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rape

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

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

Hi locandload -

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

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

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

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

V-Card Diaries: MyBodyNotYours "Part of me is shut off to sex, because I was sexually molested by a relative when I was 8."

*Trigger warning for Sexual Assault*Today we're highlighting MyBodyNotYours in Austin, Texas who doesn't feel emotionally ready to have sex after being sexually molested as a child. 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:

Female, 21, Austin, Tx

How I define virginity:

Consented intercourse (penis in vagina, to be graphic)

Here's my story:

Virginity for me has been a struggle for most of my life. Until recently, I hadn't come to terms with what had happened to me as a child. At the age of 8, I was sexually molested by an older relative. After therapy, talking to my parents and confronting the relative, I've come to terms with what happened. A part of me wants to have sex, but another part of me has been shutoff to sex in general. I've struggled with boyfriends who don't understand why I just don't want to have sex. Someday I hope to have sex, but I'm still not quite ready emotionally from the damage that was done a long time ago.

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

*Trigger warning for sexual assault*Today we're highlighting Janelle who overcame her confusion and fear by educating herself 'of the sexual realms.' If you want to tell your story, go to our submission form. You can find all our V-Card Diaries here. A little about myself:

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

How I define virginity:

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

Here's my story:

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

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

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

[Get more graphics and gifs here]

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

 

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

[Get more graphics and gifs here]

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

Today we're highlighting Cheeky Charmer in Pennsylvania. She blamed herself for a rape that happened at a young age based on teachings from a week-long Christian purity seminar. She now knows that her choice to have sex or not does not define her worth. If you want to tell your story, go to our submission form. You can find all our V-Card Diaries here. A little about myself:

I'm a 22-year-old female from Pennsylvania.

How I define virginity:

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

Here's my story:

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

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

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

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

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

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.

V-Card Diaries: Brackish "The first time I had a penis in my vagina was rape."

Today we're highlighting Brackish in the Bronx in New York City, who had a lot of PIV sex to prove it meant nothing. 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 20 years old, I live in the Bronx, and I identify as queer.

How I define virginity:

I define virginity as having not yet shared what you consider to be intimate sexual acts with another person.

Here's my story:

The first time I had a penis in my vagina was rape. He just kept fucking me till I said yes. I had lots more penis in vagina sex to try and prove to myself that it didn't mean anything. It took a long time but I've finally found a way for sex to be enjoyable for me and my partners.

V-Card Diaries: Francesca "At 14, I was trying to avoid thoughts of being a lesbian and loving a girl."

*Trigger warning for sexual and other violence* Today we’re highlighting Francesca from an Eastern European country, currently living in rural America, who suffered a great deal of abuse before meeting a man she loves. If you want to tell your story, go to our submission form. You can find all our V-Card Diaries here. .

About me: 

Francesca, 17-year-old dreamer from a beautiful Eastern-European country, exploring the world through the seek-and-find in my mind. Growing up at the seaside in a megapolis, I am an exchange student in rural America.

How I define virginity? 

Innocence of body and mind. When there is nothing to hide from mommy and priests.

My story:

That's a long one. Pretty much a confession. I was the most delightful and kind girl you would ever meet. Never had a bad thought in my innocent head, never upset my mom, took ballet classes and believed I'd become a princess when I grow up. Everybody adored me.

My dad has always had drinking & anger problems. Once I saw him with a knife over my mom. I lost my credibility in men, some months after he hit me and threw me to the wall at the school in front of everybody because I shared my crayons with a girl. I locked up in myself, and that sweet little girl died. I was 8. It happened so that I was about to be sexually assaulted twice, but I got away, and I became obsessed with a fear of being raped and all the men.

I think I've always liked girls as well as boys. When I like somebody, I don't consider them sexually. I've never seen this line between what is right and what is wrong. When I was 12, this older guy desperately fell in love with me. Tons of flowers, chocolates, balloons and books almost everyday- everything a girl can ask for to be the happiest. Made me think that I didn't deserve it and there is no way that could be truth, sooo... I fell in love with his best friend, a girl. She gave me my first kiss.

This was a long story, it lasted 2 years, which ended up with me and her having sex. I was 14. In the cold empty bathtub, pretty fast and painful. It hurt even with one finger inside of me, but I didn't lose my v-card. So innocent and scared before, I ate her out, and I have absolutely no idea how it could happen!!! I was so mentally a virgin that I almost fainted saying 'penis' at my anatomy class. She dumped me, scared of responsibility for my feelings, and it took me 2 years to get over it. I became a wild child, still making A's and never upsetting my mom. I was trying to avoid thoughts of being a lesbian and loving a girl, drinking and smoking stuff to kill the leftovers of innocence.

But then I met him (I was 16). I'm not sure if I did it to prove that I liked guys as well or because I had a big crush on him, but I felt it was right. We made love on the roof of a 16-stories-high building and then on the beach. It hurt a lot but my mind was orgasming from a thought that there is a guy I love above me, and the night city & the sea under...Now everything is as it should be.

V-Card Diaries: Jennifer "I lost my virginity when I was 20, before I even went on my first date."

Today we're highlighting Jennifer in North Carolina, who broke free of her religious upbringing and came to terms with her body being HER body. 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 24, from North Carolina. I was raised very conservatively and did not choose to allow a man to be with me until I was 20, after I had broken free of my religious upbringing and come to terms with my body being MY body. I was raped when I was 19 but do not consider that to be my virginity. I am now active in women's rights and strongly believe that this is my body and I can do whatever I want to with it.

How I define virginity:

I do not believe there is a correct definition of virginity, it is different for everyone, as it should be. The only important thing is that you know you lose your virginity when you choose to, no one can forcefully take it from you. If you consider your virginity to be the first time you received oral sex, then that's it. If you think it's the first time you had intercourse, then that's it... it is up to each individual to define for their own body.

Here's my story:

I lost my virginity when I was 20, before I even went on my first date. I was at a guy's house who had planned a date with me for the next day, and as it got late we started to kiss (my first kiss as well) and one thing led to another. It was great and I don't regret it, I did not feel uncomfortable or nervous like many of my friends did because I waited until I was ready to do it instead of doing it just to get it done.

V-Card Diaries: Joy "During the day my parents told me only whores had sex before marriage, but at night my mom gave me "lessons"."

Today we're highlighting Joy in the US, who hopes she can find a guy who can navigate her difficult past in a dysfunctional home. 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 26-year-old woman from the States. I've lived in 10 different states and a foreign country in my life. And I'm planning on moving to my 11th state in a few months.

How I define virginity: 

I'm still trying to figure that out...if we use the traditional vaginal penetration definition I am technically a virgin though I have never felt "pure" (whatever the hell that means).

Here's my story:

I grew up in a very dysfunctional home. My mom was an alcoholic who, after I turned nine, would tell me EXACTLY how I was supposed to please a guy. I mean exactly all the things you wish your parents would pretend they didn't know or ever do, yeah, she told me about them. But at the same time my dad was an elder at the VERY conservative church I grew up in and I was sent to equally conservative christian schools.

So I grew up really confused. During the day my parents told me that only whores had sex before marriage, but at night my mom gave me "lessons."

In high school when everyone one was dating and having their first time I looked at my world and thought "I'm not even mature enough to deal with this I can't bring someone else into it." So I just avoided guys. When I got to college (also a nice conservative Christian school) I got really interested in this guy who said all the right things but deep down I was a little afraid of him. Turns out that fear was for a very good reason. One night we were making out down by the lake on campus and he sexually assaulted me. He was the first guy I ever let get close to me.

After that I swore off guys. I got a lot of good therapy and wonderful friends who've helped me sort through a lot of this baggage. So now I'm 26, finally in a stable place, and I feel good about myself, but I have no idea how to attract a guy since I've spent most of my life avoiding them. And if by some miracle a guy happens to come around I'm afraid I'll scare him off if I tell him I got sex lessons from my mother, I have church bullshit baggage about sex, and well yeah the first boyfriend I had left me with enough scars to scare anyone away. To top that all of I'm headed to seminary to become a pastor this fall. So I kind a feel like my love life is doomed. Though I'm still a Christian I'm far from a conservative. I have no problem with people having sex outside of marriage and would love to do that. But I tell a guy I'm going to seminary and its like someone through an ice bucket over him.

I really hope that there is a guy (or 2 or 3) that somehow can navigate all of that with me because I really don't want to die not experiencing the goodness of sex.

V-Card Diaries: Cas "I was abused, sometimes in front of the teacher, with no intervention."

**Trigger warning for sexual assault and self-harm** Today we're highlighting Cas in Edmonton, Canada, who was sexually abused at age six and raped at age twelve. Now, at fifteen, Cas is no longer afraid. 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 fifteen-year-old genderqueer individual residing in Edmonton, Alberta. I'm currently supporting myself and working a full time job.

How I define virginity:

Virginity is a social concept reaching back into the ages where women were property and 'virgins' worth more than those who were 'tainted.'

Here's my story:

At age six I was sexually abused. This was my first introduction into sexual intercourse. I know it involved oral rape. That is all I care to remember.

I moved from my home town to Texas when I was ten.

At age twelve I was raped by the boys in my school. I was grabbed, I was abused, sometimes in front of the teacher, with no intervention. I was told I deserved it. No one deserves that torture. Due to intense bullying and a complete lack of social support, I attempted suicide. I was sent to a mental facility for ten days, and outpatient therapy for three months. I did not divulge the information regarding my sexual abuse, largely due to the fact that I had repressed many of the memories. Later that year I moved back.

I was not raped again, but my social skills were destroyed, my trust in masculine figures nonexistent. And my parents were on the edge of divorce as I dealt with kids throwing apples, rocks, pine cones, and pens at me. They also grabbed my breasts and backside, and told me I was oversensitive when I screamed at them never to touch me. I attempted suicide twice that year, both failed.

Fourteen, first consensual kiss. Back to school. School is not bad, but I am suffering from flashbacks and nightmares, and severe depression. Fifteen, November, I attempt suicide a final time. I am in the hospital for a week for potential liver failure. Then, I leave.

This is all essential to my sexual history. A month after I move out, I have my first orgasm. My sexual début was with a nineteen year old girl, and a dildo. It was very nice. Three months later, a man and I engage in sexual intercourse. And I am no longer afraid.

V-Card Diaries: Dreamer "I'm in a non-sexual relationship with a polyamorous man, and I wonder if sex will ever be attractive to me again"

Our latest V-Card Diaries comes from Dreamer in Wisconsin who blogs at Love is Not Equal to Love , who took years of emotional abuse before she decided to end her marriage. If you want to tell your story, go to our submission form. We'd love to run it in this blog. A little about myself:

After thirty-six years of learning to be myself, I'm finally breaking free of the restrictive ideological frameworks that once locked me into fifteen Wisconsin winters of emotional hypothermia with my ex-husband. I'm tired of being seen as a woman, with all the social implications. I'd rather be human ... but there you go.

How I define virginity:

I used to believe virginity was a one-time boundary, instantly compromised by any sexual contact in areas normally covered by "modest" clothing. Should a man break through, he must be married to me, or [insert some dreadful, vague consequence, involving social ostracism].

Now, I think virginity is a term all-too-frequently used to divert attention away from responsible relationship management and a healthy awareness of emotional and physical freedom and self-defined boundaries.

Here's my story:

I lost "my virginity" when I was eighteen, to the first man who ever offered, and I thought it was my fault because I gave in to his refusal to hear the word, "No." It took me 17 years to realize it was rape, even after we were married. Our relationship was emotionally thrilling, that's for sure. It was a choice between being myself and being "loved" as his wife, and it took years of emotional abuse for me to realize I could never be the wife he hoped to create from my raw material.

Now divorced, I'm in a non-sexual relationship with a polyamorous man, and I wonder if sex will ever be attractive to me again, even within the support structure of a monogamous, healthy marriage.

One thing I do know: When my children look at the friends they interact with and the people they love, I want them to examine the quality and durability of the acceptance they offer and receive from each other, above all, and to make educated choices based on mutual respect and authenticity, for the sake of their emotional and physical well-being.

If I can protect them from the blinding mentality of virginity, whether lost or preserved, then I hope they will be free to see the rest of the relational story and learn from their experiences along the way.

On Anti-Rape Wear and Chastity Belts

Chastity belt locked AR Wear is a collection of undergarments that the creators say will give women and girls "more power to control the outcome of a sexual assault" "when something goes wrong" using specially designed webbing and straps the make the garments impossible to remove. They're crowd-funding the project and about halfway to their goal, and their site is full of positive comments, including making a disco shorts version. The creators have their hearts in the right place, but they've understandably come under a fair deal of criticism.

Things like the insinuation that it's the potential victim's job to keep from getting herself raped, to the fact that most rapes are committed by people victims know and trust, to the risk of violence from an otherwise frustrated rapist, to the fact that $50K could go a long way to programs that teach young people about consent and rape culture. And then there's my personal observation that the models in the photos are super slim and this product requires an actual waist that's smaller than your hips to keep them on (bringing up those heinous comments about how fat girls should feel lucky to be raped. Ugh.)

Aside from all those issues, the undies keep getting compared to Chastity Belts, including in Amanda Hess's scathing take-down, which is worth a read. Seeing as our blog is about all things virgin, let's have a little teaching moment about that comparison and the devices themselves. The purpose of chastity belts was to assure exclusive access by the holder of the key, usually the wearer's husband/owner. You could compare this to an even worse owner-operated chastity system: a hideous brand of FGM, where a young woman's labia is sewn shut and then opened by the husband on their wedding night. In the case of AR Wear, it's a totally different story: The wearer has the 'key' and they're in control of access.

One of the few existing belts can be found, rightly so, in the Museum of Torture in Italy. However, many historians think chastity belts were largely a myth. There's very little record of chastity belt use, and since we have tons of other historical record on sexual practices, the lack of anything on chastity belts indicates they must have been very rare. When I interviewed the curator of the Museum of Sex in NYC, she said that she only knew of the one in Italy. On the other hand, there are loads of metal anti-masturbatory devices like this one at the Museum of Sex that they used to put on boys to keep them from touching themselves, and they're plentiful in museums and as awful as you can imagine. There are modern-day BDSM versions as well, but that's a whole other NSFW story.

Which brings me to a suggestion I've heard from several people: That it would be better to make constraining underwear for would-be rapists, except that we know you can rape someone without using a penis and without access to a vagina.

V-Card Diaries: Lee "I'm glad I was drunk enough so I can't remember everything that happened."

*Trigger warning for sexual assault* Our latest V-Card Diaries comes from Lee from Vermont, who was tired of waiting but ended up having a really bad experience. If you want to tell your story, go to our submission form. We'd love to run it in this blog.

About me:

I'm 24, female, from Vermont.

How I define virginity:

For heterosexuals, I define it as penis penetrating the vagina or anus. For gay men, penis penetrating the anus. I'm not sure what I'd consider losing virginity for gay women.

My story:

I was 23 when I had sex for the first time. I was tired of being the only one of my friends that hadn't had sex, and I didn't want to turn 24 before it happened. A friend of mine had a cousin coming to town who had rented a hotel room, and mentioned that he was cute and I might like him. We went out drinking, and he kept buying drinks for me and dancing. I went back to the hotel with him, and even though I wasn't that attracted to him, I had decided it was a good night to get it over with. I didn't change my mind until he told me he didn't have any condoms.

I offered to give him a blow job instead, but he got too rough and I had to stop. Next thing I knew I was lying on the bed and he was inside of me. I was so relieved he'd stopped hurting my throat that I didn't say anything, just waited for him to stop so I could fall asleep. Sex itself didn't feel like much compared to how painful the blow job had been. The next morning I left before he woke up and drove myself home. Part of me is glad to have gotten that experience over with, but I wish it had been some other way. I'm glad I was drunk enough so I can't remember everything that happened. It was a month before I could look at myself and feel sexy again. I haven't had sex since then.

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: Rachel "I wasn't paying too much attention when something very different than a finger slid right into me."

**Trigger warning** Today we're highlighting Rachel in Israel, who who didn't want to lose her virginity, but certainly enjoyed what she was doing. If you want to tell your story, go to our submission form. You can find all our V-Card Diaries here.

Editor's note: We're grateful that Rachel shared her story, and that we can publish it on the same day as How To Lose Your Virignity's Israeli Television premiere. More info here.

Tell us about yourself:

I'm 23-year-old recently married girl from Israel.

How do you define virginity?

Long gone.

Tell us your story

I was 16 years old and at that time I used to go out and party a lot. Drinking and dancing mostly, no drugs or anything like that. I would hook up with some boys on occasion. I was usually in control and knew that I didn't want to lose my virginity quite yet but I certainly enjoyed what i was doing.

Anyway, one night I ended up hanging up with a guy and we both got pretty drunk. We went off to very obviously make out and I told him up from that I am virgin and want to stay that way just to manage his expectations.

It was out doors and we climbed this wall to find a more private location (neither of us had where to go). We made out and I gave him head during which he grabbed my head and wouldn't let me breath. And he eventually was fingering me and I wasn't paying too much attention when something very different than a finger slid right into me. I pushed him off of me and started screaming at him that I told him I didn't want that.

He just left and left me all alone to climb this wall out while I'm half-naked and drunk. I fell. The next day I started freaking out about being pregnant or having an STD and I had no access to pharmacies and all in all a very unpleasant experience. Until this day I won't let my husband touch my head while I give him oral sex.

When I was 5 years old, the son of a family friend raped me. Eventually, I realized what happened was not my fault.

Francesca Woodman, Space2 Image: Space2 by Francesca Woodman, Providence, Rhode Island, 1976.

Judy P. is an art history student at Brown University who is interested in the intersections of art, politics, race, class, and gender. This is her last post before she returns to school. Check out her other posts here.

When I was 5 years old, the son of a family friend raped me. It happened rather effortlessly, really. It must have been like taking candy from a preschooler. He was around 18, the eldest of 3 sons. We lived in the same townhouse complex, and we all hung out like one big family. When I think of the day of the rape, there are some fuzzy patches, but there are some unmistakable, viscerally clear images.

The rape itself never felt forced or violent—of course, rape doesn't only take this form. He had just woken up, and he gestured invitingly for me to come closer. I saw him as an older brother-type and blushed from the attention I got from him, a grown boy, practically a man! So I walked over happily. He grabbed me gently and embraced my tiny body. This is when the details get less legible. I was on the floor, spread out on a blanket. He was on top of me and pulling down his pants and my little girl panties. The moment he entered me, I shrieked from pain and shock and pushed him off eventually, running out of the house in tears.

When I saw him again, he acted like nothing had happened, and instead beckoned me over when no one was around to have another go. He took advantage of my age, my confusion, my vulnerability, and my girlish body. And he mistook my inability to stand up for myself as compliance. I felt tainted and ashamed and angry with myself. In fact, I didn't really frame it as a violation or rape until I became a teenager.

Looking back, what is so surprising is the wide gap between inner turmoil and exterior "normality." My whole life, a whopping 5 years, had been shattered in an instant, and yet life continued on the surface. No visible changes or irregularities were detectable, though I regularly battled the consuming fear and unfounded feelings of guilt that surreptitiously plagued my heart and body as a little girl.

I knew this was something traumatic and scarring the first time I woke up in the middle of the night, re-living the terror, and crying in silence feeling like the grossest person alive. It replayed in my head no matter how hard I tried to fight it off. I lived in burning shame and fear, wondering if I'd have to see him again, or if he'd try again, or if he would tell my parents what had happened (as if I was somehow at fault for letting it happen). My heart would beat painfully in my chest, and I would sweat daggers at the mention of his name. But on the outside, I was a put-together, animated kid. I had early built self-protective walls so that no one would ever know what I had experienced. I would never tell anyone, I promised myself. I would will it to be unreal and imaginary.

Inevitably, many nights I would lie awake hating myself, hating him, but mostly myself. My rape decidedly shaped my early growth, mostly by perverting my ideas about my vagina, self, self-love, intimacy, sex, and men. That, coupled with Christian guilt, made me the ideal prototype for sexual disaster. It affected how I felt in my skin (really shitty), made me feel dirty and guilty every time I felt sexual desire, and made me feel the need to always be on guard. I taught myself how to filter things out about myself and plaster on a smile for everyone. But for many years, I lived unnecessarily with feelings of profound shame, guilt, and self-loathing.

An important breakthrough for me was when I told myself something that was so obvious: what happened to me was not my fault.* After that realization, I suddenly felt free and big and in control. My rape no longer haunted me the way it used to–I had power over it.

What I want to make clear is that rape did not traumatize me out of having a sex life, although I haven't had sex in quite some time. I am not scared of sex (I just simply find it boring at times). More than anything, it has affected how I perceive myself and engage with my sexual identity. I sometimes feel uncomfortable when imagining myself having sex with another person. I get angry when a stranger looks me up and down or cat calls (but this is a duh). I always feel the need to assert myself and show that I have power in a situation. I turn men down to show that I'm at the reins.

Today, I am a proud, sex-positive woman who is open to new sexual experiences, but I can't help but get these weird feelings sometimes and put up protective walls. There is steady progress because my rape no longer defines sex or intimacy for me. I have healthy images of sex that get me excited to talk, to feel, and to do. I read a piece called “12 Things No One Told Me About Sex After Rape” a month ago, and the author, CJ Hale, said something really important:

“Every survivor’s story and experience is different, but too often the assumption is that if you have been raped, you are sexually broken and forever unfixable. That sort of discourse is not healthy or empowering or even sympathetic. What I want to say is what I wish I had been told: rape is not a form of sex, it is a form of assault. Sex feels good. Assault is traumatizing. It is possible for sex to exist after rape because they are different experiences, just like it’s possible for you to still enjoy going out to eat even if you got food poisoning once.”

I remind myself every day that I am a valuable person who has overcome rape. And I am genuinely excited about the new possibilities!

*Check out this awesome spoken word piece from Staceyann Chin that brings me to tears every time. What I'm referring to starts at 10:12.