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)
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."
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."
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.
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.
Odd question, and yes I'm female. What is a "cherry" and does every female have one?? –A.
There are no odd questions, Anonymous, just odd slang terms! Aside from being a deliciously sweet small red fruit, cherry can also be a somewhat vulgar slang* term for:
a) a hymen b) the blood you allegedly see when the hymen is 'broken' c) a vagina or vulva d) the concept of virginity itself
In fact, it's so widely used that we picked cherries as the logo for our film How To Lose Your Virginity (see above!). So when someone tells you they 'popped her cherry' they usually mean they 'broke' someone's hymen, often followed by the other gross and meaningless phrase 'I took her virginity'
The slang is pretty useless since:
a) the state–or existence–of someone's hymen has nothing whatsoever to do with their sexual status. Or whether there has ever been a penis near it. b) not all females have vaginas or hymens, either because they are trans or they have a medical condition. c) not all females bleed when they have any kind of penetrative vaginal sex d) virginity is a just concept for you to define or reject, so it can't be taken, created or destroyed.
We still like our logo because it lets us set the stage for the thorough myth-busting we do during the film. There's so much more to say about hymens, and you can read more about that at our Hymenology category.
*There are more definitions in the Urban Dictionary, and I'm so happy that the top two totally challenge virginity myths.
Today we're highlighting Sean in Australia whose sexual encouters have felt 'irritating, dissapointing and pointless.' 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:
23, FTM, Australia
How I define virginity:
For me it is extended genital contact with another person's genitals. I guess that's the closest I can come, though I don't really believe in it.
Here's my story:
I was 21 and a virgin. I'd been on a few dates but none of them involved sexual contact; I'd never had a partner and my first kiss was forced on me by one of those dates. I was, and remain, scared of sex, of its intimacy, the trust I was required to have in a partner, and paralysed by fear of hurting someone else by being too forward or forceful myself, well aware of my own reservations and feelings of betrayal after dates attempted to 'make a move' on me. My diagnosed depression was defined by anhedonia making my orgasms disappointing non-events and my sex drive almost non-existent. I felt constantly attacked by the world and its sexuality, and my status as a sexual object made me want to die.
When I was 21 I decided I was sick of being a virgin, sick of having people use that word against me and exclude me from the group as all but one of my other friends were sexually active with partners by then. I read about a celebrity I idolised who was very similar in personality to me, and who decided he wanted to stop being a virgin, went out to a club, and went home with the first person who would take him home. Hence he lost his virginity. As I didn't want to have sex with one of my friends - and so be vulnerable to them talking about me and my sexual behaviour and inadequacies - I decided this was what I'd do. One night with a stranger and it would be over.
I took advantage of a holiday overseas to scour clubs. Shy and terrified of making a move I struck out time after time; and it cut deep that now that I was actually trying, I was rejected repeatedly. Eventually I ran into a guy who approached me. He was my age, kind, exactly my type, intelligent and interesting, and we spent hours just talking and getting drunk in his kitchen before we went to bed.
It was actually really good, though my whole body was numb from alcohol, and I was overwhelmed by how beautiful he looked at the time. When I told him he rebutted with a clichéd, porny, objectifying line and I instantly dropped into self-disgust, fear, anger, everything you don't want in the situation. He didn't know how to give me an orgasm even manually. I was so fed up with him I ended up getting off of him and just sucking him off. My first blowjob wasn't that bad either, just a sore jaw and a taste like olive brine. He said thank you when I finished, and the day after I had bruises all up my thighs. We never caught up again.
I didn't have sex again for another year. That, too, was irritating, disappointing and pointless. I don't know why I pursue it, why I feel like I should. But it was something I just wanted to learn, you know? To be able to do and use, another way to be valued. I still think about him a lot. Now I'd go with anyone, and I still don't feel anything from it. It's all self-fulfilling prophecies - and pointless, pointless, pointless.
Today we're highlighting Mari in Michigan, a queer trans woman who thinks virginity is an 'absolute bullshit notion' steeped in misogyny. 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 31, and a queer trans woman from Michigan.
How I define virginity:
I think virginity is an absolute bullshit notion steeped in misogynist notions of female purity and the Christian Right's fear and hatred of the notion of women enjoying sex and having control of their sexuality.
Here's my story:
The first time I had penetrative intercourse was at 17. I wasn't terribly interested in the idea, but I adored my girlfriend of the time, and she was really pressing for it. Eventually, a few weeks before the start of senior year, I gave in- afraid she'd break up with me if I didn't. Like so many teenage sexual experiences, it was clandestine: at her house, in a hurried hour while her parents and sisters were out.
It was over almost before I realized what was happening, and it triggered what I would later come to understand as a serious gender dysphoria episode. I went home and threw-up, then spent hours crying while my best friend held me. It took me years to understand why it felt so wrong.
I don't think I ever posted here about another story I did for Nerve.com called Sexless in the City: The Truth About Adult Virgins. It was a chance to address a lot of the mythology about folks who haven't yet become sexually active, and all the stigma that goes with that. I was excited to include two of the women from How To Lose Your Virginity, as well as some of the men and women who contributed to the V-Card Diaries. Here's the intro:
Let's face it: if you haven't had sex by college graduation, or (the horror!) by your 30th birthday, it's hard not to feel some serious social stigma. Pop culture repeatedly brands adult virgins as religious freaks or shut-in action figure collectors. Advertisers work hard to push the message that everyone cool is getting laid as well: "Hey, loser! Buy this body spray/bustier/pickup artist book, and you'll get play like everyone you know." It's easy to believe everyone is having sex but you – and that until you start getting busy, it’s best to lock yourself in the virginity closet and hope no one finds out your secret.
But here's the actual reality: there are a lot of people not having sex. How can I be so sure? In the course of making How to Lose Your Virginity, a documentary about virginity myths, and collecting over 200 stories for The V-Card Diaries, a website compiling the personal stories of adult virgins, I've talked to a lot of people who consider themselves older virgins. It’s time to end some of the myths out there about this diverse and interesting bunch of abstainers.
Go to Nerve.com to read the rest, with profiles of several adult virgins who go against the same old stereotypes. [Excuse the section headings which I did not write quite in that way]