A Catalog of Dudes I Boned
I wrote a zine about online dating and I like to share it with people I’m trying to date, even though it gives me intense anxiety to do so. It’s an accurate (though fictionalized) portrait of my troubled relationship with sex and men and life, and it’s full of things I want potential partners to know about me. Such as: I’m a great fucking writer; I write about extremely intimate topics; I prefer ethical non-monogamy; I’m a slut; I don’t think slut is a bad word.
The problem is, sometimes I feel like slut is a bad word. My defiant reclamation of the title is still in process. When I got called a slut in high school, it was most definitely a bad word, used both to hurt and classify me. When other people hear me use the word to describe myself, some of them are shocked and appalled. Using the word as a shameless celebration of myself, applying the term on my own terms, is an ongoing fight.
Last summer I met this dude on social media, (we’ll call him Brad) and we started interacting a lot, and we both felt a pretty magical spark of connection. This was during early lockdown, when everyone was reeling from sudden intense isolation. We were chatting and video chatting a bunch. He’d never had such an experience with someone he met online, and he felt weird about it. I decided to make it more weird by sending him the zine. I warned him in advance of the salient & sordid features, and I said I would understand if he didn’t want to read it.
About seven minutes later, Brad texted back the following:
Oh God, this is just a catalog of dudes you boned.
Now. The zine is like 40-some pages long, so I knew he didn’t have time to read the whole thing. There’s definitely sex in it. The protagonist definitely bones a lot of dudes in it. The zine opens with a cast list of characters, many of whom get boned in the course of the zine. Do you like the way I’m repeating the verb? The stupid ridiculous high school verb? Brad is forty years old, and now I know I’ll never bone him.
The thing is, above all else, my zine is about the search for beauty and tenderness and connection. I’m generally not into fucking people for the sake of fucking. I’m sexually adventurous and I’m an inherently, unequivocally sexual being. I love sex. I love humans. I love connection. Sex in its best form, in my opinion, is beautiful human connection, even when it’s casual, often, or kinky. This is, I think, the obvious and overarching thrust of my zine.
So I texted Brad back, no, it’s not.
And he replied, how many?
And I said, I don’t know and
What difference does it make?
And he replied, how many and
He kept pressing for a number, and the more he did, the more I squirmed internally. Shame, shame, shame.
I have no idea how many. I don’t keep count. I don’t, in fact, own a catalog of all the dudes I’ve boned.
All my favorite people like the zine, and my number one favorite lover loves the zine. His pet name for me is a (secret) phrase that includes the word slut, and he uses it with infinite affection and admiration and I love it. There’s nothing insulting about the way he uses it.
There’s also nothing wrong with people who don’t fancy sluts. Everyone has the right to choose how and with whom they engage. Everyone has the right to determine their own relationship with and opinion about their own sexual behavior. Their own.
The truly fucked up thing about Brad insisting on a number is that I could tell there was a number that would’ve been acceptable to him. In the course of the conversation, that became increasingly clear. If I had fucked under a certain number of people, I would’ve been in a morally acceptable range for him. He didn’t know the actual number, the cutoff point, but he had a general idea of how many was too many. A vague idea in his self about what was a lot and what was a slut.
Well, Brad. I don’t need to know the number to know I’m a slut. I don’t need your morals to tell me whether or not I’m acceptable to myself.
I boned a dozen dudes. A hundred. A thousand. I boned a billion dudes and I loved every minute of it.
There’s no catalog but the one kept in all the corners of my heart, all the contours of my life. Anyone who cares to know me may read it any time, just by looking in my eyes.