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The other day I was re-reading our V-Card Diaries stories, and I was reminded that people who have never had sex are sometimes dealing with personal issues that go beyond the lack of physical experience. So I was struck by this excerpt from Vivian Gornick's New York Times essay on British author E. M. Forster, author of Howards End, as well as A Room With A View, A Passage to India, and Maurice:

Forster was 31 years old when “Howards End” appeared, at which time he was a closeted homosexual and a virgin who knew nothing of how erotic relations worked — with any combination of partners. His ignorance weighed on him, and in his imagination sex achieved a mythical power that became symbolic of all in human existence that one could feel but not express, imagine but not realize. His fearfulness was such that until now he had known neither passion nor love; what he did know was yearning. This yearning energized his work but also limited it. In time he lost his virginity, but sex alone did not provide experience. Anxiety — that frozen sea within — still made it impossible for him to dive deep into the kind of desire that leads to self-knowledge; and without self-knowledge all remains murk and isolation.

V-Card Diaries: Allison "I started developing a positive body image, but my boost in strength and confidence has spilled over into every part of my life"

Age range: Late 20s
Location: United States of America
My definition of virginity: A concept used to describe the fact that someone has not granted sexual contact to someone else

This is actually my second time submitting to the V-Card Diaries. I sent in my story four years ago but wanted to come back and tell you about how I "lost" my virginity because I am having thoughts and this seemed a good place to share them.

I made it to age 28 without ever having sex with anyone (and to 27 without kissing anyone, for good measure). My virginity wasn't "kept" or "guarded," I put no effort into maintaining it, nor did I put any effort into finding someone to eradicate it, so to speak. As I explained to one potential suitor who was making sure I wasn't a secret fundamentalist, I just hadn't found a dude that I liked and trusted enough to which he responded, "fair enough, most of us are pretty terrible." And to be honest, getting laid for the first time didn't take a tremendous amount of effort. What DID take a lot of effort, almost two years of it, was changing my relationship with my body enough to get to the point where I wanted to share it with someone else.

And that's where my virginity story really starts - with the fact that I didn't have any kind of understanding of or respect for my own body for a lot of my life. Some of that is due to some wacky physiology, a larger-than-average amount of my childhood spent in medical waiting rooms, but most of it was bound up in being obese and subconsciously believing myself to be less valuable and beautiful because of it. I didn't date in high school, in college, in grad school because I couldn't imagine anyone (any man) finding me attractive. I was afraid of being rejected and humiliated by dating partners because of my size so I didn't have any dating partners. 

I admitted that I needed help. I started developing a positive body image (in the main, I still have my insecurities). I knew that I would be healthier because of this attitude adjustment, but my boost in strength and confidence has spilled over into every part of my life. And I decided to start dating because the whole process showed me how futile it is to assume that I'll be bad at something or won't find it enjoyable when I've never tried it. 

I fell in love with someone who was never going to love me back. We didn't even date, we were just "hanging out." He would come over sometimes in the evenings and he was the first person to grab me by the waist and bring his face to mine and spend the night in my bed and his attention felt like a drug in my bloodstream. I asked him if my virginity mattered and he asked if it mattered to me and I said it didn't so he also said it didn't and it made me so happy. But I think it did. It mattered enough for him to break my heart mere days after he slept over. He just knew enough to know not to say it freaked him out. He was so very serious every time we were alone together; I think because he knew that everything we did was a milestone for me, he wanted it to all be perfect. He is not the first man I had sex with.

I am not in love with the first man I had sex with, but I am in love with how I had sex for the first time and I'm glad it was with him. He made it easy to have sex with him. It's not that he wasn't surprised by my revelation, and he didn't say it didn't matter (I didn't ask him), but he just didn't act like he particularly cared. He was thoughtful and communicative and made sure I was okay during and after, which are all things I would require of any partner whether it was our first time or our fiftieth or our five-hundreth. I don't mean to make it sound like a fairy tale -- it wasn't all that romantic or passionate and he snored -- but it was fun and light-hearted and the sun was shining and I felt good about it. I don't know what else I could ask for from a first time, especially one that was such a long time coming (pun unintended.)

Having sex, positive experience though it was, hasn't made me a different person, it hasn't changed anything about my relationship with this guy or my feelings about him. It's just a thing that has happened now, it's just one of several new ways I have learned to use and appreciate my body. I know not every woman gets to say that and that I am very lucky, but maybe if people keep making films like "How to Lose Your Virginity" it can be that simple for future generations.

Read more tales of sexual debuts and deferrals at The V-Card Diaries

Congratulations! You've won a grant shaped like a chastity belt.

Where, oh where, to begin with this story about a South African grant just for girls who remain virgins:

 

“The bursaries are for young girls who are still virgins,” said a municipality spokesman, Jabulani Mkhonza.
“It’s a new category which the mayor has introduced this year,” he said, adding that the goal was to encourage “young girls to keep themselves pure and inactive from sexual activity and focus on their studies”. Beneficiaries of the grant would be subjected to regular virginity tests, he added. 
“Those children who have been awarded bursaries will be checked whenever they come back for holidays. The bursary will be taken away if they lose their virginity,” said Mkhonza.

Let's see...
That tying poor girls' educational prospects to a grant shaped like a chastity belt is inhumane? 
That virginity tests are bogus and a gross invasion of privacy? 
That keeping girls safe and in school is better accomplished with sex ed?
That young women should get educational support regardless of sexual history?
That some of them have probably been raped and shamed over that? 
That there's no comment on the value of boys staying celibate?
Ugh. 

The good news: Women's groups are attacking the plan.

A 'waiting till marriage' story that isn't judgey? Thanks Colton Dixon!

I'm not really up on American Idol or Christian music, so I'm not familiar with Colton Dixon's work. But reading this story about his honeymoon, I was struck by how refreshing it is when people talk about their decision to remain abstinent until marriage as a personal belief, not a universally-expected code of conduct punishable by Hell.

"It was not easy!" he says with a laugh. "But I believe sex was designed for marriage and I knew it would be more meaningful to wait. That was something I grew up thinking and feeling, and I believe the Bible backs it up as well." 

See what he did there? "I believe."  No judgements about other people's choices, no framed Purity Certificates. (At least nothing in this article) So refreshing! Mazel tov, you two crazy kids. Stay happy! 

V-Card Diaries: Audrey "I was bombarded with judgments of being a 'virgin' and misinformation about sex"

A little about myself: 

I'm 21, Park City Utah, female, I'm a baker and environmentalist, I've never had sexual experience beyond kissing and massages between my kind ex. from high school and I.

How I define virginity: 

A concept that's overrated, outdated, used to scare people into not having sex (sex can be healthy for you). People should define virginity for themselves, but it's abused by businesses, religion, and media.

Here's my story: 

I don't like the word "virginity." It's abused and overrated. I'm 21 and I've never had sexual experience beyond kissing, snuggling, and massages between my nice ex from high school and I. Neither of us were emotionally or intellectually prepared. In college I did not trust the guy I was dating to respect my sexual boundaries. He was trying too hard to get me to have sex with him, so we broke up. I was born and raised Utah, but my parents are Midwesterners.

The culture here strictly practices abstinence only education, but I'm not a mormon. I went to the Unitarian Universalist Church which has a nation wide liberal and informative sex education program known as OWL. I attended OWL in 8th grade and 11th grade. There are 4 stages of it each designed for a different age group starting with 10&11 year olds. Unfortunately I didn't retain much of what I had learned. 

In college, in Oregon, I was bombarded with judgments of being a "virgin", myths and misinformation about sex, and stories of other peoples' sex in the dorms. It scared me.
I'm now a baker at Deer Valley Resort. Just a week ago I started watching Sex + by Laci Green and it was amazing, re-informing, liberating and so great with the positive look on sex. I binge watched for hours. All I have to say is Thank You Laci.

I look forward to having a sexual experience that is safe, informed, and not dreaded. I live with my parents and I'm looking for a place to buy closer to down town Park City. Whether It's masturbation, intercourse, or another for of sex, I don't feel comfortable having sex in my parents' home, and I'm happy to wait for the right place, person, and time. Not that I expect it to be perfect.

If you want to tell your story, go to our submission form. You can find all our V-Card Diaries here.

V-Card Diaries: David "if you're constantly the new kid, being accepted and making friends was like pissing in the wind"

A little about myself: 

I'm a 20-year-old college student living in the United States. I grew up in a military family, so I spent majority of my life as a nomad, moving around from place to place. I'm majoring in political science.

How I define virginity: 

Someone who has had no sexual contact, whether it be with the opposite or same sex

Here's my story: 

Well, growing up in a military family, I moved around a ton. Every 1-2 years I was somewhere else. This has been a fact of life for me since the cradle.

However, it has made making and keeping friends damn near impossible, let alone finding an intimate partner, This was especially true in high school, if you're constantly the new kid, being accepted and making friends was like pissing in the wind. This didn't really become a problem until I entered college. Everyone had already laid down the foundations of forming relationships, whether they be friendships or more intimate or serious ones.

The loneliness is starting to become a burden and a problem and I'd really like it to end. I'm 20 years old and have yet to have any intimate or affectionate contact with a female. It's depressing and makes me feel as if there's something wrong with me and as if nobody wants me. I haven't spoken to anyone about it, mostly because it's embarrassing and because nobody would really understand anyways because they've never been in my shoes.

If you want to tell your story, go to our submission form. You can find all our V-Card Diaries here.

V-Card Diaries: Liz B. "He invited me over to his house and I of course went knowing what 'Netflix and chilling' meant"

A little about myself: 

I'm 17-year-old female student, born and raised in Houston, TX.

How I define virginity: 

I define virginity as a metaphor for one's innocence that is lost when one participates in sexual intercourse.

Here's my story: 

I was 16 when I was dating a guy from the soccer team. We barely had a month together, but there was something about him that completely had me hypnotized (maybe it was the whole bad boy thing?). Well one day he invited me over to his house and I of course went knowing what "watching Netflix and chilling" meant.

We started making out and of out no where we jumped right to it. It was Horrible! There was no foreplay, no nothing. The pain that Ii felt during sex was unbearable and we had to stop a couple of times. He finished fairly quick and then looked back at me shocked claiming " i didn't know you were a virgin" ... like really? My first time can be summed up to painful, akward, embarrassing. And pissed me off. i regret losing my virginity simply because all my friends were sexually active.

Check out Liz B. on Tumblr. If you want to tell your story, go to our submission form. You can find all our V-Card Diaries here.

Ask Trixie: How do I impress my girlfriend to allow me to take her virginity?

How do I impress my girlfriend to allow me to take her virginity from her since I'm also a virgin and kinda on the short side and I don't know what to do during sex – Smoke198

Having sex for the first time shouldn’t be about impressing anyone. And virginity is not an object sitting in someone’s pocket, which means it can’t be taken or given or anything like that.  So, can I change the question to: How do my girlfriend and I decide we are both comfortable and enthusiastic about having sex for the first time?

Only you and your girlfriend will know when you’re ready to have sex, and you’ll only figure that out by talking about it. Take your time, make sure you can trust each other, can talk to each other, feel comfortable with each other. This might take a while, but keep in mind it’s not a race to the finish line. It’s a long process and intercourse is just one part of it. Go slow. 

If you’re thinking about having intercourse, I’d definitely suggest trying some something else first that might feel less intense or intimate. And when you’re comfortable with that, try the next thing. (A lot of women say that manual or oral sex (you giving and her receiving!) is more fun than intercourse. And it’s often a better way for her to have orgasms, so bonus points for doing more of that. 

Another reason to take things slow is that your girlfriend might be nervous that penetration/intercourse is going to hurt. For some people, it does, but often it’s because they’re not relaxed or lubricated enough. I wrote about that here.

Check out a great article from our friends at Scarleteen that has advice for how to talk to your partner about sex. You and your girlfriend should also check out Scarleteen’s Am I Ready For Sex checklist.

You also mentioned you don’t know what to do during sex. Well, no one is born a good lover. It takes some practice, good information, and good communication with your partner to know what each of you think feels good. 

And finally, if she really doesn’t feel ready to have sex with you, that’s totally her choice and you need to respect it. 

Got a question about virginity, sex, relationships, feminism or filmmaking?  Ask Trixie here.

V-Card Diaries: Sharon "I was (and am) very attractive and it makes me a little sad that I didn't get out there and find out"

A little about myself:

I'm British, was born in Germany, live in Scotland. I'm 51 and a speech and language therapist

How I define virginity:

I used to think it was penetrative sex, but recent reading makes me think it is a series of states, the first time you are touched, the first time you touch etc

Here's my story:

I was a very shy girl. My sisters were and are gorgeous and I felt eclipsed. I was plump and I was convinced that nobody would be interested, so I stayed at home........I used to iron my sister's clothes for her nights out!

But i was sexual, I had strong sexual feelings, I yearned, I fantasied, I masturbated and I stayed at home, totally convinced of my lack of attraction.

When I was 20 I was a very bad au pair in Germany, I lost my job and went to stay with family friends. I had an almighty crush on the husband and this resulted in having my very first kiss and sexual experience. We got naked a couple of times, he went down on me, (I nearly had a heart attack......but it felt fantastic). I was terrified, but very excited.............such an unsuitable man and situation.

I then yearned and replayed all of this for about 18 years, no sexual contact with anybody, nothing at all.

I'm now in my very late 30's, working in the Hebrides. I meet a man at a Ceilidh dance, he is interesting and funny and I fancy him. My friend and I go back to his house, I make it really clear that I fancy him............we end up kissing and I send the night, we do lots of extremely enjoyable things, but we don't have sex. I have a major crush on him, we hang out a lot, but no fun as he wants to be friends.

I go to Moscow on holiday, meet a sweet Scottish guy, who makes it very clear he fancies me, The attraction is mutual and we go back to his hotel room where we ALMOST have sex...............another enjoyable experience.

Still in the Hebrides, I'm at a dance, a man (Alec) crosses the dance floor to chat me up. Initially I'm not interested, but he is quirky and sexy and makes it clear that he finds me attractive. We have a kiss outside the dance..............I really like him.

I send flirty texts, which he responds to. I get an invitation to his house, he is high, funny, sexy and horny. We do lots of lovely things, (the man REALLY enjoys giving oral sex), but he is unavailable and taken. 

Now I'm 40, nearly 41 and I decide that I CAN NOT end the year as a virgin. I get back in touch with Alec, arrange to see him at his house. We sit at the kitchen table and drink tea, I am shaking when I kiss him and ask if we can go to bed. We go to bed, get naked and this is when I say i'm a virgin, Alec asks me why I took so long. We have sex twice, he was funny, kind , gentle and takes his time. It's all a bit of a blur, I remember it hurting, (I bled like a Scilian bride, which pleased me inordinately), but the touching kissing, oral etc was lovely.

As I said, Alec was unavailable, so it was a one night thing, but I got to choose who was the first based on mutual attraction and my steely determination that this was going to happen.
It didn't kick start sustained sexual exploration.................when I turned 50 I decided to pursue a decent sex life, because I do like having sex, my experiences have been uneven and I still feel unfufilled. 

I want to have fun finding out about it before it's all too late. Hindsight is a wonderful thing, looking back I can see that I was, (and am) very attractive and it makes me a little sad that I didn't get out there and find out.

If you want to tell your story, go to our submission form. You can find all our V-Card Diaries here.

On the eventual realization that casual sex isn't worth losing a good night's sleep

This perfectly describes why I finally realized I preferred a good night's sleep over another casual encounter with another guy who would likely be as erection-challenged and porn-emulating as the rest. For ladies who like to sleep around, the problems with it are not about morality or any other conservative clucking about family values and women's roles. THIS is why casual sex eventually loses its charms:

From "From Swipe Right On Monogamy" by Charlotte Shane

Why did casual sex suck so much? Because very few straight cis men were as libidinous, skilled, or nice as they needed to be to make the enterprise worthwhile. When arranging my “casual encounters,” I hoped for low level warmth and good naturedness to accompany fun sex, but this modest combination was exceedingly rare. And in 2015, I watched friend after friend suffer the same relentless indignities I’d endured in 2014, before Mr. Pussy Pic [her eventual monogamous boyfriend] entered the scene.

“Being straight is a constant exercise in degradation,” I found myself telling them because it was the most sincere validation I could summon. We’d been told that men were insatiable, that they’d be thrilled by our appetites and eagerness and carefully cultivated hotness, yet we kept bumping up against potheads and sluggards who seemed severally sexually under-motivated in spite of having signed up for a site designed to get them laid. Then there were the erectile problems courtesy of bad diets, prescription or recreational drugs, and performance anxiety.

Those who could get it up, inexcusably, often mimicked porn moves with an alarming degree of sincerity. I daresay even the rare vaginal orgasm-er among us is shocked by the ignorance behind such cartoonish penetrative encounters."

h/t The Lux Letter

V-Card Diaries: Shakti "We were two deeply geeky kids who loved science and did a lot of research"

A little about myself: 

American, female, 51, been with the same guy since we were 28. I started out doing neuroscience, but switched careers in the 90's, and now I'm a strategic planner for a large organization. I also write a blog [moderntantra.blogspot.com] about tantric sex from a practical and scientific perspective, not a religious or spiritual point of view. What interests me is helping couples have incredible sex, and figuring out just what it is about tantra that makes it so incredible.

How I define virginity: 

I usually use the normal definition (never a penis in a vagina) even though it's stupid.

Here's my story: 

My first time ever was actually with someone I would describe as a close friend, but not a lover. We were lab partners, study buddies, and best friends, and we'd both just finished a human biology course. We were 20-year-old virgins and curious, so we decided to see what all the fuss was about. We did some actual research first - this was the early 80s, so there was no Internet to make it easy! - and we kind of worked up to handjobs, oral, and finally the real thing.

During my research I had found some advice on preparing for the first time and I followed it carefully. When we decided we were ready to try out the main event, my friend helped me come orally and then I got on top, cowgirl style, and eased onto him very slowly. Perhaps as a result, there wasn't any pain and I didn't bleed at all.

(For more about what I did to get ready, read "Aunt Shakti's Action Plan for Proactive Modern Virgins". I wrote it for my nieces when they got to the right age to be curious about such things, and recently revised it and put it online.)

I thought the actual sex was a bit of an anticlimax, but he seemed to enjoy it a lot, so we did it some more, trying out many variations. It was fascinating, because we could talk about everything in a completely frank and natural way that would have been very hard if we were deep in a romantic fog and really trying to impress and please each other. So we could laugh ourselves silly when things didn't work, and try different things until we found out what did work, and why. After we got over being shy about nudity, kissing was actually the most awkward thing about it!

Maybe it only works well for two deeply geeky kids who love science more than anything else, but it was fascinating, educational, and fun, and I suspect that it would be a great way for many people to learn about sex, without the urgency and the anxiety and all the fumbling around in the dark.

So if you're a curious virgin and you have a willing friend of the appropriate gender, I'd say go ahead and give it a shot. It doesn't have the magical intensity that sex can have when you're both head over heels in love, but it can definitely have its own rewards.

If you want to tell your story, go to our submission form. You can find all ourV-Card Diaries here.

A holiday gift to you: EVE & MARY, an animated clip from How To Lose Your Virginity

Happy holidays, everyone!

In the spirit of the season, here's a newly-released animated clip from How To Lose Your Virginity about Eve, Mary and our favorite dichotomy, the Virgin and Whore.

The brilliant animation is by Luke Murphy, and the clip includes a voice-over by director Therese Shechter, and an interview with Sady Doyle. Click on the CC at the bottom-right of the video if you need captions.

You can watch or buy the entire film here

V-Card Diaries: Adrian "By the time I graduated from high school, I had managed to completely bottle up my sexual impulses (a very bad thing!)"

A little about myself:

I'm a 21 y/o genderqueer college student from Florida!

How I define virginity:

I think that virginity is a state of never having had loving, safe, consensual sex before. But it's not really a big deal in the grand scheme of things - whether or not you've has sex before doesn't make you more or less of a person.

Here's my story:

When I was younger, I was obsessed with staying 'pure' because of the influence of my church and my parents. I was taught that being 'pure' meant keeping away from not only the physical act of sex, but also thoughts and self-inflicted actions that would stimulate sexual thoughts/activities. This was all fine and dandy until I got to 10th grade. It was like a switch had been flipped in my brain, and then suddenly every day was like terrible, horny, torture. I realized at that time that I was sexually interested in people of the same sex as well as the opposite sex, and a lot of people in-between. But I was too anxious about being judged by the people around me, so I kept it bottled up, and the more I tried to hide it the more those repressed thoughts came out to haunt me.

By the time I graduated from high school, I had managed to completely bottle up my sexual impulses (a very bad thing!). But then I moved away to college, and the new, sex-positive environment unraveled all my 'progress'. I fell into a deep depression, feeling as if nothing in the world was worth living - all because I couldn't keep my thoughts 'under control', based on what other people thought I should be doing with my body and mind! As you can tell, I was in a bad place, all because I had never given myself a chance to really understand and accept my sexual thoughts. I was stuck like that until I came across Scarleteen.com, a website that teaches young people about sex in a gentle, accessible, inclusive way. Exploring that website got me started on my journey to recovery.

Fast forwards to today, and I'm still a virgin. But I no longer beat myself up over thoughts that, through therapy and other activities, I've realized are natural. I don't put that much importance on virginity or 'purity' either way, as a positive or negative thing. My virginity 'is what it is', and when I feel like I'm close enough to someone to have sex with them, then it'll happen. I know that the day that happens won't be some magical event, but I hope that at the very least it'll be bearable! In the meantime, I'll keep working to improve my health, my friendships, my hobbies, my confidence, my career, and many more things.

If you want to tell your story, go to our submission form. You can find all our V-Card Diaries here.

Just The Tip: News from the World of Virginity and Beyond featuring vatican gynecology, wedding night tips, books for teens and Tennessee is the worst

Happy Hanukah to all those that celebrate! Here's are this week's top stories from the world of virginity, ladyparts and sex. For up to the minute news, follow our Facebook Page, where we post every day!

 

100-Year-Old Wedding Night Advice for Newlyweds

On one hand they're pretty clear about the hymen not being an indicator of virginity. On the other hand here's what they think is: 
"The one true and only test which any man should look for is modesty in demeanor before marriage, absence of both assumed ignorance and a disagreeable familiarity, and a pure and religious frame of mind. When these are present, he need not doubt that he has a faithful and chaste wife."

Tennessee school wins right to ban gays and women who’ve had sex: ‘This is who we are’

From the story, which I can't believe is not parody:
'The waiver allows the school to ban pregnant students, women who have had an abortion, single mothers, LGBT students and anyone else who does not fit their religious ideology.
“This is who we are as a Christian university,” O’Brien opined. “These are our religious principles. And in a changing world, we would like to reaffirm that this is who we are and who we intend to be.” '

Daniel Holtzclaw's Victims, In Their Own Words

Former Oklahoma City Police Department Officer Daniel Holtzclaw was found guilty of multiple counts of rape and sexual assault. These are the testimonies of his victims:
"According to prosecutors, Holtzclaw targeted these women because they had records and lived in a high-crime neighborhood. He allegedly chose them because they didn’t want any trouble and because they feared the police — because they likely wouldn’t report their assaults to the police. He was the police."

Twenty-three more books every teenager should read

Did you know this?
Every teenage in Sweden is being given a copy of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s We Should All Be Feminists? Here's a good and useful list of other great books for teens, with the bonus of shoutouts to our friends Rachel Hills and Scarleteen's Heather Corinna.

Is Technology Making Us Sluttier?

Well, probably not:
"In the same way that mid-century antibiotics and contraception helped kick off the sexual revolution, better HIV treatments (as well as Gardasil, more advanced contraception, and that old standby, the condom) might encourage more libertine behavior by making sex feel safer than it did during the panic of the 1990s—but granted, that doesn’t really make for the most compelling of Vanity Fair screeds."

He Called Her a Slut. He Got Fired

...And then a bunch of trolls blamed her for it.
"A culture of sexist tolerance undermines entire industries, let alone individual people’s daily lives. This tolerance continues because we’ve created cultures were targets of awful behavior are expected to just take it."

...and finally, you can't make this stuff up:

Catholic university overseen by the Church to host conference about the secrets of the female body

From the story:
"Topics covered at the landmark conference are said to include the lifting, tightening and bleaching of female genitals. Delegates will also discuss the amplification of the G-spot and the O-spot, a point behind the surface which experts claim is more sensitive to pleasure than the G-spot. The delegates will also be greeted to an audience with Pope Francis and a walk with in the Vatican gardens, the Times reported. They will then take part in a 'hands on course' which features operations on '14 live cases'."

Be a virginspotter! Send us stories for our weekly round up here, or tweet at us with our @virginitymovie handle. 

A Big Balloon Arch Full of Hymen Myths, All Popped.

We couldn't have said it better–or funnier–ourselves. 

Will we See you at our Chicago Premiere on Nov. 2nd?

How To Lose Your Virginity is coming to Chicago for one entertaining, eye-opening, and thought-provoking screening. Join me for a post-film Q&A moderated by Veronica Arreola, followed by a gathering nearby.

Here's the important part: We have to sell 10 more tickets in the next week for the event to happen. Why not reserve your tickets today

The Chicago Reader just did a great story about the film and screening. Here's what other reviews have to say: "The crowd was laughing and gasping throughout the movie" and “Tackles one of the last taboos in our culture’s discussion of sex – the deliberate decision not to participate in it.”

Sound good? It's going to be a great night for parents, teens, activists, educators and all our friends–and there's sure to be great conversation (there always is).

A big thank you to our partners:
Chicago Alliance Against Sexual Exploitation
Chicago Foundation for Women

Watch the trailer and get more info about the film:

What has launched both purity balls and porn franchises, defines a young woman’s morality–but has no medical definition? Enter the magical world of virginity, where a white wedding dress can restore a woman’s innocence and replacement hymens can be purchased online. But, what if all we had to lose were our virginity myths? Using her own path out of virginity, filmmaker Therese Shechter explores why our sex-crazed society cherishes this so-called precious gift. Along the way, we meet sex educators, virginity auctioneers, abstinence advocates, and young men and women who bare their tales of doing it—or not doing it. HOW TO LOSE YOUR VIRGINITY uncovers the myths and misogyny surrounding a rite of passage that many obsesses about–but few truly understand.

See you there!

Only 4 more days to make 'Second Puberty' a reality. Support Trans Health and Trans Stories in the Media.

*|MC:SUBJECT|*

As some of you may know, I'm involved with the team making "Second Puberty," a humorous, informative, and unique sex ed film for trans people going through Hormone Replacement Therapy. 

We only have 5 days left to raise almost $6,000 on Kickstarer to make Second Puberty a reality. Here's why the project is so important: Telling positive, celebratory stories about trans lives, and making trans people themselves an essential part of the telling of those stories, is essential. Please share it with your networks, and back the film if you can.

I'll let the project's producer Lux Alptraum take it from here:

"This past Sunday, Jeffrey Tambor – a cisgender man – won an Emmy for his portrayal of a trans woman on "Transparent." I have no issue with Tambor or his award (save for the way they're emblematic of the way trans performers are shunted aside to make way for cis performers to tell their stories), but I do think it's worth noting that, barely a day after Tambor's win, actual trans woman and media professional Shadi Petosky was harassed by the TSA for having a body that didn't conform to cisgender norms.

I think it's great that America is celebrating trans narratives with shows like "Transparent" and "I Am Cait," I think it's great that "Transparent" is now hiring more trans and gender non-conforming people to work on the show, both behind and in front of the camera. But I think it's *very* clear that we still have a long, long ways to go. And I think that telling positive, celebratory stories about trans lives, and making trans people themselves an essential part of the telling of those stories, is an essential first step. I have hyped the "Second Puberty" Kickstarter a bunch, but with 5 days to go – and over $6K still to raise – I want to remind you all why this project is so important. 

There are very few film projects out there that are not only *willing* to hire trans people, but in fact *prioritize* trans people. 

In the course of this project, I've met a number of trans people who are excited and thrilled by this project and the opportunity it represents – but in order to for me to be able to hire them, this Kickstarter needs to reach its minimum funding goal. Please take a stand for trans people in the media – and celebratory, essential, and (most importantly!) funny stories about trans health – by supporting this Kickstarter.
– Lux
Take me to Kickstarter for more information

"How To Lose Your Virginity" Is Now Streaming On Demand In The US & Canada + More Breaking News From Trixie Films

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You can now stream "How To Lose Your Virginity" in the US, Canada and beyond

Want to watch the film tonight? Now you can stream the film on your computer or other device with the magic of the internet. Let us know where you're watching from and we'll take you to the right Video On Demand page.
 
US & Canada
International
Psst: You can also stream I Was A Teenage Feminist (outside the US & Canada) and How I Learned to Speak Turkish (everywhere!).
Please respect our copyright. Streaming is licensed for personal home viewing with family and friends only. You need a different license to screen, loan or broadcast for educational or commercial purposes. Find resources for educators here. Or use this form and we'll help you get exactly what you need.
Get a first look at our new and improved "V-Card Diaries" project

The V-Card Diaries is our popular crowd-sourced interactive story-sharing site where anyone can anonymously access and share stories about becoming sexual. Working with fabulous developer Roopa Vasudevan, we've updated it, making it easier to use and easier to search. We have almost 400 stories (and counting) on the site. Please check it out and add your own!

We're so proud of The V-Card Diaries, which was on exhibit at The Kinsey Institute, and has been used as ethnographic data in college Human Sexuality courses. 

New Project: "Second Puberty," a Sex Ed film about HRT for the Trans Community

I'm very excited to announce that I'll be directing the film Second Puberty, an important and unique project that can really use your support for its Kickstarter campaign.

Created by producer Lux Alptraum, Second Puberty will be an informative, hilarious and accessible health education resource for trans people and their families. Inspired by the awkward (yet instructive) sex ed films we were subjected to in Junior High, it's geared specifically to people in the trans community going through the changes of Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT).

This project will also be creating media jobs for trans people. It will have an all-trans cast and as many trans people as possible behind the scenes. Second Puberty will be distributed for free, so we need to raise all the production money through fundraising.

Join us for the Chicago Premiere of "How To Lose Your Virginity" on Nov 2nd (woo!)

We can't wait to premiere the film in Chicago, which was my hometown for almost 10 years. It's Monday November 2nd at 7:30 at the AMC River East, just off Michigan Avenue.

As with our West Coast screenings, we'll need to sell enough advance tickets for the screening to happen. Please click here to be notified as soon as tickets are available Sept 29th–and then buy them! And please share with your Chicagoland pals.

Are you with a Chicago organizations that wants to spark healthy conversations around sexuality and relationships? We'd love to make you a part of this event. Contact us for more info.


In addition to the screening, I'm honored to be a part of the American Public Health Association Conference as a panelist for "Let's Talk about Sex. Shame. Power. Violence."  
 
Upcoming Events Digest:
 

Tuesday, October 27, New York, Anthology Film Archive
Vinnie: I Break For Cycles screening
I'm doing a Q&A following the screening hosted by New York Women In Film and Television
Get notified when tickets are available 

Monday, November 2, Chicago
How To Lose Your Virginity Chicago Premiere
I'm doing a Q&A following the screening (with special guests)

Get notified when tickets are available 

Tuesday, November 3, Chicago
American Public Health Association Annual Conference
I will be on the Panel "Let's talk about Sex. Shame. Power. Violence" Plus: How To Lose Your Virginity screening (excerpts) 

Sunday, November 8, New York
BinderCon 2015 
I'm presenting the Workshop "Interactive Storytelling: A non-techie's introduction to immersing and engaging your online audiences"

Want to invite me to your event? There's more info here.
Are you an educator? We have free resources for you.

Thanks for all your support!
–Therese & Team Trixie Films

Just The Tip: Your Lady Viagra Roundup

1950s advertisement for a Belgian cigarette. Also, I think a much better name for this new drug.

Have you heard about this thing they're calling the Female Viagra? Yeah, me too. The drug Flibanserin (sold as Addyi) was just approved by the FDA to treat women for the somewhat sketchy 'disease' of hypoactive sexual desire disorder, described as a sudden loss of libido [Edited to add that loss of libido is a very real thing that can happen to both men and women. However, this condition was removed from the DSM a few years ago and is not longer considered a disorder. Homosexuality used to be in the DSM as well.] 

There's been a lot of back and forth about its effectiveness (minimal), the way it works (nothing like Viagra which pumps penises full of blood, as opposed to working on the brain), and the PR campaign that got it approved after multiple attempts (killer, unfortunately). 

I've been skeptical of this drug ever since I first heard about it from the The New View Campaign and the documentary Orgasm, Inc, both of which address the medicalization of female sexuality. Here are some reasons why you might be skeptical as well. 

We live in a society that continues to judge a woman both for being too sexual and not sexual enough, that defines good sex as whatever pleases a woman's male partner, and only counts vaginal orgasms through intercourse as 'real' orgasms (thanks, Dr. Freud). Also, sex is complicated and talking about it can be difficult, so taking a little pill every day may feel a lot less messy.

There's been a lot written this week, so I've compiled some of the most interesting writing about this Lady Viagra phenomenon, as well some thoughts on women and desire. Let me know what you think!
 

First, me! Sady Doyle's Guardian article gave me the last word on the meaning of 'normal' when we talk about sex:

“When it comes to sex, there is no ‘normal. There’s no right way to have sex for the first time, no timetable for sexual experiences, no perfect amount of sex to have, and no requirement to even have sex at all. Saying ‘normal’ exists, and ‘normal’ is a moving target depending on who you ask, means there’s something wrong with anyone who doesn’t conform. Meaning, all of us.” 
 

Speaking of 'normal,' FiveThirtyEight suggests that accurate statistics might help more than drugs:

"Inaccurate perceptions about what counts as normal sexuality are widespread. In sociologist Michael Kimmel’s book “Guyland: The Perilous World in Which Boys Become Men,” he found that male college students assumed about 80 percent of their classmates had sex on any given weekend. The real number was closer to 5 percent to 10 percent. The result is a reverse Lake Wobegon effect: Everyone is below “normal.” Rachel Hills, author of “The Sex Myth: The Gap Between Our Fantasies and Reality,” told me that the women she interviewed “have internalized that sex should happen two to three times a week.” In reality, according to the 2010 National Survey of Sexual Health and Behavior, less than half of men and women 18 to 49 in partnered relationships report having sex at least that often."
 

Emily Nagoski writes in The Medium about the brilliant concept of responsive desire and why pleasure (and not craving) should be Queen:

"The key to assessing your own sexual wellbeing is not how much you want sex, but how much you like the sex you are having. I’m not sure how we got to a place, culturally, where we came to value the craving for sex so much higher than the enjoyment of sex  [...] But for me what matters most is that you feel free to let go of the idea that there is a certain amount of “wanting” you’re supposed to be experiencing or else you’re “broken,” and embrace instead the idea that if you’re having fun a the party, you are doing it right."
 

Here's Azeen Ghorayshi at Buzzfeed on how Even The Score's PR machine co-opted feminist messages to get the drug approved:

"With this multipronged attack, the group has managed to spin the issue of the drug’s approval not in terms of efficacy or side effects (which are not insignificant), but in terms of women’s rights. The group’s strongest assertion, that men have 26 drugs approved to treat sexual dysfunction while women had none, presented a stirring call to arms to “even the score. Trouble is, that figure is patently untrue. As the FDA and many experts on the pharmaceutical industry have pointed out, no drugs are currently on the market to treat low libido in men. (Viagra doesn’t treat sexual desire, but rather a man’s physiological arousal.)"
 

Lux Alptraum writes in The Motherboard about the Big Business of arousal, and the ways that new products promote secrecy over communication.

"Which is, ultimately, the bitter irony of both flibanserin and Fiera. The products may package themselves in feminist language about empowerment and sexual pleasure, but their business models seem to rely on sexual ignorance, stigma, and a population of women too afraid to actually explore the wealth of other options that might remedy their woes. Those options come at a much cheaper price point than the Fiera, and with far fewer side effects than flibanserin."


And finally, it looks like whether the drug works or not, the original owners of Sprout Pharmaceuticals are getting the last laugh (and a cool $1 billion).

Films We Can't Wait To See: The Diary of a Teenage Girl

I've been waiting for The Diary of a Teenage Girl to open in New York since I first heard about it at the Sundance Film Festival. The film, directed by Marielle Heller, is about 15-year-old Minnie, who has sex for the first time with her mother's age-inappropriate boyfriend. It's based on Phoebe Gloeckner's graphic novel, "The Diary of a Teenage Girl: An Account in Words and Pictures."  

I can't wait to see it for so many reasons, including that I saw the film's star Bel Powley on stage in Tom Stoppard's Arcadia* back in 2011 and she was fabulous. But mostly because I think it's going to be such a great film about teenage girls and sexuality. Minnie's opening lines set the tone: "I had sex today. Holy shit." 

Women & Hollywood just wrote about that line a story about 6 lines from the film that every teenage girl needs to hear. Here's what Powley had to say about it:

Powley said at a Q&A panel following a screening of "Diary" that this is part of what drew her to the character. "I just felt like I related to Minnie on so many levels, and I just thought it was so special because it was opening up a conversation about female sexuality amongst teenage girls...I think it's such a taboo subject to discuss young girls or teenage girls feeling horny. We see our virginity as something that is really precious and that we lose or we give it away and then it's kind of over and then it's not okay to have sex with the wrong people or have sex with loads of people; it makes you feel like you're a freak or a you're bit weird if you have those feelings." 

Some of Minnie's other lines include "I just want to be touched. I don't know what's wrong with me," and "I didn't know if I wanted him or anyone else to fuck me, but I didn't want to pass up the chance." This is the real deal: I've read these very lines so many times in the stories submitted to our online project The V-Card Diaries.

Not suprisingly, the film has generated as much controversy and praise, and I'll write more about the film after I've seen it. I'll also be talking about it in my Downton Gabby Off-Season podcast which you can catch up with here.

Have you seen the film yet? What do you think? 

*You can see a clip of Bel Powley in Arcadia here, starting at 00:34.