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abstinence

Ask Trixie: I've never had consensual sex and was only taught abstinence. So, what should I know?

I've only been raped before so I consider myself a virgin since I've never had consensual sex or a consensual first kiss. only taught abstinence and about STDs so what should I know? –locandload

Hi locandload -

I am so incredibly sorry that you were raped. I’m also sad what’s passed for sex ed has only been about abstinence and STDs. I don’t know very much about your own story, but knowing what I know about abstinence programs I feel like the things you learned about sex were mostly based on fear and shame. I hope I can offer some help.

Your question ‘what should I know’ is so big, I can’t really do it justice in this post. Because there’s so much to know! A great start would be checking out Scarleteen, which I (and many people) think is the best sex ed site in the world. Scarleteen has really great (and very kind) info, and here are just some of the links to their topics: bodiesgendersexual identityrelationshipssex & sexualitysexual healthpregnancy & parenting and abuse & assault

Scarleteen also has Direct Services, including one-on-one answers to your questions, as well as message boards and more. I hope it’s a good start to finding all the info and support you need. 

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

Congratulations! You've won a grant shaped like a chastity belt.

Where, oh where, to begin with this story about a South African grant just for girls who remain virgins:

 

“The bursaries are for young girls who are still virgins,” said a municipality spokesman, Jabulani Mkhonza.
“It’s a new category which the mayor has introduced this year,” he said, adding that the goal was to encourage “young girls to keep themselves pure and inactive from sexual activity and focus on their studies”. Beneficiaries of the grant would be subjected to regular virginity tests, he added. 
“Those children who have been awarded bursaries will be checked whenever they come back for holidays. The bursary will be taken away if they lose their virginity,” said Mkhonza.

Let's see...
That tying poor girls' educational prospects to a grant shaped like a chastity belt is inhumane? 
That virginity tests are bogus and a gross invasion of privacy? 
That keeping girls safe and in school is better accomplished with sex ed?
That young women should get educational support regardless of sexual history?
That some of them have probably been raped and shamed over that? 
That there's no comment on the value of boys staying celibate?
Ugh. 

The good news: Women's groups are attacking the plan.

A 'waiting till marriage' story that isn't judgey? Thanks Colton Dixon!

I'm not really up on American Idol or Christian music, so I'm not familiar with Colton Dixon's work. But reading this story about his honeymoon, I was struck by how refreshing it is when people talk about their decision to remain abstinent until marriage as a personal belief, not a universally-expected code of conduct punishable by Hell.

"It was not easy!" he says with a laugh. "But I believe sex was designed for marriage and I knew it would be more meaningful to wait. That was something I grew up thinking and feeling, and I believe the Bible backs it up as well." 

See what he did there? "I believe."  No judgements about other people's choices, no framed Purity Certificates. (At least nothing in this article) So refreshing! Mazel tov, you two crazy kids. Stay happy! 

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.

V-Card Diaries: Aura "My Indian mother thinks pre-marital sex should be made compulsory"

A little about myself:

I am a 20-year-old Indian girl, currently attending University in the 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.

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

On Abstinence, Sleeping Beauty, and Victim-Blaming.

Scene from the documentary 'How To Lose Your Virginity' featuring Hanne Blank and Shelby Knox, with narration by director Therese Shechter.

As we've said many times on this blog, Abstinence-Until-Marriage programs are dangerous on several levels–and proven to be totally ineffective. They don't protect girls and women, they victimize them.

The article "On Josh Duggar And Why It’s Time To Do Away With Abstinence-Only Sex Education" lays it all out in chilling detail, including:

  • Women are naturally pure because their sexuality is encased like a fire alarm behind the plexiglas of romantic love. A girl/young woman will not have sexual feelings until they are “awakened” in her by a romantic relationship. That awakening should not happen until after marriage. (This is why they don’t kiss before marriage.)
  • Love is what not only awakens a woman’s sexuality, it is also what keeps her sexuality in check. If a woman’s sexuality is awakened in any situation other than marriage, she dissociates it with love. And without the governor of marital love, her libido rages out of control and she becomes a shameful and pitiful victim of her own wantonness.

One of the things we talk about in How To Lose Your Virginity (see video above) is the lack of sexual agency for young women, that the men in their lives (father, husband, god) are in charge of their sexual lives. The idea that "a girl/young woman will not have sexual feelings until they are “awakened” in her by a romantic relationship."

We liken it to the 'Sleeping Beauty' myth, the idea that a woman is a passive sexual player waiting to be awakened by her prince, and it's insidious. If women do have any independent sexual feelings, they run the risk of being labeled sluts who are responsible for any unwanted sexual attention or violence that befalls them.

While it's taken to the extreme in fundamentalist communities that concept isn't really limited to Duggar-like environments. First of all, many women of color are experience being labeled hypersexual, de-facto sluts from the get-go. As for white women, any woman who doesn't passively wait for a man to unlock her, so to speak, risks being slut-shamed as well. How can you ask your partners for what gives you pleasure, when sexual satisfaction isn't something you should be asking for–or even know anything about. It's the basic narrative of virginity-themed porn like 'Barely Legal,' where a young (white) woman must begin as totally innocent so that a man can unleash her sexuality with his magic penis. And it's the foundation of rape culture, where a woman invariably has her own uncontrolled sexuality to blame following sexual assault.

Watch the video for the new poem "Thank God I'm A Virgin"

From the upcoming album, "All Prodigal Daughters and Sons" "Thank God I'm a Virgin" is an exploration of the logical consequences of a Christian purity culture that places undue emphasis on the status of one's virginity, especially female virginity, over against one's character and heart.

Our twitter friend Emily Joy just shared her powerful new poem with us, and we want to share it with you right away. We often talk about how the choice of waiting until marriage to have sex is a very valid one, but should never be made based on shaming, double standards, or bad science threats of disease and death. The poem from the upcoming album, "All Prodigal Daughters and Sons" and here's how she describes it:

"Thank God I'm a Virgin" is an exploration of the logical consequences of a Christian purity culture that places undue emphasis on the status of one's virginity, especially female virginity, over against one's character and heart. It seeks to correct and indict those who would set themselves up as judge of who is in and who is out of the kingdom and community of God on the basis of their sexuality.

Lyrics:

Well thank God I’m a virgin!
Or he probably wouldn’t want me.
I thought as I listened silently
While he told me
That he just couldn’t be with someone
Who had been with someone else,
Which is like 90% of adults by the age of 25,
So your already limited pool is shrinking very quickly,
But don’t let me discourage you.
Carry on.
Tell me how you saved yourself.
How you saved up enough points with God
To buy an unspoiled bride
And you will not settle for less.
Tell me about her white dress,
How it will “mean something.”
Tell me what it means.
Tell me what it’s like to have nothing you regret,
To have made it through life unscathed
By either bliss or pain.
What does that feel like?
Is it very lonely?
Or does it just feel safe,
Like keeping your cocoon heart all wrapped up and tucked away
Hoping to God someday it becomes a butterfly
Before it dies from the frost. 
I hope whoever she is,
She meets all your expectations.
I hope enough of her heart is intact
For you to feel like the wait was worth it.
I hope she never knows you wouldn’t have wanted her
If she wasn’t a virgin.
Cause everybody knows a girl is only as valuable
As the men who haven’t touched her.
Only as desirable as the experiences she hasn’t had.
But baby, when you get to her,
She better know what to do in bed.
She better satisfy your wildest pornographic fantasies,
Know all the right ways to move
Body parts she has never had the chance to use.
Cause God would never fail you, right?
You waited on his timing, now he owes you.
Anything less is not the bill of goods they sold you.
So I hope it works out for you.
I really do.
But if it doesn’t, just remember what I told you.
That a heart cannot be divided into pieces
And given away till there is nothing left.
That the greatest gift you can give
Has nothing to do with your flesh.
That love is really just grace.
That a lifetime of avoidance
Does not prepare one for a lifetime of joy and pain.
That “virgin” is not a sexual preference,
Nor is it your birthright.
Baby, your insecurity is showing.
She chose you.
What more do you want?

Professor live-tweets her son's abstinence-only sex ed class

We cannot imagine a more delightful combination of words! This is a must read if you still aren't clear about what goes on in these hideous classes that your tax dollars fund. And here's her prose version for more detail. 

V-Card Diaries: Katherine "I'm a Mormon and a proud virgin but I have not been able to turn off my sexual thoughts."

Today we're highlighting Katherine in Arizona, who has been exchanging sexual fantasies with an old friend but isn't planning to act on them. 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 a 28-year-old heterosexual female, born and raised in Arizona.

How I define virginity:

There are so many varying ways to define virginity. Not only do I consider myself a virgin because I have never had vaginal intercourse, but I have also never had any sexual contact with anyone including kissing.

Here's my story:

Being raised Mormon it was always taught that you do not have sex till you were married (along with pretty much any other physical contact, even being alone with a potential partner). So I grew up more than happy to follow these rules. I have never had a strong sexual side, so it was easy. And being taught that the right thing to do was to be chaste I was always PROUD to be a virgin. I never struggled with hiding it, feeling ashamed or unwanted etc.

I'm not unattractive and I wouldn't consider myself socially awkward, however I have never really been alluring to the opposite sex and have never had a boyfriend or been on an official date. I always had crushes on guys but they were always unrequited.

It hasn't been till recently that I decided I do not even believe in marriage...so what is the point of waiting to have sex till you get married when I don't even want that? And it hasn't been till recently that I have even had any sort of desire to be physically intimate with anyone and these sexual thoughts and desires were only the result of a conversation with a guy I have known for ten years. I met him (Max) right out of high school and right up front he was more than willing to marry me even though having just met and known me for a short time. But that scared me so he and I have spent the last ten years having on and off conversations via email, online chatting and phone conversations. This year we sparked up our conversations again and one night sex was brought up. When I confessed to having a sexual fantasy about him, he in turn described how he would make love to me. A switch somewhere inside me was thrown. And ever since I have not been able to turn off these sexual thoughts.

But I have no desire to go and act on any of these newly discovered feelings. However Max and I have added an exchange of sexual fantasies to the mix of our usual conversations. None of which will be fulfilled in any near future because he is currently teaching English abroad and then moving to Australia till late next year.

I'm on my way to a new job in California starting next week. And even though I have never had any luck with guys, somewhere inside me I still hold out hope that maybe I will meet a guy whom I will share mutual feelings of love and respect with and a relationship will develop...and I guess we will just have to see if, when, and how actual physical intimacy will develop in my life.

V-Card Diaries: Noodlegirl "I was so clueless, I had to Google what I had felt to see if I'd had an orgasm."

Today we're highlighting Noodlegirl from a US East Coast city whose most positive feeling about her breakup was relief she didn't have sex with her boyfriend.  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 22-year-old woman who recently graduated from college and is (hopefully) nearing the end of a search for a job near the east coast city where I attended college. I have always wanted to wait until marriage to have sex.

How I define virginity:

I define virginity as penis in vagina penetration.

Here's my story:

I was raised in a Christian home and went to a conservative Christian school until I was 13. Sex wasn’t discussed very much in my home or at the Christian school, but I remember being told more than once that I should wait to have sex until marriage.

I believe as a result of this conservative upbringing, I arrived at the dating/sex scene much later than many of my friends did. I started experimenting with non-penetrative masturbation when I was 18 or 19 and had my first orgasm at age 19. I was so clueless about everything that I wasn’t even sure that I had had an orgasm. I had to google what I had ‘felt’ just to see if I had actually had one. Although I have always wanted a boyfriend, I have pretty high standards and wholeheartedly believe in waiting for someone who I feel I am truly compatible with personality and value-wise. So, I waited. Then, in the fall of my senior year, at age 21, I met a guy who lived on my floor in my dorm. We got along very well and became good friends and eventually started dating. Our relationship recently ended and lasted 10 months.

Very early on in the relationship, I was honest about my desire to not have sex. He was a virgin as well, raised in a religious family, and agreed to wait. However, later on I found out that he had misunderstood me. He was willing to wait for a commitment, but he was not willing to wait for marriage. Regardless, while we were together, he respected my desire not to have penetrative sex. The more ‘bases we rounded’, though, the more he expressed a desire to have sex. We had countless discussions and arguments about why we weren’t having sex, and though he broke it off for other reasons, I can’t help but think that the issue of sex factored in. One of the most positive feelings I have had about this break-up is the relief that I didn’t have sex with him.

While I do agree with the religious reasons for not having sex, I also believe that sex connects you to someone emotionally, whether you feel like it does or not. It is so intimate of an act that I believe that you give a little part of yourself to anyone you have sex with. It’s not that you can’t get that part back or fill that void again, but I believe that you must go through a lot of pain and subsequent healing to get it back. I also believe that if you have trouble reconciling what you’ve ‘given away,’ it can affect your future sexual and relationship experiences. Thus, I only want to have sex with one person, and I want it to be on my wedding night with my husband. I want to preserve that intimacy and make it as special as it should be for both of us.

V-Card Diaries: IP "I really understood sex the first time I 'took' someone's virginity."

Today we're highlighting IP in Toronto, Canada, who whose relationship ended when she told her partner she'd made out with other guys before him. 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:

17, Female, Toronto

How I define virginity:

I used to define virginity as penis in vagina penetration however that mentality has changed drastically. It wasn't until I had had sex with a number of different people that I began to see how complex it really was.

Here's my story:

The first time I had sex was with another "virgin" and it was special, I feel 100% comfortable with how it happened and I wouldn't change it for the world. However, I really understood sex the first time I "took someone's virginity." I hate using that phrase but I feel like it encompasses what I'm about to say.

I first met this guy at an end of exams party in June. I was instantly attracted to his charisma and confidence. I immediately thought that he was this incredibly experienced, smooth talking, sex god but it turns out he wasn't. I spent almost the entire party talking to him and afterwards he added me on Facebook, however our communication seemed to stop there. He never made the effort to message me and his name would pop up in my news feed and taunt me every so often. We met again by chance at a concert but this time he asked me out as soon as he got home. Our romance progressed very quickly and after two weeks it felt like we had been talking for months. I soon discovered that he was a virgin which took me by surprise, he insisted he had "fooled around" before but something in his voice told me he hadn't.

One night I slept over at his house and making out soon turned into more, we ended up rolling around on his bed naked while he fumbled around trying to figure me out. He didn't have a condom so we couldn't "have sex" and at the time I still thought we hadn't. The week afterwards I had a party and he slept over. We would steal away every so often to make out in my basement and finally when everyone was gone we went upstairs. It felt like things happened in the blink of an eye. I asked if he wanted to, he practically cut me off with a yes, we figured out the condom situation and bam. It happened. Afterwards we lay in bed and started talking.

I mistakingly thought we were not dating at this point but he clearly did. He asked me if I had made out with anyone else and I said yes which warranted a painful silent treatment, followed by a lot of drama. We basically ended the second I told him about the other guy. Now, I think of our first time together as the night I was at his house instead of the night we were at mine. I feel as though that was the time we were the most intimate, which is how I currently define sex.

Having sex with someone encompasses so much more then just penetration, it deals with so much more. Anytime you feel intimately connected with your partner you are having sex, regardless of what anyone else defines it as.

V-Card Diaries: Molly "My Christian ethics class taught me that virginity was more valuable than my weight in gold"

Today we're highlighting Molly who was told losing her v-card would be like losing her soul, but she doesn't feel bad or different.  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:

So, I'm 19, almost 20. I live in the prairies, (800 people in town and 4 active churches) I grew up going to church, sunday school, opting for the Christian ethics class instead of sex ed in high school. I always was taught that virginity was more valuable than your weight in gold, that if you have sex outside of marriage "you're not special anymore" "its a sin." I agree to a point but it was kind of brainwashing.

How I define virginity:

I don't know how I would define it. I started dating a boy and just had sex there was none of that "technical virgin" stuff. The act of sex has got more... cluttered for some people

Here's my story:

I guess what I really wanted to share was how its affected my identity. My v card story is I met a boy I really liked and trusted and respected and had sex with him, and he respected me by being considerate to me and not going too hard or fast and hurting me, and it was a good night. But all my life I thought that whether a person was a virgin or not had a hold on who they are. I've listened to countless hours of youth pastors conference speakers an alike. For a long time I thought that losing your v-card was like losing a piece of your soul and telling kids that is wrong. I am not a different person, I'm not a bad person. I'm a person without a hymen.

V-Card Diaries: Janelle "The first time I masturbated, I had no idea what I'd just done (which was orgasm)"

*Trigger warning for sexual assault*Today we're highlighting Janelle who overcame her confusion and fear by educating herself 'of the sexual realms.' 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:

Hi! I'm Janelle and I fair from Pennsylvania. Currently, I am 22 years old and preparing to graduate college as a graphic designer! Yay!

How I define virginity:

As I look back at my life, I see my virginity as levels. Not so much as something I shouldn't lose, but something I haven't experienced yet hoped to achieve. Unfortunately, a lot of my virginity losses were negative, though I like to think they give me strength and wiser views.

Here's my story:

I started to lose my virginity at a young age. My first sexual thoughts were when I was exposed to my father's porn magazines when I was five years old. The first time I had been sexually touched was two years later when I was attacked by my neighbor (fortunately, the guy only got to "second base" and my friend caught him in the act before he could steal third). It was a year later, when I was in 3rd grade, that I was first penetrated by a 5th grade girl who forced me to allow her to finger me on the school bus ride home.

The first time I masturbated, I was 13 years old, had no idea what I'd just done (which was orgasm) and became terrified something was wrong with me (though I never told anyone). My high school SCREAMED abstinence, so I had no idea of my own body. I was 17 when I had my first (and current) boyfriend, which spurred me to educate myself of the sexual realms. Less than a year later, we had sex for the first time and it was the first time I truly enjoyed being sexual.

V-Card Diaries: Stephanie "Abstinence-only sex ed made me feel worthless and used up, but when I initiated sex with my (now) husband, I felt like I had claimed my sexuality."

*Trigger warning for sexual assault* Today we're highlighting Stephanie in upstate New York, who never felt like she'd had a chance to have a virginity. 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:

26, Female, Married, Upstate NY

How I define virginity:

The church I went to defined it as any sexual contact. I don't like the term. I prefer sexual awakening, more spiritual than physical.

Here's my story:

I was digitally penetrated as a very young child and raped at age 13. I felt like I never had a virginity. The church and abstinence-only sex ed. made me feel worthless and used up. I never had a chance. I grudgingly gave into sex at 16 with a boyfriend, but it wasn't until a few years later when I initiated sex with my best friend (now husband) that I felt like I had claimed my sexuality.

V-Card Diaries: Imogen "As it turns out, when you post an ad as a 22-year-old redheaded virgin, people get interested really quickly."

Today we're highlighting Imogen in New Zealand. Although she grew up in a conservative home, in her 20s she made a conscious effort to lose her virginity with someone she met on Craigslist. 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 a 23-year-old woman and a biological female who grew up in a very conservative home. I lived in Canada for many years and then moved over to New Zealand.

How I define virginity:

Virginity is a tricky word to define. I would define it loosely as a state of innocence. It is an ignorance towards sexuality and sexual preferences.

Here's my story:

I grew up in an exceedingly conservative home. Sure, we watched mainstream TV and went to public schools, but we were taught at home and at church that sex was a dirty secret meant for marriage. While I never adhered to the 'premarital sex is dirty' mantra, I personally chose not to engage in any partnered sexual activity while I was a teenager. The year I turned 22, I decided I was ready. The only problem was, everyone I knew was super religious, in a relationship, or not at all attractive to me.

I turned to the anonymous classifieds site Craigslist to help get me started. As it turns out, when you post an ad as a 22-year-old redheaded virgin, people get interested really quickly. I received 1800 responses in 3 hours. My criteria became the following:

-Under 30
-Didn't attach explicit photographs
-Wrote in full sentences

This whittled my responses down to just under 20. Of those 20, only a handful wrote back to me a second time. Of that handful, only two were willing to share personal details such as a name, phone number, and photo. I picked one and we made plans to meet.

The actual experience itself seemed fairly natural, although it had been arranged in such a manufactured way. Nothing was too uncomfortable and a lot of the 'what will he think of me' nerves were eliminated; he was a total stranger and his opinion didn't mean as much. He took the lead because he had far more experience, and it was all quite straightforward.

The benefit, I think, of having waited until I was 22 was that I knew my own body well and I had consciously decided I was ready. I had allowed myself space to be partner-less and therefore felt no rush to get anywhere, sexually.

Many people look at my first experience and tell me it was silly or unsafe or risky, and I know it could have been very different. Fortunately, however, I had a very pleasant experience with a friendly partner who was very understanding. It's led me to a very colourful and interesting sex life that I still don't believe is a dirty little secret.

V-Card Diaries: Cheeky Charmer "I thought I had tempted my rapist by showing skin. I was eleven years old."

Today we're highlighting Cheeky Charmer in Pennsylvania. She blamed herself for a rape that happened at a young age based on teachings from a week-long Christian purity seminar. She now knows that her choice to have sex or not does not define her worth. 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 a 22-year-old female from Pennsylvania.

How I define virginity:

 It's a life long journey of finding identity through new experiences.

Here's my story:

I was raped. I don't say that to be pitied; save your flowers and sympathy for someone who needs them.  I say it so that you understand my story. When I was eleven I was innocently lying in bed and someone I trusted and loved dearly took away the part of me that I valued.

The week after it happened I attended a retreat called Pure Freedom; a seminar to help Christian girls seek out God through pledging abstinence. We were given assessments, books, and tests to measure how “modest” we were. The whole weekend was devoted to the new transformative meaning of that word “modesty.” We were informed how our clothing would appear to men. They told us that men cannot help themselves because they have the fight or flight system in their bodies that causes arousal by a woman who bears skin or wears tight clothing. The whole day was spent learning techniques on how to wear modest, God-approved clothing. We took tests on what we watch, what we say to men, and how we dress, and we were given clothing tricks to assist men in their journey to Godliness. We were responsible for men’s relationship with God based on how we carried ourselves.

The speaker stood in front of an audience of five hundred girls and told us that modesty wasn’t just about what you wear but how you carry yourself, how you talk to other men, and what you do with other men. We were told that God wanted us to wait until we were married based on what the Bible said. We were told not to be the “hoe of the universe” by engaging in sex before marriage.

The whole week I couldn’t help but think that I was what caused my rapist to attack me. This Pure Freedom was actually what felt like a prison; guilt swelled like a balloon about to burst. I realized that I had tempted my rapist. I was wearing only a bra and underwear that night and it was my fault. I remember thinking that God was punishing me for showing skin that night.  It was only natural for a man to see my skin and be aroused. The rape was entirely my fault, and God was punishing me for what I had done. I was eleven years old and I was carrying this burden for a decade.

After ten years of believing this myth, I made the conscious effort to take ownership of my sexuality; it never belonged to this organization that brainwashed me into thinking that my value was in my virginity, my clothing, and my future husband. My value does not have a scale that is virgin or slut. God loves me whether I have sex or not. I am not an object: I am a woman with the right to choose when, where, and who I have sex with. My sexuality cannot be bought by people who make young girls feel inadequate to sell a book and a T-shirt. I was raped and that doesn’t define who will love me. My virginity is mine and I define what it means; it does not define my value.

Just The Tip: Virginity In The News with Pervy prom dads, more Purity TV, Sex lies for guys,and 7 penises in my soda

   IMG_20140510_190019-768x1024 You may have already seen this amazing post from a teenager named Clare popping up everywhere online. It's powerful not just because the story she tells is so hideously sexist, but because more and more, young people are standing up and calling bullshit on Purity Police attacks on their bodies, freedom and moral value.

Fabulous home-schooled teen Clare tells the world about getting kicked out of her prom for wearing a too-short dress (at left, even though it adhered to the prom's dress code) and dancing provocatively (even though she wasn't even dancing). And she is pretty clear on what the problem really was.

"We were also a little grossed out by all the dads on the balcony above the dance floor, ogling and talking amongst themselves. We weren’t dancing, but swaying with the music and talking and enjoying ourselves, when Mrs. D again approached me, and gestured me off the dance floor...and told me that some of the dads who were chaperoning had complained that my dancing was too provocative, and that I was going to cause the young men at the prom to think impure thoughts."

How many times have we heard this same old bullshit song: Girls are responsible for keeping guys from thinking impure thoughts. And guys are so 'visual' that they get driven mad by the sight of a girl's knees and just can't control themselves. And it's a girl's fault if guys are driven so mad by whatever the girl is supposedly doing or wearing, they rape them in a fit of clothing-induced sexual frenzy. We hear it every fucking day, when a woman is blamed for causing herself to get raped. Instead of policing everything women do because boys just can't control themselves, why don't we just blindfold the boys, or better yet lock them up at home. They're the ones who have control issues, not the girls.

Or as Clare so succinctly puts it:

"Goddamn I’m not responsible for some perverted 45 year old dad lusting after me because I have a sparkly dress on and a big ass for a teenager."

Seriously, read the whole thing here!

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Ah, Abstinence-Until-Marriage programs, spreading bad logic and shame since 1996.

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Actual Craig’s List ad from this week.

Are you Pure? Are you attending a Purity Ball?

Major television company is looking for families who are attending an upcoming Purity Ball. Whether it's your first or tenth time, we would love to hear your story and how you became involved in this powerful and life changing event.

Purity Balls certainly can be a life-changing event. At least according to the young women I meet at college screenings who are coping with being told how dirty and unlovable they are since they had sex. Ever been to a purity ball? Did it change your life?

***

16 Lies We Need to Stop Teaching Boys about Sex is the follow-up to Policy Mic’s post on the lies we teach girls. Both posts are good for all genders. This one covers penis size, virginity loss, circumcision, sex drives, who comes first and more.

Want to know what’s really creepy about Purity Balls? (Hint: It’s not the photos)

PurityMagnusson Do an internet search for the words 'creepy photos,' and you’ll likely be directed to Purity, Swedish photographer David Magnusson's haunting photo essay of fathers and daughters all dressed up for their Purity Balls. A Purity Ball, if you don't already know, is sort of a father/daughter prom, with the difference being that the girls pledge their virginity to their fathers for safekeeping, so it can be handed over to their husbands on their wedding day. They happen all over the country, although with a bit less frequency than the constant coverage might indicate.

Still, every time news of these events pop up, in photos, or on a recent episode of Nightline on ABC, the non-Purity-Ball-going readership responds with a collective shudder, most often invoking the word 'incestuous' in headlines and comments. Looking at Magnusson's photos, (or my own film) I can see how people may come to that conclusion, but ask one of the dads in the photo and he'll just tell you that you have a really dirty mind and the Balls are beautiful events. Wherever you stand on this issue, getting all weirded out by the images is just a distraction from the truly creepy aspects of events like this (and the culture behind them):

Purity Balls are an invention of the evangelical Christian movement which believes that men should have control over women's bodies and sexual choices. Girls as young as 7 or 8 ritually invoke their father, their future husband and their God during these ceremonies–three male authorities tasked with policing her sex life.

Purity Balls are a throwback to when women were property and unmarried daughters without their virginity were damaged goods no one wanted to buy. The idea of a woman's 'most precious gift' comes from the understanding that she is the gift, valuable as long as she's still wrapped in her original packaging.

Purity Balls focus on female sexuality exclusively. There is no male equivalent of purity balls because young men are sent different messages and held to different standards. Integrity Balls, which are relatively rare, are events for mothers and sons, but the prevailing message for young men is that they shouldn't have sex before marriage because they will ruin a girl's value for her future husband.

Purity Balls assume everyone is heterosexual and interested in marriage. The fact that queer people exist, with their own definition of what constitutes sex or virginity, and their own ideas of who they might want to have sex with or marry, is never discussed or even acknowledged.

Purity Balls are intimately tied to Abstinence-Until-Marriage programs which provide no real sex education, but instead teach that sex before marriage will cause physiological and psychological harm, that contraception doesn't work, and that girls are responsible for controlling boys' sexual urges lest they be branded sluts. To stay a 'virgin,' a young women will often engage in far riskier activities like oral or anal sex, fulfilling the letter–if not the spirit–of their pledge. And since their abstinence classes don’t teach safer sex practices, they’re extremely vulnerable to STDs. These programs been proven ineffective by our own government, despite the fact that they are still being funded by our taxpayer dollars, at over $1.5 billion to date.

Purity Ball culture is enmeshed with political forces that oppose reproductive rights, supporting groups that are fighting to deny women birth control (or at the very least not have insurance cover it) as well as any access to safe and legal abortions. In fact, many Purity Balls are hosted by Crisis Pregnancy Centers, which use deceptive advertising and intake methods to prevent women's access to contraception and abortion. Google recently removed CPC ads that lie about providing abortions because of that deceptive advertising.

Purity Balls have a freak-show quality that distracts us from seeing the very same issues in our own back yards. Policing and controlling women’s bodies is not limited to a bunch of evangelicals, but turn up all over the cultural landscape, from limiting reproductive rights, to telling rape victims they asked for it, to slut-shaming women (but not men) for having too many partners.

Purity Ball reporting often ignores the dilemmas these young women are face. This culture’s core values embody damaging messages about women and sexuality (see above), but there's nothing inherently weird about having a warm relationship with your dad, or looking forward to a dress-up party with your sisters. As photographer Magnusson says:“it is clear that the girls—in many cases, young women—are independent, strong, and insightful,” but when you're in the middle of this environment, it's may be very hard to step out of it and call bullshit, even if you find it confusing or unfair. As one woman recently said to me:

“Some of those girls are too young to even realize what they are doing. I made a vow like this when I was only 12 and it didn't quite go as planned. I was guilt-tripped and got really close to being hit when I broke that vow. Virginity doesn't define your worth and I absolutely hate how many girls buy into the lie that once you've lost it, you're basically used goods. I bought into it and went through some terrible times of anxiety and depression.”

At a recent university screening of my film, another young woman who grew up in this culture shared her story. She’s finally starting to get over feeling dirty and worthless because of sex, and the fact that she was ever made to feel this way is the creepiest thing of all.

V-Card Diaries: Dru "Losing your virginity in the Bible Belt is a huge deal, something girls instantly regret afterwards"

Today we're highlighting Dru in North Texas, who thought the inaccurate advice she got in Sex Ed was appalling and disgusting. 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 21 years old, a woman, and I live in North Texas.

How I define virginity:

The first sexual act between me and the partner of my choice.

Here's my story:

I may be the only 21 year old woman in my small town that has yet to lose her virginity. Losing your virginity in the Bible Belt is a huge deal. It is something that girls instantly regret afterwards, and guys revel in. The girls go to school the next day and tell their friends, not with a big smile on their face, but with a face full of regret and sadness. And the guys get to go to school with a smile and twinkle in their eye, and when telling their friends, the get high-fives and hugs. I never wanted to regret it, and I never wanted to be the reason some asshole got a high-five.

Everybody around me told me that having sex before I was married was a shameful thing to do and that my virginity was so precious that if I gave it away to just anybody that I was trash in the eyes of god. The only sex education that I received was that if you had sex with multiple partners that you would most definitely receive an STD. They showed us pictures of genital warts and told us exactly how they were "removed." It scared the shit out of me.

They taught us that condoms didn't work, and that birth control wasn't healthy for girl's bodies. Now that I look back on the sex ed that I received, I am appalled. They taught us that when we got older, the man that we would marry most definitely wanted a "new product" and not a "used one." That if we had pre-martial sex, then we would be taking something away from our husbands that "belonged" to them. It was disgusting. And the even more disgusting thing was that I completely believed them. I completely believed the lies that they jammed into our brains.

And now, I am a proud feminist and a proud atheist. I no longer believe that my virginity is "god-given", and that it "belongs" to my future husband. I no longer believe that I will most definitely get a STD if I have sex with multiple partners. I acknowledge the fact that I could receive some kind of STD, but that if I use condoms and speak up about getting tested, then the probability of me receiving one is lowered. I believe that my body belongs to me and when I do decide to have my first sexual encounter with a man that I trust, then nothing inside me will change and I will still be Dru.

Just the Tip: Virginity in the News

A roundup of the latest virginity happenings:

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.

The Virgin Mary was sighted on a log in Utah and a Malaysian Medical Center window.

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!)