How To Lose Your Virginity, directed by Therese Shechter, exposes the mythology and misogyny around virginity, and how it affects the sexual lives of young men and women. The film journeys beyond the Abstinence movement to examine the intersecting forces of history, politics, religion and popular culture.
We believe in using humor to keep young people safe. The film ignites conversations around sexuality in our high school and college-age audiences by presenting a narrative that is eye-opening and thought-provoking–and also very entertaining. Using the grammar of popular culture, we address young women and men in subversive, disarming and irreverent ways to better broach sometimes uncomfortable topics.
We believe in personal storytelling to break the silence. Arbitrary and absurd, our obsession with the outmoded virginity construct continues to define a young woman’s morality and self-worth. To break through society's silence, misinformation, sexism, and corrosive messages, How To Lose Your Virginity and its online spin-offs will:
Push-back against a culture that is shaming about sex, especially for women who are judged no matter what sexual choices they make, through personal, historical and political storytelling in the film
Create new language around virginity ‘loss’ to reframe it as an ongoing process of becoming sexual, through post-film conversations and our 'Reusable V-Card' outreach
Create safe space communities where users can anonymously share stories through the V-Card Diaries interactive project
Challenge sex ed curricula to include different timelines and sexualities, as well as age-appropriate conversations about consent and pleasure in partnership with organizations doing advocacy around sex education.
Everyone has a virginity story to tell, but this project isn’t just about virginity, it’s about the larger power of connection and community through storytelling.
My early myth-shattering sexual experiences were a jumping off point for a quest to understand the impact of idealized virginity on young women; virginity’s historical role in U.S. culture; its power to mold a girl’s self-image; its commodification-something manufactured, sold, given away, taken.
The style of How To Lose Your Virginity is open-minded, accepting, and positively reinforcing. While some stories may be explicit, they are intended to present an honest telling of sexual experiences. The interviews are shot without extensive set- ups in an atmosphere of trust and openness with subjects. The goal is to open doors to private spaces and show images of real women that are rarely seen on a screen.
For nearly a decade, my work has looked at the world through a feminist lens. I Was A Teenage Feminist (modern feminism), How I Learned To Speak Turkish (sexuality and beauty standards), #SlutWalkNYC (rape culture), The End (stereotypical romance narratives) and Womanly Perfection (body image) all share my personal style and tone, the way I use humor, my intimacy with subjects, and how I leverage my personal experience to make universal points.
These films exist on a thematic continuum that runs through all of my work: The ability of each of us to define who we are and what we need, without judgment or shame.
The V-Card Diaries:
giving our audience a voice
The V-Card Diaries, the film's online interactive story-sharing companion, presents almost 400 crowd-sourced long-form essays about ‘sexual debuts and deferrals’ in a unique interactive interface. The project was recently on exhibit at The Kinsey Institute Juried Art Show, their first interactive piece.
Our crowd-sourced interactive tool combines blogging, data visualization, and search engines where everyone can access and contribute stories about their sexual lives. A number of our contributors are survivors of rape and tell their stories in this forum. Other users engage in a broad spectrum of sexual activity, and this site is particularly targeted to those with little to no experience, who report they feel ignored by most other online discussions about sex.
By seeing how others tell their own stories, and sharing their own, our audience can see there’s no ‘right way’ to do sex. This ongoing project tells a collective story about the universal experience of becoming sexual–and the radical act of speaking honestly about it.
More information about The V-Card Diaries here
See a demo of Part 2: The Experience Engine (POV Hackathon)
Washington State Coalition Against Domestic Violence (WSCADV) Annual Conference, Screening, Spokane WA
American Public Health Association (APHA) Annual Conference. Panel & screening with Director: Let's talk about Sex. Shame. Power. Violence
Columbia University/Barnard Screening with Director as Featured Speaker for Take Back The Night/Sexhibition
A very open and intelligent film...approaches the difficult subject with warmth and humor. I recommend it for anyone who desires a serious, grown-up, critical overview of the issue of sex and virginity in contemporary America.
Jack David Eller,
Shechter’s movie, with breezy, watchable, funny delivery, walks us through the simple argument baked into the very term virginity — one that we still use freely — the idea of a woman’s body as an object for transaction.
Melissa Tapper Goldman,
"Shechter is a filmmaker with a voice, and images like no other."
Story Doctor Film Anatomy, POV
"It feels like we’re having a moment in which a kind of sharing once relegated to privacy is becoming an acceptable part of public discourse. And this is a good thing [...] [The film is} effective at dispelling the idea of a socially predetermined norm, just through the varied stories of [the] subjects [...] Therese’s film shows that people go really far in bending their lives to conform to that media narrative, specifically around virginity."
Sarah Seltzer, RH Reality Check (Reproductive and Sexual Health and Justice)
“The teen Peer Leaders from the TORCH Program were grateful to have the opportunity to screen the film with Therese and discuss their reactions with her afterwards. It was eye-opening for them to see the parallels Therese makes in the film between the historical context of virginity to some of the current cultural practices we accept as the norm. Great film!”
TORCH, NARAL Pro-Choice New York
“We were so thrilled to partner with Trixie Films and Therese to host a screening of her amazing documentary during our 2014 Sex Ed Weeks of Action! We loved this educational collaboration!”
Planned Parenthood of New York City
"Screening HTLYV is an engaging event (the crowd was laughing and gasping throughout the movie), and RISD students loved hearing from an artist who understands the power of being an image-maker and uses that power to bring insight to significant social issues."
Rhode Island School of Design
"The film doesn't advocate sexual activity or abstinence--only that what you do should be your choice and your timing and free from judgment or shame. My girls have both seen the film and appreciated its candor and that of the young people in it."
Lynne, mother of two teenage girls
"I learned so much and felt validated in many of my private feelings. What a gift that is! It’s urgent to dilute the powerful social and religious shaming messages that have gone unchallenged for so long."
Karen, Audience member