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lack of honest talk about sex

Ask Trixie: I want to have sex, but the guy says he's nervous that I'll regret it. How do I get him to understand I won't?

Hi! I've been talking to a guy & I want to have sex, but he's getting nervous. He says he doesn't want me to regret losing my virginity to him. I grew up in a catholic family that slut shamed but 75% of children in my family were born to 17 yr olds & I realized I don't care about virginity. I think of it as a way to pressure girls to save themselves for that *one lucky guy*. IDK how to get him to understand this but also how to be comfy with myself since I have gained a few pounds –fbgc

Hi fbgc!

I’m reading a few different issues in your question so let’s take them one at a time:

1. There are lots of considerations when you’re deciding to become sexual, and you’re the only one who can decide if you’re ready. Sex can be a part of our lives in different ways: maybe we experiment with different partners, or we wait until we get married and have sex with one partner. There’s no right answer to this, but it is important to think it through for yourself. It sounds like you’ve done that, but if you need a bit more to chew on, check out something I wrote called How Will I Know I’m Ready?

2. It sounds like your potential partner is genuinely concerned about your happiness, but he also sounds like he’s projecting his own ideas about virginity onto you. It would be interesting to ask him why he thinks you’ll regret it. Is it because of his own religious beliefs which you might no longer hold? Is it subtle slut-shaming on his part because you don’t buy into the ‘saving yourself’ messages? Or is it because he thinks his penis is so magical, that it has the power to irrevocably transform you simply by sticking it into your vagina? Knowing why he’s worried that you’ll ‘regret’ it, might actually affect whether or not you even want to do it with him. I mean, who wants to have sex with a guy who’s thinking you’re a slut the whole time it’s happening (if that’s the case)?

3. Let’s say you decide you want to have sex, and the guy you’ve chosen is cool enough to be worthy of you. I’m going to beg you not to get hung up on your body, and whatever pounds you feel you’ve put on. Our brains have been poisoned by toxic messages about what women’s bodies should look like, and the worst thing would be to get uncomfortable about being sexual because you feel like you don’t look like a Victoria’s Secret model. Any guy who rejects you because of your body has done you a huge favor, saving you wasting your valuable time and energy on a total jerk. I know it sounds like a cliche, but please try to appreciate your body’s remarkable ability to give and receive pleasure, whatever size it is.

4. You might think it all through, feel great about your decisions, have sex, and then still regret it. Because life is like that: not everything works out the way we think it will. Then you need to learn from the experience, and try to make the next time better. The ‘first time’ is just that, the first of (hopefully) many sexual experiences you’ll have for the rest of your life. If you want to read some stories from people who had similar experiences, go to our V-Card Diaries project, click on ‘enter, and then click on ‘It Gets Better’ in the left-had column.  And let us know how it works out!

Got a question about virginity, sex, relationships, feminism or filmmaking?  Ask Trixie here 
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One of the many lies we're told about sex

"Whether we’re being told we have to do it with someone else (masturbation isn’t “real” sex), we have to do it with someone of the opposite sex, we have to do it in a bed, 2.5 times a week, or some other form of this lie, there are no lack of people who want to feed you the lie that there is only one (or two) right ways to have sex. The truth is that there are no rules (beyond age and consent) to how you can have healthy and fun sex. Whenever you catch someone feeding you this lie, call them on it." From "Lies We're Told About Sex" by Cory Silverberg, About:Sexuality

On the lies we tell young men about sex

Whisper Male Virgin

Whisper Male Virgin

I was interviewed by Fusion for an article on the toxic cultural forces that tell guys to lose their virginity as soon as possible–and to feel like utter losers if they don't. It's based on the male virgin section of a secret-sharing site called Whisper, which is cool on one hand because it allows these guys (gay, straight and bi) to be honest about their feelings about wanting sex or not, but also feels a little like a sex work matchmaking service for  losing it.

I spoke to the reporter about the lack of honest conversation about sexuality, the dearth of actual sex ed and the huge vacuum this leaves for young people just when they're trying to make sense of their sexual feelings. When the vacuum gets filled with sexist, judgmental and usually inaccurate pop culture, porn and abstinence-until-marriage classes about what 'real men' are supposed to be like, it's no wonder 17-year-old guys think life is over because they haven't yet had intercourse. I've said this before, and I said it in the article: I believe that becoming sexual is a long and gradual process. It's not some race to the finish line where the money-shot is the end goal.

The same day I was interviewed, I saw this quote from Cory Silverberg at About:Sexuality, with a collection of articles on delayed ejaculation and erectile disfunction in young men:

"The stories we tell each other and ourselves about men and sex are all pretty bleak.  They want sex all the time but never want to talk about it. They are ready any moment but are sexually callous.  They are fundamentally aggressive.  On and on it goes, and it's no wonder that men are so messed up about sex when you think about the options presented to them.  And what do they do when the problem they are having doesn't fit neatly into the options they have?"

A lack of understanding about sexuality doesn't just harm the guys themselves, it also affects their partners. Here's a disturbing study from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine about young men's attitudes towards having anal sex with female partners. While some women participated enthusiastically in receiving anal sex, the majority felt coerced:

"The researchers found that many young women who did engage in anal sex found the experiences painful and full of pressure. They seemed to occur in sexual climate in which the concept of mutuality wasn’t highlighted enough amongst teenagers, for reasons that ranged from a lack of open dialogue and education to young men attempting to mimic what they see in porn."

Ah, mutuality...Guys receiving anal sex from their female partners. What a concept!

Guys, what do you think? Where are you getting your messages about sex and how to 'be a man.' What can we do to change the conversation about sexuality and masculinity?