No virginity, please. We’re British.


Photograph: Ophelia Wynne for the Observer (from the Guardian article)

The Guardian (in the UK) just did a story called “Is This Your First Time?” about the work of fellow virginity geek Kate Munro (looking foxy, above) who writes the blog The Virginity Project. The blog is a fascinating collection of reader contributions about their first sexual experiences (it was the inspiration for our V-Card Diaries series, although I think we have lots more people writing about their lack of sexual experiences).

From the article:

Monro seems to have an ability to get people to open up to her and there are many who tell her things they can’t even tell their own partner. One of the most candid stories on her blog is the tale of the stay-at-home father of four whose wife, a high-flying lawyer, decided one night to strap on a dildo and take his anal virginity. “I was, to put it mildly, petrified,” he says. “The sight of that missile protruding from her, and meant for me, brought everything home.”She also has tales we wouldn’t usually hear: of a thalidomide boy (lost his to the most popular girl in school, then moved on to her best friend); an autistic man (prostitute) and a 101-year-old woman (out of wedlock, scandalous, but a bit hazy). But the story, she says, that always shocks the most, is that of the man who has been married for 15 years yet is still a virgin. “He had the opportunity to do it but just had an intense feeling he would hurt the woman and couldn’t do it,” she says. “I think it has just turned into phobia.”

The article included an interview with me about our project “How to Lose Your Virginity,” mostly I think because the writer was baffled by our virginity-obsessed American culture. The subhead of the article is “Losing your virginity is one of the few aspects of sex that remains untalked about.” Maybe in the UK… I guess they’re a lot more reserved over there (meaning their pop stars aren’t all flashing purity rings and calling girls without them sluts.) Absorbing my tutorials on virginity in pop culture, she writes:

Like Monro’s work, Shechter’s film is a series of straightforward tales of real people’s virginity loss. It’s refreshing to hear such forthright voices in a world where any debate about virginity is often so conflicting or one-sided. Our current torchbearer seems to be Miley Cyrus who, just like Britney all those years ago, loudly proclaims her own virginity while behaving in a hyper-sexual way.

In the media there are constant stories about women auctioning off their virginity to pay for their education and more troubling is recent news of one Justin Sisely, an Australian TV producer currently looking for young virgins to take part in a new reality show. “You see all this stuff and you think: ‘So this is the extent of the debate we’re having about virginity in the 21st century?'” says Shechter.

Note: I’m seriously annoyed she got the description of our film wrong. It’s a lot more than ‘straightforward tales of virginity loss,’ for crying out loud! Did she not even watch the trailer? And no links to our blog, synopsis, or any video. Lame.

But her kicker about Kate’s and my mission is dead-on: Encouraging a more honest conversation about what our sex lives really look like:

“These days we see sex everywhere, but there’s very little that’s honest about it,” [Kate Monro] says. “I think ultimately what brings people to tell me their stories is that we all have an innate desire to want to compare our experiences with other people. We all just want some sort of affirmation to know that we are normal.”

We did our own fun interview with Kate Monro here.

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4 Comments

  1. Madeleine
    Posted July 19, 2010 at 7:41 pm | Permalink

    I read this in print, and did wonder why your blog wasn't mentioned, but I suppose the main cux of the article was about Kate Munro and her blog.
    I don't think all Brits are as repressed as that, it's a generational thing, my friends and I often have conversations about sex, and the question of our first times has come up and been discussed. I wouldn't have that conversation with my parents (that would be too weird) but with my friends, sure, we don't tend to have too many secrets from each other, and swapping stories (especially if they're funny) about sex is just another topic of conversation.
    Certain parts of society probably wouldn't and as I said, it may be a generational thing. But we're all pretty open in the crowd I mix with. Well, that's my two cents anyway.

  2. Trixie
    Posted July 19, 2010 at 8:01 pm | Permalink

    Even the link to Kate's blog was all the way at the end of the story. Just seems odd not to link to the people you're writing about within the text – and to link to Kate's blog up top. Maybe we do it more in N American blogs? Not sure.

    Anyway, thanks for your point-of-view re repression. It might be generational, or it might just be The Guardian : )

  3. Madeleine
    Posted July 20, 2010 at 1:21 pm | Permalink

    The Guardian is quite a good paper usually. In print they always put references to books/blogs etc at the end and I think on their site they just post the article as it is in print, without adding any additional links.

    Now I'm wondering if it is a generational/repressed British thing. Hmmm…

  4. Anonymous
    Posted November 27, 2010 at 5:04 pm | Permalink

    I'm nineteen and from the Republic of Ireland, so not exactly U.K., but kinda close (geographically and culturally). I don't think we're more repressed than America- in fact, I think the opposite.
    I have never ever come across anyone pedalling a 'sex before marriage is wrong' shtick, and I went to religious schools (99% of schools in Ireland are religious). Not my parents, not my teachers, not my friends- not even randomers.
    The only emphasis given during sex education is 'the right time'.
    I've also never experienced any sort of pressure with regards to sex from my peers directly- society in general yes, but not from anyone I know. Whether I just got lucky (no pun intended) with my friends is another matter though.

    -Sharon

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