We missed this video when it came out but thought it was just too tasty not to share it with you all. The Onion's film critic looks back at Dirty Dancing and along with the usual plot points we get these gems, worthy of any Introduction To Human Sexuality and Gender Studies curriculum:
It smashed not only box office records but also the mistaken assumption that adolescent girls shouldn't wait until some arbitrarily-mandated age to explore themselves sexually.
Sexuality is not some light switch that magically turns on when kids reach eighteen.
The film is commendable for modeling to girls that as long as they find a partner who's safe and respectful like Johnny, their sexual awakening can begin whenever they are ready.
The fact that these lines are uttered by a dude who looks like someone's dad makes it extra delightful, and just a little bit creepy. Nobody puts Baby in a corner...or oppresses her with patriarchal paradigms of female sexuality.
h/t to Documentary Doctor Fernanda for sending it our way.
Note: Headline corrected because I can't believe we messed up one of the greatest quotes in cinematic history.
We had nothing less than an amazing 2013, with the premiere of How To Lose Your Virginity in festivals and and on televisions all over the world, our theater-busting New York premiere at DOC NYC (Therese and Lisa are trying to kiss our poster, left). We're totally thrilled about what's coming up in 2014: Our US TV premiere in February on Fusion, attending the Filmmor Film Festival in Istanbul in March (Therese's favorite city), and speaking at Catalyst Con about Older Virginity. Get the whole exciting update here.
Earlier this year, we launched the new home of The V-Card Diaries, and have received over 250 of your stories of 'sexual debuts and deferrals.' We have so many in fact, that we're backlogged on posting them, so one of our resolutions is to catch up in the next couple of weeks!
One of our 2014 wish is to get schools to stop hiring people like Justin Lookadoo to lie to young people, and get more teens to call #lookadoo bullshit like his audience did. Yay! Mostly, we hope you'll help us continue the conversation about the experience of becoming sexual–and the radical act of speaking honestly about it.
"You can be sex positive even if you’re not having sex at all, as long as you don’t judge others for their sexual choices or try to control their sexual choices. Our society is so obsessed with what everyone else is doing in bed. So to me, sex positivity is about acknowledging that we’re all different, we all like what we like, and that’s okay."
From time to time we republish our favorite posts. This originally ran in June 2012.
We caught up with Sexuality Educator Adjoa Sankofia Tetteh at MomentumCon in DC and asked her about how her clients dealt with virginity issues. She told us that parents really do drag their daughters to clinics and ask doctors to check if they are still virgins. The video is here.
Follow Adjoa on twitter @adjoasankofia
From time to time we republish our favorite posts. This originally ran in November 2011.
So, this appeared on stfu, believers tumblr yesterday. Assuming it's not a tasteless hoax, this is a photo some guy took after having intercourse with his wife on their wedding night. According to the person who re-posted it, it was intended to prove that "while he isn’t ‘pure’, she is."
Even if it is a hoax, it is also what we call a 'teaching moment.' So, let us analyze this train wreck:
1. The status of someone's hymen and the presence or lack of blood has nothing to do with whether a woman has had intercourse or not. So proud hubby, all this high-fiving over making your wife bleed displays a totally misguided* and dangerous* mis-understanding* of how female bodies* work.
2. Also, dude, additional high-fiving over the fact that your wife was 'pure' on her wedding night is sort of sad especially since you want us all to know you weren't. Double standard, much? If she did, in fact, abstain from intercourse until marriage, I truly hope it did not stem from some fear that no man would marry her unless she was 'pure.'
3. Some folks were doubting that this was hymenal-breakage blood because there was so much of it, saying it looked more like the aftermath of period sex. Well, it does. But who knows? Even though many women don't bleed at all, some bleed a lot. And some continue to bleed occasionally throughout their sexual lives. It's sensitive down there! Our bodies are all different and there's no 'right' way to react to something in your vagina, whether it's the first time or the 56th.
4. Did I mention that whether the blood came from her monthlies, her vaginal tissue or a stray chicken liver, it says nothing meaningful about her sexual history?
5. Now readers, I need to talk to you. There's been a lot of ew-ing over the blood. Get over it - it's blood. Wanna know what's really gross? A guy who violates his brand new wife's privacy by displaying a sheet covered with her brand new wife's blood on Facebook and then crows about it.
* The hymen wasn't even 'discovered' until 1544 when an anatomist went looking for the reason some women bled when they first had intercourse. He identified a small bit of tissue at the opening of the vagina, and because men were so desperate to medicalize virginity, they made the hymen their signpost. By the way, there were lots of other tests for virginity, equally useless. Just one of the many ridiculous examples: If a woman smells lettuce and then pees, she's clearly not a virgin because of the 'open channel' between her mouth and vagina. Seriously.
Headline with apologies to Mordechai Richler
From time to time, we repost something we like that we've recently rediscovered in our archives. This is from Sept, 2011.
The Times Online just ran this question in its sex advice column:
I am a 38-year-old virgin. After a very awkward situation at the age of 15 I have never tried again because I have been too embarrassed. I am now dating a lovely girl and would like to try. Where do I begin learning about how to please her?
This makes me so happy. First of all, hooray for this guy, who is not only going to have sex in the next ten minutes but is all about making it good for his girlfriend.
Second, sex columnist Suzi Godson recommends he read up on female sexuality and recommends–get this–several books with some serious feminist chops, including Our Bodies Ourlselvesand Paula Kamen's Her Way: Young Women Remake the Sexual Revolution.
These aren't really how-to books, which I think is what he was really looking for (She suggests her book The Sex Book for that) but they're important because they talk about sex from a female perspective. With too many guys, everything they know about sex they learned from porn. What a disaster. There's a whole lot of difference between what women actually desire and what men project onto them as a reflection of their own desire. [A digression: It's like the guy in the adult film industry we interviewed last year who talked about how much porn actresses loved getting facials, somehow missing the point that these women were being paid to act like it was the best thing that ever happened to them.]
She also recommends Kinsey's Sexual Behaviour in the Human Female published in 1953, which isn't necessarily feminist, but it did wake the US up to the shocking fact that women had pretty interesting sex lives (and got Kinsey into a whole lot of trouble.)
Lastly, not only did Paula Kamen write a great book about young women's attitudes towards sex, she's also a super cool friend and longtime supporter of Trixie Films. Check out her other work here.
You'll be seeing a couple of new author names on this blog this spring and summer: Judy P. and Libby F., both currently interns here at Trixie Films.
They've been doing great work on "How to Lose Your Virginity" behind the scenes for the last several months. Now, Judy will be writing weekly posts on sex and being a real-life 20-something–and her first post will be about not having sex for 2 years. Libby has taken over as the new editor for V-Card Diaries (our most popular feature!), for both the blog and the new interactive version. We're really excited to have them here and hope you enjoy their work & leave lots of comments!
Libby F. is a recent graduate of Vassar College and a talented writer and researcher. She's done posts on being a virgin at Cosmo and the hymenology of Awkward. If you work in television, you should hire her!
Judy P. is an art history student at Brown University who is interested in the intersections of art, politics, race, class, and gender. She is proud to be a woman, though she thinks it's not always easy to be one. Check out her self-portrait (above).
Do you want to write for this blog? Send us a note here.
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.
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
I'm going to be a college freshman and I was really sure that I wanted to go into Secondary Special Education and English Literature, until I saw the trailer for your film "How to Lose Your Virginity." I've always been so interested in Women's Studies and interested in learning about sexuality, so this has sparked a huge level of doubt in what I want to do in my life.
If I did want to do what you all do at Trixie Films, what sort of degree would I need? Would it be Women's Studies or something in Psychology? And if I ever wanted to intern (if that offer still stands to your viewers in about 4-5 years) would there be a possibility for a job opportunity? And if not, what could I do to get one in your type of career?
Like you know, being 18 and pressured to make such extreme life changing decisions is extremely challenging and there are just so many things for which I have a passion. I'd just like to explore all of my options before I go diving into Special Education (because I've done exploring there and I know what to expect) and I just want to make sure I don't settle for second best in regards to the rest of my life. –J
Hi J -
Thanks for writing! I remember being fresh out of high school and thinking that whatever I decided in my first year of college would determine the rest of my life.
Except it didn't. My first trip through college I studied art and went on to become a graphic designer. It was only in my 30s that I got interested in film and went back to school part-time for a couple of years to study that. And then 5 years later, I got seriously interested in women's issues. And then a few years after that, in sexuality issues. It was a long process of curiosity and learning, and not a very straight road at all. And, by the way, I don't have any formal degrees in any of it. Just lots of work with other filmmakers (some of it as an intern), keeping up with the issues I care about, and watching and being inspired by other films.
As for exploring your own interests, there are lots of good women's studies programs and many now include sexuality studies. You can start by checking in with your own college's women's studies program and/or women's center. In fact, college is the perfect place to explore what you want to do with a course here and there before you commit.
Many of our interns at Trixie Films come out of a women's studies background, but not all. Some did English or Sociology programs, and our two most recent interns were Science majors. Whatever the background, they do share an interest in women's issues and are excellent communicators and thinkers. That's important because we count on our interns to write, research and give us feedback on everything we do here. Making the coffee is my job.
The Virgin Mary's likeness was spotted in a tree at 60th Street and Bergenline Avenue in West New York, a New Jersey section of the New York metropolitan area. The Virgin appeared yesterday afternoon and has had a constant stream of visitors praying to her since that moment.
A local bus rider noticed a crowd around a tree when she returned home from work yesterday around 6pm. She was heard saying she, "thought perhaps someone died because she saw the flowers and people praying." As she approached, however, she saw the likeness and began to pray.
Today we're highlighting Ginko in a military barracks in Europe, who thinks there are many ways to be a virgin, sexually or otherwise. 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 29 and have not had partnered sex.
I've masturbated, I've read articles, I've been to at least two sex museums and for a number of years I lurked on a few sex-worker blogs before I lost the addresses. I've browsed through porn DVDs/manga/comics, I have books written by sex workers, drag queens and transsexuals.
I currently follow several sexologist news streams on face book, donated pictures of my vulva to be made into vulva art necklaces and actively want a copy of the "How To Lose Your Virginity" DVD.
The only thing I have not done is have sex with a partner. I currently live out of the United States, stationed in Europe living in a military barracks, and my solo sex life could use much improvement but I have a roommate that never leaves.
I do not participate in the party culture. I do not understand them and never enjoyed the times I *tried* to become part of them (I mention this because part of the reason why I still haven't had partner sex is because I mostly avoid being around other people. I can not imagine why this would prevent me from having partner sex. It is a mystery).
How do you define virginity?
A first time, a lack of experience. A personal evolution.
If you never been in combat–you are a virgin. If you never been hunting–you are a virgin. If you've never been out of country or state or home town–you are a virgin. If you never done something before–you are a virgin. Once you have, you are changed. You know. You've experienced. You've gotten out of your house and lived a life.
Virginity is not sexual, it is experience gained and ignorance lost. We are all virgins to various forms of information and experiences. There is no shame in "losing" virginity, but there is shame in clinging to ignorance.
Tell us your story
I am not waiting for a 'someone.' My social skills are non-existent, honestly I wouldn't know what to do with a 'someone' once I found them.
I've heard people talk about their sex lives. Most seem to make it a point to say how much they like not like having sex. This confuses me–why have sex when you do not like it? Why have sex with someone you don't even like? Why have sex and not orgasm and convince yourself that "the Great Orgasm" is a thing of myth and settle for an unfulfilled sex life?
I do not like the culture of virgin bashing any more than I like non-virgin bashing. Neither one is better than the other. It makes it very hard to talk directly about sex. Because as I have never had "the real thing" I am an object. Something to be praised, pitied, fetishisized, blown off, lectured, condemned, to be bullied or ignored.
Both recent times I've been "outed" I ended up getting a winding lecture what I think was suppose to be a complement...to some thing (I think the guy's ego because it was more condescending then anything). The other more or lest made an offer to the tune of "if it doesn't go in, it is not cheating" (he was engaged) and of course, he intentions were honorable so if anything *hint* *hint* was going to happen *hint*, then *I* would be the one to initiate it.
Just because I have not had partner sex, does not mean I am stupid. But, apparently in a way it does. I've had a lot of damage done to my thinking and ability to process information on the subject while growing up that I am working on undoing. I have been trained and programed to live in fear and to *not* have sex, let alone talk about it and enjoy it. Talking about it helps...some. It's a start.
Today we're highlighting Berta from Barcelona, who recalls her sex education with fondness and first sexual experience as anti-climactic. 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 22 year old from Barcelona, Spain attending college in New York City.
How do you define virginity?
I don't know, what was my virginity? I never really give it that much thought. I was more excited to have my first boyfriend than to lose it to him. He was in fact the first person that ever said he liked me.
Tell us your story
My virginity was lost in a Friday afternoon to my first boyfriend when I was 15. We were both so nervous that it kind of didn't go right the first time. I think he was more nervous than I was. Looking back it was a little pathetic and short and not as pleasant as sex is today.
But it wasn't that big of a deal, I did told my friends and it was kind of special but I didn't feel different or grown up.
I guess it's because my sex education was completely different from the education American girls go through. The first year I entered high school I was 13, and every year until graduation we had a sex ed day. Some men and women from the public health department came into our class and taught us about condoms (they even gave us samples), diseases, pregnancy and sex in general.
The first year it was special since after the introduction on sex, diseases and different contraceptives methods they put girls and boys in different classes and teaches us (the girls) about our menstruation, and what we should expect our first time.
It was totally embarrassing and I had tons of question that of course I didn't ask because talking about sex was and is taboo. A year after the same women came back and they told us all about condoms, contraceptive methods, diseases, etc all over again but this time they add a school trip to the nearest public health center where they explain what they did, what we should do if we had unprotected sex, but more important they remark that they were here to help all of us, girls and boys, and that we could come anytime for question, revisions or the day after pill.
I remember they seemed really nice and it was comfortable. At the end of the trip our homeroom teacher told us we will be doing an essay about contraceptive methods for men and women and diseases. So basically at the age of 14 I had to Google all about safe sex and what happens when you don't use a condom. The pictures scared me even more than I thought.
At the end when it was my turn, it didn't feel forced and I knew that I should use protection and where to get it. And even after I lost it those nice women came each year to my school and update us on the latest about safe sex. Because we were teenagers, at that age you are changing and your hormones are working 150% is almost impossible to prevent sex but you can make it safe. And I think that is the most important thing.
Today we're highlighting Jasmine from California, who re-worked her plans for losing it when she got to college. If you want to tell your story, go to our submission form. You can find all our V-Card Diaries here. I am a 21 year old college student from Northern California, born in San Francisco and moved to Humboldt County. I am a dancer and plan to go professional after college.
How do you define virginity?
Never having had vaginal sex yet for heterosexual women. It gets fuzzy when talking about other sexualities. I do believe that from a health stand point that there are many different versions of sex, like anal and oral.
Tell us your story
I wanted to lose it the summer before I left for college... that didn't work. I tried half-heartedly and came to college an 18-year-old virgin. About three weeks into school me and my floor mates were all drinking in the hallways. One tall skinny white boy was talking to me, John. He used a great pick up line, "Have you seen my room?" I found out quickly how easy it is to have sex in college.
Today we're highlighting Casey from New Jersey, who eventually rejected the value her upbringing placed on virginity. 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 20 year old college student from New Jersey
How do you define virginity?
My friends and I always say that virginity is a state of mind. So many people have so many different concepts of what their virginity was that to me, a state of mind seems to sum it up pretty nicely.
Tell us your story
I lost my virginity at the age of 19 to a guy I was dating for 3 months. He broke up with me a week afterward, making me feel disgusting and used. Because of the way society treats virginity, my first thoughts after the break up were "I gave him everything I had and he rejected it."
This is a horrible thought to have. To feel like your one valuable asset is your virginity. But the way I was raised had me thinking that once I had sex, that was it. Especially because I was brought up very religiously, and my religion teacher taught the girls of my class to save it for our future husbands.
But as time passed I realized I am not my virginity. I am a person and I have value and I am worth so much more than I was lead to believe by my religious upbringing. My sense of value no longer is based on my value to men. And it's liberating as hell. I think that society needs to stop putting so much stress on virginity so no girls have to go through the horrible thought process I went through.
Today we're highlighting Allie in California, who wishes that waiting for the right guy didn't make her seem prudish in the eyes of others. 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 22 year old college student at Humboldt State University in California with one year left of school. I can not wait to graduate!
How do you define virginity?
I define virginity as penetration of the vagina with a penis.
Tell us your story
As a 22 year old college student I get weird looks whenever I tell people that I'm a virgin, so I stopped telling people. It doesn't really come up on conversation a lot and when it does I change the subject. I didn't take any sort of pledge but it's never felt right for me. I actually have never had a boyfriend, I used to be a shy and kind of awkward person and that excuse got me out of being too depressed in high school for being single, but I've grown a bit now and had a couple of dates, but they always go running when I tell them I've never had sex and I want to wait until it feels like the right time.
I'm not some sort of prude, like some people think I am, I just want it to mean something. It is a big deal to be that intimate with someone, to share all your secrets (you have a mole there?!?) and to trust someone that much takes time. Is it so crazy that I want to be in love with the person I have sex with? I hope not, because that's how I feel. I don't think I will wait until marriage, because I'd feel like I was just getting married so I could have sex. I just really wish everyone would stop judging me for being a virgin, it's not that big of a deal, I'm just waiting for the right guy.
Today we're highlighting Sasha in California, who explains the reasons for her virginity as threefold. 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:
My age is 20 and I live in California.
How do you define virginity?
I define virginity as not having had sexual intercourse.
Tell us your story
My story is that I am still a virgin due to several reasons. The one I tell myself the most is that I still have yet to have the right opportunity and circumstances. It so far has always been that I do not reciprocate the feelings to the guys that have liked me. And if I do they never tell me how they feel and/or end up moving away.
The next reason is that while I am not waiting for any religious reason, I still want to wait to have sex with someone I really connect with.
And the third and most unfortunate reason of all is that I am terribly self conscious of my keratosis pilaris, or chicken skin. It is mainly on my upper arms and legs. It is not as bad as it was when I was younger but I picked at my skin so much that I still have scars on my thighs. I am absolutely embarrassed by it and I can't imagine that someone would start to be intimate with me and not be grossed out by it.
Despite all this I have an incredibly high sex drive and I think about it all the time. It's becoming embarrassing now that I live in a house of sexually active females and I'm "The Virgin."
Today we're highlighting Stephanie in Pittsburgh, who believes she lost her virginity over the course of a year. 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 am 27 years old, and am in graduate school in Pittsburgh, PA.
How do you define virginity?
Virginity is the essence of purity, naivety, and lack of sexual/intimate experience. When I was younger, I simply thought it was vaginal intercourse.
Tell us your story
When I look back, I truly lost my essence of purity in my first year of college, at a gradual rate. I was interested in my own sexual energy, and connecting with others on a sexual level. At the time I thought I was still a virgin because I had never been penetrated by a penis, but even my boyfriend, when I told him I was a virgin, said he was surprised because I emitted such sexual energy. When we finally had sex, it was for only about 40 seconds, and was fairly disappointing. I had much more meaningful sexual experiences with him simply making out.
Today we're highlighting Cloud Dancing from Olympia, whose definition of virginity pivots pleasure. 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 am 37 and from Olympia, WA. I am an "over" graduate student working on a new career at Evergreen State College. I am a cultural feminist; a belief in all things goddessy, kind, and generative about Feminism. And I am pro-radical honesty when it comes to issues of sex. I've dealt with being hypersexual all my life from my bipolar disorder. The subject has always interested me and enthralled me, so I know a good deal. Surprisingly it wasn't until I was 32 I was able to master having an orgasm with another person.
How do you define virginity?
I was born w/o a hymen so I really don't think it has much to do with a cherry getting popped or what-not. It is simply your first intercourse. But I believe it should be your first orgasm, that first moment where you were able to free yourself from all the negative messages about sex and just come together. I didn't have that till I was 25 and I wasn't really comfortable to let go with a partner in the room till 32.
Tell us your story
I always attributed my loss of virginity to my lover's best friend who got me high when I was 19 and completed intercourse with me as I lay there prone and rigid in a cold blue light, like I was watching it from outside my body. I suppose it was I had so much religious shame about sex, so much taught shame that I could not say the words to describe what I needed to enjoy pleasure. I did it because of the religious mythos imparted to the act that there was some mystical bond and it would be ultimate bliss like the movies or a romance novel.
But it was none of that. Just a cold blue light and the feeling of be penetrated lightly and it was over. Realizing sex was not some magical act that would turn me into some magical princess or bond me to a man forever was a hard lesson. And I found that in my foreplay/heavy petting sessions with my first lover were much more passionate and orgasmic compared to that cold little moment. And so it took me another ten years before I could say "penis" and "vagina" without blushing and where I could take control of my pleasure with my ex-husband.
Today we're highlighting Annie from New York, who talks about making and then discarding her purity pledge. 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 an 18 year old virgin college freshman from New York.
How do you define virginity?
Honestly? I don't really know. For me personally, I'll lose my virginity when I am in a relationship and have vaginal intercourse with a man, which I think is pretty much the standard view. But I know virginity doesn't really exist in a solid way, and think that each person defines virginity differently, because they define sex differently. Virginity is going to be important for a very, very long time (sadly) but I think that each person owns their virginity individually, and can therefore decide for themselves what it means.
Tell us your story
I went to a week-long Bible Camp for several years, and one of the biggest messages of the week was always about virginity. From the time I was ten or eleven, they started talking to us about virginity, and how important it is to keep it for marriage. They told us we would be broken messes if we ever had sex before marriage. That no one would want us. Of course this was directed mainly at the girls. They cited passages about marriage being when a man "cleaves" into his woman, which sounded kind of terrifying, because all I could think of was meat cleavers. The whole thing was a huge festival of slut-shaming and misogyny, but at the time I had no idea what either of those things even were. Unfortunately, I bought into this completely. I bought a purity ring, which I wore proudly for years. I had a holier-than-thou attitude when my friends started having sex. I don't know exactly what made me so susceptible to this whole thing, except that for some complicated reasons, I was scared of sex from a fairly early age, even before the camp. Then, through the messages from the camp, I become entirely terrified of sex. In addition, I was never the prettiest girl, and because of this, I felt that I couldn't afford to be "dirtied" by having pre-marital sex, because I didn't have enough going for me for anyone to ever really want me if I wasn't pure and whole.
Oddly enough, throughout all of this, I had sexual desires that I never even really tried to repress. I was accepting of it, and dealt with them myself. Somehow that never seemed wrong to me, thankfully, and I think it helped foster a comfort with my body and my sexuality that many girls who go through what I went through (and even those who don't have these experiences) don't discover. But this also made me wonder - how was I ever really going to wait until marriage to experience this thing, this be-all and end-all of worthiness and virtue which everyone was so obsessed with?
Eventually, I started to realize that my mother (who had reacted with horror when I proudly announced my abstinence pledge–she had no idea that the camp was as extreme as it was and I think she felt terribly guilty about it afterwards) was right– none of this was reality-based. Though I didn't call myself a feminist until spring of my senior year in high school, I think I've been one for my entire life, because my viewpoints haven't changed so much as they have been validated by the "feminist" title. I always believed in female independence and autonomy, and wanted to be a strong woman who could take care of herself without anyone’s help.
Also, due to having divorced parents, I was always kind of scared of marriage in the first place. So when my counselor one summer, a girl who was barely over 20, started telling me she was going to get married as "as soon as God drops the right man in [her] lap," I was entirely horrified. But it made me realize something huge: one of the things that the abstinence movement doesn't tell you is that it's not that difficult to wait - because you're not supposed to be waiting that long. You're supposed to be getting married and starting a family as soon as possible. There I was, thinking I was going to have to wait until my late twenties at the earliest to have sex, because I never wanted to get married young, and wondering how in the hell I was going to handle all that sexual frustration, and wondering how all these other people dealt with it, when suddenly I realized that they didn’t deal with it – they just got hitched right away. It changed everything for me.
Two months later, the ring was off. I didn’t suddenly start having some wild sex life – I am still, much to my chagrin, a virgin in (almost?) every sense of the word – but I did realize that I really, really did not have to wait for marriage to have sex. I realized how ridiculous that was, and how terrifyingly cult-like the camp had really been. I have a much healthier relationship with my sexuality these days, and though I still have some residual issues left from what I essentially view as the traumatizing experience of the camp, I know that when I enter into a healthy relationship where I feel safe and comfortable, I will be more than ready to lose my virginity without much fanfare. And I look forward to it each and every day.
Cable has Shark Week, we have Older Virgin Week! In honor of V-Day, by which we mean Virgin Day, all this week we’re reposting some of our favorite older-virginity-related stories. This post originally ran in November 2011. Share your biggest older virgin myths here.
Caption: Bella with Edward, the 107-year-old virgin
On the eve of the Twilight: Breaking Dawn premiere, people all over the country are lining up to watch Bella (finally) lose her virginity with sparkly vampire and true love Edward Cullen. This being Twilight, there will be a proper white wedding before the deflowering, and not a moment too soon, seeing as Bella has spent three movies (and books) begging Edward to have sex with her already. Although there have been a billion words written and spoken about the meaning and importance of Bella's virginity (be it about romantic love or Mormon abstinence propaganda) almost nothing has been said about Edward Cullen and his 107-year-old virgin status.
In fact, I had no idea that Edward never had sex until I came across a paper by fellow virginity geek Jonathan Allan, a grad student in Comparative Literature at the University of Toronto. The paper examines the idea of male virginity in romance novels, and although he says there is no official announcement of Edward's sexual status, he cites various examples alluding to it. Here's one scene from the book Breaking Dawn which occurs after the engagement but before the wedding:
"He started to pull away - that was his automatic response whenever he decided things had gone too far, his reflex reaction whenever he most wanted to keep going. Edward spent most of his life rejecting any kind of physical gratification. I knew it was terrifying him to change those habits now."
I continued my research in a less academic frame of mind, and typed 'Is Edward Cullen a virgin?' into Google. I got unequivocally affirmative responses:
"In the first book in the series it states Bella is a virgin, but Edward said he has never found a vampire or human he's been with before Bella."
"After Edward asks Bella about her romantic relationships (or lack thereof)...and she says, like him, she has had almost NO experience...he says 'that's another thing we have in common, then'...meaning that they are both virgins."
"In Breaking Dawn he tells Bella and he had to ask Emmet and Jasper for advice on what to expect before his and Bella's honeymoon."
I'm so used to the usual double-standard scenario of a young woman needing to remain pure with no such expectations placed on a man, this revelation is sort of nice. But the question remains: Why do we spend so much time fascinated with Bella's virginity and almost none with Edward's? Here are some more excerpts from Jonathan's paper:
"The answer for this is likely not an easy one, indeed, the question could be extended further: Why has so much of the discussion of virginity focussed on women and not men? Edward Cullen represents an important part of the discussion of virginity in Twilight because, in a sense, it destabilises the discourse about virginity.
There is a remarkable reluctance to speak about male virginity [...] After all, who would want to end up a Steve Carrell character [in The 40-Year-Old Virgin]? The narrative that unfolds shows the strangeness of male virginity mostly because it would seem to contradict the stereotypes of male sexuality. From the perspective of the critic, this is an interesting inversion of the generic norms. Here it is Edward who must maintain his virginity and it is Bella who longs to lose her virginity, which in romance would generally render her the deviant. Instead, in the Twilight Saga, male virginity becomes something of a deviation from the norm.
Ultimately, it is Edward’s virginity that makes him deviate from the accepted norms, thus rendering him monstrous, rather than his vampirism, which oddly enough renders him rather human."
Aside from Jonathan's work, the silence on this subject is deafening. Female virginity has always been given a disproportionate amount of attention, but at the same time, hasn't an entire film genre has been built around guys losing it?
Do we just have an easier time talking about male virginity when it's a comic spectacle, and are we at a loss for words when it's simply a matter-of-fact part of a guy's life?