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slut shaming

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.

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

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

Hi fbgc!

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

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

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

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

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

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

V-Card Diaries: Taj "India is so conservative they would kill u if they come to know u had sex before marriage"

Writing from: India

Age: Early 20s

How I define virginity: losing yourself to some both emotionally and physically

i am a girl from india where virginity is a big deal. the place is so conservative that they would even kill u if they come to know u had sex before marriage

i had no idea of sex during my school days only just girls talk. guys try to approach girls with the idea of sex sooner or later. so i decided to choose when i should lose it. entering into college i met a guy whom i fell for. both were in a relationship sooner. he was also a virgin.  we kissed, touched and we got close day by day..we shared our thoughts.and i decided that losing it with him would be good.it happened when i was 18

that time both were nervous but it  went well . and we used condoms. there was nothing much the first time except little pain. now after 2 years its good and still with the same guy!! he is such a nice guy to b with..

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.

 

Congratulations! You've won a grant shaped like a chastity belt.

Where, oh where, to begin with this story about a South African grant just for girls who remain virgins:

 

“The bursaries are for young girls who are still virgins,” said a municipality spokesman, Jabulani Mkhonza.
“It’s a new category which the mayor has introduced this year,” he said, adding that the goal was to encourage “young girls to keep themselves pure and inactive from sexual activity and focus on their studies”. Beneficiaries of the grant would be subjected to regular virginity tests, he added. 
“Those children who have been awarded bursaries will be checked whenever they come back for holidays. The bursary will be taken away if they lose their virginity,” said Mkhonza.

Let's see...
That tying poor girls' educational prospects to a grant shaped like a chastity belt is inhumane? 
That virginity tests are bogus and a gross invasion of privacy? 
That keeping girls safe and in school is better accomplished with sex ed?
That young women should get educational support regardless of sexual history?
That some of them have probably been raped and shamed over that? 
That there's no comment on the value of boys staying celibate?
Ugh. 

The good news: Women's groups are attacking the plan.

On the eventual realization that casual sex isn't worth losing a good night's sleep

This perfectly describes why I finally realized I preferred a good night's sleep over another casual encounter with another guy who would likely be as erection-challenged and porn-emulating as the rest. For ladies who like to sleep around, the problems with it are not about morality or any other conservative clucking about family values and women's roles. THIS is why casual sex eventually loses its charms:

From "From Swipe Right On Monogamy" by Charlotte Shane

Why did casual sex suck so much? Because very few straight cis men were as libidinous, skilled, or nice as they needed to be to make the enterprise worthwhile. When arranging my “casual encounters,” I hoped for low level warmth and good naturedness to accompany fun sex, but this modest combination was exceedingly rare. And in 2015, I watched friend after friend suffer the same relentless indignities I’d endured in 2014, before Mr. Pussy Pic [her eventual monogamous boyfriend] entered the scene.

“Being straight is a constant exercise in degradation,” I found myself telling them because it was the most sincere validation I could summon. We’d been told that men were insatiable, that they’d be thrilled by our appetites and eagerness and carefully cultivated hotness, yet we kept bumping up against potheads and sluggards who seemed severally sexually under-motivated in spite of having signed up for a site designed to get them laid. Then there were the erectile problems courtesy of bad diets, prescription or recreational drugs, and performance anxiety.

Those who could get it up, inexcusably, often mimicked porn moves with an alarming degree of sincerity. I daresay even the rare vaginal orgasm-er among us is shocked by the ignorance behind such cartoonish penetrative encounters."

h/t The Lux Letter

Just The Tip: News from the World of Virginity and Beyond featuring vatican gynecology, wedding night tips, books for teens and Tennessee is the worst

Happy Hanukah to all those that celebrate! Here's are this week's top stories from the world of virginity, ladyparts and sex. For up to the minute news, follow our Facebook Page, where we post every day!

 

100-Year-Old Wedding Night Advice for Newlyweds

On one hand they're pretty clear about the hymen not being an indicator of virginity. On the other hand here's what they think is: 
"The one true and only test which any man should look for is modesty in demeanor before marriage, absence of both assumed ignorance and a disagreeable familiarity, and a pure and religious frame of mind. When these are present, he need not doubt that he has a faithful and chaste wife."

Tennessee school wins right to ban gays and women who’ve had sex: ‘This is who we are’

From the story, which I can't believe is not parody:
'The waiver allows the school to ban pregnant students, women who have had an abortion, single mothers, LGBT students and anyone else who does not fit their religious ideology.
“This is who we are as a Christian university,” O’Brien opined. “These are our religious principles. And in a changing world, we would like to reaffirm that this is who we are and who we intend to be.” '

Daniel Holtzclaw's Victims, In Their Own Words

Former Oklahoma City Police Department Officer Daniel Holtzclaw was found guilty of multiple counts of rape and sexual assault. These are the testimonies of his victims:
"According to prosecutors, Holtzclaw targeted these women because they had records and lived in a high-crime neighborhood. He allegedly chose them because they didn’t want any trouble and because they feared the police — because they likely wouldn’t report their assaults to the police. He was the police."

Twenty-three more books every teenager should read

Did you know this?
Every teenage in Sweden is being given a copy of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s We Should All Be Feminists? Here's a good and useful list of other great books for teens, with the bonus of shoutouts to our friends Rachel Hills and Scarleteen's Heather Corinna.

Is Technology Making Us Sluttier?

Well, probably not:
"In the same way that mid-century antibiotics and contraception helped kick off the sexual revolution, better HIV treatments (as well as Gardasil, more advanced contraception, and that old standby, the condom) might encourage more libertine behavior by making sex feel safer than it did during the panic of the 1990s—but granted, that doesn’t really make for the most compelling of Vanity Fair screeds."

He Called Her a Slut. He Got Fired

...And then a bunch of trolls blamed her for it.
"A culture of sexist tolerance undermines entire industries, let alone individual people’s daily lives. This tolerance continues because we’ve created cultures were targets of awful behavior are expected to just take it."

...and finally, you can't make this stuff up:

Catholic university overseen by the Church to host conference about the secrets of the female body

From the story:
"Topics covered at the landmark conference are said to include the lifting, tightening and bleaching of female genitals. Delegates will also discuss the amplification of the G-spot and the O-spot, a point behind the surface which experts claim is more sensitive to pleasure than the G-spot. The delegates will also be greeted to an audience with Pope Francis and a walk with in the Vatican gardens, the Times reported. They will then take part in a 'hands on course' which features operations on '14 live cases'."

Be a virginspotter! Send us stories for our weekly round up here, or tweet at us with our @virginitymovie handle. 

Just The Tip: Teaching Sex Ed to 4-yr-olds, Duggar grossness, Your Number, V-Myths and more...

Our weekly collection of interesting links from around the internets. Click on the titles to link. (Or, why wait? Get up-to-the minute news on our Facebook page)

Bill Nye explains The Sex

Not super informative, but how can you resist? Bill Nye's at the Museum of Sex in New York to explain the evolutionary purpose of sex. Neil deGrasse Tyson hosts STARTALK (MONDAYS 11/10c on NatGeo).


Jaclyn Friedman on Caitlyn Jenner and the complicated definitions of womanhood:

"Trans people are not magical gender warriors. We may politicize their bodies, but they are not obligated to play along. As with all of us, some may decide to become activists, but most won’t, and either way, none of them will exclusively do the most politically expedient thing every time they’re faced with a choice. Because they’re human. They don’t owe the world a revolution, or even an explanation. And they’re certainly not obligated to live up to the arbitrary standards of one random cis woman."


Inside the Duggars' Dark World

Young women are not only robbed of any sexual agency, this culture also teaches that "Women are objects, controlled and exchanged by men to create and affirm the men’s identities...Women. Are. Not. People." And it has implications for all of us. An essay by one of our fave virginity geeks, Jaime Hough.


I was interviewed for this piece (along with our How To Lose Your Virginity expert Hanne Blank) about busting virginity myths. Loved contributing thoughts along with lots of screen grabs from the film:

"Male virginity wasn't even discussed as a thing until the 20th century," Therese Shechter, creator of the documentary How to Lose Your Virginity, told Mic. "Whether a man was sexual or not had little bearing on his character or value."
"The concept of virginity is all too often tied to how we talk about women's morality and sexual choices," Shechter said. "I think people should define virginity however they want, or dismiss the concept it altogether if it's not useful to them."

Is You Sexual History As Impressive As You Think?

In other words, am I a slut or a loser? So lemme just go get a pencil. But first...What exactly does 'slept with' mean? And if our definitions are different based on which parts touched other parts, then what exactly are we comparing and tallying? And what constitutes a lot? I know, I know...this is just a dumb internet game, but can we all agree 'the number' makes no sense? Instead, why not ponder the first milestone of your sexual history with our own quiz.


In the Netherlands, sex education starts in Kindergarten

We North Americans do such a lousy job of teaching our young about sexuality. The Dutch are miles ahead of us:

“People often think we are starting right away to talk about sexual intercourse [with kindergartners],” van der Vlugt says. “Sexuality is so much more than that. It’s also about self image, developing your own identity, gender roles, and it’s about learning to express yourself, your wishes and your boundaries.”

That means the kindergartners are also learning how to communicate when they don’t want to be touched. The goal is that by age 11, students are comfortable enough to navigate pointed discussions about reproduction, safe sex, and sexual abuse.

 

Be a VirginSpotter! Got a story you think we should talk about? Contact us or tweet at us here.

On Abstinence, Sleeping Beauty, and Victim-Blaming.

Scene from the documentary 'How To Lose Your Virginity' featuring Hanne Blank and Shelby Knox, with narration by director Therese Shechter.

As we've said many times on this blog, Abstinence-Until-Marriage programs are dangerous on several levels–and proven to be totally ineffective. They don't protect girls and women, they victimize them.

The article "On Josh Duggar And Why It’s Time To Do Away With Abstinence-Only Sex Education" lays it all out in chilling detail, including:

  • Women are naturally pure because their sexuality is encased like a fire alarm behind the plexiglas of romantic love. A girl/young woman will not have sexual feelings until they are “awakened” in her by a romantic relationship. That awakening should not happen until after marriage. (This is why they don’t kiss before marriage.)
  • Love is what not only awakens a woman’s sexuality, it is also what keeps her sexuality in check. If a woman’s sexuality is awakened in any situation other than marriage, she dissociates it with love. And without the governor of marital love, her libido rages out of control and she becomes a shameful and pitiful victim of her own wantonness.

One of the things we talk about in How To Lose Your Virginity (see video above) is the lack of sexual agency for young women, that the men in their lives (father, husband, god) are in charge of their sexual lives. The idea that "a girl/young woman will not have sexual feelings until they are “awakened” in her by a romantic relationship."

We liken it to the 'Sleeping Beauty' myth, the idea that a woman is a passive sexual player waiting to be awakened by her prince, and it's insidious. If women do have any independent sexual feelings, they run the risk of being labeled sluts who are responsible for any unwanted sexual attention or violence that befalls them.

While it's taken to the extreme in fundamentalist communities that concept isn't really limited to Duggar-like environments. First of all, many women of color are experience being labeled hypersexual, de-facto sluts from the get-go. As for white women, any woman who doesn't passively wait for a man to unlock her, so to speak, risks being slut-shamed as well. How can you ask your partners for what gives you pleasure, when sexual satisfaction isn't something you should be asking for–or even know anything about. It's the basic narrative of virginity-themed porn like 'Barely Legal,' where a young (white) woman must begin as totally innocent so that a man can unleash her sexuality with his magic penis. And it's the foundation of rape culture, where a woman invariably has her own uncontrolled sexuality to blame following sexual assault.

Watch the video for the new poem "Thank God I'm A Virgin"

From the upcoming album, "All Prodigal Daughters and Sons" "Thank God I'm a Virgin" is an exploration of the logical consequences of a Christian purity culture that places undue emphasis on the status of one's virginity, especially female virginity, over against one's character and heart.

Our twitter friend Emily Joy just shared her powerful new poem with us, and we want to share it with you right away. We often talk about how the choice of waiting until marriage to have sex is a very valid one, but should never be made based on shaming, double standards, or bad science threats of disease and death. The poem from the upcoming album, "All Prodigal Daughters and Sons" and here's how she describes it:

"Thank God I'm a Virgin" is an exploration of the logical consequences of a Christian purity culture that places undue emphasis on the status of one's virginity, especially female virginity, over against one's character and heart. It seeks to correct and indict those who would set themselves up as judge of who is in and who is out of the kingdom and community of God on the basis of their sexuality.

Lyrics:

Well thank God I’m a virgin!
Or he probably wouldn’t want me.
I thought as I listened silently
While he told me
That he just couldn’t be with someone
Who had been with someone else,
Which is like 90% of adults by the age of 25,
So your already limited pool is shrinking very quickly,
But don’t let me discourage you.
Carry on.
Tell me how you saved yourself.
How you saved up enough points with God
To buy an unspoiled bride
And you will not settle for less.
Tell me about her white dress,
How it will “mean something.”
Tell me what it means.
Tell me what it’s like to have nothing you regret,
To have made it through life unscathed
By either bliss or pain.
What does that feel like?
Is it very lonely?
Or does it just feel safe,
Like keeping your cocoon heart all wrapped up and tucked away
Hoping to God someday it becomes a butterfly
Before it dies from the frost. 
I hope whoever she is,
She meets all your expectations.
I hope enough of her heart is intact
For you to feel like the wait was worth it.
I hope she never knows you wouldn’t have wanted her
If she wasn’t a virgin.
Cause everybody knows a girl is only as valuable
As the men who haven’t touched her.
Only as desirable as the experiences she hasn’t had.
But baby, when you get to her,
She better know what to do in bed.
She better satisfy your wildest pornographic fantasies,
Know all the right ways to move
Body parts she has never had the chance to use.
Cause God would never fail you, right?
You waited on his timing, now he owes you.
Anything less is not the bill of goods they sold you.
So I hope it works out for you.
I really do.
But if it doesn’t, just remember what I told you.
That a heart cannot be divided into pieces
And given away till there is nothing left.
That the greatest gift you can give
Has nothing to do with your flesh.
That love is really just grace.
That a lifetime of avoidance
Does not prepare one for a lifetime of joy and pain.
That “virgin” is not a sexual preference,
Nor is it your birthright.
Baby, your insecurity is showing.
She chose you.
What more do you want?

Professor live-tweets her son's abstinence-only sex ed class

We cannot imagine a more delightful combination of words! This is a must read if you still aren't clear about what goes on in these hideous classes that your tax dollars fund. And here's her prose version for more detail. 

"Jane The Virgin" is coming this Fall

[Update: The show premieres Oct 13th, 2014 on the CW]

The new comedy series Jane The Virgin, based on a Venezuelan telenovela  Juana la Virgen, is debuting on the CW. I've never seen the orginal, but from the clips on the site, it seems to be the story of a teenage girl who is accidentally artificially inseminated, and hilarity and slut-shaming ensue.

The vibe is very Ugly Betty, another telenovela remake that I really liked*, so that's promising. Bonus points for the clip above, in which they seem to be making fun of the offensive abstinence parlor games that equate dirty pieces of tape, chewed up gum and dirty toothbrushes with a young lady's destroyed virtue (even though, weirdly, the actress who plays the grandmother does not seem to be in on the joke). Here's hoping they bust a bunch of virginity myths and it's not all just one long virgin/whore joke.

h/t to virginspotter Myra Batchelder

*What's the amazing America Ferrara up to these days? I loved her in one of my favorite films Real Women Have Curves, which has hilarious and awesome virginity loss and body image story lines.

V-Card Diaries: Paola "I want to enjoy my sexual life without having to worry about being labeled a slut, bitch, whore or thirsty."

Today we're highlighting Paola in the US who does not want to be a virgin anymore. 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 17-year-old female in the US.

How I define virginity:

I define virginity as a three element process in which your sexual life is started:

1-Physical

   Where your body is being adjusted to the physical feelings of having any kind of sexual contact with another human. Most societies value this physical quality as the only element to being a virgin, especially the act of breaking the hymen.

2-Mental

   Mental virginity deals with the view of innocence. You may think you are not innocent if you already lost your physical virginity, but there is still mental virginity. It consists of being at the peak of innocence because of the presence of love...that desire to be connected with the one we love will make our innocence reach its peak in a sexual encounter, first one or not.

3- Moral

   The morals that a human is taught often do define virginity. But whether you're Christian, married, single, a millionaire, famous, or even the best person in the world, we all have sexual need. Our moral virginity is lost when we understand this: we have sexual needs, we need to satisfy them, and it  is a natural process that will never change. Society has tried to change our nature as humans by defining virginity, promoting innocence towards sexual topics, and pressuring women to satisfy this need.

Here's my story:

I am a "virgin." I don't want to be a virgin anymore. I want to enjoy the physical pleasure of sex. I want to find that special person that will make my innocence peak to its maximum. I want to enjoy my sexual life without having to worry about being labeled a "slut," "bitch," "whore," "thirsty," etc.

V-Card Diaries: Distracted Dragon "I'm offended by responses to my vaginismus, when coupled with my “virginity” and queerness."

Today we're highlighting Distracted Dragon in New York, NY, writes that our society slut shames and virgin shames at the same time, speaking out of both sides of our mouth. If you want to tell your story, go to our submission form. You can find all our V-Card Diaries here.

A little about yourself:

25. Queer cisgendered woman. New York, NY

How I define virginity:

I dislike "virginity" and "losing one's virginity" as terms because they are vague and carry negative, gendered connotations. I prefer "making one's sexual debut" over "losing one's virginity" because you aren't losing anything when you have sex, you are gaining an experience, be it a wonderful experience, a terrible experience, or a ridiculous experience. I feel what equates sex, and thus, virginity, is self-determined. Healthy communication between partners should not begin and end at “I’m a virgin”, but should be a discussion of what you have/have not done, what you do/do not want to do with another person.

Here's my story:

I've never had sex because the opportunity has yet to present itself. I have no qualms about engaging in sex, should I find a mutually interested, respectful partner. I resent that our society both condemns sexual debut that occurs “too young,” but also “too old.” God forbid any teenager engage in consensual sex but as soon as you’ve hit 18 and graduated from high school, genital exploration between you and another (preferably heterosexual) partner must ensue, pronto. We slut shame and virgin shame at the same time, speaking out of both sides of our mouth.

I discovered, via my first attempt at a pelvic exam at age 21, that I have primary vaginismus, an involuntary muscle contraction of the pelvic muscles that makes penetration painful. I'm working with dilators and Kegel exercises to treat this but I've been frustrated and offended by responses to my vaginismus, when coupled with my “virginity” and queerness.

I have been made to feel, by self-help sites, online forums, and members of the medical profession:

a) I shouldn't still be a virgin at 25. That in and of itself is indicative of "emotional trauma." I acknowledge emotional and sexual trauma can be a factor in vaginismus but it isn’t always. I have not avoided sex because of my vaginismus, although it will be a discussion to have with future sex partners.

b) Women who desire sex with women don’t have vaginismus. Because apparently painful penetration is only supposed to happen to heterosexual women? I shouldn’t know penetration hurts if my vagina has never made intimate acquaintance with a penis? Right, because the inability to accommodate a speculum or my ob/gyn’s fingers is not indicative of a problem. I don’t need penetration to have sex and even if I did I don’t need a penis for penetration. But I do need regular health exams, so can we please get past narrow views on sexual mechanics and how they relate to my preferences?

As a culture, we need to acknowledge that there are a range of behaviors that constitute sex for a range of sexual identities just as there are a range of medical problems that we encounter relating to our sexuality. Our nerve endings and our attractions do not line up in pre-scripted ways. Sex is a fascinating topic because it is so complex – our desires, our bodies, our motivations, and our practices compel myriad conversations, personally and on a national level. Sexuality will play a part in our lives, whether or not we engage in sex itself, and it is part of our human story. The sharing of stories is the transmission of culture, so let’s talk about sex, baby.

I Was A Dress Code Harlot

dresscode [Poster via thecatsmeow90]

Ah, dress codes. A week doesn't go by without news about sixth graders being condemned for wearing shorts or female reporters being kicked out of court rooms for going sleeveless or nursing students being told to cover up so as not to distract from the learning environment. Even though I'm already a rising junior at an art school and don't really have to worry about a specific dress code (except to look ~*~super fly~*~ of course), it’s still something I think about when I hear stories from my younger sister and her friends.

Looking back at my high school’s dress code, it's clear how sexist the rules were. Even though there was no specific reference to “female students,” the focus on cleavage, skirt lengths, and cami width was obviously gendered. Trans* girls had it even rougher; their dress code violations were for performing an “act that shocks social conscience,” or in other words, wearing skirts or dresses (exact phrase from the old handbook...sad, but true). Appallingly, my school’s handbook considered  repeat dress code violations of the same caliber as dealing drugs, bullying, and committing arson.

Photos of my "slutty" high school self

One of the biggest enforcers of this policy when I was in high school was my chemistry teacher. (Hi, Ms. Esselman!) Her favorite phrase: “modest is hottest.” I think she spent more time scouting for teen cleavage than bullying or drug use. Unfortunately, I was one of those teen cleavage offenders. Above are of some of the outfits that got me in trouble. It wasn’t always intentional, though; as a girl who, um, filled out at a pretty early age, sometimes the most basic boatneck t-shirt became slutty.

Throughout my time in high school I was forced to swap my shorts for sweatpants from the lost-and-found box, wear a sweatshirt to cover my shoulders and cleavage on a hot day, and adjust my bra straps so they weren’t showing. It was incredibly humiliating to be called out for dress code, particularly because it demonstrated that your teachers were looking at you “that way,” and so each day I crossed my fingers before class that I would go unnoticed. Kind of hard when you’re trying to actively participate in the classroom, though.

Speaking up is an important way to be involved, demonstrate that you’re smart, and interact with the class material, but it’s also a good way for a teacher to notice that you’re wearing shorts because of the 90 degree weather outside. A lot of women in my class were forced to choose between speaking up in class and being called out for “immodest dress” or staying silent and potentially avoiding reprimand. Many people may wonder, “So why not fully cover yourself and avoid getting in trouble?” Well, we could always wear burqas, but then our scandalous ankles might show!

But here's the real issue with this line of thinking: It forces women to address a situation they are not in control of–namely, the way other people perceive and interact with their bodies–instead of addressing the origin of the issue itself. Female bodies are neither inherently sexual nor exist for guys to look at, exposed shoulders do not warrant disrespect, and the female body is not shameful.

Fortunately for my harlot self’s sake, Ms. Esselman took it easier on me once I finally wedged my way into her heart. I worked hard in class and stayed afterward to ask questions and participated often despite the threat of being sent to the office to change. Instead of shouting at me like she did with most of the other young women in the class, she just made a very excessive gesture at me to cover up. Still incredibly awkward, but much more bearable. She never learned that what she was doing was sexist, though; I think she allowed herself to see me as a person rather than as a sexual object, which made it easier to interact with me like like a human being. Some might think that was an improvement, but it still didn’t alter the current system in place.

There has been more backlash against school dress codes recently, but most schools aren't interested in altering their policies anytime soon. Going back to visit old teachers is still stressful. As I walk through my old halls, occasionally I’ll get a questioning up-and-down glance from an administrator, and I’ll attempt to telepathically convey, “Hello, yes, I am a grown-ass woman and no longer attend this school. Please do not stop me because I am having none of it.”

Think your dress code might be sexist? Here's a handy dandy guide to help you out.

Moriah is a student at RISD and a summer intern at Trixie Films. You can read more about her here.

Why casual sex won't actually make you crazy, but Laura Sessions Stepp might

Sex.Really. does at least one thing right: They have Lena Chen blogging for them. You may remember Lena from some notorious goings-on at Harvard University that pitted her (and her blog Sex & The Ivy) against True Love Revolution, the on-campus abstinence group.

Her Sex. Really. post, entitled "Oxytocin: The Pseudoscience of the Hook-Up Hormone," is strong blast against ongoing contentions that casual sex reliably leads to heartache, loneliness and even mental illness due to all that crazy oxytocin coursing through our girly après-sex bodies. Citing recent evidence to the very contrary, she writes:

"As a now-monogamous former sex blogger, I'm living proof that hooking up doesn't make you crazy or unable to commit. But if mainstream media reports of the past few years are to be believed, I'm the exception, not the rule. Recently, however, researchers at the University of Minnesota conducted one of the first large-scale studies on the effects of hooking up and found the following:

"Although there has been speculation in public discourse that sexual encounters outside a committed romantic relationship may be emotionally damaging for young people, this study found no differences in the psychological well-being of young adults who had a casual sexual partner verses a more committed partner."

We recently caught up with Lena at the Harvard Abstinence Conference and we're excited to share a bit of our interview with her on this blog next week. But for now, here's how she describes one of the chief proponents of the oxytocin-is-dangerous theory in her post:

Media coverage of the supposed "hook-up culture" often echoes misconceptions first promoted by abstinence advocate Dr. Eric Keroack, the Bush-appointed former deputy assistant secretary for the Office of Population Affairs at the Department of Health and Human Services. During his tenure, Keroack made the case for abstinence-only sex education by claiming that premarital sex damages one's ability to form attachments down the line.

The layman's version: oxytocin, the so-called "bonding hormone" which is produced during intercourse, will be less effective at bonding us to our future mates if we overindulge in the chemical cocktail by bed-hopping through our youth.

Aside from Lena's updates on these discredited oxytocin theories, I find it totally delicious that she directly challenges Laura Sessions Stepp's work on oxytocin and the perils of casual sex (Unhooked) – who we recently learned is closely involved with Sex.Really, the host of the post. I would say it's totally cool they ran with it, except the editors seemed to feel the need to include a note from Laura Sessions Stepp saying "I have never heard of Keroack nor read anything he wrote"

Really, Laura? Because Bush's appointment of Dr. Keroak was major, major headline news. Keroak, an anti-contraception and anti-choice crusader, and abstinence-till-marriage advocate, was actually appointed the head of the office charged with providing women with contraceptives and pregnancy prevention counseling. How did a self-described feminist like Laura Sessions Stepp miss that?

Cory Silverberg, writing at about.com:sexuality, came up with a wonderful definition of casual sex, which inovlves no craziness whatsoever:

"When sex is casual, I think the word is used to mean that the sex is detached from those traditional sexual and gender scripts. This is, I would suggest, precisely what is so threatening about casual sex. Casual sex isn't sex by the rules."

Read his entire thought-provoking post here