This is the last part of John Oliver's Sex Ed segment, just the PSA starring Nick Offerman, Laverne Cox, Jack McBrayer, Megan Mullally, Kristen Schaal, Kumail Nanjiani, and Aisha Tyler. I am such a happy girl today.
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.
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.
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.
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?
We missed this video when it came out but thought it was just too tasty not to share it with you all. The Onion's film critic looks back at Dirty Dancing and along with the usual plot points we get these gems, worthy of any Introduction To Human Sexuality and Gender Studies curriculum:
It smashed not only box office records but also the mistaken assumption that adolescent girls shouldn't wait until some arbitrarily-mandated age to explore themselves sexually.
Sexuality is not some light switch that magically turns on when kids reach eighteen.
The film is commendable for modeling to girls that as long as they find a partner who's safe and respectful like Johnny, their sexual awakening can begin whenever they are ready.
The fact that these lines are uttered by a dude who looks like someone's dad makes it extra delightful, and just a little bit creepy. Nobody puts Baby in a corner...or oppresses her with patriarchal paradigms of female sexuality.
h/t to Documentary Doctor Fernanda for sending it our way.
Note: Headline corrected because I can't believe we messed up one of the greatest quotes in cinematic history.
"Keep It Casual" is part of a series of short narrative films by Michael Sasso called Swipe Click Bang which looks at people who use hookup apps like Tinder, and the one-night stands that follow. We were especially intrigued by 'Keep It Casual' because it explores a scenario that several of our V-Card Diaries contributors have contemplated or actually done: Setting up a one night stand to 'get it over-with' sex-wise.
I asked the Michael and his co-producer Michael Vitale what interested them about this scenario and how it influenced their approach. Vitale, who wrote the script had this to say:
"I've always been fascinated with the weight we as a culture put on losing one's virginity, so when we came up with the series Swipe Click Bang, I knew we had a good opportunity to explore it here. I also knew I wanted the person losing their virginity to be a woman.
As far as television and film is concerned, we're very used to the male virgin archetype: the bumbling nerd who can't get out of his own way, too awkward for anyone to find him sexy until someone does, and then, upon doing the deed, he's freed of an unsavory virgin label.
The female virgin is much more interesting. For one, we don't really see them in film outside Christian stereotypes or high school melodramas, but beyond that, there's also, fair or not, a mystery surrounding them, at least from a male perspective.
With Keep it Casual, we wanted to play with that mystery, which is why we chose to never explain Rachel's reasoning for not having had sex before using a dating app to do so. We also purposely cast someone attractive (Elisabeth Hower) to further challenge the audience's expectations of who a virgin is or should be.
But more than just the female virgin stereotype, this episode tries to explore how men deal with them. This wasn't obvious at first, but as the story evolved, we realized much of the cultural importance associated with virginity is determined by men. That's not to say one's virginity isn't or can't be important, but there's a double-standard in the expectations men put on women and their sexuality. To many of us, women should be "pure" yet experienced, a nearly impossible standard to meet.
In the episode, we tried to use Nick (the male character) to capture this absurdity, especially in how he responds to Rachel's admission of having never had sex. Beyond being dumbfounded, he takes an almost paternal stance in the way he tries to protect her and the preciousness of her virginity. His almost hero-like syndrome makes it all the more satisfying when Rachel challenges him to recall the importance of his first time and he can't.
And yet, beyond the layers we tried to squeeze into it, Keep it Casual is ultimately a story about someone trying to get what they want and not feeling like they have to explain themselves for it, something I think we can all relate to."
From time to time we republish our favorite posts. This originally ran in June 2012.
We caught up with Sexuality Educator Adjoa Sankofia Tetteh at MomentumCon in DC and asked her about how her clients dealt with virginity issues. She told us that parents really do drag their daughters to clinics and ask doctors to check if they are still virgins. The video is here.
Follow Adjoa on twitter @adjoasankofia
From time to time we republish our favorite posts. This originally ran in May 2013.
In honor of May being National Masturbation Month and all, enjoy and share this tidbit of video from the scads of footage we couldn't fit into the film "How to Lose Your Virginity." Former Surgeon General Dr. Joycelyn Elders talks about the M-Word and why we need to be honest with young people.
She's still as outspoken as she was back when she had to resign from President Clinton's cabinet for speaking out about healthy sexuality (among other things). We're thrilled Dr. Elders is in our film and we send her a huge thank you for everything she has done and continues to do.
Back by popular demand, here's one of our most linked-to posts. This post originally ran in January 2011. Share your biggest older virgin myths here.
I recently got a note from Ferrette (who did a wonderful First Person for us a while back) with this question:
"Have you ever written any articles about the experience of "coming out as a virgin" to others? Like to someone you meet, or date, or even friends? I've been thinking about this a lot lately, how when the "big reveal" happens, others will be shocked, or pitying or sometimes even hesitant to hook up (the latter is one I'm familiar with).
Of course, there are also those that don't care, or are friendly no matter what. But it does seem to me that the older one gets while retaining some vestige of virgin means that these awkward conversations will just become more frequent. Course, my turning 26 recently may just have me over thinking everything."
By way of reply, here's a video of Dan Savage at the University of Montana who addresses the comment "I want to lose my virginity but I'm scared" by comparing it to bungee jumping:
"Eventually you just have to jump. You're all strapped in. You're ready to go. There's a line of Australians behind you and they want to go next."
Dan also feels strongly about telling your partner that you're a virgin. It's at 2:00, above.
I first saw this video at Diary of an Accidental Virgin who agrees with Dan:
"Why would you want to sleep with someone who is afraid of or won’t accept such a simple truth about you? Why do it with a person who views you as “less than” because you’re a virgin? Isn’t that the sort of person you wouldn’t want to have that experience with?"
The thing is, there are so many people out there either not sexually active at all, or who haven't been sexually active for a long time. If more people were honest about it, maybe it wouldn't be such a stigma.
On the other hand, I didn't tell the first guy I had sex with I'd never done it before. I was in my 20s and he assumed I was experienced, but he figured it out pretty quickly due to my utter lack of skills. It was awkward. It was embarrassing. But I don't think it would have been less so had I explained the situation before things got going.
Let's face it: Doing anything for the first time is awkward, and sex is no exception.
What do you think: Tell or don't tell? Or just jump off that bridge and hope the cord is strong enough?
It's been so busy these past few weeks that we haven't been able to update the blog with all the exciting news:
- How to Lose Your Virginity just had its Australian and Israeli TV premieres, and both are still available On Demand. More info here.
- I'll be at two screenings of the film in Israel in Tel Aviv on Sept 30th and Haifa Cinematheque on Oct 13th. More info here.
- I Was A Teenage Feminist is screening at the PSBT Film Festival in Delhi on September 13th, but alas I won't be there.
And we have really exciting US premiere news, but we can't share it yet (sorry!)
Have you seen this video Camp Gyno making the rounds of social media today much to the delight of anyone who is sick of the shaming and secrecy and perceived ickyness of talking about our periods? It's a totally exuberant and delightful story of tween/teen girls and periods and camp and tampons that includes the phrase 'red badge of courage' (which will now replace 'crimson tide' as my favorite menstruation euphemism)
People are clearly loving it, with headlines like "An Amazing Breakthrough In Tampon Advertising" and comments like:
"Maybe now men can start to accept that periods are normal and not freak out if a girl does something as scandalous as carry a tampon IN HER HAND... and not her purse"
"It's nice to see people are finally breaking down the walls and making menstruation a normal thing and not something to be ashamed of."
I. LOVE. IT.
Surprisingly (not surprisingly) there are also a significant handful of commenters who are wondering why tweens are using tampons because, you know, VIRGINITY! Um, because some people find them more comfortable, you can swim in them, you don't feel like you're wearing a wet diaper, and tampon use has nothing to do with virginity because hymens have nothing to do with virginity. Virginity is my business, BUT I DIGRESS from what's really confusing me...
The video is for a new company called Hello Flo which creates "a customized solution" to "deliver the right products at the right time" for your period." Unfortunately, they sell the service with lines that read to me like the same old shaming we've been hearing since ladies got sent to huts at the edge of the village:
"I didn't want to trek through my office with a practically see-through plastic bag with tampons"
"We do it with care and appreciation for the sensitivity of this purchase."
"All your tampons and feminine supplies delivered right to your door in a discreet box."
You know, like back when your druggist wrapped your sanitary pad purchases in brown paper so you wouldn't be embarrassed taking it home from the store. Also, how does a tampon delivery service help that office worker with the practically see-through plastic bag? What she clearly needs is a Vinnie's Tampon Case!
So what's this disconnect between the exuberant little girl and all that embarrassment over taking-tampons-to-the-ladies-room stuff? It reminds me of companies using feminist language to draw consumers into non-feminist products. Like back when the "Dove Real Beauty" campaign first rolled out those billboards about loving your body... to sell anti-cellulite creme, which Jenn Pozner wrote about for Bitch Magazine.
So, what's up, Hello Flo? Your video rocks! Its message is a hit! Why go and muddle the issue with that contrary copy? Here's my proposal: Your follow up video should be a woman in an office taking her tampons out of that plastic bag and tossing them exuberantly at her menstruating workmates. No more plastic bags. We're carrying them in our teeth! Office Gyno!
Update: The Hairpin just did an interview with the creators of the video. Commenter ChevyVan, with whom I've been talking, put it well: "They want as many customers as possible. The ones that think the video is awesome, and the ones who want discreet packaging, and they're betting on most people not paying attention to the contradictory messages those 2 approaches are sending. And again, it's the sales pitch out both sides of the mouth that's the icky part to people like you and me."
[Update: The New York Times gave it a great review]
I can't wait for Aubrey Plaza's new film 'The To-Do list" (she's April Ludgate on "Parks and Recreation" ) Inspired by writer/director Maggie Carey's own life as a teen, it twists the standard teen sex comedy narrative: Nerdy high school student Brandy, and not her horndog guy classmates, is dying to lose her virginity before college in the fall. Except for "Easy A" there's not been much mainstream girls' coming-of-age films. So, welcome!
I mean, hello!! A brainy nerdy girl who wants to have some sex, is not looking for true love, and is a big old feminist to boot? It's like someone wrote the story of what I wish my teen years would have been like, except when I was a teenager, girls like that either didn't exist or got pregnant, ruined their lives and died alone. This is a coming-of-age film I can get behind.
And just look at the cast: Alia Shawkat, Donald Glover, Clark Gregg... and Connie Britton (squeal!) And her love interest is an unrecognizable Scott Porter, looking nothing like wheelchair-bound ex-QB Jason Street from Friday Night Lights*.
There's a profile of Plaza in the New York Times where writer Melena Ryzik lays out what's especially cool about the film:
The libidinous travails of teenage boys have driven entire movie franchises..., but the sexual frankness of young women is something new on screen. It’s a reflection of several generations of feminist theory, the openness of online culture and, crucially, the presence of women behind the camera. Ms. Carey and Ms. Plaza also gave Brandy a political point of view: she wears a “Pro-Choice/Pro-Clinton” T-shirt and — shades of Ms. Poehler’s Leslie Knope — has a framed photo of Hillary Rodham Clinton in her bedroom. The movie’s message is that for thinking ladies, too, sex can sometimes be taken lightly.
“It wasn’t about love, she wasn’t looking to get married, she was just like, ‘He is hot,’ ” and she wants him, Ms. Carey said. “Women have those feelings as much as men. You don’t see it a lot in this genre of movie, so that was important to me.”
Ms. Plaza said the matter-of-factness in her character’s sexual awakening was appealing. “Girls learn how to masturbate, too; we just haven’t seen it before,” she said. And it gave her a chance to step outside her “Parks” persona.
I love the actual sex to-do list she writes in the trailer. Makes me want to send her character a V-Card so she can punch a cherry every time she checks something off the list.
*OK, a little part of me would have preferred Taylor "Riggins" Kitsch, but you can't have everything. The film opens on July 26th. Big h/t to Women and Hollywood
"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.
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.
Sophie Fontanel, a chic, intelligent, and attractive editor at Elle France is creating quite the stir with her new memoir, L'Envie, to be published in the United States this year as The Art of Sleeping Alone. It recounts the 12 years she spent abstinent after years of dating and getting tangled up in the hungry legs of men who offered mediocre and unsatisfying sex. One day, she went on a solo skiing trip and pretty much had the best time of her life. She remembers it as a momentous, liberating experience that launched her pursuit of abstinence.
As you'd expect, her book is getting mixed reactions. As The Atlantic's coverage reports, readers' responses are split. When I brought up the content of this book with some of my friends (all in their early 20s), the response was unanimous: “12 years?! She went 12 years without sex? But she's French! That's a really long time. Imagine how much she missed out on during those years.”
There were a few who were impressed by her ability to have “self-control” and “that kind of discipline,” as if she were somehow punishing herself or testing her limits for some kind of masochistic, freak project. A lot of them couldn't figure out why a single, “normal” woman, who had no apparent flaws, would have a no-sex policy during her prime time. I mean, YOLO, right? Shouldn't we all be putting ourselves out there (especially while we're young and sexy), going home with a different bed buddy every night? My best friend, for example, is a sex-oozing creature who does embody this whole free love mentality, going on noncommittal, exciting dates with strangers she meets in bars and having lots of good, fun sex.
And then there are also people like me, a fresh, budding 22-year-old who just doesn't really care much for sex. I haven't had sex for almost 2 years now (and when you're this age and living in this sex-centered cultural climate as a college student, it feels like eons). It's not as if I proclaimed one day, “I'm going to be abstinent from this day forward.” I guess you could say I'm passively abstinent, but not because men/women aren't sexually attracted to me or I'm not sexually attracted to men/women. I have had bad relationship models that have colored my experience and resistance to intimacy. But that's not the whole story, and I'd hate for people to pathologize and assume that if someone chooses not to have sex, there must be some monumental reason that requires lots of psychoanalytic evaluation.
That's why Rachel Hills' TEDx talk, "Understanding the Sex Myth," resonates with me so much. In sum, she talks about the anxiety and pressure we often feel to live up to some kind of sexual standard in our oversexed society. We compare our sex lives to those of others (or the idea we have about how much sex everyone else is having) because we feel this is what defines us. Most of the people I hang out with, and therefore compare myself to, have multiple partners and do have sex on a regular basis, so I was blown away by some of the statistics she presented. For example, the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health found that the most common number of sexual partners an unmarried 18-23 year old will have in a given year is just 1. Because I presumed that everyone around me was always having so much sex, there were times when I felt like an oddball, like something was wrong with me.
Sometimes, I simply don't give a damn about sex and don't feel stimulated, end of story. This is not to say I don't get the hots because let me be the first to admit that sexy thoughts are on my mind every day. And that's important because I consider myself a sexual being, even when I'm not engaging in the physical act of sex. I love the idea of sex, but it hasn't played out that well in real life: I've had unremarkable sex where I'd be penetrated repeatedly, and it just felt “mechanical,” as Fontanel puts it. I'd look up at the ceiling and wonder, “When is this gonna end? I would really rather just go to sleep.”
Fontanel claims that some of her peers branded her as “frigid, abnormal, bitter, neurotic, a lesbian.” I've been called similar things in the past. But there are actually a substantial number of women and men who appreciate her courage and relate to her feelings about sex. What it really comes down to is choice, but our culture is rather good at providing repercussions for our individual, sexual decisions: if you have lots of sex, you're a slut; if you choose not to have sex, for non-religious/ non-cultural reasons, you're a prude or a lesbian. I like to think that my sexuality is fluid—that I can have casual, exciting sex with someone in one moment, whenever that may be, and not bother with sex at all the next, for as long as I please.
A couple of days ago, The A.V. Club posted an article on songs that reference sexual first times. I'm one of those embarrassing humans that's terrible at deciphering/actually listening to lyrics (famously ruining every sing-a-long ever), so a few of these were surprises for me. Most notably Vanessa Carlton's "White Houses," which I so very often screamed along to during lonely car rides.
Any thoughts on songs they missed? For starters, "December, 1963 (Oh What A Night)" by Frankie Valli & the Four Seasons.
A YouTube video that's currently going viral features an interesting take on the aging process and a ton of virginity references. The first shot of the video titled, "Life through Google's eyes," shows us what Google generates as suggestions to finish the search phrase, "I'm 10 and..." with the age in the search term increasing until 85.
The suggestion, "still a virgin," pops up with almost every age. As the video description so aptly put it: "This reflects the fears, inquiries, preoccupations, obsessions and fixations of the human being at a certain age and our evolution through life," with virginity of course being one of the top concerns from start to finish.
The project was completed using the "incognito tab" where there would be no user search history. If you try it out yourselves, you might get different results. What does your Google aging process look like? Personally, I'd really like to see a Time Lord or vampire try it out.
This past weekend, I saw Miranda Huba's one-woman play Candy Tastes Nice in which she plays a young woman who decides to auction off her virginity to pay her crushing student loans. While the play begins fairly grounded in the ripped-from-the-headlines story of Natalie Dylan, it soon spins off into fantastical directions that involve the United Nations, a trio of sex-worker handmaidens and a shady guy in a van who gives out virginity certificates. I've been thinking about the virginity construct from a documentary perspective for a long time, so it was fun to see a totally different expression of it. I talked to Miranda, a fellow Canadian, after the show:
Can you give a quick description about the show and what you're responding to culturally?
Candy Tastes Nice is the story of a young woman who decides to auction off her virginity to pay off her student loans. It is a response not only to cultural and historical obsessions with virginity, but to the hyper-sexualization of the female body in media and popular culture.
Do you have a working definition of virginity? And does that inform how she finally 'loses' it in the play?
Well, for me a virgin is someone who hasn't had sex, and for me sex can be either oral or intercourse. In the play, however, I am working with a more acknowledged/traditional definition of sex ie. penetration. Also, culturally the concept of a virgin (as it pertains to women) means more than just sex, it’s about being a ‘good girl,’ maintaining youthfulness, and all those other things women are ‘supposed’ to be or do. In the play the woman must provide some sort of ‘proof’ that she is a virgin (blood on the sheets etc.). Of course, men never have to prove their virginity, only women. The play examines the many myths and rituals to do with virginity, and just how ridiculous it all is when we really look at it.
One of the themes running through the show is that because she remains a virgin, her body ages more quickly. That's a different take from the 'perpetual girlhood' fetish of virginity. Can you talk a bit about that?
The idea in the play is that she is being kept a virgin because people are making a lot of money off of her remaining a virgin. This oppression manifests itself in the aging of the body. The concept being that the extreme effort in takes to stay pure and untainted actually has an adverse effect on the body. The pressure of having to fit into someone’s idea of the pure takes a toll physically and emotionally.
Because I grew up in Canada, I sometimes feel like I can look at the US from a bit of an outsider perspective. Do you feel that way, and if so, how does that play out for you?
I do feel that way sometimes. I used to think the US and Canada were very similar, but after living here for a while you realize the extreme cultural, social and political differences. I think it’s fantastic for my writing. I see things through a slightly different lens, which gives a unique perspective.
There have been no Canadian virginity auctioneers–that I know of. Is that because university education is subsidized by the government?
Not only education, but healthcare as well. In my experience growing up as a teenager in a rural community in British Columbia the sex education at the only public high school for miles was actually very good. There was even a condom machine in the bathroom (although they should have been giving them away). Also since it’s part of the culture that health care is a right I feel like young people are more likely to seek medical advice regarding sexual health. In America there is definitely a more vocal culture that supports a preoccupation with virginity. There is abstinence only education in many states, purity balls, pageant culture and a much bigger reality TV market. These events/policies create a fetishization with virginity rather than healthy ideas about sexuality.
Do you have a personal virginity story you want to share?
I lost my virginity when I was 19. It was pretty uneventful. He was my college boyfriend. I remember being kind of annoyed because he didn't stay over. He has to get his family's car back home. A totally sweet guy though!
Show Info: Candy Tastes Nice runs in New York to March 23rd, 2013 on Tuesdays and Saturdays at 8pm in the upstairs lounge at Madame X on 94 Houston Street. Tickets available at http://candytastesnicenyc.brownpapertickets.com
This week's Just The Tip is by newest Team Trixie Films member Judy Park. She's taking a short break from studying at Brown University where she's getting her degree in the History of Art and Architecture. She doesn't tweet or keep a blog, thankyouverymuch. A roundup of the latest virginity stories in the media:
Watching this short clip without any information or context, one can easily assume that these girls, in their big, colorful dresses, are letting loose after the school dance with their boys. I sure wouldn't have guessed that these are purity ball attendees, having just vowed to remain holy and chaste until marriage. And check out the dad in the left corner. Is he embarrassed for the girls or does he simply not dig the Harlem Shake*?
A nationalistic, 25-year-old Russian man was denied admission to the army, not because he has oddly shaped feet or a spindly, hairy tail that drags in his wake, but because he's *gasp* a virgin. When he told the psychiatrist about his lack of experience:
"He sent me to a mental hospital! I am an absolutely healthy man, but he sent me there to prove that I was crazy. And all because of a girl?"
Just another case of male virginity = pathology.
Bitch Magazine, in celebration of their new Pulp issue, is showcasing three obscure, old school books on their website for one week. "The Promiscuous Breed" from 1966 caught our eye for its portrayal of promiscuous women with funny, weird language of that time period. Bitch's favorite paragraph from the book includes the lines:
"This volume deals with the very real problems of Sex Before Marriage, problems which beset your town, your community, your own home. It shows the reader in carefully researched case histories just how the death knell of chastity is being sounded in America and why."
If you're in Portland, check out Bitch Magazine's Pulp Release Party, happening Wednesday, March 6th
Also via Bitch: Once you are sexually active, do you need to go to the doctor so they can cut a piece of your vagina off? Is there a safe way to lighten or even out the tone on your vulva lips? Can you get pregnant by kissing during your period? These are some of the questions that tweens are asking as part of a campaign by U by Kotex (you know, the tween pads and tampons I still use), revealing the alarming dearth of information that teen girls have about their bodies and sexualities. It's cool that there's an anonymous, safe space in the cyber world for girls to ask questions that they are too afraid to ask in the real world, but wouldn't it be even cooler if these topics could be discussed more openly and honestly with peers, parents, and teachers?
The New York Times has a profile of author Lauren Myracle, who they call 'this generation's Judy Blume.' in part for the healthy candor of her books about teen life, and also because of the calls to have her books banned. We think her take on being honest with young people is great:
Her aim, she said, is to write about sex without a “soft fade” — as in cutting from “he leaned in for a kiss” to “they lay in bed, naked, smiling.” She wants to fill in the blanks, because kids are curious about the mechanics, and deciding when first to have sex has inherent drama.
A commenter added this thought:
I have read ttyl, ttfn, and l8r g8r - these books came out when I was a teenager and I think it's safe to say I haven't turned into a sex-crazed, technology-obsessed drug addict[...] To ban them is to prevent another avenue for young women, like the one I was, to learn how to respect themselves.
While Caterina Migliorini's yet-unconsumated virginity auction saga continues, she will be featured in Brazilian Playboy (NSFW). Virginity Auctions are a real-life marketplace extension of the virginity porn fetish, so no surprise that A leads to B.
Inspired by Migliorini, another Brazilian woman Rebecca Bernardo, 18, is auctioning her virginity to raise money to care for her bedridden mother (top bid currently $35,000). Press coverage is as gross and voyeuristic as expected.
Why not try OK Cupid's "Dating Persona Test"? It is likely a load of bullshit, but OKC does some interesting data analysis and who can resist unscientific pronouncements on your personality? I'm curious what the results are for folks who aren't sexually active, since so much of it has to do with having the sex. You don't have to register to get your results. Let us know in the comments below.
Jezebel ran yet another virgin-themed post the other day, a sort of First-Person-like essay called "How to Be a Virgin." We like her suggestion of printing out business cards explaining why she hasn't had sex so she doesn't have to actually discuss it any more. And we kind of feel like stealing the headline for the new title of our film.
A roundup of the latest virginity happenings:
The movie The Sessions opens this week. It's the true story of disabled, 38-year-old writer (John Hawkes) and the sex therapist (Helen Hunt) he hires to help him experience his first intercourse. It was a huge hit at Sundance (as 'The Surrogate") and we can't wait to see it. Another similar true-life account here.
The Mail Online reports that "Psychologists discovered that those who have sex after they turn 20 are more likely to have happy relationships" Please repeat the phrase "correlation, not causation" ten times before diving into this dubious and confusing story. And enjoy the racy stock photos.
Replace that image with a very cute New Yorker cartoon, totally SFW.
The Virgin Mary was sighted in a New Jersey car wash by attendant Alex Leiva who reported flashing lights and a cloud of smoke, after which the outline of Mary carrying baby Jesus formed in the window of the car wash tunnel.
This also happened in a Georgia car wash a few years ago.