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hymenology

V-Card Diaries OhWhalees "As long as it feels right, don't live with regrets"

Writing from: Bell Gardens, California

Age: 18 years old

How I define virginity: Virginity to me is not having had vaginal sex

I never really thought of "losing your v-card" as simply having your hymen broken like the textbooks say. There's different ways to perceive it and different sexualities.

At 14, a week into my relationship, my hymen was broken by my ex's curious fingers. He wiped the blood on my thigh saying it was finger paint. We looked at each other, said oops, had a nice laugh about it, and I went home. A month later we broke up.

Later that year my current boyfriend and I were in a closed off abandoned sushi restaurant. One thing led to another and after 6 months of hand holding and kisses we took it all the way. For a few minutes that is, we heard the cops next door and peeled out. It was not at all romantic nor perfect but it felt right and I'm not just talking physically. It felt right in my mind, heart, and soul. Almost 4 years later and I have no regrets. Especially since we're not as awkward and clumsy lol.

As long as it feels right, don't live with regrets.

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

A Big Balloon Arch Full of Hymen Myths, All Popped.

We couldn't have said it better–or funnier–ourselves. 

Ask Trixie: What is a "cherry" and does every female have one?

Odd question, and yes I'm female. What is a "cherry" and does every female have one?? –A.

Hi A–

There are no odd questions, Anonymous, just odd slang terms! Aside from being a deliciously sweet small red fruit, cherry can also be a somewhat vulgar slang* term for:

a) a hymen b) the blood you allegedly see when the hymen is 'broken' c) a vagina or vulva d) the concept of virginity itself

In fact, it's so widely used that we picked cherries as the logo for our film How To Lose Your Virginity (see above!). So when someone tells you they 'popped her cherry' they usually mean they 'broke' someone's hymen, often followed by the other gross and meaningless phrase 'I took her virginity'

The slang is pretty useless since:

a) the state–or existence–of someone's hymen has nothing whatsoever to do with their sexual status. Or whether there has ever been a penis near it. b) not all females have vaginas or hymens, either because they are trans or they have a medical condition. c) not all females bleed when they have any kind of penetrative vaginal sex d) virginity is a just concept for you to define or reject, so it can't be taken, created or destroyed.

We still like our logo because it lets us set the stage for the thorough myth-busting we do during the film. There's so much more to say about hymens, and you can read more about that at our Hymenology category.

*There are more definitions in the Urban Dictionary, and I'm so happy that the top two totally challenge virginity myths. 

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

V-Card Diaries: Sally "In Lebanon, people raise their girls on the idea that they can not be sexual beings the way boys are."

Today we're highlighting Sally in Lebanon, who gets a reaction like a 'you're a hooker' if she talks about sex in front of boys. 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:

Hello, my name is Sally. I'm from Lebanon, in the Middle East. I am a 19-year-old female.

How I define virginity:

Virginity is overrated. Especially for girls, people raise their girls on the idea that they can not be sexual beings the way boys are. Virginity for me is meaningless. I still didn't have sex though but I will soon, but I look at other older females that have sexual desires they can't obtain because of the whole traditions and religious crap.

Here's my story:

I 'm an atheist but I come from a Muslim background. My country is well known for it's diversity ( we have around 18 sects). And apparently all of them still think Virginity is a sacred thing, including the new generation. Even masturbation. I doubt if more than 20% of the population knows about it. When I talk about sex in front of boys they tend to give me some sort of you're a hooker or why are you so reckless with your life, they TRY to make me believe that Virginity is like doing drugs or even worse.

Middle eastern man tends to believe that his wife MUST be a virgin (even though he sleeps with tons) and if he really loves a woman but she's not a virgin, he won't marry her! Or if he wanted to, his parents ( which play a big role in a typical Arab man's life) will hammer his head till they force him to dump her. Not to mention that some tend to kill the female who loses her Virginity because her virginity represents the whole family (yep those still exists which really annoys me). So why an innocent soul who just wanted to discover herself would be murdered because of a f*cking hymen ?!!

V-Card Diaries: Cherry-Jill "I asked my ObGyn to break my hymen for me so I would technically not be a virgin."

Today we're highlighting 36-year-old Cherry-Jill in Capetown, South Africa who whose experienced kissing, dry humping, and sexting, but nothing else. 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 36-year-old bi caucasian female from Cape Town, South Africa, and I'm a self-employed Graphic Designer.

How I define virginity:

I define it by having sex - but not necessarily with the opposite sex. I have had no sexual experiences other than kissing, 'dry-humping' and sexting (in my youth mainly).

Here's my story:

Due to various emotional baggage, namely my father having an affair when I was 18 and my parents' divorce, I find myself still a virgin at 36. I'm attractive and have had a lot of interest over the years, but now it has become an issue... and the longer I leave it the worse it gets.

I have considered losing my virginity with another woman, as it may be gentler and somehow easier, less risk of getting hurt?

I have considered hiring a male escort just to get it done, or breaking my hymen myself with a vibrator - to technically not be a virgin. I even asked my OBGYN to do it, she said no.

I wouldn't want my partner to know I was a virgin. Commitment scares me, but rejection even more so. I'd like my first time not to happen in my first serious relationship - too much pressure and risk of getting hurt.

V-Card Diaries: Jessie " It was not until I began to go to therapy that I reclaimed that part of my sexuality."

Today we're highlighting Jessie from California, who was molested at 6, but learned she was not dirty or a slut with the help of her therapist. 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 twenty-one-year old college woman who does not have a single clue what she wants to study. I live in California.

How I define virginity:

I define "virginity" as something spiritual. It is not something physical like a hymen. You lose your virginity when you willingly give up a part of yourself to the person you are with. Just because you are not physically a virgin, it does not mean you are not one.

Here's my story:

I was molested by another girl at the age of 6. It was at that age that my hymen was broken, and when I learned about virginity at the age of 11 I was very ashamed of myself. For many years I never talked about what had happened to me. I shyed away from any form of sex talk, and even when I did go on dates it was extremely difficult to kiss boys without bringing up memories.

I had thought that a girl who is not a virgin is dirty and a slut, so I mentally beat myself up for that. It was not until I began to go to therapy that I reclaimed that part of my sexuality back. With the help of my therapist I drew up my won conclusions about my virginity and my sexuality.

I was not a slut because I had been abused when I was young. My virginity was something for me to give away or lose to whom I pleased. When I finally did have sex, that is when I defined myself as not a virgin anymore. I had sex with someone of my choosing. Even though I never saw that person again after we had sex, I do not regret my decision of losing my virginity to her.

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

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

Hi W. –

I’m so sorry you are going through this.

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

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

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

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

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

I challenged virginity auctioner Elizabeth Raine on the validity of virginity testing and something amazing happened

Last week, I did an interview with Elizabeth Raine, the American woman who is offering her 'virginity' for auction. I enjoyed talking to her about the myths inherent in these kinds of auctions: placing value on a social construct, the fact that what's really being auctioned is 'first penis in,' and the enduring and dangerous myth of the hymen's relationship to a woman's sexual history.

In fact, I called her out her claim that she could prove her virginity through a test. She responded by doing something amazing. She wrote a post on her blog that included the following lines:

Even among virgins, the doctor cannot always prove virginity.

The absence of an “intact” hymen never proves the absence of virginity.

And many virgins do not bleed or even feel discomfort at first penetration.

And then this statement at the end:

If you are someone who is disappointed by this news, I am so very sorry (yes, that was sarcasm). I am aware that some people want to know with certainty whether or not our young women are virgins, but whoever once said “you can’t always get what you want” was really onto something. So, instead, why don’t we stop terrorizing these girls unnecessarily – it is the height of unreasonable to dictate a bride bleed on her wedding night or pass a gynecological examination (for a virgin whore, it is a bit more reasonable). And if you are someone who would punish a woman for not doing so, then you are a big part of what is wrong with this world. And I would suggest you change yourself, a lot, immediately. You might begin by getting your facts straight on hymens.

I have some issues with her assertion that in her case it can be proven, but volunteering for exams and lie detector tests seems to be a standard component of Virginity Auction Theater at this point. Having said that, I really appreciated her doing some outreach/education for the benefit of misguided (and worse) people who still think hymens have anything to do with anything (checking a guy's testicles will give you just as much information on his history...none).

Her bidding opened today, complete with extensive terms and conditions (including not penetrating the anus of the Virgin, or treating her violently). So for those people so in thrall of the virgin/whore dichotomy that they place a premium on 'first penis in' and want to pay someone for it, she awaits your bids.

An interview with Elizabeth Raine, America's latest virginity auctioner

Raine
Raine

I just did an interview for Nerve.com with 27-year-old American medical student Elizabeth Raine, who is putting her "virginity" up for auction on April 1st. Readers of this blog know I've been following this phenomenon for years, and like every other woman doing this kind of thing, she's getting a lot of sleazy, breathless tabloid coverage. I was glad to learn a bit more about her, and to talk to her about how virginity auctions affect how we value women for their sexual status, and how they perpetuate virginity myths and stereotypes.

As I say in the intro, I talked to Liz about the kind of guy who’d pay good money to be the “first penis in,” why you can’t prove a woman isn't a virgin, and how to negotiate boundaries when your first sexual experience is with a total stranger. Here's a short excerpt where we get into some of the issues, but please read the whole thing at Nerve.

Which brings me to the question of what “virginity” means to you. What are you auctioning? I think losing virginity is having heterosexual intercourse for the first time. If you are referring to another type of intercourse it needs to be clarified, for instance “I lost my oral virginity.”

So what do you think the appeal or fascination is for a guy? What do you think they think they’re buying? For some reason or another it is a sexual fantasy [to have a virgin]. In some cases, I think they want to take on the role of sexual teacher. In others, they just want to try something new. And then there are some men who are just attracted to the idea of an untouched woman.

I always assumed it was the desire for “first penis in” like planting your flag on uncharted territory or something.  Men are very competitive and territorial creatures.

I sometimes think that if men are stupid enough to pay for a social construct, let them. I can't disagree with that.

I really hate the mythology virginity auctions perpetuate. As long as there hasn't been a penis inside a woman, she and her body have value. But once that happens, she has none. No one auctions off the second time they have intercourse.  Well that's not necessarily true, women with all levels of sexual experience are selling sex somewhere. I'm not saying that makes it right, but I do think it is more of a continuum than you think. Men preferring less 'promiscuous' women is not a phenomenon limited to virgins.

They are, but adding the #virginity seems to increase the value exponentially. I'm not sure Natalie would have gotten much interest if she had already had intercourse and was offering the second time to a lucky bidder. Do you? I agree the value is inflated. Here is one more idea: The first time is a mystery. So, being in the position of the virgin, if you are going to lose it under these circumstances, it should pay well.

What the heck is a "virginal" membrane?

"The virginal membrane, a fold of mucous membrane stretched across and partially closing the external orifice of the vagina."

Our friend Cory Silverberg at About:Sexulality came across this curious definition for the hymen in the Oxford English Dictionary. It makes sense to maybe do a  hymen=virginity in concept or culture, but–no, no–never in physical reality. As we've written a gazillion times, the state of the hymen has nothing to do with a woman's sexual history. Seriously, people!! There's enough mythology around virginity already without some respected dictionary adding to the problem. Thanks, Cory, for flagging that.

A Hymen by any other name – in Swedish, English and Arabic – is definitely sweet.

From time to time we republish our favorite posts. This originally ran in December 2009.

The RFSU (the Swedish Association for Sexuality Education) is my new favorite sexual health organization! They distribute a booklet for the express purpose of dispelling myths surrounding the hymen and virginity. And they've coined a new name to better understand this somewhat notorious part of the female anatomy: Vaginal Corona (slidkrans* in Swedish):

In Swedish, the hymen used to be called mödomshinna, which translates literally as “virginity membrane.” In fact, there is no brittle membrane, but rather multiple folds of mucous membrane.

The vaginal corona is a permanent part of a woman’s body throughout her life. It doesn’t disappear after she first has sexual intercourse, and most women don’t bleed the first time,” said Åsa Regnér, RFSU secretary general.

Here's their unapologetic take on the meaning of virginity:

Virginity is a vague concept based on perceptions and myths, chiefly concerning female sexuality, that RFSU would not wish to endorse. For one thing, virginity is often associated with a heteronormative view of sex restricted to penetrative intercourse between man and woman...

For another, in many languages and cultures, virgin is synonymous with innocence, the opposite of which is guilt. There is no guilt involved in having sex, and no need to feel guilty about it.

The book gives examples of different vaginal coronas as well as a diagram of the vulva, and hopes to dispel the myth that all women bleed the first time they have intercourse. Here's what they have to say about hymen reconstruction (a procedure even non-sexually active women have to ensure they bleed):

Surgery on the vaginal corona rarely solves any problems, firstly because outcomes vary, and secondly because it helps to maintain patriarchal structures and a prejudiced view of women and their sexuality...it is not possible to sew a membrane in place, to recreate something that never existed. Doctors say it’s like “stitching butter” because the tissue is soft and elastic.

The book addresses vaginal intercourse and pleasure:

For a woman to enjoy vaginal intercourse – regardless of how many times she has done it and what is being inserted in her vagina – she needs to be aroused and lubricated (wet). If she is tense and has difficulties to relax, it may hurt more. It doesn’t matter whether it’s her first, second or tenth time.

And sexual assault:

Although you can’t tell from looking at a vaginal corona whether it has been penetrated, if you’ve been the victim of a sexual assault it’s possible to find traces of your attacker. It’s therefore critical to seek medical care as soon as possible after the incident, and not to wash yourself. The injuries that doctors record and the samples they take can be used as evidence in court. Equally important is the need to talk to someone and get counselling and support to help you deal with what has happened.

The booklet, which you can download here, is written in a very friendly and accessible tone – an impressive translation job from Swedish. The best news is that not only have they translated the booklet into English, by popular demand it's also available in Arabic and Sorani (a Kurdish language spoken in Iran and Iraq). All of our hymenology posts are here.

*Anyone know the literal definition of that? Their new term for the hymen in Arabic is تاج{اكليل}المهبل، and in Sorani, the term is ئهڵقهی زێ

V-Card Diaries: Aileen "Want an unbreakable, impenetrable hymen? Take mine"

Today we're highlighting Aileen from the US, a woman who had to medically remove her hymen in order to have pleasurable sex. 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 female, in my late 20's, and from the United States.

How do you define virginity?

I don't think there's any one act that causes virginity to be 'lost.' When sexual experiences are no longer something to simply dream about or giggle over, you're probably not a virgin anymore.

Tell us your story:

It always upsets me to hear about women who undergo surgery to "replace" their hymen, and for more reasons than those already stated here. Want an unbreakable, impenetrable hymen? Take mine, please!

When I was younger, I never used tampons because I had trouble inserting them, but I was assured this was normal and nothing to worry about. I never had the desire to try inserting anything else because it was always so uncomfortable, sometimes painful. Then, in college, I had a serious boyfriend. We did lots of fun things physically, but when we tried to have intercourse, it was like he was hitting a wall. Because he was.

Three gynecologists later, I found out I had a rigid hymen and having it surgically removed was the best option as even the slightest attempt to stretch it caused immense pain. Surgery wasn't the magical solution to pain-free sex I'd hoped it would be (to be fair, the surgeon did tell me it wasn't going to be an instant fix), but it certainly made things a lot easier. Good riddance, hymen!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Heather concludes with this hopeful encouragement:

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

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

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

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