"My friend, I may not know what you have that causes people to laugh. Be it a birth defect (as I have one, it has gotten me looks and rudeness from people) or a unique appearance. But nobody should give up. Heck, I too am a virgin and in my late twenties. But one thing I want you to know: Our imperfections make us interesting, somebody will see you beyond the appearance and love you as you are." From Tarantula on "I Was A Middle-Aged Virgin"
From time to time we republish our favorite posts. This originally ran in June 2011. "Real women do not have curves. Real women do not look like just one thing. Real women have curves, and not. They are tall, and not. They are brown-skinned, and olive-skinned, and not. They have small breasts, and big ones, and no breasts whatsoever. Real women start their lives as baby girls. And as baby boys. And as babies of indeterminate biological sex whose bodies terrify their doctors and families into making all kinds of very sudden decisions. Real women have big hands and small hands and long elegant fingers and short stubby fingers and manicures and broken nails with dirt under them...."
Our favorite UK virginity geek Kate Monro's book "Losing It: How we popped our cherry over the last 80 years" is now available in the US from Icon Books!
Based on her blog The Virginity Project, Kate has put together an astonishing collection of stories, from Edna, who lost her virginity in 1940 aged 25, to Charlie, a young, disabled punk rocker whose first-time experience many would envy.
Kate has long been an inspiration for what we do here, and we're really excited about her project. Aside from the fact that we wholeheartedly believe in the importance of sharing stories about sex, we LOVE the cover!! Shades of Joy of Sex–and Dr Zizmor's clip art, if the good doctor doled out sex advice instead of zit cream (sorry, New Yorkers will understand).
Andy Kopsa reports on a whole barrel-ful of wrong at Mississippi's "1st Annual Teen Pregnancy Prevention Summit" created by the staunchly abstinence-until-marriage-supporting Governor Phil Bryant. Aside from the goofy lettering that screams 'freshman bake sale,' Andy finds that "there are several things amiss here in my opinion. First of course is the stretch-marked pregnant belly. Perhaps suggesting to an overly body conscious teen girl to not get pregnant because she will become unattractive? And, since we know that young women get pregnant on their own, there is no penis pictured here, nor is there a boy anywhere on the flyer." More of Andy's reporting on this here.
In other messed-up abstinence-lovin' Mississippi news, when a new sex ed bill prohibited actually teaching sex ed or talking about condoms, one crafty sex educator demonstrated how to put on 'a sock' instead.
From xojane: "I'm a 31-Year-Old Virgin Who's Never Been Kissed, and My Disability Isn't Holding Me Back, It's My Fear." "How could he fall in love with a girl in a wheelchair? How could he ever find me one ounce of attractive? How could he ever get past my disability -– past my wheelchair, past my deformed hands, feet and legs?"
Salon reports on a Psychology of Women Quarterly study that says “Slut-shaming” won’t go away" "New research reveals that 50 years after the introduction of the pill, sexual double standards are alive and well. ... Conley’s research suggested that, under the right circumstances—that is, when the experience promises to be safe and pleasant—women are just as likely as men to engage in casual sex. Her new paper adds stigma and the prospect of backlash to that equation, and finds they inhibit women’s choices." Tell us something we don't know.
A Kenyan media outlet headlines a story 'Boys losing virginity to nannies' which is actually a really disturbing story about sexual abuse by domestic workers on the children they care for.
And this virginity loss story from Grace Coddington's new memoir: "Tinker invited me to spend the weekend in his delightful little rose-covered cottage in Kent. ...When we arrived, he cooked a beautiful candlelit dinner for two, after which I was shown up to what I thought was the guest bedroom. I undressed, put on my nightie, pulled down the top sheet, and there, neatly laid out on the pillow like one of those little chocolate mints you find in boutique hotels nowadays, was a condom. "What is this?" I wondered. I really hadn't a clue. Moments later, to my surprise, I was joined by Tinker carrying a steaming cup of cocoa and looking adorable in his stripy cotton pajamas. But his air was not that of someone about to read me a bedtime story." (OMG What a coincidence! It happened just like that for me as well!)
A roundup of the latest virginity happenings:
The movie The Sessions opens this week. It's the true story of disabled, 38-year-old writer (John Hawkes) and the sex therapist (Helen Hunt) he hires to help him experience his first intercourse. It was a huge hit at Sundance (as 'The Surrogate") and we can't wait to see it. Another similar true-life account here.
The Mail Online reports that "Psychologists discovered that those who have sex after they turn 20 are more likely to have happy relationships" Please repeat the phrase "correlation, not causation" ten times before diving into this dubious and confusing story. And enjoy the racy stock photos.
Replace that image with a very cute New Yorker cartoon, totally SFW.
The Virgin Mary was sighted in a New Jersey car wash by attendant Alex Leiva who reported flashing lights and a cloud of smoke, after which the outline of Mary carrying baby Jesus formed in the window of the car wash tunnel.
This also happened in a Georgia car wash a few years ago.
Quvenzhane Wallis in 'Beasts of the Southern Wild"
We interrupt our regularily scheduled coverage of virginity to bring you this special dispatch: I’ve been going to, and writing about, my experiences at the Sundance Film Festival many of the last 11 years. This is part 3 of 3 of this year’s Sundance Diaries. Read Part 1 here. Read Part 2 here.
Sundance is over.
The Brita™ water filter tent is coming down, the giant fog machine and bean bag installation is being removed from New Frontiers, and the jacked-up-price menus have been put away until next January. As I scrub my re-entry stamps off my hands and moisturize like crazy, I wanted to answer a bunch of questions that you, my loyal readers, have sent in.
Is it still hard to get drunk in Park City? [H.T.] If you mean are they still measuring shots out with those weird Mormon bottle toppers so as not exceed exactly one ounce per pour, then yes. But it's only hard to get drunk if you're actually paying for those drinks. When they're free, thanks to whatever liquor sponsor is working the party, you can belly up for two shots at a time as long as you're standing. My drink of choice this year was whiskey mixed with hot lemonade or hot apple cider, introduced to me in bulk at a party sponsored by some delicious whiskey. The fact that I have no idea what brand it was means the promotion failed miserably: Don't expect drunk film people to remember what your label said in a dark party late at night. Give us complimentary bottles to take home.
Please find some non AIDS/Sexual Abuse/Anti-Gay [films] to share! Hopefully not centered on 30-something quirky white folk in the Northwest. [P. J.] Have I got two films for you!
"Beasts of the Southern Wild" is a dramatic feature about a little girl living on an island of magical realism in the Delta on "the other side of the levee." I can't say much more about this that will sound coherent, so suffice it to say it delivers epic floods, fantastical shacks, prehistoric aurochs that emerge from melted polar ice caps, and one little girl named Hush Puppy who just wants to spend time with her dad. It's the most wildly creative film I saw at the Festival this year and one of the most buzzworthy. Not a single quirky white single 30-something to be found. It just won the U.S. Dramatic Jury Award and it was totally worth standing in line for 1 1/2 hours to watch it the night before I left. It's headed for a theatrical release, but there's no telling whether a non-Sundance-movie-drunk audience will get as hyper-excited as we all did.
"The Imposter" tells the true story of a con artist who pretended to be a teenager who had gone missing from his working-class Texas family three years earlier. Even though he really didn't look anything like the kid, and spoke with a French accent, the family inexplicably welcomed him back as their long-lost son. Did they just not realize they were being conned? Or were they trying to hide an even bigger secret? The documentary mixes present-day interviews with all the players, along with dreamy, beautifully shot re-enactments of the bizarre events. So what really happened? Our guess, it turns out, is as good as the filmmakers' in the best examination of subjective truth since maybe Rashomon. A&E
Keep in mind that the movies one person can see at Sundance make up only the tip of their personal iceberg. There are amazing films I really wanted to see that my schedule didn't permit, and others I barely heard about until they won awards. Films like the standing-ovation-garnering documentary "Slavery By Another Name," the highly divisive feature film "Compliance," and a special screening of Julie Dash's 1991 film "Daughters of the Dust" all remained on my to-see list unchecked.
Another film high on my list, "The Surrogate," was super controversial going into the festival but emerged an audience favorite and won the U.S. Dramatic Audience Award. It's the true story of a poet confined to an iron lung and the sex surrogate he hires in order to have sex for the first time. Aside from my (ahem) professional interest in the storyline, I also heard over and over again how fabulous and sensitive the film and the performances were. It stars the astoundingly talented John Hawkes (Winter's Bone) and Helen Hunt (in need of a role worthy of her) and it should be a very interesting theatrical release!
Are Uggs still in???? [S.H.] I think it's gone from fashion trend to wardrobe staple, which is totally alarming. In terms of fashion trends, there was nothing as obvious as the lumberjack beards that made their unfortunate appearances in 2002. I did see a lot of vintage Sorrels and those giant tubes of knitted material people use as scarves. Both were actually rather cute. I know, I'm in a good mood. Sorry.
Just ‘cause YOU can’t be having no hot-tub shenanigans, would you deny us reportage on ANY hot-tub shenanigans?? I mean, you have created this devoted audience and now that you’re hitched, our needs just get cast aside along with your scandalous hot-tub ways?? Have we meant nothing to you? She gets the ring and now we’re bupkus... [A. M.] I am VERY worried about you! Drinking Vodka and NOT BEING INTERESTED IN A HOT TUB is not like you! I'm calling an intervention via Craig's List. [S. H.] Isn't it time to stop living vicariously through me and find your own hot tubs to jump into? Even my own husband is disappointed that I have no hot tub stories to share. In the words of the immortal William Shatner on Saturday Night Live: Get a life, people.
I am disappointed that you missed the Gene Simmons-Stan Lee event. It would have ended up in the Hot Tub and you know it! [Also from S. H., prolific question asker] True. Being part of a Lee/Simmons sandwich would have been tempting. Let's say a prayer of thanks I wasn't put into that situation.
And with that image seared on your eyeballs, I leave you until next year...Happy movie-going!
There's very little out there on sexuality and disability, and even less dealing with first-time sexual experiences. So thanks to Nerve for giving us "Getting Around" by Tiffiny Carlson, a young woman in a wheelchair who writes with a lot of humor and honesty.
The next year, I went back to the camp and once again left with a disabled boyfriend. This one was totally in love with me, but we couldn't have sex because neither of us could move our hip muscles. We tried it once. He struggled to get on top of me, but couldn't move his lower body enough to get his cock inside of me. Talk about torture. I was too eager to experience "real" sex to stay with him. After about four months of fooling around, I broke it off.
Rookie is a new and wonderful (and wonderful-looking) online magazine created by Style Rookie blogger Tavi Gevinson. It has a great roster of writers, editors and guardian angels and we're really excited to see where it goes. They recently did a story called "The First Time" by the equally wonderful Cindy Gallop who writes that there are many first times that might be considered special, sexually speaking, not just the first time you have sex:
"And yet the first time we have sex is billed as something “magical” and “special,” that at the same time is about “losing”—our virginity, innocence, purity —not gaining (experience, skills, information, fun). Society teaches us this inherent contradiction that my friend Esther Perel, author of Mating In Captivity, sums up beautifully: “Sex is dirty: save it for someone you love.” What are we supposed to do with that? At the same time there are other sexual firsts that we don’t treat with the specialness they deserve. Here are some less widely talked about first times that can be, in my opinion, just as important as your very first sexual encounter."
For Cindy's list, including 'The first time you give yourself an orgasm" and "The first time you realize you really don’t care what anybody else thinks" go to the story.
Also in Rookie, "Doing It on Television" comparing differences in how virginity loss was treated on 90210 (the original) with Friday Night Lights. It reminded me of how much I loved that particular FNL storyline, and their description captures the funny/sweet/nervous mood perfectly:
"Of course, sometimes the romance of television does get it right. More recently, Friday Night Lights gave us the relationship between Matt Saracen and Julie Taylor, the coach’s daughter. Matt has just been demoted from his position as quarterback of the Dillon Panthers. He and Julie blow off the school dance (the idea of dancing does seem to lead to fornication, one point to John Lithgow in Footloose) to go to a nearby lake, where they swim and argue over which is better, veggie hot dogs or the regular kind. They tumble backwards off their campfire perch and onto a blanket, kissing like mad. The next scene shows them staring at each other in the car the following morning, completely in awe of what has occurred. Julie runs inside, wearing Matt’s sweatshirt, and looks at herself in the mirror for a moment before shaking her head at her own reflection, as though she cannot believe it herself."
Images from Nerve.com (top) and RookieMag.com (middle and bottom)
Letters from Johns was an online project created by Susannah Breslin, a journalist and blogger. Throughout 2008, Susannah posted letters from men discussing their experiences with prostitutes.
Included were letters from men who identified as virgins and
used hired prostitutes to have sex for the first time. This issue has come up several times in our older virgin posts, so I asked Susannah if their letters were different from other johns. She said:
"I think they are mostly the same as regular johns, in that they used paid sex to resolve a situation that they felt unable to resolve otherwise."
Here are some excerpts:
…having sex with her (even if I had to pay for it) made up for a lifetime of rejection.
It was the most enjoyable experience I have ever had in my life […] For once I had gained control over my body, and it felt like I was in control of my life. The worst thing about having a physical disability is the lack of control I have in life.
Second, it was the first time I felt like I was being treated like a sexual being with desires and needs that were important. All my life I have been viewed as an asexual being whose desires should be avoided or neglected.
Writer is 30 years old and considering returning to a sex worker:
I couldn't do most of what I had in mind: couldn't undress her, couldn't kiss her, couldn't perform cunnilingus. She was also weirded out by my penis, I have a phimosis. Still, I was enjoying myself until she got on top of me. She immediately started to moan, and it hit me as incredibly fake. I lost my erection. We spent the rest of our time together lying on the bed, me holding her….
…For the next few weeks what I had done would hit me: sometimes it would make me happy, sometimes sad. Now it's just another memory.
This was the first time I touched a woman in a sexual manner. I felt like a human being, and almost cried. We moved on to the bed, but she laughed at me. She positioned her body so that it was difficult for me to have intercourse and eventually she told me to stop when I began to do it with feeling…
…The experience was not pleasurable at all, but rather very nerve racking and riddled with guilt throughout the whole act. It was something to simply do it and get it out of the way, so that I would be just like other non-virgin men.
You can read all the letters here, as well as find links to her current project Letters from Men Who Watch Pornography, as well as Letters from Working Girls and Letters from Janes.
Big thanks to Chloe for this story!
*Thanks to Audacia Ray for pointing out that non-coerced sex workers are service workers, and are not being "used."