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V-Card Diaries: Emma "I had totally swallowed the subliminal propaganda that girls shouldn't want sex."

Today we're highlighting Emma from Australia, who wonders how many people have seen their own vulvas. If you want to tell your story, go to our submission form. You can find all our V-Card Diaries here. Tell us about yourself:

I'm a 23-year-old from Brisbane, Australia. I'm studying engineering at university, with one year left of my bachelor's. I love snow, mangoes and having baking adventures with friends.

How do you define virginity?

If you'd asked me that a year ago, I would have said that it's the state of having never experienced P-in-V. That's the standard definition, and I never really questioned it. But now I think that this is too simplistic. Not that it isn't a big deal. Particularly for me, as a girl, allowing somebody to go beyond touching the outside of my body and to actually enter *inside* my body is definitely significant. The inside of my head, of my heart, of my soul, and of my body, are very private places that belong only to me.

But virginity isn't a loss. It's part of a gradual gaining of experience that starts the first time you confide in someone, or kiss someone, or share something private. And with the right kind of experience comes wisdom and empowerment, not devaluing and loss.

Tell us your story:

Strangely enough, the way it happened for me was exactly the way it's "supposed" to happen. Here I was, 22, having decided that I would only want to lose my virginity in the context of a committed, loving relationship (the modern version of "not until marriage"). I had totally swallowed the subliminal propaganda that girls shouldn't want sex or should at least try and hide it if they do, and thus had no knowledge of my own body or sexuality whatsoever. I was totally chaste and pure, or from another perspective, uneducated, uninformed, powerless and totally vulnerable to manipulation.

But I was lucky. I fell deeply in love and this love was returned. My partner and I have taken this whole journey of experience together, the first time for both of us. No pressure or expectations, just learning and loving and laughing. I'm learning about my body and my sexuality regrettably late, but I'm incredibly lucky to have experienced it in the best way possible for me.

Any thoughts on virginity in our society?

The focus is just wrong. Let's place value on gaining experience in the right way, instead of placing stigma on losing innocence in the "wrong" way. Girls should never feel ashamed or ignorant about their bodies, or ashamed if they're *not* ignorant about their bodies. How many of you girls out there have actually looked at your own vulva in a mirror, or seen photos of a vulva? I sure hadn't, not until I was 23 and after I lost my virginity. Wrong order!! Boys also shouldn't feel pressure to be sexually experienced. It's totally okay to be at whatever stage you're at, whoever you are.

Want to tell your story? Go to our submission page.