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male virginity

V-Card Diaries: Keith "Not every first time for men is positive"

Writing from: Queens, New York

Age: Early 40s

How I define virginity: Not having had penetrated or been penetrated by another person sexually.

I can't remember which New Year's Eve, but it was either 95 or 96. We had been dating on and off for nine months. She had said she was seeing others. I hadn't. I later realized I was depressed the whole time, because things had changed at home over my senior year of college. However, that didn't matter much, as Tracey and I prepared to see comedy, and then stay over that night. She would drive to the Howard Johnson's, and take me back to my car in the city where we saw the comedy.

I never saw her again. She contacted my family's house later, when I was dating my now wife. I told her that I was dating somebody else when I spoke to her again, and said I'd meet her, but she never agreed to those terms.

I like that she eventually realized that we could've spent our lives together, but it was too late for her. I, however, am not without blame here. After I lost my virginity to her on New Year's Eve, which was very short for me, as I'm sure it is for many men, I asked her if I was good. I don't remember if she said yes or no, but after that she said, "You'll get better."

Because of the depression I referred to earlier, I didn't realize I was in love with her for a few days. By then, all I wanted to do was write to her, and I wrote too many letters, so I may have seemed creepy, though none of my letters had threatening content. I was sure of something; it turns out I was right. Her father, a very unassuming man, had to tell me to leave her alone. That's when I stopped writing.

Because of how women must be careful around men, I totally understand what she did. My childhood was too long in some ways, so I just expected to be trusted. Luckily I found my wife, who instantly trusted me, but maybe that's how love is. Either way, I'm still glad that she did get back in touch with me. I remember the message she left for my father: "I'm sorry our relationship ended badly." Some of that was my fault, of course, because I didn't know how to express my feelings. However, she could've realized them sooner.

I have tried to locate Tracey, to find out how her life is going, not because I want to leave my wife, but because I still wish Tracey the best. I was never angry at her. I just was certain that at some point she would look at the picture I was in with her and her family, and say, "I really did love him, or, maybe I should give him another chance." I think either was the motivation of her contacting me again, while I was in grad school, and dating the woman to whom I'm now married.

I guess the morals of this story are: men should be aware of how their behavior is interpreted by women, and not every first time for men is positive. Thank you for asking for this story. I don't tell it often.

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.

 

Our valentine's gift to you: a month of quotes & graphics from the V-Card Diaries on sex & virginity

Every year, we do an outreach project around Valentine's Day inspired by our documentary How To Lose Your Virginity. This year, in keeping with the themes of the film, we're pushing back against standard narratives about sex, virginity and relationships (with their implied judgement of anyone who's not conforming) to show how diverse experiences around sexuality and relationships can be. 

All through the month of February (V-Month!), we're posting a graphic a day created by Trixie Films interns Bree and Sally. Incorporating quotes from stories submitted to our interactive project The V-Card Diaries, they've created 29 striking graphics. The quotes are about having sex, not having sex, being queer, being asexual, rejecting the virginity construct, and more.

You can see the full set on Tumblr, and they're also showing up on Facebook and Twitter throughout the month of February. 

Here are some ways you can be a part of this project:

See the full and growing set of graphics here along with selected V-Card Diaries stories.

Submit your own graphics and quotes on tumblr or email them to us and we'll post them.

Share your own anonymous story at The V-Card Diaries.

Read all The V-Card Diaries stories here.

Repost and amplify this project, especially if your work speaks to young women and men.  

In case you're not familiar with The V-Card Diaries, it's our crowd-sourced interactive story-sharing site where everyone can access and share diverse stories about sexuality and virginity in total anonymity. With almost 400 stories and counting, the project tells a collective story about becoming sexual–and the radical act of speaking honestly about it. The project, which as exhibited at the Kinsey Institute, is a companion piece to our documentary How To Lose Your Virginity, which examines how our sexual culture affects young people's lives.

If you'd like to write about this project, our V-Month graphics project, contact us!

Only Connect...

The other day I was re-reading our V-Card Diaries stories, and I was reminded that people who have never had sex are sometimes dealing with personal issues that go beyond the lack of physical experience. So I was struck by this excerpt from Vivian Gornick's New York Times essay on British author E. M. Forster, author of Howards End, as well as A Room With A View, A Passage to India, and Maurice:

Forster was 31 years old when “Howards End” appeared, at which time he was a closeted homosexual and a virgin who knew nothing of how erotic relations worked — with any combination of partners. His ignorance weighed on him, and in his imagination sex achieved a mythical power that became symbolic of all in human existence that one could feel but not express, imagine but not realize. His fearfulness was such that until now he had known neither passion nor love; what he did know was yearning. This yearning energized his work but also limited it. In time he lost his virginity, but sex alone did not provide experience. Anxiety — that frozen sea within — still made it impossible for him to dive deep into the kind of desire that leads to self-knowledge; and without self-knowledge all remains murk and isolation.

V-Card Diaries: David "if you're constantly the new kid, being accepted and making friends was like pissing in the wind"

A little about myself: 

I'm a 20-year-old college student living in the United States. I grew up in a military family, so I spent majority of my life as a nomad, moving around from place to place. I'm majoring in political science.

How I define virginity: 

Someone who has had no sexual contact, whether it be with the opposite or same sex

Here's my story: 

Well, growing up in a military family, I moved around a ton. Every 1-2 years I was somewhere else. This has been a fact of life for me since the cradle.

However, it has made making and keeping friends damn near impossible, let alone finding an intimate partner, This was especially true in high school, if you're constantly the new kid, being accepted and making friends was like pissing in the wind. This didn't really become a problem until I entered college. Everyone had already laid down the foundations of forming relationships, whether they be friendships or more intimate or serious ones.

The loneliness is starting to become a burden and a problem and I'd really like it to end. I'm 20 years old and have yet to have any intimate or affectionate contact with a female. It's depressing and makes me feel as if there's something wrong with me and as if nobody wants me. I haven't spoken to anyone about it, mostly because it's embarrassing and because nobody would really understand anyways because they've never been in my shoes.

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

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.

Ask Trixie: How can I pretend that it will be her first time with me?

I been seeing this girl for 5mos now, we're very open to each other. She's not a virgin but she only had sex with one guy and it was 8.5 mos ago. I am, and we plan on having sex soon, in 3mos. She never came with the first guy and she wasn't in love with him like she is with me. We both agreed that her first doesn't count because she wasn't in love and it was a stupid choice in the first place, and pretend that it'll be her first time with me. But it's really hard to pretend. Any advice? – Anonymous

Hi Anonymous – I get that there's a certain romance in being each other's 'first' but I'm feeling like you're also judging her. Why are you hung up on what she did before she met you? Do you think the fact that she had sex with someone else changed her in some way that makes her a less worthy partner for you? Have you done anything in your past you wish you hadn’t? 

Maybe you two can think about that first experience she had as a trial to see what she liked and didn't, and that experience will make sex between the two of you all that much better. Knowing what doesn't work for you can be as important as knowing what does.

You’ve got long lives ahead of you with lots of sexual experiences and (possibly) other partners. Yes, the first time can be special and important, but it's more important that the two of you have a great relationship. So, stop pretending, get over what’s in either of your pasts, and focus on the present. You love each other, which is awesome. You’re attracted to each other, which is also awesome. Enjoy being with each other and the pleasure that will bring you both.

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

V-Card Diaries: LaPlume "I numbed my mind for the entire experience."

**TRIGGER WARNING FOR SEXUAL ASSAULT**

A little about myself:

I'm and 18-year-old cis female from Indiana who currently lives in Chicago.

How I define virginity:

I always saw virginity as the first time one has sex/is penetrated. The heterosexual definition of virginity has always been my go-to definition since that's all that has ever applied to me, but as I read other stories I see it's not as black and white as that. Virginity can be pretty subjective.

Here's my story:

I was 15 when I lost my virginity and the guy was 19. We went to high school together. I never planned on sleeping with him at all, let alone for my first time. I wanted my ex-boyfriend and I to share our first experience together but we'd broken up and my two best friends were so happy to have me join them in their sexual adventures that they pushed me to sleep with him. They said "why not?" and I was hurt, so I set it up. It wasn't rape in the technical sense, but I knew I didn't want to before we even made it to my bedroom. My exact thought was, "If I tell him no now, he'll rape me. So I should just get it over with."

It was awful. There was no foreplay. He just told me to get naked and he only kissed me when he realized he couldn't perform. He reluctantly performed oral sex on me (which was painful in itself) and then he went for it. There was so much blood and a literal tearing sensation, and he wouldn't stop talking about himself. I numbed my mind for the entire experience. Afterward I made him leave and I immediately washed my sheets. I don't remember the rest of that day, only that I covered my tracks so that my parents wouldn't find out.

When I got back with my boyfriend I was so embarrassed that I lied about being with anyone else at all. I cried when he gave his virginity to me.

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

V-Card Diaries: Kageashi "Despite routinely seeing naked women at work, I still haven't had intercourse"

A little about myself:

I was born in Alexandria VA, but I raised in Western Pennsylvania. I moved to Washington DC for college...and still haven't left 14 years later. My sex is male, but my gender is interchangeable.

How I define virginity:

In heterosexual and male homosexual dynamics, I see virginity as penis penetration of the vagina or anus. For lesbian sex...I have no idea.

Here's my story:

I was reading through the blog and noticed a sad dearth of stories from older individuals (Oh gods, don't make me the old one).  I'm 32 years old, and I still have my V-card, depending on your outlook.  The fact that I still have my V-card probably qualifies as irony, however.

For almost two years I worked for a kink venue.  That is to say, a venue where people came to party (legally) on various pieces of kinky apparatus. The day I realized I had become jaded to the whole situation was when I was speaking with the venue owner in our office and two women were naked and having sex on the floor just inside the doorway.  Open door policy indeed.

Despite routinely seeing naked women running around during those two years, I never had intercourse.  The opportunity only came up once, and I only found out afterwards.

It's not that I'm waiting for marriage–just for something a little deeper than a one-night-stand.  I've had a few near-misses–right time, wrong place, etcetera.  But as a man gets older, the expectation is that he is either really experienced (and should have papers proving he's disease free and routinely checked) or a lame duck.

We'll see if it happens anytime soon.  But for all the guys out there thinking you're the oldest male virgin around outside of the priesthood?

Odds are you aren't.

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

Ask Trixie: My family is shaming me because I'm still a virgin at the age of 21

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

My family is shaming me because I am still a virgin at the age of 21. A bit of background: In high school I had a girlfriend for all of four months. We didn't do anything besides make out and in the end I was glad to leave that relationship. When I turned 18, my friend said to me "Guess what the difference is between me at 18 and you?" He then said "I got laid, you haven't." I can take a joke of course but this has caused internal trouble for me.

Just a few weeks ago, my grandparents were in town. Because the car didn't have enough room, I had to sit in the middle with my little sister on my lap. Grandma asked if I had a girlfriend and then my mom said "This is the first time J. has had a girl sit on his lap." Laughter was had but I still tried to shrug it off with no avail.

For me, I personally don't want a one night stand in part because of the possible regretfulness. I'd rather wait till it's someone I've gotten to know well. I know deep down that I can't wait to have sex but the opportunity has not presented itself yet. I also know that I am a sexual person with a fairly high libido, masturbating every other day or so.

I guess what I'm asking is does it get better? Should I let it weigh me down? –J

Hi J -

Thanks for writing. I'm so sorry to hear you're getting so much grief on this. It especially stings when it comes from people who should be supporting you, not putting you down. I've personally gotten shit for the shape of my body, my feminism, and other things. Teasing really sucks.

I don't want to diminish how frustrating and hurtful your experience has been, but people who have had sex are just as likely to get teased about what they have or haven't done.  Either way it's really none of your family's business what you're doing in your intimate life. You owe them no explanations or excuses, and unless you're going into gory detail about what you're done or haven't done, they really have no idea what your experience is. On a side note: I think it's kind of weird for your mom to compare your little sister to a potential girlfriend, but maybe I'm over-thinking this.

Unfortunately, it sounds like you've internalize their comments and allowed them to define who you think you are. So, I'm going to go out on a limb and say it's not really the teasing that's getting you down, it's the feeling that you've somehow missed your chance at sex, that the ship has sailed and you're left standing on the dock. So here's some very important information: There are lots of 21-year-olds who haven't had a lot of (or any) sexual experience, and you are in better company than you think.

Becoming a sexual person is a long process, not one magical moment when you 'get laid' that changes you forever. Whatever you did with your girlfriend was one milestone in that process and there will be more. So, yes it does get better and you will have more and better experiences. But you have to do a bit of work as well to make opportunities happen, like getting out and meeting people, taking a chance and talking to someone you find interesting, and making your goal to develop a relationship, not to get laid.  Most of all, please don't let it weigh you down...21 is way too young to give up.

Check out a post from contributor MHiggo on how to deal with being ridiculed about your virginity. We also really like this V-Card Diaries story from someone who challenges the idea that it's unmanly not to be sexually active.  You can also read more stories under the 'It Gets Better' section of The V-Card Diaries. Hang in there and let us know how things go.

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

V-Card Diaries: Sully "I'm a guy, so why is it so difficult for me to remove this social stigma?"

Today we're highlighting Sully in Potsdam, NY. First he chose to wait to have sex until he is able to take care for a girl if she gets pregnant, but now he feels like virginity is an awkward cloud looming over 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:

I'm 27, male , I live in Potsdam NY... I work in a restaurant as a cook, went to college, but dropped out for financial and family reasons.

How I define virginity:

Orgasm via vaginal or anal penetration

Here's my story:

I'm a guy, I shouldn't care what I look like or if the girl really cares for me, so why is it so difficult for me to remove this social stigma...I started with noble intentions, I wanted a career first, so if I got said girl pregnant I could at least be responsible and take care of her and "seed", but then it just became this awkward cloud that loomed over me, people treat me like I'm some kind of freak, which in turn makes it only more difficult to talk or do anything about it.

V-Card Diaries: James "My valedictorian medal had a big V on it, which could have also stood for virgin"

Today we're highlighting James in Canada, whose romantic encounter with a woman at a bonfire ended in disappointment, but also reassurance that someone found him attractive. 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 19 year-old boy from Canada who is a second year university student. I was also my high school's Valedictorian and was given a medal with a big "V" on it. It's funny how the "V" could also stand for "Virgin."

How I define virginity:

Never having consensually caused an orgasm though physical contact with another person. Also a patriarchal construct used as a reference to self-value, commodifying women and stratifying men; engrained into consciousness so well that it has become a dominant part in some people's lives. Heck, even I have trouble letting go of the idea that it something special.

Here's my story:

All throughout middle school and high school I have never had a girlfriend, due mostly to my lack of social skills. I remember feeling different and slightly alienated from my peers as it seemed everyone else I knew was able to easily acquire a boyfriend or girlfriend. Me being a guy, I rarely got asked out. I remember the first time I was asked out was in grade 7. I was really nervous being young and less familiar to the whole "dating game" and ended up saying neither "yes" nor "no" to her. I now regret that.

The farthest I have ever gone with anyone was with this girl I met at a late night bonfire beach party. She was a year young than I was and I remember how she would frequently come to talk with me and seemed interested with everything I said, which I thought was just her being freindly. She started getting cuddly with me and I cuddled her back since I thought she was cute. The party ended when the tide came in and the fire was put out. We were the last to leave and we ended up getting lost while walking; to where, I don't remember. It was dark and we were alone so we went back to my car, which was parked by the beach. When we got to my car I remember us standing there and staring at each other when it just happened, we kissed!

We then ended up cuddling and making out in my car and talked to each other about various things. She told me that she had had a crush on me for a while and even viewed my Facebook profile a few times. She even told me that she was attracted by my social awkwardness. I eventually addmitted to her that I was a virgin and that I never really had a girlfriend before and she told me she too was a virgin, which was nice to know. I found out we had quite a few things in common and we ended up crashing for the night in my car. I remember asking her jokingly if this meant we slept together.

Thinking I had a new girlfriend, I messaged her a few days later. She responded by telling me how drunk she was that night and how she didn't really want a relationship with anyone and how sorry she was. I was deeply saddened and disappointed but got over it after a solitary walk through town. I am still a virgin who has never been in a relationship but it is nice to know that there are others in my situation. It is also reassuring to know that there is at least one person out there who finds me attractive.

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.

Dear Young Men: Don't get hung up on the V-Word

Two great articles speaking directly to men about virginity and sexuality. We ladies cover this topic a lot on the blog, and I also enjoyed sharing similar ideas in an interview for an upcoming documentary on male virginity. Unfortunately, we ladies sometimes get a bit of pushback when we weigh in on this topic, but luckily, here's the same straight dope from a couple of actual dudes. So listen up and seriously, read the whole stories at the links. They are both super smart. From "Dear young men: The old stereotypes of what it is to be a 'man' are a load of rubbish" in The Independent

At about age 14, boys feel like they have to start bullshitting about their sexual exploits in order to survive. The pressure on these kids is just too great for them to speak frankly about it. Ignore what everyone says about their sex lives. They are lying, all of them, at least a little.

Forget the word “virgin” as a descriptor for both yourself and others. It’s an archaic, irrelevant word, meant to stigmatise and shame people. It oversells a person’s first sex act as some grand, transformational experience, which supposedly vindicates a young man and spoils a young woman. It’s an obsolete, religious, judgmental word. Let’s leave  it behind.

From "The Problem With Male Virginity" in Paging Dr. Nerdlove

Your value doesn’t come from who you have or haven’t slept with. It doesn’t come from where you fall on the bell-curve of starting sexual activity, whether you were precocious or a late bloomer. Your value as a person comes from how you act and how you make others feel. It’s about what you bring to the table as a whole person, not how many vaginas you’ve managed to talk your way into.

Don’t spend your time focused on getting laid for the first time, spend your time on becoming a better person. Cultivate an amazing life. Learn to connect with people, to build relationships. Don’t throw your hands in the air and just assume you’re uniquely cursed, work to fix things. Practice your social skills – getting good with women, getting good with people, is a skill that you can learn. Yes, you may have problems. You may have circumstances in your life that make things harder for you. But harder isn’t impossible, no matter how daunting it may seem.

h/t to our virginspotters @OliveMercies and @j_aallan !

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?

Women feel less guilty about losing their virginity, but is that the conversation we need to be having?

Note: Another story on this study just came out, so we're reposting this response.  

Image via Rise, Rebel, Resist tumblr

As someone who's been working for years to bust mythologies and change the conversation around virginity, I give a serious hooray for reducing guilt around first intercourse for women. Writing about a new study,  Salon reports in "Science: Losing your virginity isn’t as awkward as it was 20 years ago":

"According to a study from the University of Illinois, young adults have felt better and better about their first-time sexual experiences for the past 23 years, with the difference between men’s and women’s emotional responses to early sexual intercourse decreasing over time."

And this:

"The researchers discovered that gender differences in response to virginity loss diminished greatly over time, which they suspect might be “because of a reduction, in general, of social regulation of female sexuality and in the double standard” of sexual expression for each gender."

It's no surprise that women are feeling less guilt and shame around becoming sexual. They have more agency to choose how, when and why they'll become sexual. (Thank you, Feminism) Women know more than they ever did about their bodies and how to get pleasure from the experience (Thank you Scarleteen and the other fantastic online resources). And maybe, just maybe, the guys are paying more attention to women's pleasure as well. (Thank you again, Feminism).

But, as writer Jenny Kutner points out:

"It’s important to note, though, that men do still exhibit more positive responses and experience more pleasure than women — also because of the “reduction” in the policing of women’s bodies and not its complete obliteration."

Reduction, not obliteration, and I'd argue in the last 8 years, some significant increases. There's the $1.5 billion worth of inaccurate, sexist shaming  from Abstinence-Until Marriage programs, and the near constant stream of slut-shamingrape cases dismissed or hushed up, and legislative attacks on women's reproductive rights and resources. Young women are also facing more pressure to have sex (call it prude-shaming?) and then get a steaming pile of mixed messages like the always-popular 'be sexy but don't have sex."

Even comprehensive sex classes don't talk much about how both women and men can get pleasure from sex, or how to ask for and respect consent. A woman having pre-marital sex may be more acceptable than in the past, but so is having your own bank account and keeping your last name.

One thing that continues to be frustrating is using intercourse as the sexual benchmark for these studies. Why are we measuring the start of sexuality by a penis going into a vagina? First,  it's a heterosexual framework, leaving out a chunk of the sex-having population. But also, our V-Card Diaries story collection is full of young women writing that everything they did pre-intercourse was pleasurable, but intercourse itself was a let down.

No surprise: that's not how most women orgasm, especially when they're first starting to have sex. But the study insists on measuring women's pleasure by how much they enjoyed intercourse, and then they're actually surprised that it's so low. Please let's stop selling intercourse the big sexual prize for women and recognize there are lots of ways to have sex that don't involve a penis in a vagina. 

The progress is great, but we need to keep working to change the conversation about women, virginity and sex to one that's not only non-judgmental, but also recognizes diverse sexual experiences, and puts consent and pleasure at the top of the must-have list.

MagicWand

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Some depressing thoughts about evangelical men and purity pledges:

"The church, and the men that I interviewed, don’t believe that women would need a space to talk through these issues. They believe that men are highly sexual beings and they have "natural urges" that need to be controlled, but they don’t believe that women have that natural desire to be sexually active. Women are the providers of sexual activity for their husbands."

From "What Happens When Evangelical Virgin Men Get Married? This Secular Female Sociologist Found Out," and interview with sociologist Sarah Diefendorf at The New Republic.

While some evangelical churches encourage a pleasurable sex life for both partners, this one apparently does not. What a sad way to start a marriage, thinking your wife's duty is to become a sexual vessel to satisfy you and keep your beastly urges in check. Equally sad, Diefendorf reports that while the men have support groups of peers to deal with issues around masturbation, porn and masculinity prior to marriage, this support stops dead on their wedding day.

V-Card Diaries: The Shadow "She was much older than I was. It was a Mrs Robinson situation."

Today we're highlighting The Shadow in the San Francisco Bay Area. There was a lot of pressure not to be a virgin at his all boys' school, so he was glad to lose his virginity at a pool party. 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 48-year-old straight male living in the San Francisco Bay Area.

How I define virginity:

I would define losing one's virginity as vaginal or anal penetration.

Here's my story:

I was 16 years old, and went to a pool party at a friend of my father's in Palo Alto, CA. I drank there, and ended up spending the night with her. She was much older than I was; it was a Mrs Robinson situation...like from the movie The Graduate, but I was relieved and glad that it was finally over. I went to all boys' school, and there was a lot of pressure to not be a virgin.

V-Card Diaries: TeddyBear "I'm rather asexual, though cuddling is nice."

Today we're highlighting TeddyBear in New York City, who has never wanted to be sexually involved with anyone. 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:

Age 55, male, live in New York City.

How I define virginity:

Never having had sex with someone else.

Here's my story:

I'm a 55-year-old male virgin. I'm rather asexual. While I do fantasize and masturbate, I've never wanted a sexual involvement with anyone, including a girlfriend with whom I lived and shared a bed (though cuddling with her was nice).

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.

V-Card Diaires: Garrett "I thought of him as my second sexual partner, not as the man I gave my gay virginity to."

Today we're highlighting Garrett from California who realized that casual sex didn't make him feel unclean or ashamed–just stupid. 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 21-year-old bisexual male from California. I never considered my virginity important. I didn't feel like I had to lose it. Sex didn't and still doesn't make me feel uncomfortable. The first time I slept with a woman she questioned if I was in fact a virgin, since I was calm and seemed to know what I was doing. The same thing happened when I had sex with a man for the first time.

How I define virginity:

I do not define virginity as a single entity that can be lost all at once, but rather in bits and pieces.

Here's my story:

I always felt sexually stunted compared to all my friends growing up. Sex just wasn't a high priority for me. It wasn't until I had my first girl friend at the age of 20 that I began gaining sexual experience. We started things slow for the first four months. First hand on genital interaction, later oral, and then vaginal intercourse. When I realized I loved her I had no problem having vaginal intercourse. However, none of these experiences made me feel like I had lost anything.

It wasn't until about seven months later that I truly felt that I had lost some form of purity. I moved away to go to school and the long distance became too much to handle. We eventually broke up but decided to remain in touch. This might have worked out had we not had meaningless sex the next day. I think the break up sex was meant as a last resort to salvage our relationship but all it did was make me feel awful, ashamed, and dirty. I had hurt myself and hurt someone I cared deeply for. I had damaged an emotional connection with sex.

The first time I had sex with a man was a casual hookup that lead to a short term dating experience until he ignored me completely. We were both on the rebound and got along well, it was easy. The first time we kissed lead to hand jobs, oral, and anal sex all in one night. I never once considered that it was a second chance to lose my virginity. I thought of him as my second sexual partner, not as the man I gave my gay virginity to.

I continued to casually date and have sex with him for about three months until he started sloughing off slowly. Then I started to feel used. I would ask him if he was done with me and he would say that things weren't like that and he respected me. Ultimately I found out that translated to him just wanting to keep me on reserve until he knew what he wanted. I ended it and wished I'd never met him. This experience didn't make me feel unclean or ashamed, but stupid. It made me feel stupid for trusting someone so easily and having sex with them so quickly. I realized that casual sex is not for me.