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Ask Trixie: How do I impress my girlfriend to allow me to take her virginity?

How do I impress my girlfriend to allow me to take her virginity from her since I'm also a virgin and kinda on the short side and I don't know what to do during sex – Smoke198

Having sex for the first time shouldn’t be about impressing anyone. And virginity is not an object sitting in someone’s pocket, which means it can’t be taken or given or anything like that.  So, can I change the question to: How do my girlfriend and I decide we are both comfortable and enthusiastic about having sex for the first time?

Only you and your girlfriend will know when you’re ready to have sex, and you’ll only figure that out by talking about it. Take your time, make sure you can trust each other, can talk to each other, feel comfortable with each other. This might take a while, but keep in mind it’s not a race to the finish line. It’s a long process and intercourse is just one part of it. Go slow. 

If you’re thinking about having intercourse, I’d definitely suggest trying some something else first that might feel less intense or intimate. And when you’re comfortable with that, try the next thing. (A lot of women say that manual or oral sex (you giving and her receiving!) is more fun than intercourse. And it’s often a better way for her to have orgasms, so bonus points for doing more of that. 

Another reason to take things slow is that your girlfriend might be nervous that penetration/intercourse is going to hurt. For some people, it does, but often it’s because they’re not relaxed or lubricated enough. I wrote about that here.

Check out a great article from our friends at Scarleteen that has advice for how to talk to your partner about sex. You and your girlfriend should also check out Scarleteen’s Am I Ready For Sex checklist.

You also mentioned you don’t know what to do during sex. Well, no one is born a good lover. It takes some practice, good information, and good communication with your partner to know what each of you think feels good. 

And finally, if she really doesn’t feel ready to have sex with you, that’s totally her choice and you need to respect it. 

Got a question about virginity, sex, relationships, feminism or filmmaking?  Ask Trixie here.

Just The Tip: News from the World of Virginity and Beyond featuring vatican gynecology, wedding night tips, books for teens and Tennessee is the worst

Happy Hanukah to all those that celebrate! Here's are this week's top stories from the world of virginity, ladyparts and sex. For up to the minute news, follow our Facebook Page, where we post every day!

 

100-Year-Old Wedding Night Advice for Newlyweds

On one hand they're pretty clear about the hymen not being an indicator of virginity. On the other hand here's what they think is: 
"The one true and only test which any man should look for is modesty in demeanor before marriage, absence of both assumed ignorance and a disagreeable familiarity, and a pure and religious frame of mind. When these are present, he need not doubt that he has a faithful and chaste wife."

Tennessee school wins right to ban gays and women who’ve had sex: ‘This is who we are’

From the story, which I can't believe is not parody:
'The waiver allows the school to ban pregnant students, women who have had an abortion, single mothers, LGBT students and anyone else who does not fit their religious ideology.
“This is who we are as a Christian university,” O’Brien opined. “These are our religious principles. And in a changing world, we would like to reaffirm that this is who we are and who we intend to be.” '

Daniel Holtzclaw's Victims, In Their Own Words

Former Oklahoma City Police Department Officer Daniel Holtzclaw was found guilty of multiple counts of rape and sexual assault. These are the testimonies of his victims:
"According to prosecutors, Holtzclaw targeted these women because they had records and lived in a high-crime neighborhood. He allegedly chose them because they didn’t want any trouble and because they feared the police — because they likely wouldn’t report their assaults to the police. He was the police."

Twenty-three more books every teenager should read

Did you know this?
Every teenage in Sweden is being given a copy of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s We Should All Be Feminists? Here's a good and useful list of other great books for teens, with the bonus of shoutouts to our friends Rachel Hills and Scarleteen's Heather Corinna.

Is Technology Making Us Sluttier?

Well, probably not:
"In the same way that mid-century antibiotics and contraception helped kick off the sexual revolution, better HIV treatments (as well as Gardasil, more advanced contraception, and that old standby, the condom) might encourage more libertine behavior by making sex feel safer than it did during the panic of the 1990s—but granted, that doesn’t really make for the most compelling of Vanity Fair screeds."

He Called Her a Slut. He Got Fired

...And then a bunch of trolls blamed her for it.
"A culture of sexist tolerance undermines entire industries, let alone individual people’s daily lives. This tolerance continues because we’ve created cultures were targets of awful behavior are expected to just take it."

...and finally, you can't make this stuff up:

Catholic university overseen by the Church to host conference about the secrets of the female body

From the story:
"Topics covered at the landmark conference are said to include the lifting, tightening and bleaching of female genitals. Delegates will also discuss the amplification of the G-spot and the O-spot, a point behind the surface which experts claim is more sensitive to pleasure than the G-spot. The delegates will also be greeted to an audience with Pope Francis and a walk with in the Vatican gardens, the Times reported. They will then take part in a 'hands on course' which features operations on '14 live cases'."

Be a virginspotter! Send us stories for our weekly round up here, or tweet at us with our @virginitymovie handle. 

Ask Trixie: My future husband is a 40-year-old virgin and I'm worried he won't have a high-enough sex drive

I'm a divorced 37-yr-old woman dating a 40-yr-old virgin man. I am the first woman he has kissed, the first real relationship he has had. He's a little shy, but incredibly kind and treats me better than any man I've ever dated. We both attend a "wait until marriage" church, so my only sexual experience is with my ex-husband. My problem in that marriage was our desire levels did not match. I wanted far more than he did. My concern in dating a 40-yr-old virgin is that if we marry and become intimate, I will have the same problem I did before. Is it possible for a man to stay a virgin so long and still have a high sex drive?? Or am I dooming myself to the same fate I had before if I stay with him??

First of all, it's awesome that you've found such an amazing guy. And I also think it's great to hear that your boyfriend has found a woman who obviously has such strong feelings for him (we get so many comments from older virgin guys who can't imagine any woman being interested in someone with little to no sexual experience). 

Having said that, your question raises questions for me. Like, what does a "wait until marriage" church ask you to wait for? Intercourse? Any kind of intimate activity? Because you don't have to be putting penises into vaginas to have some pretty intense sex (and get a good feel for how often each partner wants said intensity). 

The most important question is: Have you asked your fiance about his sex drive? Because many 'older' guys who have never had partnered sex do have strong libidos. Does your fiancee masturbate? Does he have sexual fantasies? Does the very sight of you make him horny, even if he knows he can't act on it just yet?

Aside from that, though, having un-equal libidos is not that unusual in long-term relationships. And those libidos can fluctuate and change over time as well (after all, there's no normal, only what works for each relationship) I'm reminded of a post on Em & Lo asking how men feel when a woman has a stronger libido than her male partner. The men's answers were fair to lame, in my opinion, but here is one good comment that all their other readers especially liked. This is an excerpt:

I am married and I think it is safe to say my sex drive is much higher than my husbands. Our sex life is great, the two of us have a very open communication of what feels good and what feels great. However we both also know when the other is too tired for sex. More than not its me knowing when my other needs a break. Having sex is not a chore my husband has to check off his list, but an experience we both enjoy, a lot.

I must tell the truth he looks forward to that week of cramps and menstruation because sex is the furthest thing from my mind and he gets a “break” but sure enough after only four days he’s still pawing at me. Sure there are at times a feeling for him to preform, but it comes with the awareness of his current needs and my libido. It would be outrageous to think that every time I wanted sex I would get it, much like it is outrageous to think that every time a man wants sex the woman *must* put out. And I think that outrageous statement is what is behind these “advice answers.”

There needs to be room in a relationship for a woman to say, “No” just as much as there needs to be room in a relationship for a man to say, “I’m too tired.” And in my relationship there’s plenty of room for that, along with acceptance, commitment, and consent.

I'd also strongly recommend reading Scarleteen's Getting Married When We (May) Want Different Things From Sex. In this case it's the female partner who hasn't had sex and frankly isn't all that interested, but it gives a lot to think about in terms of how to negotiate the problems that situation might bring.

What do you the rest of you think? Can couples negotiate a big gap in libido? Does it make sense to ask mature adults to wait until marriage to become sexually intimate? Let us know what you think! Got a question about virginity, sex, relationships, feminism or filmmaking?  Ask Trixie here.

Ask Trixie: "I'm scared to lose my virginity because I'm scared I will get pregnant."

I'm scared to lose my virginity because I'm scared I will get pregnant the first time I ever do it because that's the kind of luck I have – Anonymous

Dear Anonymous – I’m really glad you asked this question. Sex can be amazing, but being ready for any kind of sex is more than just making physical and emotional connections. It also means you and your partner are taking responsibility for using the right contraception and STI prevention–which I know can sometimes be confusing and awkward.

I have TOTALLY been there myself, and I’m really ashamed to say that the first time I had intercourse I used no birth control at all. So stupid and scary, and I was very lucky to not get pregnant or get an STI*. I did NOT make that mistake again. I immediately scheduled my first gynecologist appointment and decided to go on the pill (and never got pregnant). That was the right choice for me at the time, but everyone's situation is different.

One little thought: Having any kind of sex for the first time can sometimes be scary, or make us nervous. Think about whether fear of pregnancy is masking some other deeper concerns about being intimate. I'll leave that there for you to ponder and get on to the birth control info.

First of all, the best way not to get pregnant is not to have intercourse (Jane The Virgin doesn’t count) but if you do want to have intercourse, birth control should never, ever be a matter of luck. It’s about educating yourself on the best BC option for you, and then using it exactly as directed. Despite what abstinence-until-marriage programs teach, contraception is safe and effective when used correctly (and a lot safer than going through a pregnancy). 

A great place to start is with this handy guide from our friends at Scarleteen. It walks you through questions about what’s most useful and healthy for YOU and gives lots of suggestions on what to use. Planned Parenthood also has a great guide as does Bedsider.

Once you have an idea of what works best for you, go see your health care provider. If you’re lucky enough to live near a Planned Parenthood office, they’ll be happy to help you, and it will be less expensive. Stay way clear of Crisis Pregnancy Centers which advertise the same services but then give you misinformation and shame instead of contraception.

One other thing to consider: If you’re having sex within a relationship and your birth control costs a bit of cash, it’s only fair that your partner helps pay for it. Just because you’re the one who can get pregnant, it doesn’t mean it’s not his responsibility as well. 

*Don’t forget Sexually Transmitted Infections, which can be an even bigger risk than pregnancy because you don’t have to have intercourse to get infected. Condoms are the only way to protect yourself against those so have your partner keep using them. Also, because no BC is absolutely 100% effective (although many come very close), condoms can be a great backup.

Got a question about virginity, sex, relationships, feminism or filmmaking?  Ask Trixie here.

Women feel less guilty about losing their virginity, but is that the conversation we need to be having?

Note: Another story on this study just came out, so we're reposting this response.  

Image via Rise, Rebel, Resist tumblr

As someone who's been working for years to bust mythologies and change the conversation around virginity, I give a serious hooray for reducing guilt around first intercourse for women. Writing about a new study,  Salon reports in "Science: Losing your virginity isn’t as awkward as it was 20 years ago":

"According to a study from the University of Illinois, young adults have felt better and better about their first-time sexual experiences for the past 23 years, with the difference between men’s and women’s emotional responses to early sexual intercourse decreasing over time."

And this:

"The researchers discovered that gender differences in response to virginity loss diminished greatly over time, which they suspect might be “because of a reduction, in general, of social regulation of female sexuality and in the double standard” of sexual expression for each gender."

It's no surprise that women are feeling less guilt and shame around becoming sexual. They have more agency to choose how, when and why they'll become sexual. (Thank you, Feminism) Women know more than they ever did about their bodies and how to get pleasure from the experience (Thank you Scarleteen and the other fantastic online resources). And maybe, just maybe, the guys are paying more attention to women's pleasure as well. (Thank you again, Feminism).

But, as writer Jenny Kutner points out:

"It’s important to note, though, that men do still exhibit more positive responses and experience more pleasure than women — also because of the “reduction” in the policing of women’s bodies and not its complete obliteration."

Reduction, not obliteration, and I'd argue in the last 8 years, some significant increases. There's the $1.5 billion worth of inaccurate, sexist shaming  from Abstinence-Until Marriage programs, and the near constant stream of slut-shamingrape cases dismissed or hushed up, and legislative attacks on women's reproductive rights and resources. Young women are also facing more pressure to have sex (call it prude-shaming?) and then get a steaming pile of mixed messages like the always-popular 'be sexy but don't have sex."

Even comprehensive sex classes don't talk much about how both women and men can get pleasure from sex, or how to ask for and respect consent. A woman having pre-marital sex may be more acceptable than in the past, but so is having your own bank account and keeping your last name.

One thing that continues to be frustrating is using intercourse as the sexual benchmark for these studies. Why are we measuring the start of sexuality by a penis going into a vagina? First,  it's a heterosexual framework, leaving out a chunk of the sex-having population. But also, our V-Card Diaries story collection is full of young women writing that everything they did pre-intercourse was pleasurable, but intercourse itself was a let down.

No surprise: that's not how most women orgasm, especially when they're first starting to have sex. But the study insists on measuring women's pleasure by how much they enjoyed intercourse, and then they're actually surprised that it's so low. Please let's stop selling intercourse the big sexual prize for women and recognize there are lots of ways to have sex that don't involve a penis in a vagina. 

The progress is great, but we need to keep working to change the conversation about women, virginity and sex to one that's not only non-judgmental, but also recognizes diverse sexual experiences, and puts consent and pleasure at the top of the must-have list.

MagicWand

[Get more graphics and gifs here]

Women feel less guilty about losing their virginity, but is that the conversation we need to be having?

 

Image via Rise, Rebel, Resist tumblr

As someone who's been working for years to bust mythologies and change the conversation around virginity, I give a serious hooray for reducing guilt around first intercourse for women. Writing about a new study,  Salon reports in "Science: Losing your virginity isn’t as awkward as it was 20 years ago":

"According to a study from the University of Illinois, young adults have felt better and better about their first-time sexual experiences for the past 23 years, with the difference between men’s and women’s emotional responses to early sexual intercourse decreasing over time."

And this:

"The researchers discovered that gender differences in response to virginity loss diminished greatly over time, which they suspect might be “because of a reduction, in general, of social regulation of female sexuality and in the double standard” of sexual expression for each gender."

It's no surprise that women are feeling less guilt and shame around becoming sexual. They have more agency to choose how, when and why they'll become sexual. (Thank you, Feminism) Women know more than they ever did about their bodies and how to get pleasure from the experience (Thank you Scarleteen and the other fantastic online resources). And maybe, just maybe, the guys are paying more attention to women's pleasure as well. (Thank you again, Feminism).

But, as writer Jenny Kutner points out:

"It’s important to note, though, that men do still exhibit more positive responses and experience more pleasure than women — also because of the “reduction” in the policing of women’s bodies and not its complete obliteration."

Reduction, not obliteration, and I'd argue in the last 8 years, some significant increases. There's the $1.5 billion worth of inaccurate, sexist shaming  from Abstinence-Until Marriage programs, and the near constant stream of slut-shamingrape cases dismissed or hushed up, and legislative attacks on women's reproductive rights and resources. Young women are also facing more pressure to have sex (call it prude-shaming?) and then get a steaming pile of mixed messages like the always-popular 'be sexy but don't have sex."

Even comprehensive sex classes don't talk much about how both women and men can get pleasure from sex, or how to ask for and respect consent. A woman having pre-marital sex may be more acceptable than in the past, but so is having your own bank account and keeping your last name.

One thing that continues to be frustrating is using intercourse as the sexual benchmark for these studies. Why are we measuring the start of sexuality by a penis going into a vagina? First,  it's a heterosexual framework, leaving out a chunk of the sex-having population. But also, our V-Card Diaries story collection is full of young women writing that everything they did pre-intercourse was pleasurable, but intercourse itself was a let down.

No surprise: that's not how most women orgasm, especially when they're first starting to have sex. But the study insists on measuring women's pleasure by how much they enjoyed intercourse, and then they're actually surprised that it's so low. Please let's stop selling intercourse the big sexual prize for women and recognize there are lots of ways to have sex that don't involve a penis in a vagina. 

The progress is great, but we need to keep working to change the conversation about women, virginity and sex to one that's not only non-judgmental, but also recognizes diverse sexual experiences, and puts consent and pleasure at the top of the must-have list.

MagicWand

[Get more graphics and gifs here]

Ask Trixie: Will I bleed the first time I have sex?

Will I bleed the first time I have sex? –A.

Hi A–

Thanks for writing. The quick answer is I don’t know if you’re going to bleed or not. Some women* will bleed the first time their vaginas are penetrated by a penis (or a dildo or fingers, for that matter) and some won’t. It depends on various factors, like whether you’re sufficiently aroused and lubricated, how rough your partner is, how elastic your hymen is, or whether you have any medical conditions that might cause bleeding. Sometimes there’s a lot of blood, sometimes there’s some spotting and just as often there’s no blood at all (which is how it went for me).

The myth that all women bleed the first time they have intercourse is so pervasive that it’s used as a standard ‘virginity’ test all over the world. In reality, the whole blood-on-the-sheet thing says absolutely nothing about whether a woman is a virgin, has previously been penetrated by a penis, or anything else except how her vaginal tissue reacted to the factors listed above. As we often point out, there is no way to test for ‘virginity.’

If you want more information on bleeding, I’d highly recommend Scarleteen’s"One Bloody Mess: Myths and Realities of Bleeding with First Intercourse", and while you’re there, consider making a small donation so they can keep doing the amazing work they do.

*This question came from a woman with a vagina planning to have PIV sex for the first time, but for any first-time penetration, make sure it’s slow, gentle and very well-lubricated. If you feel like there’s excessive blood or pain, it may be a sign that something is physically wrong, and you should definitely see your doctor about it.

Got a question about virginity, sex, relationships, feminism or filmmaking?  Ask Trixie here

Ask Trixie: How can I make my future husband believe I'm a virgin?

I had sex about 3 years ago and it was only one time and I was 15 years old. I bled a lot and it hurt like 3 days. What will I do to make my future husband to believe I'm a virgin? Do I need to see a doctor to check if I need a surgery or can I just fake blood? I cant sleep at night because I'm scared just thinking about it all the time. –W.

Hi W. –

I’m so sorry you are going through this.

The first and most important thing to know is that no one can prove or show that someone has had intercourse or is not a virgin by any definition. A doctor can’t look at you and tell anything, and many women never bleed, even the first time they have intercourse. These are the facts, no matter what you have been taught. So if a future husband is looking for some kind of proof of virginity, it doesn’t exist. It would be very possible and common to have intercourse for the very first time and never bleed at all (This is how it happened for me, and I’m sure many of the women you know). For more detailed information, you can read my post about bleeding, virginity and hymen surgery here, but I'll discuss some of it here as well.

I will assume by your questions that you live within a culture that puts a high value on virginity for women. While many people claim this kind of thinking protects you and celebrates your purity, it really is a lot more aboutcontrolling your body and telling you what you can and can’t do with it. The idea that you have less value if you’ve had sex is false, unfair and dangerous, especially because I’m betting there isn’t the same requirement for the men. Our favorite sex ed website Scarleteen has received many letters from women in your situation, and also from men who demand ways to prove virginity, and Scarleteen wrote a really good post about virginity and women's bodies.

Finally, the RFSU (the Swedish Association for Sexuality Education) is combating myths about the hymen and virginity and created a PDF book you can download. It includes information about hymen 'reconstruction' which is the surgery you are referring to. Some women are so afraid of not bleeding, that they have this done even if they have never had sex. As RSFU writes, surgery rarely solves any problems, firstly because outcomes vary, and secondly because it helps to maintain a prejudiced view of women and their sexuality.

This may not always be possible, but if there is a female relative or a doctor you can speak to, you can share with them the information I've linked to above and talk through your concerns. It helps to have someone nearby who is there to listen and help.

Got a question about virginity, sex, relationships, feminism or filmmaking?  Ask Trixie here

Does the thought of another looming Valentine's Day make you want to curl up in a little ball? Scarleteen can help.

Scarleteen Valentine for me  Scarleteen Valentine for your vibrator For a lot of people, Valentine's Day sucks. All those pictures of couples in love eating chocolate off each others' bodies while lying on a bed of  roses gets annoying really fast. When I was single, I used to host a Valentine's Day party that only single people could attend, so we could all have something fun to do that night. I'm married now, but I'm spending this Feb. 14th with my best Galentine, having dinner and watching our imaginary boyfriend Idlar Abdrazakov sing.

So what I'm saying is, don't fall for the hype...and let Scarleteen help. Readers of this blog know how much we adore this sex ed site (and so do others - they get a gagillion hits a day). Not only have they taught us a lot about sexuality, but founder Heather Corinna is one of the best things in How To Lose Your Virginity (and we're proud that her language was salty enough to be bleeped several times on our TV broadcast on Fusion!)

Now Scarleteen has launched a collection of Valentine's Day e-cards that span a huge range of relationships not usually covered by your standard hearts and flowers:

There's a big range of interactions and relationships that can all be healthy, happy and involve love -- or like, lust, or even I-don't-know-yet-what-this-is-yet-but-it-sure-is-fun-so-far -- not just one kind of relationship. Hookups or friends with benefits, open or poly relationships, friendships, sexual monogamy, love relationships without sex, exes turned friends, and even the love relationship one has with oneself can all potentially be sweet, caring, beneficial and meaningful for the people within them.

Scarleteen friends with benefits valentine  Scarleteen No Big Deal valentine

Send one or more of these to all the special people and sex toys in your life, and while you're at it, consider supporting Scarleteen in the incredibly important work they do. We here at Trixie Films support them every month, and it's so worth it. Scarleteen has been providing inclusive, informative and progressive sex education to millions of young people every year since 1998 and they've have never had any federal, state, institutional or foundational funding. They pay their bills solely with the help of independent donors.

To donate through Paypal, click here, or to do so through Network for Good, click here. Both means of donating accept credit/debit cards or Paypal funds. For a tax-deductible donation, Network for Good is the way to go.

Thanks so much for your supporting this amazing and vitally important site!

Ask Trixie : We're ready to have sex but I'm really worried about it hurting.

I've been dating my boyfriend for a while and were ready to have sex but I'm really worried about it hurting. I am very sensitive to pain and I am wondering does it really hurt that badly? What should I expect? – Anonymous

Hi Anonymous - Thanks for writing!

Because we’re all built differently it’s hard to know whether vaginal penetration is going to hurt or not. It didn’t hurt at all for me, and I didn’t bleed either. But some of my girlfriends had a pretty rough time of it.

The good news is that foreplay is your best friend! As you get more aroused, you’ll probably get more lubricated and relaxed, which will help. And be super generous with the lube! You or your boyfriend could also try to gently insert one finger and see how that feels. Slowly work your way to two fingers. Some women I know have had a lot of success with a set of graduated vaginal dilators (here's an example of what I'm talking about) but they do cost some money.

If it hurts, stop and do something else that feels good. Intercourse isn’t the be all and end all, and if it takes a while to make it comfortable, don’t worry. By the way, penetration with a penis or dildo can be sometimes be painful the first time or the 50th time, depending on the size of what's going in there. But if you're relaxed, aroused and well-lubricated and it's still very painful, please talk to your gynecologist to see if there's anything else going on physically like vaginismus. Here's a good post from Scarleteen you should also read.

Good luck!

Got a question about virginity, sex, relationships, feminism or filmmaking?  Ask Trixie here

quote of the day:

"We are simultaneously bombarded with two conflicting messages: one from our parents, churches and schools – that sex is dirty and therefore we must keep ourselves clean for the love of our lives; and the other from Playboy, Newsweek, etc., almost all women's magazines, and especially television commercials – the we should be free, groovy chicks."

That's from Our Bodies, Ourselves, by the Boston Women's Health Collective, in the 1971/1973 edition, penned by women in their twenties at the time.

From an article at Scarleteen, called "Living in a world of prudes, sluts and nobodies at all." Read the whole thing and the comments! It was reposted today and it's as true as ever.

Just The Tip: Virginity in the News: Sexual truth, slut-shaming, reality purity and a new V-Card app!

DieariesDemoPage Remember that V-Card-survey we asked you to fill out last week? Well, just just spent a very intense chocolate-covered-espresso-bean-fueled weekend building a prototype based on your answers. It's Phase 2 of our V-Card Diaries project, which mixes interactive storytelling, cool charts, and some subversion of the virginity construct. Check out the V-Card Experience Engine prototype here!

Keep in mind, it's just a prototype right now, so only some parts work, and others are there to show you what it looks like as you fill it out. If you haven't done our survey to anonymously add your experiences to our database, do it now! You can enjoy the first part of V-Card Diaries, your essays on sexual debuts and deferrals, live on our website anytime.

~~~

We love the new Make Sex Normal Tumblr. That is all.

~~~

Scarleteen Logo

It's Heather Corinna's birthday and the wonderful founder of Scarleteen has one birthday wish: please tell the sexual truth.

"One of the very biggest problems we have in most of our cultures and communities around sex and sexuality is silence, secrecy, and talk about sex that very often either isn't truthful, or is, but isn't the whole truth. We, as people, tend to often feel so scared and shameful and nervous about sex that we posture. We embellish. We make things sound better or worse than they are. We pretend we know more than we do, or have experienced less or more than we have [...] So this year, as a birthday gift from you to me, and even more so, as a gift to yourself, I'm asking you to tell just one (but more if you like, of course!) truth about sex or sexuality with someone safe for you, today or sometime very soon."

You can (and must) read the rest of her essay/birthday wish here.

~~

This made our day: When the notorious abstinence lecturer/public shamer Pam Stenzel showed up to give one of her usual shaming and inaccurate high school speeches, she wasn't expecting to come up against student Katelyn Campbell (above). Not only did Katelyn refuse to attend the assembly, she filed a complaint with the ACLU, calling Stenzel's presentation 'slut shaming." But here's Think Progress reports happened after that:

But it didn’t end with a simple difference of opinion among Campbell and her principal. The high school senior alleges that Aulenbacher threatened to call Wellesley College, where Campbell has been accepted to study in the fall, after she spoke to the press about her objections to the assembly. According to Campbell, her principal said, “How would you feel if I called your college and told them what bad character you have and what a backstabber you are?” Campbell alleges that Aulenbacher continued to berate her in his office, eventually driving her to tears. “He threatened me and my future in order to put forth his own personal agenda and make teachers and students feel they cant speak up because of fear of retaliation,” she said of the incident. Despite being threatened, Campbell is not backing down.

Katelyn Campbell, you are our hero. And, via Twitter, Wellesley College has confirmed that Campbell doesn’t need to worry about her spot next year!

~~

All that feel-good gets pushed away by this show on Lifetime called Preachers' Daughters which asks the question: How will three Christian families headed by pastors keep their teen daughters from having sex? Andy Kopsa writes in the Atlantic about what happens when families fixate on purity:

The things each of these families is dealing with aren't unique. Raising teenagers can be a nightmare (Aside from having been a teen girl myself once, I have a 23-year-old daughter so, yes, I get it.) The way these young girls are affected by the expectations of their parents and the rigidity of their religion may seem unusual but in some Christian households it appears to be quite common. They are not an anomaly that reality TV discovered and seized onto but an accurate portrayal of a prevalent Evangelical belief system.

Many of the comments, which attack the story as they quote scripture are depressing. But we did notice one from our pal @BelleVierge

Also, the way those girls are styled above, the show should be called Preachers' Virgin/Whore Dichotomies. Thanks for the link: @Catcall Chronicle and @northstarmoll

Re-Post from Scarleteen: "Like a Virgin: What Having Sex and First Time(s) Have Meant to Me"

Our latest V-Card Diaries was originally published at scarleteen.com and the writer has asked to remain anonymous. If you want to tell your story, go to our submission form. We'd love to run it in this blog. I’m 23 years old.

Depending on who you ask, I’m a single woman or a wife, "sex-crazy" or sex-positive, a slut or a virgin. Obviously, I can’t be all of these things... but just as obviously, the wide variety of people and institutions I interact with throughout my day-to-day life are defining these terms very differently than I do. So let me be more clear, and maybe help you clear up some of your own confusion about what labels you “have to” use, and what labels you want to proudly claim for your own.

About four and a half years ago, my girlfriend Katie and I had what we would have called our "first time." Since we’re both women, we don’t have the ease of understanding or assuming what "losing your virginity" is that someone paired with another person of a different gender might have. After a lot of conversations, we came to the decision that we didn’t want to be completely naked together until we had a room where we had a right to close and lock the door without anyone questioning us- in other words, until I could travel to her dorm room at her college rather than just seeing each other when we were both on break in our hometown. It was sweet, sometimes awkward, incredibly meaningful, and overall a wonderful "first time."

But that’s not the end of the story.

Over the next several years of our relationship, we grew and changed in ways that humans tend to do. We decided that, honestly, anything we did together that caused orgasms really counted as sex, and so while we’ll always love our "first time," we’d been having sex for quite a while before that.

Simultaneously, we faced a world that doesn’t really know what it thinks about lesbians and sex, other than that it’s probably bad. I heard in so many ways how my relationship wasn’t valid. I had a bulletin-board conversation with one of my floormates about how I couldn’t really ever have sex, only "sexual acts," since no penises were entering any vaginas. (This caused an awful lot of running jokes among my friends from that point on- "Are you and Katie going to go have not-sex now? Did you have tons of wild, wild not-sex over your Valentine’s Weekend trip?")

I even had a leader of a fairly nonconformative group on campus tell me to my face that, "Of course I was still a virgin." As headstrong and self-confident as I tried to be, I couldn’t shake a nagging feeling that maybe these people were onto something. Did this really not count?

Nearly three years after that first idea of a first time, I was still dating Katie and we’d exchanged engagement rings. We’d also been talking more and more about polyamory, and had finally taken the first nervous step of indicating our interest to another engaged couple in our social circle who were generally known to be open. That first poly relationship had more rules than I could shake a stick at- and a lot of them had to do with what we were calling sex, and how we felt about what we were doing. Yeah, we were all having sex, but only certain kinds with certain people at certain times- and it got even more complicated when I (confirmed, out-and-proud lesbian harboring confusing bisexual tendencies) was interacting in EXTREMELY AWKWARD ways with the male person in that couple. Emotional and intimate issues eventually led us to separate from them.

So now who was I? I’d slept with two people besides my fiancee... sort of? But everyone consented, so it wasn’t like I was a cheating hussy or anything. But I still liked girls better. Yeah. That’s right.

Then, of course, I had to go and fall in love with another man, and the tangle of that relationship could take a novel all of its own. I was head over heels for only the second time in my life, and I thought I’d found the solution to my fears about sex with men: someone kind and gentle and ostensibly pure; a very Christian, definitely virgin, partner.

Suffice to say, polyamory only works when everyone involved is honest not only with each other, but with themselves, and can clearly state their own needs and issues. He was dealing with a lot of shame and self-loathing about the concept of sex in general, and we spent several months in the surreal state where he insisted that we weren’t having sex if it was just dry humping, and I assured him (not just quietly, but firmly, more than once) that it sure felt like sex to me. In the end, our differences tore us apart in a very messy way - I said unfortunate things in public, Katie cried (an occasion of once a decade or so), and this guy turned up what had previously been an annoying tendency to wheedle into full-out emotional manipulation and abuse. When he left, I told Katie that I was done with men. They just hurt me.

But here we are now. I’m typing this letter to all of you sitting in bed next to Katie (who is now my wife, according to my church and everyone who matters), the smell of our boyfriend still clinging to the pillows, and I can see our girlfriend’s hairbrush where she forgot it on the bookshelf. Turns out that while Katie and I were learning about maturity, heartbreak, and what a really bad relationship looks like, John and Emily, that first couple we were with, were learning their own lessons. Emily doesn’t let her insecurity keep her from enjoying her bisexuality to the fullest. Katie is more willing to trust human beings in general. John is much more conscious about balancing his now-wife’s needs with caring for the other women he loves. And I have finally gotten over my own guilt trip about loving men enough to finally REALLY enjoy sex with him.

Today, I went to Planned Parenthood to get fitted for a diaphragm so I can feel as confident as possible about minimizing pregnancy risks before I do what a lot of people call losing my virginity.

When I filled out my new client paperwork, I cringed as I marked my marital status as single, because according to the government, Katie doesn’t count. When I added my emergency contact information, I proudly listed Katie’s phone number, and noted under relationship the word Wife.

Finally, I went into my appointment to get fitted for birth control. I was incredibly grateful that the clinic staff seemed entirely uninterested in questioning these discrepancies - I really didn’t want any delays.

I’m planning to have intercourse for the first time as soon as we can manage a good stretch of time, because otherwise we might just pounce each other like animals in the middle of cooking each other a nice dinner some night this week. It’s unbelievable how good and healing it feels to finally be having the kind of relationships I want, in the ways that I want, and for the most part on the terms that I want. I can’t change the world, but I think I’ve finally got a handle- at least for the moment- on how I see myself.

I guess what I’m trying to say is, whoever you are, whatever you are or aren’t doing with whatever people of whatever gender in whatever numbers or combinations: it’s okay.

Seriously, it’s okay. You can call yourself a virgin if that word has a lot of meaning for you, but don’t let people use it like a measuring rod or a judgement from on high. You can call yourself a lesbian, bisexual, straight, ace, whatever; but don’t let that stop you from admitting when you love someone, because you might just be missing out on some amazing experiences. You can build whatever relationship structures you like, as long as they’re working for everyone involved. More important than definitions or rules is your own comfort, your own consent, and your own desire.

So go out there and love freely (and safely!), and be who you want to be. And only you get to decide whether or not you’re a "virgin."

This story originally ran in Scarleteen in November, 2012. Reposted with permission.

Life Lessons from Dawson's Creek, via Scarleteen

Joey: Pacey...I want you. I really do.Pacey: I need to know that. Joey: Know it. I don't really know what's...wrong, but...I just keep holding back. I'm sorry, but I'm scared. Pacey: Good! Do you think I'm not scared? I'm terrified, Jo! Joey: You are? Pacey: Yeah! Joey: So then, can we just be scared together? From "Life Lessons from TV: 'Dawson's Creek' on How to Know You Are Ready for Sex." Read the rest at Scarleteen.com

A Romance Novelists' Guide to Hymen Breaking

Over at Feministe, Caperton pens some much-needed words of advice for the folks writing about Lusty Pirates deflowering Innocent Maidens:

In the world of heteromance novels, though, the hymen’s usually the thing, and there’s pretty consistent boilerplate for the scene in which our innocent, sheltered protagonist loses hers: She feels an awful tearing deep inside or a pinching that wasn’t as bad as she expected, or he encounters an obstruction halfway in about which he’ll interrogate her after they’re done with the tender lovemaking. Or he gets to a certain point insider her and then has to stop and ask her if she’s okay and strokes her hair off her forehead until she assures him she really does want to do this, and then he busts through her maidenhead like the Kool-Aid Man, and she’s ouchy for a bit and then ends up coming rainbows by the time he’s finished.

You can read the whole post here, including its shout-out to Scarleteen and Hanne Blank.  While I'm sure that the smartie readers of this blog already know the hymen is right at the entrance to–and not midway down–the vagina, the whole gynastics/horseback riding/bicycle bar breakage thing is not all that accurate, either. If you want a refresher, check out my guest post at Adios Barbie, "Regenerating Hymens and Bloody Sheets: What’s Really Going On Down There?," for more fascinating hymenology.

[Hymen Week] Check out my story 'Regenerating Hymens and Bloody Sheets' over at Adios Barbie

Cable has Shark Week, we have Hymen Week (no dentata jokes, please)! All this week we're reposting some of our favorite hymen-related stories from the truly alarming to the very ridiculous. Share your biggest hymen and virginity myths here!

Ever wondered how an 'artificial hymen' really works? Wondering if your hymen could actually seal over during a dry spell? Well, wonder no more. I'm very excited about a post I just did for Adios Barbie called "Regenerating Hymens and Bloody Sheets: What’s Really Going On Down There?" Here's a couple of paragraphs:

For example, friends often tell me they didn’t bleed the first time they had intercourse because gymnastics or horseback riding broke their hymens. In fact, the bonk of a balance beam tends to get absorbed quite well by the vulva. Heather Corinna of Scarleteen points out that it’s more likely that, in the past, the threat of a broken hymen was used to discourage women from doing just these kinds physical activities.

As for me, during a long sexual dry spell, I’ve joked that my hymen must be growing back. Guess what? This can actually happen. In “Virgin: The Untouched History,” author Hanne Blank tells the story of a Taiwanese woman who had no less than three hymenotomies to unseal a relentlessly regenerating hymen. Even a sex ed film from 1947 tells us the hymen has nothing do with virginity, so why have the myths persisted?

To read the rest of it, go to Adios Barbie, a fabulous site dedicated to inspiring a body and self-loving world, and leave some comments. There's a bonus video on The Hymen Marketplace as well!

"All the other girls are choosing to have sex, but I feel scared to."

"There are no perfect sexual choices. So, whatever we do, we might still have regrets. However, there are certainly things we can do and can avoid doing to make it far more likely for our sexual choices, whatever they are, to feel good for us, before, during and afterward. And one of the biggest factors in a feel-great-about-it choice is making sure it really seems and feels like OUR best choice, the one WE really want and also really feel ready for, not someone's else's choice."

Part of Scarleteen.com's response to a 15-year-old girl who wants to become more sexual but feels scared and unprepared. Read the whole response here. (We love Scarleteen!)

[From the Archives] Scarleteen: Debunking the myths of the First Time

Every once in a while we repost something we love from our archives. This originally ran on August 6, 2010. This post is by Alison. I teach SAT prep to teenagers. My students are awesome and deserve all the sex ed they want, which is why I love that Scarleteen, a comprehensive sex ed and advice website, is available as a resource. (It's so interesting that this blog post took me hours longer to write because I was lost in the archives!)

Heather Corinna founded Scarleteen in 1998 and since then has answered hundred of questions and debunked myths about virginity. In fact, about 25% of questions the site receives somehow involve The First Time. In an article entitled "Magical Cups & Bloody Brides: Virginity in Context," Corinna explains how the history and context of the word virgin is much different than its modern definition:

"In ancient times, the virgin huntress icon Diana was a goddess because of her independence, not her subservience or the state of her hymen – she was on her own by choice, and not owned by any man, nor did she wish to be."

Isn't that cool? But wait...things changed. Virginity began to be defined in the technical terms of penises and vaginas:

"The concept of a virgin as someone who hasn't had penis-in-vagina intercourse leaves a lot of people out in the cold. Defining sex by male-to-female intercourse would make a lesbian who has had over one hundred female partners, but no male partners, a virgin. The standard definition of virginity also denotes that a woman is not a fully sexual being until she has made love with a man. Very little of this is positive or empowering, and it leaves a lot of loopholes."

Heather concludes with this hopeful encouragement:

"Much of the misinformation, myth and practice surrounding female virginity has been cultivated in times when women could not make their own choices. But those times are past for many women, unless you choose to perpetuate them. Ultimately, it is in your hands, and those of other women right now, to take the initiative to "own" yourself and your sexuality. Whatever way you choose to do so, so long as it feels right to you physically, emotionally and intellectually, and you make your choices responsibly and thoughtfully is the right way."

Another fascinating article entitled "Blowjobs and Other Boring Stuff" concerns the sexual practices of teenagers. These teens are having everything but intercourse, practices that they have hilariously dubbed "outercourse." They've had years of sex ed and are well-educated about what can and can't get them pregnant. Still, the article ends with a sigh.

"The girls seem to be more or less in control of their sexuality, and that's a positive development. But there is something in many of the kids' stories that leaves me a bit sad. Some of it reminds me of the classic frustrated housewife image, deciding what color to paint the ceiling while having sex – "I think girls do blow jobs and stuff just to make us happy," Jared says. "One day I looked up at my girlfriend's face while I was going down on her and I caught her staring out the window, looking bored." Some of it makes me worry about them, with their combination of emotional innocence and sexual sophistication – I sense danger lurking around unseen corners."

If you haven't read Scarleteen lately, go over and take a look. Here are some links to check out:

What do we mean when we say sex?


If you can't see the video, click here.

Here's how our interviews usually go:
Us: How do you define 'virgin?'
Them: A virgin is someone who's never had sex.
Us: OK, what's sex?
Hilarity and confusion ensues, as seen is this clip, above, from our doc-in-progress "How to Lose Your Virginity."


Happily, Heather Corinna at our favorite sex-ed site Scarleteen has waded into this murky topic for our benefit. And not surprisingly, there's no simple response to that question. but the answers are fascinating and illuminating for even the most experienced sexual human. Here's what she says:

When SOME people say "sex" they only mean penis-in-vagina genital intercourse. Some other people use it to mean any kind of genital sex. But when we mean those specific things, we'll say that we're talking about those specific things. When some people say "having sex" they mean something that can only happen in some kinds of partnership -- like a marriage, or a strictly male body/female body partnership -- but when we mean specific partnerships or relationships, we'll be specific.

When WE say "sex" we're talking about very big picture. That's because what sex is or isn't for any given person or partnership not only differs a whole lot from person-to-person, it also can differ a whole lot from day-to-day for any one person: the way they had sex yesterday may not be the way they'll have sex next week. One person might consider that only intercourse or oral sex is sex, but someone else may both define sex differently and have what's sex for them without doing either of those things.

For Scarleteen's entire list on what sex can be, check out their comprehensive list. Hey, you know what's not on the list? Rape and sexual abuse. You know what is on the list? Deep manual sex. We virginity experts had no clue what it was, but now we do. Thanks for keeping us in the know, Scarleteen!

V-Card Diaries: Dana "I knew what to expect–that I would get on that plane at the end of the weekend and go."

Today we're highlighting 26-year-old Dana, who wrote us a while back about being a virgin – and recently let us know that she was one no more. So, we invited her to do a First Person for us about it. 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 26-year-old straight female. I grew up in a liberal household, with an ex-hippie, onetime sex educator, feminist mom. No religious or social taboos about sex to be found. The general attitude about sex was just: be safe and do it with someone you care about.

What is your definition of virginity? This is a complicated question, because for people of different orientations, with different options for sex, it means different things. For me, as a heterosexual female, it's penetration. I think that oral sex is still "sex," but especially as a woman with the potential first-time pain that comes along with vaginal intercourse, the sort of trust that requires, virginity is for me about intercourse. Why did you decide to stay a virgin? It's funny - my first response is "Oh, no, it was not my choice!" I never wanted to be a virgin through my mid-twenties. I did have chances to have sex in college and after that I didn't go for because I wasn't ready, either for sex in general or sex with that person. For a long while I wanted to lose my virginity in the context of a serious, committed relationship and I have dated people, but nothing serious or long-term. At some point I decided I didn't need a boyfriend to lose my virginity, but it still took a while to find the right person and situation. (I think actually finding the right person outside of that framework - as in, not my boyfriend - may have been what changed my mind about that.)

When did you lose your virginity? A few months ago, at the ripe old age of 26 I spent a night with a guy I'd briefly dated a couple of years ago. Just after we'd gone out on a couple of dates, he'd moved to another town, but now almost two years later, he was here for a weekend for work. I still felt very comfortable with him, loved spending time with him, and trusted him. We didn't have intercourse, but we went farther than I'd gone sexually before. He said something about "You should come visit me in my town," and sure enough, my job took me there for a weekend a few months later. We agreed I'd stay at his place. I was nervous and also somewhat on a mission.

I got a lot of good, thoughtful advice from Scarleteen. Although I'm about ten years out of their target demographic, it was really helpful to read other people's experiences of losing their virginity. I don't talk about sex much with my friends, and definitely not about my insecurities about being a virgin in my mid-twenties. Hearing from women who ended up waiting and were totally fine–socially-adjusted, sexy, smart–was great. One thing I read was that you should tell your partner that you're a virgin in the interest of openness. If it's your first time, you want the guy to be a little more... gentle than he might otherwise be. So I decided he needed to know.

On my second night with this guy, in the middle of fooling around, I told him. Or rather, I stopped what we were doing, and sat there for about five minutes trying to get the words out of my mouth. I really hate the the phrase "I'm a virgin"–it makes it seem like virginity is your defining characteristic. I'm a person who happens to not have had sex. I finally got the words out (I think it was "I haven't had sex before") and we talked a lot about it. He was a remarkably sweet, open, communicative person–my instinct that I could trust him was right. And then, well, you get the idea.

He was concerned that it wouldn't be good for me to lose my virginity to someone I wouldn't get to see or date, that it would set me up to be hurt. But the fact is, and I told him this, a boyfriend who lives in your town can hurt you, too, and this way I knew what to expect - that I would get on that plane at the end of the weekend and go. It didn't have to be a bigger deal than that. Do I sometimes now feel really, really sad that we don't live in the same town? Yes. Would I miss him less if we hadn't had intercourse? No. The intimacy was already there. This was just another aspect of it.

I wondered if I'd feel different afterwards, like something major about me had changed, and for the most part I don't. Having sex was just another step along the gradual slope of sexual experience. This was just the one where you really ought to tell someone that what you're doing is new. I do feel freer now to pursue sex–now that there's no big-deal disclosure necessary beforehand–so I want to go out there, find people I like, and have sex with them and enjoy myself. That's my mission now.