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A delightful animation that encourages us to talk more openly about sex...with British accents if possible. (NSFW)

Animator Anna Ginsburg's Private Parts couples fabulously creative animation with the always-excellent goal of getting us to talk more openly about sex. It was commissioned by the UK's Channel 4 in collaboration with It's Nice That, who quotes the filmmaker:

“Conversations I’ve had with close female and male friends over the last decade have shed light on the continuing struggle that women have to engage with and love their own bodies, and to access the sexual pleasure they are capable of,” says Anna. “I’ve been exposed to ‘dick drawings’ since primary school but have rarely, if ever, seen a vagina visualised other than in a clinical medical context. So I thought that talking to men and women about vaginas, masturbation and pubic hair – and then animating them as talking genitals – would be a good place to start in my crusade to open up these issues of sexual inequality and get the conversation started.”

Only quibble: We're enjoying adorable vulvas, not vaginas. Sigh.

V-Card Diaries: Sharon "I was (and am) very attractive and it makes me a little sad that I didn't get out there and find out"

A little about myself:

I'm British, was born in Germany, live in Scotland. I'm 51 and a speech and language therapist

How I define virginity:

I used to think it was penetrative sex, but recent reading makes me think it is a series of states, the first time you are touched, the first time you touch etc

Here's my story:

I was a very shy girl. My sisters were and are gorgeous and I felt eclipsed. I was plump and I was convinced that nobody would be interested, so I stayed at home........I used to iron my sister's clothes for her nights out!

But i was sexual, I had strong sexual feelings, I yearned, I fantasied, I masturbated and I stayed at home, totally convinced of my lack of attraction.

When I was 20 I was a very bad au pair in Germany, I lost my job and went to stay with family friends. I had an almighty crush on the husband and this resulted in having my very first kiss and sexual experience. We got naked a couple of times, he went down on me, (I nearly had a heart attack......but it felt fantastic). I was terrified, but very excited.............such an unsuitable man and situation.

I then yearned and replayed all of this for about 18 years, no sexual contact with anybody, nothing at all.

I'm now in my very late 30's, working in the Hebrides. I meet a man at a Ceilidh dance, he is interesting and funny and I fancy him. My friend and I go back to his house, I make it really clear that I fancy him............we end up kissing and I send the night, we do lots of extremely enjoyable things, but we don't have sex. I have a major crush on him, we hang out a lot, but no fun as he wants to be friends.

I go to Moscow on holiday, meet a sweet Scottish guy, who makes it very clear he fancies me, The attraction is mutual and we go back to his hotel room where we ALMOST have sex...............another enjoyable experience.

Still in the Hebrides, I'm at a dance, a man (Alec) crosses the dance floor to chat me up. Initially I'm not interested, but he is quirky and sexy and makes it clear that he finds me attractive. We have a kiss outside the dance..............I really like him.

I send flirty texts, which he responds to. I get an invitation to his house, he is high, funny, sexy and horny. We do lots of lovely things, (the man REALLY enjoys giving oral sex), but he is unavailable and taken. 

Now I'm 40, nearly 41 and I decide that I CAN NOT end the year as a virgin. I get back in touch with Alec, arrange to see him at his house. We sit at the kitchen table and drink tea, I am shaking when I kiss him and ask if we can go to bed. We go to bed, get naked and this is when I say i'm a virgin, Alec asks me why I took so long. We have sex twice, he was funny, kind , gentle and takes his time. It's all a bit of a blur, I remember it hurting, (I bled like a Scilian bride, which pleased me inordinately), but the touching kissing, oral etc was lovely.

As I said, Alec was unavailable, so it was a one night thing, but I got to choose who was the first based on mutual attraction and my steely determination that this was going to happen.
It didn't kick start sustained sexual exploration.................when I turned 50 I decided to pursue a decent sex life, because I do like having sex, my experiences have been uneven and I still feel unfufilled. 

I want to have fun finding out about it before it's all too late. Hindsight is a wonderful thing, looking back I can see that I was, (and am) very attractive and it makes me a little sad that I didn't get out there and find out.

If you want to tell your story, go to our submission form. You can find all our V-Card Diaries here.

About Lady Mary's sex book and 'The Thing' she asked Anna to hide

Mild spoilers ahead...

[Downton Abbey, above, and a 1924 conversation that could have taken place yesterday in Texas Anna: I'd like to buy one of these birth control thingies Shop Lady: Have you considered abstinence instead?

As a major sex geek and a rabid fan of Downton Abbey (check out our weekly podcast here), I've been loving the storyline around Lady Mary Crawley's Liverpool tryst and the birth control she asked Anna to buy and hide. I've also been fascinated with the Twitter conversations debating what that book was (Marie Stopes' Wise Parenthood, likely) and what Anna was asked to buy (a diaphragm or cervical cap, although someone thought it was a used condom - ewww!)

The New York Academy of Medicine has a great article about British scientist (and cat lover) Marie Stopes, whose work helping women control their reproduction and have a more enjoyable sex life, got her both lauded and banned (much like the US's Margaret Sanger).

They write (our boldface):

Stopes (1880-1958), a paleobotanist and campaigner for women’s rights, was the author of numerous books on social welfare, many concerning birth control (see Peter Eaton’s valuable checklist for a complete list). Married Love was a kind of self-help book designed to help couples understand each other’s physical and emotional needs. When it was published in March 1918, post-war women embraced the book. The initial 2,000 copy run sold out in the first fortnight. Eaton counts 28 editions, and translations into more than a dozen languages. By 1921, sales had topped 100,000 copies. An early ban of the book in America on obscenity charges was overturned in 1931, by the same judge who overturned the ban on James Joyce’s Ulysses.

In addition to lawsuits, the publication ofMarried Love prompted fan letters containing many questions. Women wanted more specific instructions on birth control methods. Stopes obliged eight months later, with the publication of Wise Parenthood in November 1918.

By the early 1920s, Stopes made advocacy of birth control for the working classes her biggest cause. In 1921, Stopes opened the first British family-planning clinic in north London. A staff comprised of both male and female nurses and doctors offered free birth control advice. By 1925, the clinic moved to central London, and instituted a mail-order birth control service (note to Anna Bates: for future reference, that mail-order service could save an awkward moment or two).

Although the mail order service would have potentially spared Anna some embarrassment, it would have deprived us of the great scene in the shop, and Anna running off without the instructions but with her consciousness seriously raised.

As we've joked on the podcast, considering that Lady Mary can't even put on a necklace by herself, how would she sort out the cervical cap insertion? Would inserting and removing birth control be just another part of a Lady's Maid's job description? And considering that Lady Mary lives in a 200,ooo sq foot house (give or take) why ask Anna to hide it in her two-room cottage? But that's a question for another blog.

V-Card Diaries: Aura "I asked my Indian mother her opinion on pre-marital sex, and she told me she thought it should be made compulsory"

Today we're highlighting Aura from India, currently living in the north of England, whose mother explained the importance of pre-marital sex with the help of a shoe analogy. If you want to tell your story, go to our submission form. You can find all our V-Card Diaries here.

A little about myself:

I am a 20-year-old Indian girl, currently attending University in north of England.

How I define virginity:

For me, a person loses his/her virginity when he/she has sex for the first time. What one considers as one's first, proper first time depends on him/her, and only he/she has the right to decide what it means to him/her and when he/she will lose it. I consider the day I had penetrative vaginal sex with a man for the first time as the day I lost mine.

People tend to think of Indians as quite narrow-minded and backward. What they do not understand is that it is a big country and there are many different kinds of people and cultures in it. In some areas, virginity is a huge deal, so much so that people actually use the blood stained sheet used on the wedding night to prove to neighbours the virtues of their wives or daughters. In some areas, nobody really talks about it - because it is very personal, but girls are expected to be virgins until they get married. In most areas, nobody cares, and it is a girl's personal choice - unless of course she is married and cheating on her husband/wife. The region where I am from (Bengal) falls largely into the last category. Nobody talks about your sexuality, since its private, personal and well... just very weird for family members to discuss your sex life over coffee

But my mom is my best friend, and I talk to her about everything. In my teens, I asked her for her opinion on pre-marital sex, and I was quite shocked when she told me she thought it should be made compulsory before a wedding, to make sure two people are sexually compatible! Furthermore, she said that men are like clothes. When you walk into a store, you like a few, try some on, and then look at other factors such as prices, colours, and if you are actually going to be wearing them. Similarly, you like men, date some of them, sleep with some, and then decide based on everything which one of them (if any) is right for you. Of course, she said unlike clothes, you only buy (marry) one at a time, and if you have major problems, you return (divorce) him and pick another one. I am so happy my father was perfect for her and she didn't need to 'return' him.

Here's my story:

Such a happy day it was - to finally get rid of the thing that made all men patronise me and see me as some sort of a prize. I hated the fact that my 'first' man would feel a sick chauvinistic kind of triumph, and I didn't want any man to have that pleasure, that satisfaction of knowing that he had somehow 'taken' my virginity, innocence, and what not. So, when I met a man who was extremely good looking and sexy, and also seemed like a nice, sensible person, I went home with him (to London), had sex with him, took the train back home the next morning, and was finally relieved of that sexist burden. The best part is, he doesn't know my full name, or where I live, and I will probably never see him again. Problem solved–lost virginity, but didn't give any subsequent boyfriend the satisfaction of being my first.

V-Card Diaries: Jenny "Within twenty minutes he was asking if I'd like to go home with him. I immediately agreed."

Today we're highlighting Jenny in London, who feels that that if you're willing to put your nervousness to rest and let your impulses take over, you'll probably have a lot more fun. If you want to tell your story, go to our submission form. You can find all our V-Card Diaries here. A little about myself:

I'm Jenny, I'm 20, female, from London.

How I define virginity:

To me virginity isn't as much made up of a particular sexual act or series of acts, it's more about giving yourself physically to another person for the first time. Emotionally too, maybe, but that's a whole different story. As a bisexual woman, I would not consider penetration to be necessary to lose one's virginity, but that's how it went with me.

Here's my story:

So I lost my virginity a little over a month ago, and I felt it was a story worth sharing as I think it may be a little way off the norm.

I'm in my second year of university and I live with three good friends. One day I came home from work late and had forgotten my keys, and they were all headed into town to go to a club. In the spur of the moment I decided to go along though I was very tired. I had a few drinks, danced with my friends, but (as per usual) I was feeling horny as it had been a while since I had even kissed anyone, so I went searching for someone to, erm, fulfil my needs. I was a little drunk and went upstairs where I was introduced to a friend of a friend who was also a little tipsy and looking for someone to kiss. Impulsive as I was that night, I kissed him there and then and within twenty minutes he was asking if I'd like to go home with him. At this point I was so ready for sex I immediately agreed and we left. What followed was fun.

There was no awkwardness , no mishaps, and no pain.We did a little bit of everything, fucked in several positions, I gave my first blowjob and got head for the first time, and had 3 glorious orgasms. Exhausted after 2 hours of antics, he spent the night. We woke in the morning, had sex again, I gave him his bus fare, and he left. I didn't give him my number and we haven't been in touch.

All I can say is that if you're willing to put your nervousness to rest and let your impulses take over, you'll probably have a lot more fun. Also, finding someone who is attentive to your needs just as much as to their own is a big plus. Maybe I should have given him my number after all–now I have to go and find someone else for a repeat performance :/

Books We Want! "Losing It: How we popped our cherry over the last 80 years" is now available in the US!

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).

Please check out all of Kate's work! Get more info at Kate's website or follow her on Twitter at @KateMonro2!