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V-Card Diaries: Distracted Dragon "I'm offended by responses to my vaginismus, when coupled with my “virginity” and queerness."

Today we're highlighting Distracted Dragon in New York, NY, writes that our society slut shames and virgin shames at the same time, speaking out of both sides of our mouth. If you want to tell your story, go to our submission form. You can find all our V-Card Diaries here.

A little about yourself:

25. Queer cisgendered woman. New York, NY

How I define virginity:

I dislike "virginity" and "losing one's virginity" as terms because they are vague and carry negative, gendered connotations. I prefer "making one's sexual debut" over "losing one's virginity" because you aren't losing anything when you have sex, you are gaining an experience, be it a wonderful experience, a terrible experience, or a ridiculous experience. I feel what equates sex, and thus, virginity, is self-determined. Healthy communication between partners should not begin and end at “I’m a virgin”, but should be a discussion of what you have/have not done, what you do/do not want to do with another person.

Here's my story:

I've never had sex because the opportunity has yet to present itself. I have no qualms about engaging in sex, should I find a mutually interested, respectful partner. I resent that our society both condemns sexual debut that occurs “too young,” but also “too old.” God forbid any teenager engage in consensual sex but as soon as you’ve hit 18 and graduated from high school, genital exploration between you and another (preferably heterosexual) partner must ensue, pronto. We slut shame and virgin shame at the same time, speaking out of both sides of our mouth.

I discovered, via my first attempt at a pelvic exam at age 21, that I have primary vaginismus, an involuntary muscle contraction of the pelvic muscles that makes penetration painful. I'm working with dilators and Kegel exercises to treat this but I've been frustrated and offended by responses to my vaginismus, when coupled with my “virginity” and queerness.

I have been made to feel, by self-help sites, online forums, and members of the medical profession:

a) I shouldn't still be a virgin at 25. That in and of itself is indicative of "emotional trauma." I acknowledge emotional and sexual trauma can be a factor in vaginismus but it isn’t always. I have not avoided sex because of my vaginismus, although it will be a discussion to have with future sex partners.

b) Women who desire sex with women don’t have vaginismus. Because apparently painful penetration is only supposed to happen to heterosexual women? I shouldn’t know penetration hurts if my vagina has never made intimate acquaintance with a penis? Right, because the inability to accommodate a speculum or my ob/gyn’s fingers is not indicative of a problem. I don’t need penetration to have sex and even if I did I don’t need a penis for penetration. But I do need regular health exams, so can we please get past narrow views on sexual mechanics and how they relate to my preferences?

As a culture, we need to acknowledge that there are a range of behaviors that constitute sex for a range of sexual identities just as there are a range of medical problems that we encounter relating to our sexuality. Our nerve endings and our attractions do not line up in pre-scripted ways. Sex is a fascinating topic because it is so complex – our desires, our bodies, our motivations, and our practices compel myriad conversations, personally and on a national level. Sexuality will play a part in our lives, whether or not we engage in sex itself, and it is part of our human story. The sharing of stories is the transmission of culture, so let’s talk about sex, baby.