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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.


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


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
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.

John Oliver is Awesome, Part 2: In which a whole bunch of great comedians do a Sex Ed PSA and it is the best thing ever.

This is the last part of John Oliver's Sex Ed segment, just the PSA starring Nick Offerman, Laverne Cox, Jack McBrayer, Megan Mullally, Kristen Schaal, Kumail Nanjiani, and Aisha Tyler. I am such a happy girl today.

Do not miss John Oliver brilliantly taking on the sad state of sex education in America.

How many ways can I thank John Oliver for this Last Week Tonight segment on the pathetic state of sex education in the US? I watched saying "Yes" over and over again–when I wasn't screaming in frustration or laughing my ass off. Every second is worth watching. It is so smart (and funny) (and horrifying).

If you want to see some awesome comedians in their own Sex Ed video, jump to around 17:49-ish.

And as a bonus, here's the full menstruation video John Oliver talks about. See if you can guess who's playing the young man. 

'Everyone is having sex but you' and other myths busted: Coffee with 'The Sex Myth' author Rachel Hills

I've been a fan of Rachel Hills' work for a long time so I'm thrilled that her book The Sex Myth is now out. It's loaded with things I love: first-person stories from a diverse group of people, sexual myth-busting, and pop culture analysis. I recently had a virtual coffee with Rachel to talk about the book, and how the messages we get about sexuality often have little to do with the actual sex we're having (or not having). Here's our conversation:

Therese Shechter: First of all, congratulations! I love that you initially thought it would take you 6 months to finish, and here you are, what, 7 years later?

Rachel Hills: Thank you! And yes, it's crazy, isn't it? I never anticipated it would take me this long to do, but I wrote a (very long) blog post about the process for a friend's blog over the weekend, and when I lay it all out step by step, it all makes sense. I imagine that's something you can relate to, with How To Lose Your Virginity.

TS: As someone who just spent 6 years making a documentary, I totally understand. One thing I appreciated about how long it took for me was that it gave me time to really think through what the film should be about and how to approach it. I really learned from my subjects, and from the audience we were growing while we were in production. Did your understanding of your subject change as you worked on it?

RH I agree with this completely. I feel like if you're going to take on a complicated subject matter–and the social expectations around sexuality are certainly complex–you need to take the time to understand your subject deeply. And that means sitting with it, learning from people, reworking your ideas until they make sense. Even if you would have liked it to happen more quickly! I think in my case, the initial vision I had for the book was pretty similar to the final product. But in the earliest stages it was just a sketch–a kind of gut feeling that I hadn't yet found the right words to explain to anyone else. The process of making the book was really the process of trying to find the words to explain what I was thinking.

TS: I should give full disclosure and mention that you were one of the first people to write about How To Lose Your Virginity back in 2010 and you've been very supportive all along. One reason for that, I think, is that we're both on this noble quest to undo a lot of mythology around sexuality. 

RH: Absolutely.

TS: And part of that is how our sexual history defines us, from when we start to become sexual through the rest of our lives.

RH: And as I've told you, when I first watched the film, my husband overheard some of the audio on my laptop and commented that it was the closest thing he'd ever heard to my book.

TS: Having read your book, I'm very flattered. So let's talk about myths...

RH: Sure!

TS: "Everyone is having sex but me" 

RH: That is certainly the myth–and my realization that it was a myth–that started me on the journey of writing the book.

TS: And in fact a lot of young people aren't having sex. You talk about the fact that not taking a stranger home after a party is far more common than picking someone up.  And the number of high school students who aren't sexual. Which sort of leads into a feeling that you don't want to ask any questions about sex because you assume everyone knows more about sex than you do. Because you'll be socially shamed if you show any ignorance.

RH: Exactly. We're sold this idea that sex is omnipresent: That it's like this all-you-can-eat buffet that everyone is dining at at their leisure. It's a message you see in newspaper articles about "out of control" youth, in magazine stories where the readers share their most embarrassing sex experiences, and even in the banter you share between friends. We're told that to be having sex is the norm, and not to be having it–whether you're a virgin, a single person going through a dry spell, or a couple whose libido has declined recently–is strange. But most people's lives involve periods of time when we're not having sex–even quite extensive periods of time, in many people's cases.

TS: I feel like millions of cases of Axe Body Spray have been sold on that one myth.

RH: Or that Axe is the key to getting access to that sexual perma-party everyone is having but you, at least.

TS: That message goes both ways, though, right? Your personal worth depends on you dining at that same buffet. Or, depending on who you're talking to, that buffet will give you deadly food poisoning so stay away. Sorry, this metaphor is running away from me...

RH: Ha! I like that metaphor. I remember one of the guys I spoke to talking about that. Not Axe specifically, but the assumption he had growing up that being an adult would mean having unlimited access to sex with other hot guys. And when that didn't happen for him–and in his case, he was sexually active, he just wasn't having *unlimited* sex–his first assumption was that it was because he wasn't good looking enough. Even though he later realized that it was just that NO ONE's sex life really looks like that.

And yes, that dichotomy you refer to is kind of that root of my argument in The Sex Myth in some ways. That our culture that talks about how sex is dirty and dangerous and our culture that talks about how fantastic it is and how it will make you happy and whole aren't actually opposites; they are one and the same. At the root of both is this idea that sex is an incredibly powerful force that defines us; which can make us attractive and interesting and grown up, but which can also destroy us. 

TS: And no one calls it out at the risk of being labeled not normal?

RH: Well, I think that we have a pretty healthy critical discourse around sex in a lot of ways. Feminism, in particular, has been great at articulating what's wrong with the idea that sex is dangerous, or that good women shouldn't be sexual. And queer theorists and activists have been great at critiquing the marginalization of LGBT people. But one of the questions that drove me was, well, what if we interrogated heterosexuality in the same way that we've interrogated the gay and lesbian experience? And what if the way we experience sex was political in ways that go beyond gender?

TS: For example?

RH: I think that sex is one of the most social interactions we have. (Or, as discussed above, don't have.) It's not just a gut animal instinct that we do or don't engage in. Everything we do when it comes to sex is shaped by social rules and expectations, right down to what we consider sex to be. For example, why is it PIV [penis-in-vagina] intercourse that most people count when they talk about when they "lost their virginity?" Obviously, PIV intercourse can have some pretty real physical ramification, but why is it that act over all others that we talk about when it comes to the question of when we started being sexual? And when I talk about sex being political, I guess what I mean is that the ways in which we expect to be sexual, and the standards by which we evaluate our own sexual histories, don't just come from within. So it's worthwhile to me to examine what those standards are, and where they come from. 

TS: My theory is men invented all of our laws, religions and political structures–and they got to define what sex was as well. Namely whatever their penis wanted. So....intercourse. If women had invented our definitions of sex, what would it look like?

RH: That may be true, but I also think that the risk of pregnancy is a big part of it. And I think that desire to control parentage and reproduction is central to our ongoing paranoia about sex, even if it's not as relevant to the world we live in today as the one we lived in several hundred years ago. Or you know, 100 years ago. And not just if women got to define sex, either. What if queer people got to define sex?

TS: I really like talking to queer-identified people about virginity because they don't use the PIV model at all. Their ideas about becoming sexual are more nuanced. 

RH: I remember many years ago, when I was working on a women's magazine article on older virgins, one of my queer friends told me he thought of himself as having had multiple virginities. I really liked that, and it certainly resonated with my experiences of becoming sexual more than the idea of this One Defining Moment That Would Change Everything Forever.

TS: The one moment that the magical penis enters the vagina for the first time and EVERYTHING CHANGES

RH: Which is bullshit. As I write in the final chapter of the book, I was sexual before "I had sex" and I wasn't a suddenly experienced person immediately after.

TS: My own life's work seems to be to get people to think of becoming sexual as a long process. Not a magical moment. And you can pick whatever you want as your first important milestone. 

RH: And to turn the tables on you for a moment, I'm interested to know why that shift is so important to you.

TS: My first time having PIV sex was so underwhelming physically and emotionally, but it was definitely important socially. Now I was no longer 'a virgin.' But it was later that I had my first actual orgasm with a sexual partner. That was such a bigger deal for me. I remember it viscerally, who I was with, where it was, what color that carpet was... 

RH: I think it was a bigger deal for me, as well. Although in my case, that came before I "lost my virginity."

TS: I was thinking of your interviews with Evan and Greta and that dividing line that doesn't really exist. 

RH: Yes, I loved those quotes, especially Greta's. "When it happened, I was just like 'oh, it feels like there is something in my vagina.'"

TS: Interestingly, when I've talked to women about it for The Experience Engine, an online project I'm working on, a big milestone was being with a partner and feeling comfortable with your body for the first time.

RH: That makes sense.

TS: Another myth you talk about is that idea that men are unable to control their desires and it's a woman's job to manage that. (Men are the gas and women are the brakes, as one radio interviewer quoted to me in all seriousness.) I was really struck by the guy you spoke to who was relieved that his girlfriend wanted to take things slow. And the study of men who preferred relationships to hookups.  

RH: Yes. Which is not to say that there's anything wrong with having hookups, but I do think that our perceptions of men's sexuality can be really destructive. Men are assumed to be constantly up for sex, and conventional masculinity doesn’t really give them room not to be.

TS: So, who manufactures 'the sex myth?' I go back to the idea that we don't exist in a vacuum. So we're getting our cues from somewhere. Is it advertising? Religion? I liked the analogy with so-called female sexual dysfunction as a way of selling drugs for a malady that doesn't actually exist. 

RH: I tend not to believe in top-down ways of looking at power–ie, it's all religion, or it's all porn, or it's all women's magazines. I mean, all of these things are part of it. But I don't think any of them are solely to blame. I think it's about the repetition of the same ideas over and over until they're normalized, and then them being repeated over and over again some more because we've all accepted them to be true. I mean, most of these ideas are buried pretty deeply in our culture. So their earliest origins might be religion and patriarchy - and pregnancy, as I mentioned above. And today, they definitely appear frequently in movie and TV scripts, in advertising, and in lifestyle journalism.

TS: You write about the 'liberal' and 'conservative' ways of understanding and talking about sexuality (or the giant buffet). So the ideas are coming at us from different points of view.

RH: But what's most interesting to me is the way they crop up in our own conversations. In the stories we tell about our own sex lives, and the way we unconsciously manipulate our own stories to fit what we think is the ideal.

TS: What we leave out, what we embellish. 

RH: Yes, exactly. On the conservative side, we're being told that sex is sacred, that it must be cherished and protected, and that if we do sex in the wrong way, all hell will rain down on us. (Sometimes literally.) On the "progressive" side–or what we often think of being progressive, because I would argue it's not really–we're told to figuratively screw the people who told us that sex is bad, because sex is great. Sex is the key to our liberation! It's what all the cool kids are doing. And I think that in different ways, I was pretty screwed up by both of those ideas.

TS: How did that happen?

RH: I think that part of the reason I put off having "sex" was because I had internalized the idea that it was something that needed to be "saved." Not for God, or for marriage, but for the "right person"–which may have been true for me emotionally, but which also, let's face it, is a pretty strong feminine ideal. But I also felt pretty bad about waiting, because I felt like the lack of opportunities that I wanted to take up–and if I'd had the right opportunity I would have taken it–meant that I was hideous or secretly socially incompetent. Standard virgin anxiety. And I also resented the idea that if only I was more "liberated" I would have been having a lot more sex. Liberation means being able to make a free choice, not subscribing to a particular set of choices that work fine for some people, but don't work for everyone.

TS: I so relate to all of that! I laughed out loud reading about your own memories of keeping quiet when sexual banter turned to specifics so no one would know you had little sexual experience. As someone who didn't have sex until I was 23, I did the same thing right through college. I worked part time in a pharmacy and knew EVERYTHING about birth control pills, so I gave out a lot of learned advice on that.

RH: Exactly. And because I write about sex, I think a lot of people assume I'm more sexually experienced (or at least have had more partners) than I am even now. Or at least until the book comes out, anyway!

TS: What finally got to me was graduating from art school. I thought that any self-respecting artist should be having an interesting sexual life. That's what tipped me into 'getting it over with' mode. And I'm glad it did. But everyone's mileage may vary, as they say. 

RH: That's a pretty toxic stereotype all of its own, though isn't it ? That a self-respecting artist should have an exciting sex life. (Totally feel you, though.)

TS: I’m getting a t-shirt that says #vanilla on it. Want one?

RH: I'm making badges that say Fuck Prude-Shaming. And also badges that say Fuck Slut-Shaming. But the first badge really appeals to my sense of humor, because it's so incongruous.

TS: That's excellent. I wish I had thought of it! One last thing: I love the updates with some of your subjects, which really show how nuanced and changeable our sexual lives really are. (spoilers) Like Henry, who went from frustrated self-described virgin to the king of the BDSM Japanese bondage scene. Or Monica, who the book is dedicated to, who went from celibate to romantically (and exotically) coupled to celibate again. That's so important to understand, how our sexual experiences change over our lifetimes. We should be playing the long game.

RH: Exactly. And I think it flies in the face of the idea that our sexual histories are some deep-seated reflection of who we really are: of how attractive we are, how liberal we are, or of how valued we are by other people. So much of our sexual experiences are shaped by circumstance. If I'd met someone great when I was 17, I probably would have had sex then. But I didn't.

TS: Let's wrap up with that great quote in your book about getting laid being about opportunity and not attractiveness.

RH: It's from Jezebel. "Getting laid is mostly a matter of luck, opportunity and sex drive, not desirability." I think it's really well said. And quotes like that are one of the reasons I love the internet. It's such a great hive mind.

TS: Thanks for taking the time to chat, Rachel! 

RH: Thank you for the chat.

You can purchase the Sex Myth at the following outlets: 
North America: AmazonAppleBarnes and NobleBooks-a-Million, or Indiebound (for your local independent bookstore).  Australia /New Zealand: ReadingsBooktopia or Bookworld.  UK: Amazon or Book Depository.


Ask Trixie: As a chubby girl, what technique and tips can I get for riding on top?

As a chubby girl, what technique and tips can I get for riding on top?  – locandload 

Hi locandload!

I think that’s a great question, especially because there’s not enough conversation about chubby (large, fat, of size, however you want to describe it) girls and awesome sex. Being a chubby girl myself, it’s only recently that I’ve found so many smart, badass people spreading information and love on this topic.

So first of all, it’s important to get some mythology out of the way about any issues you may have heard (I sure did) about chubby people being on top. Quoting the fabulous Hanne Blank, in her book Big Big Love“No, you aren’t going to crush, smother suffocate, smash or otherwise injure anyone you have sex with if you get on top. I’ve been answering this question for over a decade. Yes, you can get on top.”

Let me add that once you are on top, don’t worry about what you look like. You’re having sex with someone–and they are probably extremely happy about it. I will quote Amy Schumer on what she thinks about when she gets naked for her partner, even on her chubbier days: “You’re welcome”

Many people with vaginas prefer being on top because it allows them to set the pace during intercourse. And if it’s your very first time doing that, having as much control over your body as possible is really, really important.

Here are some more tips from Big Big Love (which, frankly apply to people of any size):

  • Take your time to adjust yourself so you and your partner are comfortable before inserting anything anywhere.
  • Use a wall or chair to steady yourself and get extra leverage (which your partner can help with since they are firmly planted)
  • Watch out for elbows and knees, and also leaning on your hand when it’s resting on your partner’s soft parts.
  • If you need to get off of your partner in a hurry, just roll off to one side.
  • If you’re not enjoying it, try something else, and if you are enjoying, have a great time!

You also might want to put a pillow under your partner’s behind to elevate them a bit. Also, make sure there’s something soft for your knees to rest on. 

  • Add to that some general first-time intercourse tips:
  • Make sure you’re relaxed and very lubricated
  • Set your own pace and control how deeply you’re being penetrated so it feels OK
  • Communicate with your partner about what you like or don’t like
  • Stop if something hurts or if there’s something you don’t want to do.

For more, check out a whole collection of articles on having sex while chubby at, and some more love and info from xoJane.

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

Ask Trixie: My future husband is a 40-year-old virgin and I'm worried he won't have a high-enough sex drive

I'm a divorced 37-yr-old woman dating a 40-yr-old virgin man. I am the first woman he has kissed, the first real relationship he has had. He's a little shy, but incredibly kind and treats me better than any man I've ever dated. We both attend a "wait until marriage" church, so my only sexual experience is with my ex-husband. My problem in that marriage was our desire levels did not match. I wanted far more than he did. My concern in dating a 40-yr-old virgin is that if we marry and become intimate, I will have the same problem I did before. Is it possible for a man to stay a virgin so long and still have a high sex drive?? Or am I dooming myself to the same fate I had before if I stay with him??

First of all, it's awesome that you've found such an amazing guy. And I also think it's great to hear that your boyfriend has found a woman who obviously has such strong feelings for him (we get so many comments from older virgin guys who can't imagine any woman being interested in someone with little to no sexual experience). 

Having said that, your question raises questions for me. Like, what does a "wait until marriage" church ask you to wait for? Intercourse? Any kind of intimate activity? Because you don't have to be putting penises into vaginas to have some pretty intense sex (and get a good feel for how often each partner wants said intensity). 

The most important question is: Have you asked your fiance about his sex drive? Because many 'older' guys who have never had partnered sex do have strong libidos. Does your fiancee masturbate? Does he have sexual fantasies? Does the very sight of you make him horny, even if he knows he can't act on it just yet?

Aside from that, though, having un-equal libidos is not that unusual in long-term relationships. And those libidos can fluctuate and change over time as well (after all, there's no normal, only what works for each relationship) I'm reminded of a post on Em & Lo asking how men feel when a woman has a stronger libido than her male partner. The men's answers were fair to lame, in my opinion, but here is one good comment that all their other readers especially liked. This is an excerpt:

I am married and I think it is safe to say my sex drive is much higher than my husbands. Our sex life is great, the two of us have a very open communication of what feels good and what feels great. However we both also know when the other is too tired for sex. More than not its me knowing when my other needs a break. Having sex is not a chore my husband has to check off his list, but an experience we both enjoy, a lot.

I must tell the truth he looks forward to that week of cramps and menstruation because sex is the furthest thing from my mind and he gets a “break” but sure enough after only four days he’s still pawing at me. Sure there are at times a feeling for him to preform, but it comes with the awareness of his current needs and my libido. It would be outrageous to think that every time I wanted sex I would get it, much like it is outrageous to think that every time a man wants sex the woman *must* put out. And I think that outrageous statement is what is behind these “advice answers.”

There needs to be room in a relationship for a woman to say, “No” just as much as there needs to be room in a relationship for a man to say, “I’m too tired.” And in my relationship there’s plenty of room for that, along with acceptance, commitment, and consent.

I'd also strongly recommend reading Scarleteen's Getting Married When We (May) Want Different Things From Sex. In this case it's the female partner who hasn't had sex and frankly isn't all that interested, but it gives a lot to think about in terms of how to negotiate the problems that situation might bring.

What do you the rest of you think? Can couples negotiate a big gap in libido? Does it make sense to ask mature adults to wait until marriage to become sexually intimate? Let us know what you think! Got a question about virginity, sex, relationships, feminism or filmmaking?  Ask Trixie here.

Ask Trixie: "I'm terrified to have sex because I suck at everything"

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I'm a virgin. Which kinda sucks [to me]. It's not that i don't like being a virgin, I'm just fucking terrified to have sex. That and I've never had a boyfriend. I'm bit old fashioned. I'd like to make sure I know the person before I let them stick anything inside me, you know?? Any tips? because i suck at everything. Please and thanks. – Anonymous

Hi Anonymous - After reading your letter, I'm pretty sure you don’t suck at everything! You’ve been giving this decision to have sex a whole lot of thought. And the first and most important part of becoming sexual is to know your own body, what you want and don’t want, and how you’re going to make yourself happy. 

So, it sounds like you kind of know what to do: Take your time and find someone you trust, you can talk to, and you feel comfortable with. 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. Definitely try 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 is more fun than intercourse, anyway.)

Another reason to take things slow and find someone you can talk to is the fear that penetration 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.

So take a deep breath and relax. I think you’re totally on the right track!

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

V-Card Diaries: Susie-Q "As a president of a sorority I hide away the fact that I haven't yet had sex"

A little about myself:

I'm a 21, female, from the Pacific Northwest in the United States. I am the president of a national sorority and have never had sex.

How I define virginity:

No penetration of the sex organs.

Here's my story:

I've never been on a real date and have never kissed a boy while sober. I feel the need to have sex with someone before I leave college in order to be able to have real relationships with men without wondering about that first time. I feel the need to get it over with but I want a close relationship with him and not just a random hookup. But never being romantically involved with someone makes me SO scared that I am out of control of this situation.

As a president of a sorority I hear the stories of so many that have had sex, and I really hide the fact away that I haven't because it seems like something I should be ashamed of.

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

Ask Trixie: How can I pretend that it will be her first time with me?

I been seeing this girl for 5mos now, we're very open to each other. She's not a virgin but she only had sex with one guy and it was 8.5 mos ago. I am, and we plan on having sex soon, in 3mos. She never came with the first guy and she wasn't in love with him like she is with me. We both agreed that her first doesn't count because she wasn't in love and it was a stupid choice in the first place, and pretend that it'll be her first time with me. But it's really hard to pretend. Any advice? – Anonymous

Hi Anonymous – I get that there's a certain romance in being each other's 'first' but I'm feeling like you're also judging her. Why are you hung up on what she did before she met you? Do you think the fact that she had sex with someone else changed her in some way that makes her a less worthy partner for you? Have you done anything in your past you wish you hadn’t? 

Maybe you two can think about that first experience she had as a trial to see what she liked and didn't, and that experience will make sex between the two of you all that much better. Knowing what doesn't work for you can be as important as knowing what does.

You’ve got long lives ahead of you with lots of sexual experiences and (possibly) other partners. Yes, the first time can be special and important, but it's more important that the two of you have a great relationship. So, stop pretending, get over what’s in either of your pasts, and focus on the present. You love each other, which is awesome. You’re attracted to each other, which is also awesome. Enjoy being with each other and the pleasure that will bring you both.

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

Meet Bree and Sally, our 2015 Trixie Films summer interns!

Bree and Sally just started their summer internships here at Trixie Films and they're already busy researching some juicy outreach and activism projects we've got cooking for "How to Lose Your Virginity". They'll also be running our Tumblr and (hopefully) contributing to this blog. I'm super excited to have them both at Trixie Films, so please help me give them a warm welcome.


Howdy, I'm Bree. Most nights after 12 I'm scribbling self-indulgent essays. My favorite fruit is grapefruit, and I delight in anything magical realism-related. 

Since I began reading The V-Card Diaries, Trixie Films has been my dream internship. As an endlessly quirky and queer womanist human *bean, I strive for greater understanding of people who are underrepresented and how to liberate them. Working at Trixie is a cartwheel in the right direction, and I cannot wait to see what the summer has in store!


Hi! I’m Sally and I am a passionate advocate for gender equality and social justice. During my free time, I volunteer and intern at an organization that helps domestic violence victims and their children. 

I am proud to be a feminist because feminism gives me a voice. It empowers me. It allows me to be who I want to be, without any justification or apologies. Feminism means different things to all of us and can be very personal, which is what makes it all the more beautiful. I can go on and on about why I need feminism, but I’d like for you to ask yourself, 'why do I need feminism?' #ineedfeminismbecause

V-Card Diaries: Aura "My Indian mother thinks pre-marital sex should be made compulsory"

A little about myself:

I am a 20-year-old Indian girl, currently attending University in the north of England.

How I define virginity:

For me, a person loses his/her virginity when he/she has sex for the first time. What one considers as one's first, proper first time depends on him/her, and only he/she has the right to decide what it means to him/her and when he/she will lose it. I consider the day I had penetrative vaginal sex with a man for the first time as the day I lost mine.

People tend to think of Indians as quite narrow-minded and backward. What they do not understand is that it is a big country and there are many different kinds of people and cultures in it. In some areas, virginity is a huge deal, so much so that people actually use the blood stained sheet used on the wedding night to prove to neighbours the virtues of their wives or daughters. In some areas, nobody really talks about it - because it is very personal, but girls are expected to be virgins until they get married. In most areas, nobody cares, and it is a girl's personal choice - unless of course she is married and cheating on her husband/wife. The region where I am from (Bengal) falls largely into the last category. Nobody talks about your sexuality, since its private, personal and well... just very weird for family members to discuss your sex life over coffee

But my mom is my best friend, and I talk to her about everything. In my teens, I asked her for her opinion on pre-marital sex, and I was quite shocked when she told me she thought it should be made compulsory before a wedding, to make sure two people are sexually compatible! Furthermore, she said that men are like clothes. When you walk into a store, you like a few, try some on, and then look at other factors such as prices, colours, and if you are actually going to be wearing them. Similarly, you like men, date some of them, sleep with some, and then decide based on everything which one of them (if any) is right for you. Of course, she said unlike clothes, you only buy (marry) one at a time, and if you have major problems, you return (divorce) him and pick another one. I am so happy my father was perfect for her and she didn't need to 'return' him.

Here's my story:

Such a happy day it was - to finally get rid of the thing that made all men patronise me and see me as some sort of a prize. I hated the fact that my 'first' man would feel a sick chauvinistic kind of triumph, and I didn't want any man to have that pleasure, that satisfaction of knowing that he had somehow 'taken' my virginity, innocence, and what not. So, when I met a man who was extremely good looking and sexy, and also seemed like a nice, sensible person, I went home with him (to London), had sex with him, took the train back home the next morning, and was finally relieved of that sexist burden. The best part is, he doesn't know my full name, or where I live, and I will probably never see him again. Problem solved–lost virginity, but didn't give any subsequent boyfriend the satisfaction of being my first.

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

Ask Trixie: "I'm scared to lose my virginity because I'm scared I will get pregnant."

I'm scared to lose my virginity because I'm scared I will get pregnant the first time I ever do it because that's the kind of luck I have – Anonymous

Dear Anonymous – I’m really glad you asked this question. Sex can be amazing, but being ready for any kind of sex is more than just making physical and emotional connections. It also means you and your partner are taking responsibility for using the right contraception and STI prevention–which I know can sometimes be confusing and awkward.

I have TOTALLY been there myself, and I’m really ashamed to say that the first time I had intercourse I used no birth control at all. So stupid and scary, and I was very lucky to not get pregnant or get an STI*. I did NOT make that mistake again. I immediately scheduled my first gynecologist appointment and decided to go on the pill (and never got pregnant). That was the right choice for me at the time, but everyone's situation is different.

One little thought: Having any kind of sex for the first time can sometimes be scary, or make us nervous. Think about whether fear of pregnancy is masking some other deeper concerns about being intimate. I'll leave that there for you to ponder and get on to the birth control info.

First of all, the best way not to get pregnant is not to have intercourse (Jane The Virgin doesn’t count) but if you do want to have intercourse, birth control should never, ever be a matter of luck. It’s about educating yourself on the best BC option for you, and then using it exactly as directed. Despite what abstinence-until-marriage programs teach, contraception is safe and effective when used correctly (and a lot safer than going through a pregnancy). 

A great place to start is with this handy guide from our friends at Scarleteen. It walks you through questions about what’s most useful and healthy for YOU and gives lots of suggestions on what to use. Planned Parenthood also has a great guide as does Bedsider.

Once you have an idea of what works best for you, go see your health care provider. If you’re lucky enough to live near a Planned Parenthood office, they’ll be happy to help you, and it will be less expensive. Stay way clear of Crisis Pregnancy Centers which advertise the same services but then give you misinformation and shame instead of contraception.

One other thing to consider: If you’re having sex within a relationship and your birth control costs a bit of cash, it’s only fair that your partner helps pay for it. Just because you’re the one who can get pregnant, it doesn’t mean it’s not his responsibility as well. 

*Don’t forget Sexually Transmitted Infections, which can be an even bigger risk than pregnancy because you don’t have to have intercourse to get infected. Condoms are the only way to protect yourself against those so have your partner keep using them. Also, because no BC is absolutely 100% effective (although many come very close), condoms can be a great backup.

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

V-Card Diaries: LaPlume "I numbed my mind for the entire experience."


A little about myself:

I'm and 18-year-old cis female from Indiana who currently lives in Chicago.

How I define virginity:

I always saw virginity as the first time one has sex/is penetrated. The heterosexual definition of virginity has always been my go-to definition since that's all that has ever applied to me, but as I read other stories I see it's not as black and white as that. Virginity can be pretty subjective.

Here's my story:

I was 15 when I lost my virginity and the guy was 19. We went to high school together. I never planned on sleeping with him at all, let alone for my first time. I wanted my ex-boyfriend and I to share our first experience together but we'd broken up and my two best friends were so happy to have me join them in their sexual adventures that they pushed me to sleep with him. They said "why not?" and I was hurt, so I set it up. It wasn't rape in the technical sense, but I knew I didn't want to before we even made it to my bedroom. My exact thought was, "If I tell him no now, he'll rape me. So I should just get it over with."

It was awful. There was no foreplay. He just told me to get naked and he only kissed me when he realized he couldn't perform. He reluctantly performed oral sex on me (which was painful in itself) and then he went for it. There was so much blood and a literal tearing sensation, and he wouldn't stop talking about himself. I numbed my mind for the entire experience. Afterward I made him leave and I immediately washed my sheets. I don't remember the rest of that day, only that I covered my tracks so that my parents wouldn't find out.

When I got back with my boyfriend I was so embarrassed that I lied about being with anyone else at all. I cried when he gave his virginity to me.

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

Ask Trixie: Is the G-spot a real thing?

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

is the "G-spot" a real thing? –Anonymous

People continue to fiercely debate whether there’s an actual G-Spot (named for German gynecologist Ernst Gräfenberg). Some people have an especially sensitive spot on the inside front-ish part of their vaginal canals, and when it’s rubbed just right magical things happen. Others don’t feel that much in their vaginas at all and would always prefer the party to be happening around their clitoris. And others think that anything they feel in their vaginas is actually coming from their clitoris any way.

Wait, weren't we talking about the G-Spot? Yes, but bear with me. The clitoris, like an iceberg, takes up a lot more territory than the bit that’s visible, and therefore might be the source of physical pleasure for the whole vulval/vaginal area. So what you feel in your G-Spot area is possibly just another form of stimulation of the giant clitoral body. 

If you want to learn more about the amazing clitoris, The Huffington Post just published a pretty amazing story package on the clitoris complete with history, diagrams and swell animations.

The moral? There's really no correct location for your orgasm, despite what Dr. Freud* thought, so the important thing is to figure out what feels really good down there and do more of that, whatever you want to call it. You can read more about The G-Spot here and here as well.

*Sigmund Freud taught that clitoral orgasms were 'immature' and after puberty women should only have vaginal orgasms, which he deemed 'mature.' This was based on absolutely no scientific evidence except his belief that real sex was dictated by the penis and intercourse. Despite it being total bullshit, this myth continues to this day even though a significant percentage of women don't experience orgasms located in their vaginas.

V-Card Diaries: Kageashi "Despite routinely seeing naked women at work, I still haven't had intercourse"

A little about myself:

I was born in Alexandria VA, but I raised in Western Pennsylvania. I moved to Washington DC for college...and still haven't left 14 years later. My sex is male, but my gender is interchangeable.

How I define virginity:

In heterosexual and male homosexual dynamics, I see virginity as penis penetration of the vagina or anus. For lesbian sex...I have no idea.

Here's my story:

I was reading through the blog and noticed a sad dearth of stories from older individuals (Oh gods, don't make me the old one).  I'm 32 years old, and I still have my V-card, depending on your outlook.  The fact that I still have my V-card probably qualifies as irony, however.

For almost two years I worked for a kink venue.  That is to say, a venue where people came to party (legally) on various pieces of kinky apparatus. The day I realized I had become jaded to the whole situation was when I was speaking with the venue owner in our office and two women were naked and having sex on the floor just inside the doorway.  Open door policy indeed.

Despite routinely seeing naked women running around during those two years, I never had intercourse.  The opportunity only came up once, and I only found out afterwards.

It's not that I'm waiting for marriage–just for something a little deeper than a one-night-stand.  I've had a few near-misses–right time, wrong place, etcetera.  But as a man gets older, the expectation is that he is either really experienced (and should have papers proving he's disease free and routinely checked) or a lame duck.

We'll see if it happens anytime soon.  But for all the guys out there thinking you're the oldest male virgin around outside of the priesthood?

Odds are you aren't.

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

Just The Tip: Teaching Sex Ed to 4-yr-olds, Duggar grossness, Your Number, V-Myths and more...

Our weekly collection of interesting links from around the internets. Click on the titles to link. (Or, why wait? Get up-to-the minute news on our Facebook page)

Bill Nye explains The Sex

Not super informative, but how can you resist? Bill Nye's at the Museum of Sex in New York to explain the evolutionary purpose of sex. Neil deGrasse Tyson hosts STARTALK (MONDAYS 11/10c on NatGeo).

Jaclyn Friedman on Caitlyn Jenner and the complicated definitions of womanhood:

"Trans people are not magical gender warriors. We may politicize their bodies, but they are not obligated to play along. As with all of us, some may decide to become activists, but most won’t, and either way, none of them will exclusively do the most politically expedient thing every time they’re faced with a choice. Because they’re human. They don’t owe the world a revolution, or even an explanation. And they’re certainly not obligated to live up to the arbitrary standards of one random cis woman."

Inside the Duggars' Dark World

Young women are not only robbed of any sexual agency, this culture also teaches that "Women are objects, controlled and exchanged by men to create and affirm the men’s identities...Women. Are. Not. People." And it has implications for all of us. An essay by one of our fave virginity geeks, Jaime Hough.

I was interviewed for this piece (along with our How To Lose Your Virginity expert Hanne Blank) about busting virginity myths. Loved contributing thoughts along with lots of screen grabs from the film:

"Male virginity wasn't even discussed as a thing until the 20th century," Therese Shechter, creator of the documentary How to Lose Your Virginity, told Mic. "Whether a man was sexual or not had little bearing on his character or value."
"The concept of virginity is all too often tied to how we talk about women's morality and sexual choices," Shechter said. "I think people should define virginity however they want, or dismiss the concept it altogether if it's not useful to them."

Is You Sexual History As Impressive As You Think?

In other words, am I a slut or a loser? So lemme just go get a pencil. But first...What exactly does 'slept with' mean? And if our definitions are different based on which parts touched other parts, then what exactly are we comparing and tallying? And what constitutes a lot? I know, I know...this is just a dumb internet game, but can we all agree 'the number' makes no sense? Instead, why not ponder the first milestone of your sexual history with our own quiz.

In the Netherlands, sex education starts in Kindergarten

We North Americans do such a lousy job of teaching our young about sexuality. The Dutch are miles ahead of us:

“People often think we are starting right away to talk about sexual intercourse [with kindergartners],” van der Vlugt says. “Sexuality is so much more than that. It’s also about self image, developing your own identity, gender roles, and it’s about learning to express yourself, your wishes and your boundaries.”

That means the kindergartners are also learning how to communicate when they don’t want to be touched. The goal is that by age 11, students are comfortable enough to navigate pointed discussions about reproduction, safe sex, and sexual abuse.


Be a VirginSpotter! Got a story you think we should talk about? Contact us or tweet at us here.