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Hymenology

Ask Trixie: I never felt my partner's small penis go into my vagina, so does that make me still a virgin?

Dear Trixie: Okay so I got with this guy for a bit of a one night stand. He was very good looking and I imagined a bigger penis. This was my first time too by the way. Anyways after talking for a while we decided to get it on. and it turned out that he had a very very very small penis. I never felt it go in my vagina so I was wondering does that make me still a virgin if I never even felt it?? –AP

Dear AP:

I answered a question very similar to yours a while back involving someone who had penetrative sex with just the tip of someone's penis. In your case, you were with someone with a small penis and didn't feel what you imagined you were supposed to feel to 'officially' lose your virginity. 

Either way, this kind of question is always tough to answer because different people have very different ideas about how you lose your virginity. Is it a penis in a vagina? Is it a broken hymen? Is it thinking impure thoughts? Is it feeling intimate with your partner? Is it your first orgasm, alone or with a partner? Seriously, lots of people have sent us their definitions and virginity means very different things to different people.

I'm sure you've been told different things about what it means to lose your virginity, and maybe that involved pain and bleeding (which is really just idiotic mythology instead of indicating you had intercourse before your vagina was relaxed and ready!). I don’t believe there’s one magic moment that suddenly changes us somehow. I’d like to think about our lives as a series ‘first times’ that make up our sexual history. Or maybe you could think about it in this way: you lose your virginity the first time you feel like a truly sexual person, no matter what specific thing you're doing.

The question I want to ask you is why is it important to know whether you’re a virgin or not? Why do you need an outside definition to tell you who you are? Is someone making you feel bad about being (or not being) a virgin? Do you think it changes your value in some way, depending on what the answer is?

If you’re living in a community where the answer to your question can have serious consequences, I’m so sorry. All I can say is you need to do what you can to keep yourself safe until you’re away from that community and have more freedom. (And write back if that's the case)

So you can decide you lost your virginity and were spared some pain or bleeding that might happen sometimes with a larger penis. Or maybe instead of using the word virgin, you can say ‘I had a penis inside me for the first time but I didn't really feel it that much.’ Maybe the next time you have a penis inside you it will feel different, and hopefully good. 

I’m sorry I can give you a definitive answer, but there really isn’t one. What I do want to say is that if and when you have sex again, whether it's intercourse or something else, I hope that it feels really good!

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

V-Card Diaries OhWhalees "As long as it feels right, don't live with regrets"

Writing from: Bell Gardens, California

Age: 18 years old

How I define virginity: Virginity to me is not having had vaginal sex

I never really thought of "losing your v-card" as simply having your hymen broken like the textbooks say. There's different ways to perceive it and different sexualities.

At 14, a week into my relationship, my hymen was broken by my ex's curious fingers. He wiped the blood on my thigh saying it was finger paint. We looked at each other, said oops, had a nice laugh about it, and I went home. A month later we broke up.

Later that year my current boyfriend and I were in a closed off abandoned sushi restaurant. One thing led to another and after 6 months of hand holding and kisses we took it all the way. For a few minutes that is, we heard the cops next door and peeled out. It was not at all romantic nor perfect but it felt right and I'm not just talking physically. It felt right in my mind, heart, and soul. Almost 4 years later and I have no regrets. Especially since we're not as awkward and clumsy lol.

As long as it feels right, don't live with regrets.

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'm really tight down there and I'm nervous about pain and blood

Hi, love your blog. I'm 19 and a virgin. I've met this guy and I really want to have sex with him (I'm a girl). I told him I was a virgin and he was so respectful about and said we won't do anything I'm not comfortable with. I'm nervous about any pain or blood. A bit TMI but I'm really tight down there and haven't been able to get a finger in. Any tips/ advice for a first timer? Thanks in advance!

Hi! I’m really glad you’re dating a nice guy who is respectful of your boundaries and comfort level. That’s important in any relationship, but especially when you’re getting ready to do something for the first time. 

It’s pretty common to be worried about pain and blood if you’ve never had penetrative sex before. Especially because all we hear so many scary stories, we assume that’s how it always has to be. So, first of all, you should know that some people don’t experience pain, and/or don’t bleed, but since our bodies are all different, there’s no one ‘normal’ way we work.

If you’re not able to put a finger in there, it could be for a lot of totally understandable reasons: you’re nervous and the muscles around your vaginal canal and pelvic floor are super tense; you don’t have enough lubrication to help something slide in comfortably; or you may have a medical condition that should be looked at by a gynecologist. 

These are all things that can be dealt with, as long as you and your partner are communicating and you take your time. Also, keep in mind that sex includes a whole lot of really pleasant things that don’t include vaginal penetration (intercourse isn’t the be all and end all). 

Because this is such a common issue, I’m going to link you to previous stories I’ve done that have lots of info and links:

Will I Bleed The First Time I Have Sex?

We’re About To Have Sex But I’m Worried About It Hurting

I hope you and your partner have some really pleasurable sex together!

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

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. 

A Big Balloon Arch Full of Hymen Myths, All Popped.

We couldn't have said it better–or funnier–ourselves. 

Just The Tip: Virginity In The News with Jane The Virgin, The Institute of Sexology, Indonesian 'virginity' testing, victorian sex myths that won't go away, and more...

Your weekly roundup of virginity-related stories in your world. Want to hear about them right away? Follow us on Facebook where we post daily. Got a story for us to post? Let us know!  

V-Card and Feminist Ryan Gosling

So honored to have our V-Card sharing space with Feminist Ryan Gosling at Sewanee University of the South after my "How To Lose Your Virginity Myths" lecture at the Bairnwick Women's Center Pinnacle Luncheon. Want me to come to your school? More info here.

 

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"There are no “but”s when it comes to women’s humanity. Not “but” you’re lonely, not “but” you’re horny, not “but” you’re nice, not “but” that’s how your grandparents met, not “but” she was naked in your bed. Women are people, and women just get to exist and set boundaries and say no. Always. Any time. Just like you."

Lindy West's essay for the Daily Dot is so powerful in the way it elegantly connects the dots between online harassment, rape culture, pick-up artists, and the way women are socialized to be 'kind' and 'receptive.' It's a must-read.

 

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Among the many reasons to watch the new CW show Jane The Virgin (aside from the amazing Gina Rodriguez) is the show's sex positive and pro-choice messages, which Cosmo points out is a big step forward for the Latina community.

"A TV show can't change everything about how the Latino community talks about sex and reproductive rights, but it's heartening to see one that reflects the change that's already happening. And while Jane's decision may ultimately not have been your decision, it's a decision she was able to make — not her mother's, not her grandmother's, not her boyfriend's. The show hasn't trivialized or moralized abortion talk; it's normalized it."

I especially love the show for the way it portrays real-life abstinence choices, freely made with actual information, as well as the way it confounds the stereotypes around 'older' virginity. OK, at 23, Jane isn't at all old, but you all are sending me older virgin emails at 19. So. Also, I have a special crush on vain but hilarious Telenovela star Rogelio De La Vega played by Jaime Camil. If you haven't seen it yet, you can watch it here for free!

 

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Turkish textbooks remove diagrams of genitals

Turkish news outlet The Hurriyet Daily News reports that some Turkish schoolbooks have replaced diagrams of genitalia with cute photos of mothers and baby animals. While pictures of baby polar bears definitely help SEO, they have no place in science books. It's just another disturbing instance of Turkey's increasing conservatism under Erdogan, but keep in mind these censored Turkish sex ed texts are not unlike US abstinence programs which erase information about contraception and gay people–when they're not vilifying them, that is. I hope they still have Our Bodies, Ourselves.

 

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The Telegraph reports that women who are trying to join Indonesia's police force are routinely subjected to 'virginity' testing. The women report that

“My group of about 20 girls was asked to enter the hall and was asked to take off our clothes, including our bras and underpants,” a 19-year-old woman told the organisation. “It was humiliating. Only those who had menstruation can keep [wearing] underpants… A female doctor did the virginity test ... the 'two-finger' test."

The story makes a point of asking what virginity has to do with good police work, but fails to mention that any and all so-called virginity tests don't test anything except how retrograde and ignorant the testers are. Aside from that, these tests were supposed to be abolished in Indonesia in 2010–and they are a violations of human rights.

 

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The UK's Wellcome Collection is doing a year-old exhibit on sexuality called “The Institute of Sexology”, which they describe as:

"a candid exploration of the most publicly discussed of private acts. Undress your mind and join us to investigate human sexuality at 'The Institute', the first of our longer exhibitions. Featuring over 200 objects spanning art, rare archival material, erotica, film and photography, this is the first UK exhibition to bring together the pioneers of the study of sex."

I love their NSFW video, which makes the study of sex look classy and illicit at the same time, with scads of naked bodies and naughty words. Totally worth the trip to London, in my opinion!

 

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We got vibrators

From Autostraddle's Rebel Girl series, 5 Bad Theories on Gender and Sex From Way Back When That Still Impact us Today, from with the totally bogus universal theory of gender difference, making European women's bodies the 'normal,' and the ongoing pathologization (is that a word?) of female sexuality.

"The American Psychiatric Association didn’t drop the term hysteria until the 1950s, and hysterical neurosis remained there into 1980. The impacts of the mass misdiagnosis are far-reaching: women today are still labeled “crazy,” and it’s a seemingly natural part of our gender roles."

On the plus side, we got vibrators.

 

Ask Trixie: If just the tip or less went in does it still count? Am I a virgin?

If just the tip or less went in does it still count? Am I a virgin? –Anonymous

Hi Anonymous!

This kind of question is always tough to answer because different people have very different ideas about how you lose your virginity. Is it a penis in a vagina? Is it a broken hymen? Is it thinking impure thoughts? Is it feeling intimate with your partner? Seriously, lots of people have sent us their definitions and virginity means very different things to different people.

The question I want to ask you is why is it important to know whether you’re a virgin or not? Why do you need an outside definition to tell you who you are? Is someone making you feel bad about being (or not being) a virgin? Do you think it changes your value in some way, depending on what the answer is?

If you’re living in a community where the answer to your question can have serious consequences, I’m so sorry. All I can say is you need to do what you can to keep yourself safe until you’re away from that community and have more freedom. (And write back if that's the case)

You've probably been told different things about being a virgin. Please know that it doesn't make anyone clean or dirty, pure or used, hot or not. I don’t believe there’s one magic moment that suddenly changes us somehow. I’d rather think about a series of ‘first times’ that will make up your long sexual history. So maybe you lost your ‘just the tip’ virginity. Or maybe instead of using the word virgin, you can say ‘I’ve had a penis tip inside me but I’ve never had intercourse.’ That’s probably more accurate–if you're the one receiving the penis, anyway.

I’m sorry I can give you a definitive answer, but there really isn’t one. What I do want to say is that if you want to have more sex, I hope that it feels really good, and is with a partner you can talk to and trust.

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

Ask Trixie: What is a "cherry" and does every female have one?

Odd question, and yes I'm female. What is a "cherry" and does every female have one?? –A.

Hi 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. 

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

Painful first intercourse is not a given, it's a sign that something is wrong

TrainVirginity
TrainVirginity

 

We hear a lot from people terrified that first intercourse is going to be incredibly painful, and the image above has come up over and over again on virginity tweets (anyone know where it's from?).

That might be because sometimes first intercourse can be painful, but more likely because that idea has been reinforced in our culture and there's not nearly enough conversation about what people with vaginas (and their partners) can do to lessen or eliminate the pain.

Because, guess what, it doesn't necessarily have to hurt! It's just that most people are scared, or tense, or unprepared, or don't take generous amounts of time to relax the pelvic muscles through other kinds of sexual activity. And if it does really hurt, they might have a physical problem that needs to be addressed by a gynecologist. Either way, living with pain is not the answer.

So I was really happy that two stories crossed my radar recently about intercourse and pain:

The first story is from a woman who was diagnosed with vaginismus, a condition that makes intercourse painful or often impossible (you can find other stories about it on our blog herehere, here and here).

It broke up her marriage and caused her a lot of physical and emotional pain, but in this excerpt from  xoJane's It Happened To Me: My Husband Divorced Me After Four Years Because I Was Still A Virgin, she describes how she dealt with it and eventually overcame it.

"I kept at it with the dilators, more determined than ever. I did kegels. I did meditation. I did everything. About a year after the divorce was final, I had sex for the first time. I had been dating a wonderful guy...with a smaller than average penis. I didn’t tell him I was a virgin, but I did tell him sex was difficult for me sometimes.

One night after several bottles of red wine and a lot of lube, it happened. In the two years since that first time, I’ve had sex on a regular basis. I fell in love with the guy with a below average penis and married him three-and-a-half months ago. He loves me for me. It still hurts at the beginning of sex almost every time. We still have to use lube almost every time. But, I guess we are doing it right because I’m five months pregnant."

The second story is from our friend Sa Belle Femme, about how she and her husband-to-be prepared for intercourse without pain. Here's an excerpt from  Virgin Myths: Popping Her Cherry:

"If I hadn't spent so much time reading up on virginity and first-time coitus, I would have just accepted the cultural narrative that my wedding day sex would be painful. Instead, I was able to prepare for the first time Beau and I had coitus, to guarantee that our married sex would be awesome (or at least pain-free) the first time. Long story short, we used lots of lube, and I was on top so I could control both the angle and speed of entry."

She'll be writing in detail about her methods on her blog, including some info about a set of nifty dilators that worked wonders. They also talk about it in our film How To Lose Your Virginity.

V-Card Diaries: Sally "In Lebanon, people raise their girls on the idea that they can not be sexual beings the way boys are."

Today we're highlighting Sally in Lebanon, who gets a reaction like a 'you're a hooker' if she talks about sex in front of boys. 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:

Hello, my name is Sally. I'm from Lebanon, in the Middle East. I am a 19-year-old female.

How I define virginity:

Virginity is overrated. Especially for girls, people raise their girls on the idea that they can not be sexual beings the way boys are. Virginity for me is meaningless. I still didn't have sex though but I will soon, but I look at other older females that have sexual desires they can't obtain because of the whole traditions and religious crap.

Here's my story:

I 'm an atheist but I come from a Muslim background. My country is well known for it's diversity ( we have around 18 sects). And apparently all of them still think Virginity is a sacred thing, including the new generation. Even masturbation. I doubt if more than 20% of the population knows about it. When I talk about sex in front of boys they tend to give me some sort of you're a hooker or why are you so reckless with your life, they TRY to make me believe that Virginity is like doing drugs or even worse.

Middle eastern man tends to believe that his wife MUST be a virgin (even though he sleeps with tons) and if he really loves a woman but she's not a virgin, he won't marry her! Or if he wanted to, his parents ( which play a big role in a typical Arab man's life) will hammer his head till they force him to dump her. Not to mention that some tend to kill the female who loses her Virginity because her virginity represents the whole family (yep those still exists which really annoys me). So why an innocent soul who just wanted to discover herself would be murdered because of a f*cking hymen ?!!

Check out our new trailer on Upworthy, then watch the film On Demand

Despite the fact that we love making fun of Upworthy, we also appreciate it when they post important things–like our new trailer! If you haven't seen it yet, check it out, and then go stream our film On Demand (available for a very limited time)

V-Card Diaries: Cherry-Jill "I asked my ObGyn to break my hymen for me so I would technically not be a virgin."

Today we're highlighting 36-year-old Cherry-Jill in Capetown, South Africa who whose experienced kissing, dry humping, and sexting, but nothing else. 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 36-year-old bi caucasian female from Cape Town, South Africa, and I'm a self-employed Graphic Designer.

How I define virginity:

I define it by having sex - but not necessarily with the opposite sex. I have had no sexual experiences other than kissing, 'dry-humping' and sexting (in my youth mainly).

Here's my story:

Due to various emotional baggage, namely my father having an affair when I was 18 and my parents' divorce, I find myself still a virgin at 36. I'm attractive and have had a lot of interest over the years, but now it has become an issue... and the longer I leave it the worse it gets.

I have considered losing my virginity with another woman, as it may be gentler and somehow easier, less risk of getting hurt?

I have considered hiring a male escort just to get it done, or breaking my hymen myself with a vibrator - to technically not be a virgin. I even asked my OBGYN to do it, she said no.

I wouldn't want my partner to know I was a virgin. Commitment scares me, but rejection even more so. I'd like my first time not to happen in my first serious relationship - too much pressure and risk of getting hurt.

Ask Trixie: Will I bleed the first time I have sex?

Will I bleed the first time I have sex? –A.

Hi A–

Thanks for writing. The quick answer is I don’t know if you’re going to bleed or not. Some women* will bleed the first time their vaginas are penetrated by a penis (or a dildo or fingers, for that matter) and some won’t. It depends on various factors, like whether you’re sufficiently aroused and lubricated, how rough your partner is, how elastic your hymen is, or whether you have any medical conditions that might cause bleeding. Sometimes there’s a lot of blood, sometimes there’s some spotting and just as often there’s no blood at all (which is how it went for me).

The myth that all women bleed the first time they have intercourse is so pervasive that it’s used as a standard ‘virginity’ test all over the world. In reality, the whole blood-on-the-sheet thing says absolutely nothing about whether a woman is a virgin, has previously been penetrated by a penis, or anything else except how her vaginal tissue reacted to the factors listed above. As we often point out, there is no way to test for ‘virginity.’

If you want more information on bleeding, I’d highly recommend Scarleteen’s"One Bloody Mess: Myths and Realities of Bleeding with First Intercourse", and while you’re there, consider making a small donation so they can keep doing the amazing work they do.

*This question came from a woman with a vagina planning to have PIV sex for the first time, but for any first-time penetration, make sure it’s slow, gentle and very well-lubricated. If you feel like there’s excessive blood or pain, it may be a sign that something is physically wrong, and you should definitely see your doctor about it.

Got a question about virginity, sex, relationships, feminism or filmmaking?  Ask Trixie here

V-Card Diaries: Jessie " It was not until I began to go to therapy that I reclaimed that part of my sexuality."

Today we're highlighting Jessie from California, who was molested at 6, but learned she was not dirty or a slut with the help of her therapist. If you want to tell your story, go to our submission form. You can find all our V-Card Diaries here. A little about myself:

I am a twenty-one-year old college woman who does not have a single clue what she wants to study. I live in California.

How I define virginity:

I define "virginity" as something spiritual. It is not something physical like a hymen. You lose your virginity when you willingly give up a part of yourself to the person you are with. Just because you are not physically a virgin, it does not mean you are not one.

Here's my story:

I was molested by another girl at the age of 6. It was at that age that my hymen was broken, and when I learned about virginity at the age of 11 I was very ashamed of myself. For many years I never talked about what had happened to me. I shyed away from any form of sex talk, and even when I did go on dates it was extremely difficult to kiss boys without bringing up memories.

I had thought that a girl who is not a virgin is dirty and a slut, so I mentally beat myself up for that. It was not until I began to go to therapy that I reclaimed that part of my sexuality back. With the help of my therapist I drew up my won conclusions about my virginity and my sexuality.

I was not a slut because I had been abused when I was young. My virginity was something for me to give away or lose to whom I pleased. When I finally did have sex, that is when I defined myself as not a virgin anymore. I had sex with someone of my choosing. Even though I never saw that person again after we had sex, I do not regret my decision of losing my virginity to her.

Ask Trixie: How can I make my future husband believe I'm a virgin?

I had sex about 3 years ago and it was only one time and I was 15 years old. I bled a lot and it hurt like 3 days. What will I do to make my future husband to believe I'm a virgin? Do I need to see a doctor to check if I need a surgery or can I just fake blood? I cant sleep at night because I'm scared just thinking about it all the time. –W.

Hi W. –

I’m so sorry you are going through this.

The first and most important thing to know is that no one can prove or show that someone has had intercourse or is not a virgin by any definition. A doctor can’t look at you and tell anything, and many women never bleed, even the first time they have intercourse. These are the facts, no matter what you have been taught. So if a future husband is looking for some kind of proof of virginity, it doesn’t exist. It would be very possible and common to have intercourse for the very first time and never bleed at all (This is how it happened for me, and I’m sure many of the women you know). For more detailed information, you can read my post about bleeding, virginity and hymen surgery here, but I'll discuss some of it here as well.

I will assume by your questions that you live within a culture that puts a high value on virginity for women. While many people claim this kind of thinking protects you and celebrates your purity, it really is a lot more aboutcontrolling your body and telling you what you can and can’t do with it. The idea that you have less value if you’ve had sex is false, unfair and dangerous, especially because I’m betting there isn’t the same requirement for the men. Our favorite sex ed website Scarleteen has received many letters from women in your situation, and also from men who demand ways to prove virginity, and Scarleteen wrote a really good post about virginity and women's bodies.

Finally, the RFSU (the Swedish Association for Sexuality Education) is combating myths about the hymen and virginity and created a PDF book you can download. It includes information about hymen 'reconstruction' which is the surgery you are referring to. Some women are so afraid of not bleeding, that they have this done even if they have never had sex. As RSFU writes, surgery rarely solves any problems, firstly because outcomes vary, and secondly because it helps to maintain a prejudiced view of women and their sexuality.

This may not always be possible, but if there is a female relative or a doctor you can speak to, you can share with them the information I've linked to above and talk through your concerns. It helps to have someone nearby who is there to listen and help.

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V-Card Diaries: Erinn "How do I lose my virginity if I don't have a vagina? How my body helped me redefine my first time."

News recently broke about the successful implantation of lab-grown vaginas into four teenage girls with Mayer-Rokitansky-Küster-Hauser (MRKH) syndrome (a rare genetic condition in which the vagina and uterus either under-develop or fail to develop at all). We're reposting a fascinating V-Card Diaries from Erinn, who has this condition, and writes about the ways she rethought her ideas about virginity and sex. Today we’re highlighting Erinn from Montréal, Canada, whose reproductive system has made her think outside the P-I-V box. If you want to tell your story, go to our submission formYou can find all our V-Card Diaries here.

I am a 23 year-old grad student at Concordia University in Montréal, Canada, doing a Masters in Drama Therapy. I consider myself an artist, a researcher, a scholar, and a student-therapist. Also, because of the body I was born with, I explode normative constructs of virginity.

When I was 17 I wasn't having periods and while experimenting sexually with my then-boyfriend I became really confused. I eventually found out the reason: I do not have a uterus or a vagina. In the medical profession this is called MRKH or Mayer-Rokitansky-Küster-Hauser Syndrome (named after the four men who "discovered" it). This is a rare congenital condition where part of the reproductive system does not develop.

In terms of gender, I am a woman. Genetically, I have XY chromosomes. I have ovaries and hormones, which have produced secondary female characteristics, including breasts. My vulva and clitoris look and work the same way one expects them to, except I do not have a vaginal opening. While explaining it to a guy, I once compared this to "trying to put a penis in your armpit". It'll give a little, but ultimately will be impossible and if you forced it, it would hurt.

At first I was really upset because I still thought of myself as a "virgin" and suddenly realized I had nothing to "give away". I remember thinking, "I have gone as far as I can, and now what?" This part of my identity has forced me to find a new definition for a lot of cultural constructs, including sex.

I love sex. I find many forms of sex pleasurable in the context of a consenting and intimate relationship with another person. It's just that when I say "sex" it means something other than what most people think of as "sex". One of the challenging parts is having to discuss my situation with men because it requires them to challenge their assumptions and expectations as well. They have an image of "sex" that doesn't exactly correlate with how I think of it, which I sometimes forget until I am getting serious with someone and I have to take a "time out" to explain. Sure, it's awkward, but it also creates a dialogue about sex that I might not otherwise take the time to have.

I've come to think about my virginity as a period of my life prior to my first "sexual experiences." I fondly remember curiosity and self-exploration, but also anxiety and confusion. If I thought of "virginity" in terms of a physical state, then I never have been or ever will be a virgin. Now I think of it along a continuum of first experiences, from my first kiss, to my first time being touched or touching another person intimately, being naked with someone, first orgasm and sexual pleasure, and the feeling of having part of someone inside my body. I think it's a combination of first physical, emotional, and psychological experiences that over time have become part of my personal narrative.

I associate virgin with something I thought I had to be, but now I think the word "virgin" is just a way to make us think we're not supposed to be sexual beings. In contrast, I think of "first times" as the people, the moments, the feelings, and sensations. I could talk about how I missed out on having a "first time", but I would rather take it as an opportunity to talk about how my body helped me redefine "first time" to be what was meaningful for me.

I challenged virginity auctioner Elizabeth Raine on the validity of virginity testing and something amazing happened

Last week, I did an interview with Elizabeth Raine, the American woman who is offering her 'virginity' for auction. I enjoyed talking to her about the myths inherent in these kinds of auctions: placing value on a social construct, the fact that what's really being auctioned is 'first penis in,' and the enduring and dangerous myth of the hymen's relationship to a woman's sexual history.

In fact, I called her out her claim that she could prove her virginity through a test. She responded by doing something amazing. She wrote a post on her blog that included the following lines:

Even among virgins, the doctor cannot always prove virginity.

The absence of an “intact” hymen never proves the absence of virginity.

And many virgins do not bleed or even feel discomfort at first penetration.

And then this statement at the end:

If you are someone who is disappointed by this news, I am so very sorry (yes, that was sarcasm). I am aware that some people want to know with certainty whether or not our young women are virgins, but whoever once said “you can’t always get what you want” was really onto something. So, instead, why don’t we stop terrorizing these girls unnecessarily – it is the height of unreasonable to dictate a bride bleed on her wedding night or pass a gynecological examination (for a virgin whore, it is a bit more reasonable). And if you are someone who would punish a woman for not doing so, then you are a big part of what is wrong with this world. And I would suggest you change yourself, a lot, immediately. You might begin by getting your facts straight on hymens.

I have some issues with her assertion that in her case it can be proven, but volunteering for exams and lie detector tests seems to be a standard component of Virginity Auction Theater at this point. Having said that, I really appreciated her doing some outreach/education for the benefit of misguided (and worse) people who still think hymens have anything to do with anything (checking a guy's testicles will give you just as much information on his history...none).

Her bidding opened today, complete with extensive terms and conditions (including not penetrating the anus of the Virgin, or treating her violently). So for those people so in thrall of the virgin/whore dichotomy that they place a premium on 'first penis in' and want to pay someone for it, she awaits your bids.

An interview with Elizabeth Raine, America's latest virginity auctioner

Raine
Raine

I just did an interview for Nerve.com with 27-year-old American medical student Elizabeth Raine, who is putting her "virginity" up for auction on April 1st. Readers of this blog know I've been following this phenomenon for years, and like every other woman doing this kind of thing, she's getting a lot of sleazy, breathless tabloid coverage. I was glad to learn a bit more about her, and to talk to her about how virginity auctions affect how we value women for their sexual status, and how they perpetuate virginity myths and stereotypes.

As I say in the intro, I talked to Liz about the kind of guy who’d pay good money to be the “first penis in,” why you can’t prove a woman isn't a virgin, and how to negotiate boundaries when your first sexual experience is with a total stranger. Here's a short excerpt where we get into some of the issues, but please read the whole thing at Nerve.

Which brings me to the question of what “virginity” means to you. What are you auctioning? I think losing virginity is having heterosexual intercourse for the first time. If you are referring to another type of intercourse it needs to be clarified, for instance “I lost my oral virginity.”

So what do you think the appeal or fascination is for a guy? What do you think they think they’re buying? For some reason or another it is a sexual fantasy [to have a virgin]. In some cases, I think they want to take on the role of sexual teacher. In others, they just want to try something new. And then there are some men who are just attracted to the idea of an untouched woman.

I always assumed it was the desire for “first penis in” like planting your flag on uncharted territory or something.  Men are very competitive and territorial creatures.

I sometimes think that if men are stupid enough to pay for a social construct, let them. I can't disagree with that.

I really hate the mythology virginity auctions perpetuate. As long as there hasn't been a penis inside a woman, she and her body have value. But once that happens, she has none. No one auctions off the second time they have intercourse.  Well that's not necessarily true, women with all levels of sexual experience are selling sex somewhere. I'm not saying that makes it right, but I do think it is more of a continuum than you think. Men preferring less 'promiscuous' women is not a phenomenon limited to virgins.

They are, but adding the #virginity seems to increase the value exponentially. I'm not sure Natalie would have gotten much interest if she had already had intercourse and was offering the second time to a lucky bidder. Do you? I agree the value is inflated. Here is one more idea: The first time is a mystery. So, being in the position of the virgin, if you are going to lose it under these circumstances, it should pay well.

What the heck is a "virginal" membrane?

"The virginal membrane, a fold of mucous membrane stretched across and partially closing the external orifice of the vagina."

Our friend Cory Silverberg at About:Sexulality came across this curious definition for the hymen in the Oxford English Dictionary. It makes sense to maybe do a  hymen=virginity in concept or culture, but–no, no–never in physical reality. As we've written a gazillion times, the state of the hymen has nothing to do with a woman's sexual history. Seriously, people!! There's enough mythology around virginity already without some respected dictionary adding to the problem. Thanks, Cory, for flagging that.

Virginity testing of women accused of 'immorality' is standard procedure in Afghanistan

From a New York Times story by Heather Barr on increasing attacks on the rights of women in Afghanistan: Whenever a woman or girl is arrested on “morality” charges — and sometimes even when she is accused of non-moral crimes such as theft or assault — she is whisked away for a vaginal examination at a government clinic in the province in which she was arrested. There is no opportunity for her to refuse.

Because of frequent mix-ups and general inefficiency, some women are sent for the examination two or three times. The examination, carried out by government doctors, results in a report on whether or not the woman or girl is a “virgin.”

These reports are often used as the sole evidence to support “moral crimes” charges in court, aside from a “confession” taken down by a police officer immediately after the arrest, which is usually signed with a thumbprint by a woman or girl who has no idea what it says[...]

Forcing these women and girls to undergo invasive vaginal examinations, sometimes repeatedly, to ascertain “virginity” as evidence likely to be used against them in criminal proceedings is not only a form of degrading and inhuman treatment strictly prohibited by international law but also a violation of their basic fair trial rights.

All of this would be horrific enough if it weren’t bad science, but it is. “Virginity” tests have no medical validity. A medical examination cannot determine, with any level of accuracy useful to a court, a woman’s sexual history.

In other news, a group of men in India think rape is the result of poor choices made by women: “Wearing the wrong kind of clothes, eating the wrong kind of food, going to the wrong kind of places.”