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Finding My Virginity

Painful first intercourse is not a given, it's a sign that something is wrong

TrainVirginity
TrainVirginity

 

We hear a lot from people terrified that first intercourse is going to be incredibly painful, and the image above has come up over and over again on virginity tweets (anyone know where it's from?).

That might be because sometimes first intercourse can be painful, but more likely because that idea has been reinforced in our culture and there's not nearly enough conversation about what people with vaginas (and their partners) can do to lessen or eliminate the pain.

Because, guess what, it doesn't necessarily have to hurt! It's just that most people are scared, or tense, or unprepared, or don't take generous amounts of time to relax the pelvic muscles through other kinds of sexual activity. And if it does really hurt, they might have a physical problem that needs to be addressed by a gynecologist. Either way, living with pain is not the answer.

So I was really happy that two stories crossed my radar recently about intercourse and pain:

The first story is from a woman who was diagnosed with vaginismus, a condition that makes intercourse painful or often impossible (you can find other stories about it on our blog herehere, here and here).

It broke up her marriage and caused her a lot of physical and emotional pain, but in this excerpt from  xoJane's It Happened To Me: My Husband Divorced Me After Four Years Because I Was Still A Virgin, she describes how she dealt with it and eventually overcame it.

"I kept at it with the dilators, more determined than ever. I did kegels. I did meditation. I did everything. About a year after the divorce was final, I had sex for the first time. I had been dating a wonderful guy...with a smaller than average penis. I didn’t tell him I was a virgin, but I did tell him sex was difficult for me sometimes.

One night after several bottles of red wine and a lot of lube, it happened. In the two years since that first time, I’ve had sex on a regular basis. I fell in love with the guy with a below average penis and married him three-and-a-half months ago. He loves me for me. It still hurts at the beginning of sex almost every time. We still have to use lube almost every time. But, I guess we are doing it right because I’m five months pregnant."

The second story is from our friend Sa Belle Femme, about how she and her husband-to-be prepared for intercourse without pain. Here's an excerpt from  Virgin Myths: Popping Her Cherry:

"If I hadn't spent so much time reading up on virginity and first-time coitus, I would have just accepted the cultural narrative that my wedding day sex would be painful. Instead, I was able to prepare for the first time Beau and I had coitus, to guarantee that our married sex would be awesome (or at least pain-free) the first time. Long story short, we used lots of lube, and I was on top so I could control both the angle and speed of entry."

She'll be writing in detail about her methods on her blog, including some info about a set of nifty dilators that worked wonders. They also talk about it in our film How To Lose Your Virginity.

Just the Tip: Virginity in the News [Sex Beyond The Wall, Sex in a Pill, and more Virgin Reality Shows]

snow
snow

Who knew that the cave sex of Game of Thrones' boringest sexy couple evah, Jon Snow and Ygritte, would spawn so many think pieces about virginity and sex (with Mad Men and Girls thrown in for good measure, which sounds a lot like our Damsels in Discussion podcast series, but I digress...)

First, a look at talking about male virginity on TV, getting away from the gotta-lose-it-by-college model, to celebrate inexperience:

Jon Snow's deflowering at the hands of Ygritte offered a fresh spin on what's usually depicted as a frantic rush to become sexually experienced. Snow, who took a vow of celibacy upon joining the Night Watch, showed reticence about losing his virginity due his celebacy vows, and presumably, his growing feelings for Ygritte. Similarly, Ginsberg's Mad Men confession about his virginity was rather poignant as it was spewed forth on a first date – not exactly winning dinner conversation.

Not to mention last week's Mad Men which gave us Don/Dick's 'how I lost my virginity' story, which at this point does anyone really care about? But really, isn't the trope of the tender male youth being shown the ways of the world pretty common? And isn't there something really off about the idea that once you do it once you're suddenly 'experienced' and all the secrets of the universe are revealed, as opposed to a long process of getting comfortable with and better at sex?

But we're all for more talk honest talk about sex, and this IndieWire story praises TV addressing all the most squirm-inducing bits head-on:

Laden down with judgments, motives and manipulations, it's no wonder that we've become so alarmist and squeamish about something that should be a natural and powerful part of human expression. The subjects that TV is addressing through explicit sexual depictions is prompting exactly the kinds of discussions we should be having on the subject. The talk of Adam's ejaculate on "Girls" encouraged an examination as to whether or not he was a rapist, based on the grim starkness of the coupling that preceded it. [...] And while it often does so in a horrifically uncomfortable way, the subtle commentary on sex and power in "Game of Thrones" -- both the shadow side of the act, and in purity of self -- reveals an entirely new prospective on the subject.

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The New York Times has a story on the search for a pill to increase female desire, a controversial quest that gets little support from folks who care about  the medicalization of female sexuality. For one thing, they point out that environmental factors are rarely considered when talking about female desire, and so often the conversation descends onto evolutionary psychology (men=hunters who need to spread seed, women=passive nurturers looking for Mr Right) But here's an especially disturbing tidbit from the story from the researcher conducting the study:

“You want your effects to be good but not too good,” Andrew Goldstein, who is conducting the study in Washington, told me. “There was a lot of discussion about it by the experts in the room,” he said, recalling his involvement with the development of Flibanserin, “the need to show that you’re not turning women into nymphomaniacs.” He was still a bit stunned by the entrenched mores that lay within what he’d heard. “There’s a bias against — a fear of creating the sexually aggressive woman.”

At least they're not claiming that all women fantasize about being prostitutes, which is what filmmaker Francois Ozon believes.

[Photographs from New York Times story by Jake Chessum for The New York Times]

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In other news, the ever-repellant virginity showman Justin Sisely strikes yet again with another reality show scheme?? I can't believe how much publicity this guy has gotten before he's ever shown even one minute of this reality show (I realize we're part of the problem)

The idea to extend Virgin Wanted to Virgin Wanted 2 came after Sisely received a large number of emails from potential bidders looking for virgins all over the globe.Last year, amidst controversy, Catarina Migliorini auctioned her virginity to a Japanese man at a staggering cost of USD 78,000...

The story has one bright light or common sense:

However, several people have raised serious questions over the entire affair. Medical experts have raised doubts over the claims that there are tests that could prove whether someone is a virgin. A Brazilian attorney general, Joao Pedro Saboia Bandeira de Mello Filho has said that if the deal between the Japanese man and Migliorini goes through, Sisely could be inviting sex-trafficking charges over himself.

One can only hope...

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A quick shout-out to the Finding My Virginity blog, which we liked so much we put its author ('a Christian feminist living outside the Virgin/Whore dichotomy") in our film! And thanks as always to eagle-eyed virginity correspondent @j_aallan.

Are you a VirginSpotter? Send us your Virginity in the News and we'll publish it here!