You’ve had how many lovers?
Oh dear, just as well I'm not a wild woman, otherwise I would be feeling pretty damn unvirtuous right now. My honour and integrity would be pretty well bruised following the recent declaration by Mollie King of The Saturdays, who is currently dating Dolce & Gabbana model David Gandy, that she has only ever kissed four boys.
Singer Mollie had kissed less than a handful of fellas -- and she has chosen to tell us about it in the style of a startling celebrity revelation which the current bunch of celeb PRs increasingly rely on to get their clients attention.
It used to be that women never revealed the number of admirers they'd entertained, and a gentleman caller never asked and a lady never told. Indeed, it's long been acknowledged that female celebrities avoid talking about the number of lovers they've had -- unless, it seems, and with increasingly and alarming regularity, that they've had very few of them.
In fact, it's a rare female celebrity who has ever admitted that her bedpost looks like an Ogham stone, and yet now I've lost count of the amount of starlets who have broadcast that they are in fact as pure as the driven snow.
Megan Fox has also recently opened up about her abstention. She revealed: "I've only been with two men my entire life. My childhood sweetheart and Brian [Austin Green]. I can never have sex with someone that I don't love, ever. The idea makes me sick. I've never even come close to having a one-night stand."
Kimberley Walsh of Girls Aloud feels much the same way as Megan, and has said: "I'm a one-guy girl and I have never played the field. I've only had one previous boyfriend -- I've just had two healthy relationships in my life."
I think the point of these revelations is a little questionable, in that they seem to be demanding that we salute them for bucking the trend and steering clear of casual sexual encounters, booty calls and friends with benefits.
Why do these young stars feel the need to advertise their sexual history, or lack thereof, and why are their declarations tinged with a sense of smugness and self-validation?
Er, are they by any chance implying something about the rest of us who just may have kissed more than four guys?
The implication is definitely that they are purer than the average woman, in spite of the impression we may have of them. And in spite of the way they use their bodies in their careers and to gain attention.
I imagine that they know the average number of lovers for a woman in a lifetime is somewhere around nine and they've extrapolated that many more women go above this number.
They seem to think their choice is superior to others, even if the sexual currency these women employ to sell their respective brands -- think micro-minis, lingerie shoots and bondage-style catsuits -- lies rather incongruously with the sense of virtue they are also keen to portray.
What they're saying is; I may look a little like a slapper, but I am a saint!
I'm glad not to feel bad when faced with these paragons of virtue, because that's their whole point, isn't it, to make us gals feel bad. Their public pride in the fact they have few notches on their bedposts is, in effect, saying that those who have more should be ashamed.
They seem to have forgotten that not all women are lucky enough to have met long-term partners at young ages. Many women are not. Some women don't want to. Worse, they've contrived their good fortune into quasi-moralistic stances. These celebrities suggest that a woman can have too many notches on her bedpost, and that a certain number could be considered promiscuous.
UK journalist Lynn Barber, who claims to have slept with 50 men while at Oxford University, worries that increasingly women feel they must straightjacket themselves into long-term relationships once they have sex with a man. "I would criticise what I call the Elizabeth Taylor syndrome, where highly sexed women feel they have to marry the man they sleep with. Then they get divorced and do the same thing over and over again. This seems to be happening in America now."
I think it's a sad state of affairs when women are intimidated by the likes of Mollie King from The Saturdays, and decide to have less sex than they would like because of the stigma attached to casual encounters. So long as contraception is used and alcohol and drugs are avoided, is there really a problem? Is it really anyone else's business?
It's baffling that we self-restrict one of the most gratifying (not to mention free) experiences in the world. It's also true that a woman with more sexual experience will know what she wants -- and more importantly what she doesn't want -- when she finally settles in a long-term relationship.
I hasten to add that the male celebrities who pathetically tally up their numbers have no problem revealing them. Charlie Sheen reckons he has slept with 5,000 women (his egomania is by no means a recent event); Jack Nicholson 2,000 and Nick Clegg a comparatively tiny 30. Rod Stewart has lost count of his number.
Alas, there exists a universal double standard wherein a man who has countless lovers is branded a stud and a woman a slut. Just compare male and female dating manuals: women are advised to avoid sex on the first date; men are told how to get it.
And yet the women who do just that and 'put out' are often also put out of these very men's minds as soon as they acquiesce.
A taxi driver recently told me that he was only attracting "slags". They all had sex with him on the first night.
"Hold on," I rallied, "Maybe they found you utterly irresistible?"
"No, they're just slags," he answered emphatically. I can only hope they thought the same of him. Deep down, though, I know that when he didn't call them back they probably felt used, abused and cheap. Women often use these words to describe the shame they feel after a one-night-stand, as though their vagina has a price and they gave it away for free.
No wonder a third of women lie about the number of partners they've had. Of course, the Megan Foxs of the celebrity contingent are aware of this prejudice and they know that a relatively chaste lifestyle would be considered something of a boon by some quarters.
They suggest that sex should always be special, that it is the most intimate possible act between two people.
Sex is special, yet Mollie and Megan have forgotten that people have sex for different reasons. Some times it's a deeply intimate, spiritual experience; sometimes it's to let off a bit of steam. Some use it as a symbol of love and devotion. Sometimes it's to enhance physical wellbeing, decrease stress and heighten vitality.
More to the point, my most intimate moments with men have been when they've cried on my shoulder, revealed their deepest secrets or asked me for help in their darkest moments.
These celebrity puritans who discuss the number of lovers they've had are infinitely more undignified than a woman who sleeps with as many people as she likes and keeps schtum. Asking somebody how many lovers they've had is a loaded question, and telling somebody is more than often a statement masquerading as an answer.