has had less sex and so should be ‘tighter’ right? And besides, women give birth to babies with big heads through their vaginas anyway!!!

But my friend refused to accept my hypothesis and maintained that 40 sexual partners on a woman made her a tart whether or not she was still as tight as a rubber band.

Well, these are the double standards we all know about anyway, as infuriating as they are.

But I would still love to know what you think!


Rachael Maddock-Hughes's picture

Dear Fungai, Thank you for

Dear Fungai,

Thank you for your post! We are trying to keep posts in this group to questions and important announcements about the program only. If you could please post other stories like this in your personal journal, that would be great! Plus, by posting in your journal, you will help build your online community.

Thank you for your understanding!

Kind regards,


"In every human heart there are a few passions that last a lifetime. They're with us from the moment we're born, and nothing can dilute their intensity." Rob Brezny

Andrea Arzaba's picture

In conclusion...


We live in an unequal society. We have prejudices. A man with a lot of women in his life...he will be called experienced. A woman with a lot of men in her know what she will be called!

Good post, it makes us think on the "macho" cultures we are living in!

I invite you to read my last post:

A big hug!


nilima's picture


well i can see how people live in this world. here the people cant even talk about sex in the public!! good know the different cultures yet even there are the bias in that part of the world. amazing!

paidamoyo's picture

Dear Fungai

This is a lovely piece...i just love every bit of it. what i dont understand is that how can someone have sex with more than 40 women when he is only 28? What kind of a person is he? does he have an ambition or sex is his major..please excuse my language but 40 is just abig number for such a lad..personally i feel for the chap and worse for the lady he would want to settle down with, and i think Andrea is right, the way our society is shaped this man is te real deal..he is the kind of cahp with all the experience, but do we really need such men? i mean think about is a process..

all in all i believe in giving people second chances..maybe he has changed but he needs help..

Tahnks Fungai for the piece once again..
Take care

Fungai Machirori's picture

Thanks Paida

Thankk for the comment! Yep, it's a bit much and what I hate is the double standard. I guess those are the things that we have to continue to fight against...

from today i live out of my imagination
i am more than my yesterday
tomorrow i plant a new seed
nothing that lies behind easy
nothing that is ahead real
my within is all i have today
*Napo Masheane*

warona's picture


Dear Rachel

Its what fungai has posted, well what he said is true, dont you people know, some men are like dogs ( am so sorry to respond like this but i have to elaborate on this.For your own information i ve just met a guy right now as i write who told me about one friend of his who has slept with about 200 hundred women now,can you imagine that is all abomination,he said "this guy changes women like underwear " older women, middle aged, school girls and all sorts of women without any hesitation he enjoys every bit of it.The guy is said to 25 years of age just imagine already at his age he has beaten Fungai four times, these young energetic men they can leave you without words,they can play the game.But let me say this, this thing is not good at all. We need people with good morals, with taboos that will carry them in the society to be men of valour, not the shame that we hear.Men need to know that they are very special they need not to abuse themselves with so many women.We can go on to thank Fungai for his post but women must know that sex is for only two people.Infact you can agree with me that in a polygamy, we seen, we have heared the hate that explodes among women. All this is against the order of life.So women must not allow themselves to be so cheap by allowing every jack and jil to know them. They must refuse and stand for their rights then men will know how to behave to at the right time,for a life time relationship without cheating allowing sexual diseases.The virus here is so dangerous it changes the look of these men the more they do sex the more they are crippling their days.MAY GOD HELP OUR COMMUNITES AND SOCIETIES SO THAT WE MAY BE A GENERATION TO RECKON ON.
Our government is supplying the ARV for free, but still there are some peolpe who are scared to be tested, to go free with their status.And still is men who will not go for tests untill there are serious signs of the disease.hey men!!!!!!
Women lets not intertain this,If your husband behaves like this i bet to tel you that your house will be in trouble, no more happiness.These are the things i hate to see among men,sometimes i feel men are like babies they get enticed easily and then the habit goes on and on.Women lets stand and fil the gap if it fails you pray,for with God nothing shall be impossible.

Thank you


"success will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time " And when confronted conquer with love

ShukThi's picture

double standard indeed

A fascinating topic. Thank you for writing about this, Fungai!

In my work I facilitate a game with high school students to look at the powerful insult slut that is so often applied to girls by their peers, and we encourage the young people to question the double standard around sexuality.

I do not personally feel that there has to be any sort of optimal number attached to sexual partners in one lifetime.

It sounds, though, like your friend has bought into the double standard thoroughly. I mean, if this is how he feels, it leads me to question how much he respected the women he was sexually active with. At least, he claims to understand the need for safer sex/ condoms. I hope he also understands the importance of consent.

Yup, deep topic! thanks for bringing it up.

Fungai Machirori's picture

I hear you!

I definietly hear you on the idea that there should not be an optimal number of sex partners attached to a person. And this whole debate has opened up a can of worms with people. Most of the guys I know say I am dreaming toe ven believe that the average African man has had 5 sexual partners in their lifetime.

Just last Saturday, my friend and I got to talking with a married man who very matter-of-factly admitted that he cheats on his wife and that the most recent time had been the previous week! So yes, a bit of naivety (or was it hope?!) on my part to have pinned myself down to a figure.

As for the double standard, my friend offered this rather depresssing yet sobering anecdote:

Woman: “Why is it that if i sleep with many men I am labeled a bitch,whore and such,but a man is applauded for sleepin with many woman?”
Man:”Well its simpl e- when a lock has been opend by many keys it is considerd a bad lock, but when a key opens many locks it is considerd a masterkey”…

Ha! That's the world we live in...

from today i live out of my imagination
i am more than my yesterday
tomorrow i plant a new seed
nothing that lies behind easy
nothing that is ahead real
my within is all i have today
*Napo Masheane*

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