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V-Card Diaries: Brianna "I look forward to having more sex in the future. I don't know if that takes away my C-card (Christian card). I hope not"

Writing from: Fairfield CA

Age: Early 20s

How I define virginity: A made-up patriarchal idea created to monitor the behavior and actions of women and create a culture of control and oppression.

I grew up in a very conservative, Christian household. I thought purity was the highest goal to attain and I bought into the Silver Ring Thing, I Kissed Dating Goodbye, and When God Writes Your Love Story courting culture up until I was a sophomore in college.

As my worldview broadened, I continued to think that I would save my virginity (at that time I defines as penile-vaginal intercourse) for marriage. I was dating my current boyfriend for 6 months when I decided to have intercourse with him. I was prepared for the worst case scenario, but I just really wanted to do it. I'd been told sex hurts for women, you'll feel  like a dirty, used bag if you do it outside of marriage, it'll ruin your relationship, etc.

When it happened, it wasn't painful at all. I didn't feel like a dirty, used rag. I honestly didn't feel any type of way about it except that it was enjoyable. For me it definitely wasn't the big deal that everyone made it out to be. I was in a committed relationship, with a loving and safe partner and I look forward to having more sex in the future. I don't know if that takes away my C-card (Christian card). I hope not.

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.

Films We Can't Wait To See: The Diary of a Teenage Girl

I've been waiting for The Diary of a Teenage Girl to open in New York since I first heard about it at the Sundance Film Festival. The film, directed by Marielle Heller, is about 15-year-old Minnie, who has sex for the first time with her mother's age-inappropriate boyfriend. It's based on Phoebe Gloeckner's graphic novel, "The Diary of a Teenage Girl: An Account in Words and Pictures."  

I can't wait to see it for so many reasons, including that I saw the film's star Bel Powley on stage in Tom Stoppard's Arcadia* back in 2011 and she was fabulous. But mostly because I think it's going to be such a great film about teenage girls and sexuality. Minnie's opening lines set the tone: "I had sex today. Holy shit." 

Women & Hollywood just wrote about that line a story about 6 lines from the film that every teenage girl needs to hear. Here's what Powley had to say about it:

Powley said at a Q&A panel following a screening of "Diary" that this is part of what drew her to the character. "I just felt like I related to Minnie on so many levels, and I just thought it was so special because it was opening up a conversation about female sexuality amongst teenage girls...I think it's such a taboo subject to discuss young girls or teenage girls feeling horny. We see our virginity as something that is really precious and that we lose or we give it away and then it's kind of over and then it's not okay to have sex with the wrong people or have sex with loads of people; it makes you feel like you're a freak or a you're bit weird if you have those feelings." 

Some of Minnie's other lines include "I just want to be touched. I don't know what's wrong with me," and "I didn't know if I wanted him or anyone else to fuck me, but I didn't want to pass up the chance." This is the real deal: I've read these very lines so many times in the stories submitted to our online project The V-Card Diaries.

Not suprisingly, the film has generated as much controversy and praise, and I'll write more about the film after I've seen it. I'll also be talking about it in my Downton Gabby Off-Season podcast which you can catch up with here.

Have you seen the film yet? What do you think? 

*You can see a clip of Bel Powley in Arcadia here, starting at 00:34.

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.

You have one more week to celebrate National Masturbation Month!

"Wally in Red Blouse With Raised Knees" by Egon Schiele

Judy P. is an art history student at Brown University who is interested in the intersections of art, politics, race, class, and gender. She is proud to be a woman, though she thinks it’s not always easy to be one. Check out her other posts here.

May is National Masturbation Month!

In celebration, Philadelphia's sex-positive groups, ScrewSmart and GALEI's (The Gay and Lesbian Latino AIDS Education Initiative) Pleasure Rush, have been hosting a “Masturbate-A-Thon” all month ending on May 27th. For this fundraising project, participants are asking sponsors to fund every hour spent, ahem, intimately with themselves. The proceeds will go toward ScrewSmart's and Pleasure Rush's efforts to support sex-positive and pleasure-based education and prevention, and to "reduce shame and stigma around sexuality, promote sexual health, [and] create a community dialogue around the importance of pleasure."

I know that this can be an embarrassing or uncomfortable taboo topic, but that's what this event is about. GALEI's executive director Elica Gonzalez says: “We are hoping that by having folks participate in the Masturbate-a-Thon, that they will help to destigmatize the behavior – and reduce stress and get a glowing complexion all the while.”

Masturbation was a touchy (no pun intended) subject growing up. I discovered the sensations of self-pleasure pretty early, I'd say when I was 6 or so. I was surprised to learn that many of my friends started masturbating in early childhood as well, which goes to show that children can be sexual beings.

Coming from a religious background, however, I always felt naughty and guilty every time I did the deed. I'd imagine God looking down on me, shaking his head in disappointment, and crossing my name off of his “Heaven-bound” list. I'd even picture my dead grandparents observing me from above (creepy), and I thought I was somehow letting them down by getting to know the ins and outs of my vagina when I was taught it should be locked up and ignored forever, or at least until I got married and had to make mini-mes.

I asked my friends about their experiences with masturbation, and they shared a few similar initial feelings of shame and guilt:

"I would look at myself in the mirror and cry and then get down and pray."

"I always felt dirty after ejaculation."

Even though uncomfortable thoughts and images plagued my mind, I still continued to masturbate regularly. I guess nothing quite beat the thrill of an orgasm, even if it meant disobeying the Big Bearded Man-in-the-Sky. When I grew out of my religious phase, I would even masturbate openly in the presence of our family's austere, wooden cross in my living room, mostly because it was impossible to avoid (the living room was my favorite spot because that's where we kept our vibrating handheld massager. TMI? Sorry!). I also did it because I had the liberating feeling that I could; I wasn't scared or full of shame and repentance anymore.

Masturbation is the only form of sexual pleasure I have at the moment. I will definitely climax from self-play, whereas partner sex usually yields not much pleasure and no orgasm. Now I know this isn't the case for everyone (partner sex can be amazing! I'm waiting for that day, fingers crossed), but I know many women who don't come from partner sex at all. Many women (and men) don't even know much about the anatomy of the female body, i.e. the treasure den of the clitoris. As a friend of mine put it, “Masturbating teaches you what you like and how you like to be touched. I believe if you can't learn to let go and make yourself come, no one can.” Just take a hint from Betty Dodson, the queen of self-love/ pleasure [video link].

Sometimes, masturbating still makes me feel a little weird, like I'm not ready to announce myself as a sexual adult yet. That's a part of my sexuality too, those religious, social, and cultural influences that have shaped (or stunted) my sexual growth today. It's always going to be a process for me; getting over the complications of sex, feeling comfortable in my body, being okay with feeling sexy, and discovering all the movements/ rhythms that make my body pulsate, twist, and shout.

You still have a little over a week until the end of May to take part in Masturbation Month, so get masturbating! And, of course, the fun doesn't stop there.

So what's your relationship with masturbation, especially for those of you who don't have sex or have never had sex? Do you remember your first time? What are your favorite techniques? How often do you masturbate? How does masturbation play into your sexuality/sex life? What do you think about when you're masturbating? Do you think at all? Why do you masturbate? etc. Share in the “Comments” section below.