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Larger Bodies

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

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

Hi fbgc!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ask Trixie: As a chubby girl, what technique and tips can I get for riding on top?

As a chubby girl, what technique and tips can I get for riding on top?  – locandload

Hi locandload!

I think that’s a great question, especially because there’s not enough conversation about chubby (large, fat, of size, however you want to describe it) girls and awesome sex. Being a chubby girl myself, it’s only recently that I’ve found so many smart, badass people spreading information and love on this topic.

So first of all, it’s important to get some mythology out of the way about any issues you may have heard (I sure did) about chubby people being on top. Quoting the fabulous Hanne Blank, in her book Big Big Love“No, you aren’t going to crush, smother suffocate, smash or otherwise injure anyone you have sex with if you get on top. I’ve been answering this question for over a decade. Yes, you can get on top.”

Let me add that once you are on top, don’t worry about what you look like. You’re having sex with someone–and they are probably extremely happy about it. I will quote Amy Schumer on what she thinks about when she gets naked for her partner, even on her chubbier days: “You’re welcome”

Many people with vaginas prefer being on top because it allows them to set the pace during intercourse. And if it’s your very first time doing that, having as much control over your body as possible is really, really important.

Here are some more tips from Big Big Love (which, frankly apply to people of any size):

  • Take your time to adjust yourself so you and your partner are comfortable before inserting anything anywhere.
  • Use a wall or chair to steady yourself and get extra leverage (which your partner can help with since they are firmly planted)
  • Watch out for elbows and knees, and also leaning on your hand when it’s resting on your partner’s soft parts.
  • If you need to get off of your partner in a hurry, just roll off to one side.
  • If you’re not enjoying it, try something else, and if you are enjoying, have a great time!

You also might want to put a pillow under your partner’s behind to elevate them a bit. Also, make sure there’s something soft for your knees to rest on. 

  • Add to that some general first-time intercourse tips:
  • Make sure you’re relaxed and very lubricated
  • Set your own pace and control how deeply you’re being penetrated so it feels OK
  • Communicate with your partner about what you like or don’t like
  • Stop if something hurts or if there’s something you don’t want to do.

For more, check out a whole collection of articles on having sex while chubby at  Bitch.com, and some more love and info from xoJane.

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

Meghan Tonjes on 'older' virginity, body positivity and her own recent sexual debut

Meghan Tonjes is a cool 27-year-old singer/songwriter from Detroit, who also does a lot of activism around body positivity and bullying. In this video at 4:07, she gives advice to a woman who is 26, and is plagued by the fact that she's still a virgin. Adding to her worries is the fact that she's obese and is afraid to be naked in front of another person. Listen to Meghan's advice for her, including the story of her own sexual debut just a year ago.

A Genre of One's Own: In Defense of Fan Fiction Written by Teenage Girls. Guest post by Jenn Leyva

Guest Post by Jenn Leyva

On Sunday, The Guardian published an article about fan fiction, a genre of writing dominated by teenage girls self-publishing stories re-imagining sexuality in pop culture.

There has been considerable pushback against the authors of fan fiction, especially pointed at the book deals mentioned in the article, such as 16-year-old Emily Barker's contract with Penguin. There's a snobby part of me that understands that pushback. These books are not going to be comparable to Infinite Jest or Anna Karenina, and I don't think anyone is expecting them to be.

Part of the "outrage" is coming from the fact that these young women have been self-publishing on the internet instead of writing through more traditional outlets. More interestingly, I think it makes people uncomfortable because it deals with a topic that is uncomfortable

Fan fiction is a way for teenage girls to address sexuality and romance on their own terms. It's well discussed in Virgin-land that we as a culture are obsessed with controlling the sexuality of young women. From purity balls to abstinence pledges, we are so afraid of female sexuality that we do all that we can as a culture to control it. The problem is that this type of policing hasn't actually stopped the objectification of women or the sexualization of girls. Women are expected to be sexy without being sexual, and young women even more so. With fan fiction, teenage girls are talking back. Or writing back. They are writing about their experiences, what they want their sex and romantic lives to be like and how the realities fall short.

As Wolfson reports in the Guardian article about fanfic story The Naughty Game (book cover above):

“At the moment, one of the most popular stories on Movellas, the fan fiction site where Barker was discovered, is a sort of Hunger Games meets American Pie coming-of-age tale where members of One Direction compete to "stamp the V-card" of the story's first-person protagonist. You might expect a distasteful and badly written tale of teenage lust.

“In fact, the story is a fairly merciless character assassination of the band, in which their petty attempts at sexual espionage are almost always rebuffed, by the same person who is making them up. A repeated device used to great effect in the story is Harry Styles getting kicked in the balls. Niall – the one who looks like a Guess Who? illustration – comes round to her house with flowers and chocolate, which quickly get "smashed at his face"”

If we're going to critique these authors (and presumably the publishers) for their work, I think it's important to step back and ask why we read. We read for pleasure and, with all art and media, to see ourselves reflected back at us. The growth of fan fiction is filling a much-needed void. Honest depictions of young sexuality, imagined by and focusing on teenage girls just doesn't exist in mainstream pop culture.

I personally don't read fan fiction, but I know a lot of my friends do. I see the appeal. In addition to the fanfic mentioned in the article published in The Guardian, a lot of the genre focuses on exploring queer sexuality. As a fat queer woman myself, I'm always looking for depictions of myself in media. Fat women are not depicted as worthy of sexuality, and when they are it's because they're so gross and desperate. I've created my own little bubble where I surround myself with impressive fat queer women. Fan fiction is in many ways the same. It's a type of art in which the realities of our lives can drown out what everyone seems to be telling us about our lives.

In the last email exchange I had with Therese before I wrote this article, she told me that she "used to be quite the fan of Downton Abbey fanfic.” And she followed it up with "Don't hate me." I don't read fan fiction, but I have respect for young women writing about sex and romance and those who read their words.

When Jenn Leyva was 16, her dad told her that he'd buy her a car if she lost weight. She cried, finished her calculus homework, and is now a New York-based fat activist and recent graduate of Columbia, where she studied biochemistry. She authors Fat Smart And Pretty, a fat blog about social justice, feminism, science, health, and fa(t)shion.

[Older Virgin Week] Should a woman hire a sex worker to lose her virginity?

Cable has Shark Week, we have Older Virgin Week! In honor of V-Day, by which we mean Virgin Day, all this week we’re reposting some of our favorite older-virginity-related stories. This post originally ran in January 2011. Share your biggest older virgin myths here.

"I have never met a woman who raved about the experience of losing her virginity. Perhaps that's partly reticence, but from the stories that I have been told, for most women, losing their virginity was awkward, painful, a total non-event, ruined by their partner's excitement and inexperience, or some combination of those things. Which, to me as an escort (whose job is making sex and sexuality fun and enjoyable) is a shame."

That's John, an Australia-based escort, talking about why women might seek out a male sex worker  for first-time intercourse.

Young men losing their virginity with female sex workers is a standard narrative trope, and in some cultures a celebrated rite of passage. Nevada's Moonlight Bunny Ranch, a brothel which calls itself the 'devirginizing capital of the world' isn't talking about virgin women (except for Natalie Dylan, the one notorious, if unconsummated, exception). And aside from the rom-com The Wedding Date, where the escort isn't even hired for sex, women hiring male sex workers remains a very taboo subject.

Given all that, we wanted to know more about why John, whose clients are usually sexually experienced women and couples, started reaching out to a new potential group:

First, we'd love to know how you define 'losing your virginity,' since it's sort of a hazy thing.

I will admit to being a bit "conventional" there. For me, losing your virginity (for a heterosexual couple) means penis-in-vagina sex. Why? Probably mostly because that is what I learned as I grew up. But also because to me it is the most intimate act possible between two people.

Everything else - while just as or even more enjoyable - is "foreplay", or an extension of sex to me, but when you get right down to it, penetrating, or being penetrated by another person (especially-face-to face) is as intimate a connection as you can make with another person. That may be one reason why rape is so devastating, because it perverts and abuses that intimacy and connection.

Why do you think women might need or choose to go this route, sexually?

I don't know if this is something that is "needed" as such (like food, or water are "needed"), but it fills a gap caused by the nature of our society.

No woman should feel that hiring an escort is the only option for them. But because of the problems caused by things like religion and the emotional immaturity of most of our society this is unfortunately how some women do end up feeling. I would be happier if that wasn't the case and men and women were able to treat each other with respect. Because this isn't always the case, there is an opportunity for me to help these women.

Do you think demand is growing?

Yes I think so. It is a result of two things: 1. our generally more relaxed social attitudes to sexuality, and 2. our ability to communicate with more people more easily.

Women who are virgins can hear about the idea of employing a male escort more easily, they can find and participate in positive discussions on the issue more easily, and ultimately they can connect with male escorts like myself more easily (and with complete anonymity).

That wasn't possible prior to the Internet and given that people are more open minded about sexuality, it leads to more interest and perhaps more demand. You could also view this issue as a consequence of women taking more control over their sexuality. As a result some are choosing to employ a male escort for their first-time sex.

How do you think women differ from men in terms of the experience they're looking for?

Since I am a straight (heterosexual) male escort, I can only speculate on that question. Being male though and knowing other men I would say that the difference is significant. Most men (I think) don't see any inherent value in being virgins, we are just interested in having sex. So losing my virginity was a milestone, but I didn't see it as a "gift" or something that a woman would actually value.

As mentioned on my website though, I was lucky enough to meet a woman who made losing my virginity a very memorable experience. It could have been much less enjoyable for me, but that wouldn't have made me any less eager to actually do it.

By contrast, my experience with women considering losing their virginity with me is that there tends to be more emotion invested in this experience than there was for me when I lost mine. However every woman that I talk to about losing their virginity is different in what they think and feel. Some don't care much about it and want to lose it and get on with life. Others are worried about having a bad experience, so are looking for someone who understands and will put their needs first. Then there are the women (often older) who find it hard to establish relationships with men (let alone have sex). For them virginity, emotions, self image, and doubt all seem to get tangled up together, which makes things very hard for them. The second and third groups are the ones I have most experience with personally.

The third group are the women who seem to get the least support in our societies. That is why I like the work that people like you and The Accidental Virgin are doing. I try to support that effort by being available for women to talk to about losing their virginity (be it with an escort like me, or any other man). So the difference, in my opinion, mostly comes down to the emotional content of the experience of first-time penetrative sex. It "matters more" emotionally to women than to men. So it's not surprising that the majority of women don't have the glowing memories of losing their virginity that I do.

How about the differences between men and women in terms of social taboos?

The social taboos are probably too numerous to list here, but women seeking a male escort to lose their virginity with just adds one more opportunity for narrow minded and manipulative people to stigmatise women. Which is ironic perhaps, given that the service that I offer is meant to help these women to overcome the shortcomings of our society in the first place. Thankfully though many women seem to be supportive of a friend who is considering employing a male escort.

A surprising twist on this issue is that I have been told by a father once that he would much rather his daughter lost her virginity to me (an escort who will actually try to make it a good first experience of sex), than to some random man (with all of the uncertainty that implies). Fathers may have (rightly, or wrongly) even more emotion invested in their daughter's welfare and virginity than their daughters do, so maybe that shouldn't be surprising.

Tonight in Brooklyn: Hanne Blank will be reading from "Big Big Love" at Re/Dress

Around Trixie HQ we know Hanne Blank as the Goddess of All Things Virgin, especially since we interviewed her for our film. Here's a fun little video [if you don't see it above] that we made from part of the interview, where Hanne walks us through the highlights of her virgin-themed charm bracelet.

But before "Virgin: The Untouched History" there was 'Big Big Love." A cult classic from 2000, it's just been revised and updated, but still focuses on the how-tos and why-tos of sexuality from the point of view of big folks and those who love them. When you order your book, make sure it's the revised version, and not the original.

Hanne will be reading tonight in Brooklyn at my favorite resale shop Re/Dress*, which specializes in sizes 14+. (I just got an incredibly hot vintage-looking strapless red satin number there for $20, and a 1950s-inspired leopard cocktail dress for $25. I will be tied to the mast tonight to prevent me from buying yet another dress)

Here are the details for the reading. Hope to see you there!:

Thursday, October 13 8:00pm - 11:00pm Re/Dress NYC 109 Boerum Place, Brooklyn, NY Author Hanne Blank will be presenting her new book, "Big Big Love: A Sex and Relationships Guide for People of Size (and Those Who Love Them)" The reading is free and open to the public. Bring yourself and your burning questions about sex, relationships & size.

*Tragically, Re/Dress will be closing in mid-November, so get yourself there now! The website will live on.

Does this position make me look fat? How first sex might lower a woman's self esteem.

I'm fascinated, but unfortunately not surprised, by a recent Salon article about how body image changes after first intercourse. The not surprising part of the study of college students is that men feel better about their body image after their first time–and women feel worse. Writer Tracy Clark-Flory cites a similar study from 1995 [the link to it is broken] and says:

"women were significantly more likely to report that their first sexual experience left them feeling less pleasure, satisfaction, and excitement than men, and more sadness, guilt, nervousness, tension, embarrassment, and fear." The major culprit is that familiar foe, the sexual double standard in which men are crowned as studs and women are branded as sluts when it comes to sex.

So dudes feel worse and worse about their non-sexually-active status, and then when it happens they get a huge esteem boost. Women's esteem rises through college until, bam, they have intercourse and it plummets.

I actually don't remember feeling less esteem the first time I did it, because by the time I got around to it, I was more in the typical dude's situation. I do recall some serious discomfort with the whole if-I'm-naked-he'll-see-my-fat thing, though. Clark-Flory mentions something I used to totally experience, but never had a name for. It's called sexual 'spectatoring,' when you see yourself from a "third person perspective" during sex instead of being in the moment with your partner. She describes it as:

Translation: You think, "Do my breasts look OK from this angle" instead of, "Wow, this position feels fantastic."

As for me, I was pretty certain that the missionary position made my stomach look the flattest. There's another element to this as well, though. A woman's first time having intercourse *could* mean bleeding or pain or pregnancy or being very vulnerable to a stronger partner. And likely *won't* include the payoff of an orgasm. So, no wonder there's more anxiety around it, never mind all the body image issues.

She also points out that the double-standard is double-edged. That both men and women are judged by their sexual behavior - it's just that what's desirable for one is the total opposite of the other. The answer, of course, is not to avert low self-esteem by guilting and shaming women into delaying intercourse until they find their true-love-special-someone, but to counter-act the relentless toxic messages our culture sends out about feminine ideals, sexual roles and the idea that there's actually one right age to start having sex.

Should a woman hire a sex worker to lose her virginity?

"I have never met a woman who raved about the experience of losing her virginity. Perhaps that's partly reticence, but from the stories that I have been told, for most women, losing their virginity was awkward, painful, a total non-event, ruined by their partner's excitement and inexperience, or some combination of those things. Which, to me as an escort (whose job is making sex and sexuality fun and enjoyable) is a shame."

That's John, an Australia-based escort, talking about why women might seek out a male sex worker  for first-time intercourse.

Young men losing their virginity with female sex workers is a standard narrative trope, and in some cultures a celebrated rite of passage. Nevada's Moonlight Bunny Ranch, a brothel which calls itself the 'devirginizing capital of the world' isn't talking about virgin women (except for Natalie Dylan, the one notorious, if unconsummated, exception). And aside from the rom-com The Wedding Date, where the escort isn't even hired for sex, women hiring male sex workers remains a very taboo subject.

Given all that, we wanted to know more about why John, whose clients are usually sexually experienced women and couples, started reaching out to a new potential group:

First, we'd love to know how you define 'losing your virginity,' since it's sort of a hazy thing.

I will admit to being a bit "conventional" there. For me, losing your virginity (for a heterosexual couple) means penis-in-vagina sex. Why? Probably mostly because that is what I learned as I grew up. But also because to me it is the most intimate act possible between two people.

Everything else - while just as or even more enjoyable - is "foreplay", or an extension of sex to me, but when you get right down to it, penetrating, or being penetrated by another person (especially-face-to face) is as intimate a connection as you can make with another person. That may be one reason why rape is so devastating, because it perverts and abuses that intimacy and connection.

Why do you think women might need or choose to go this route, sexually?

I don't know if this is something that is "needed" as such (like food, or water are "needed"), but it fills a gap caused by the nature of our society.

No woman should feel that hiring an escort is the only option for them. But because of the problems caused by things like religion and the emotional immaturity of most of our society this is unfortunately how some women do end up feeling. I would be happier if that wasn't the case and men and women were able to treat each other with respect. Because this isn't always the case, there is an opportunity for me to help these women.

Do you think demand is growing?

Yes I think so. It is a result of two things: 1. our generally more relaxed social attitudes to sexuality, and 2. our ability to communicate with more people more easily.

Women who are virgins can hear about the idea of employing a male escort more easily, they can find and participate in positive discussions on the issue more easily, and ultimately they can connect with male escorts like myself more easily (and with complete anonymity).

That wasn't possible prior to the Internet and given that people are more open minded about sexuality, it leads to more interest and perhaps more demand. You could also view this issue as a consequence of women taking more control over their sexuality. As a result some are choosing to employ a male escort for their first-time sex.

How do you think women differ from men in terms of the experience they're looking for?

Since I am a straight (heterosexual) male escort, I can only speculate on that question. Being male though and knowing other men I would say that the difference is significant. Most men (I think) don't see any inherent value in being virgins, we are just interested in having sex. So losing my virginity was a milestone, but I didn't see it as a "gift" or something that a woman would actually value.

As mentioned on my website though, I was lucky enough to meet a woman who made losing my virginity a very memorable experience. It could have been much less enjoyable for me, but that wouldn't have made me any less eager to actually do it.

By contrast, my experience with women considering losing their virginity with me is that there tends to be more emotion invested in this experience than there was for me when I lost mine. However every woman that I talk to about losing their virginity is different in what they think and feel. Some don't care much about it and want to lose it and get on with life. Others are worried about having a bad experience, so are looking for someone who understands and will put their needs first. Then there are the women (often older) who find it hard to establish relationships with men (let alone have sex). For them virginity, emotions, self image, and doubt all seem to get tangled up together, which makes things very hard for them. The second and third groups are the ones I have most experience with personally.

The third group are the women who seem to get the least support in our societies. That is why I like the work that people like you and The Accidental Virgin are doing. I try to support that effort by being available for women to talk to about losing their virginity (be it with an escort like me, or any other man). So the difference, in my opinion, mostly comes down to the emotional content of the experience of first-time penetrative sex. It "matters more" emotionally to women than to men. So it's not surprising that the majority of women don't have the glowing memories of losing their virginity that I do.

How about the differences between men and women in terms of social taboos?

The social taboos are probably too numerous to list here, but women seeking a male escort to lose their virginity with just adds one more opportunity for narrow minded and manipulative people to stigmatise women. Which is ironic perhaps, given that the service that I offer is meant to help these women to overcome the shortcomings of our society in the first place. Thankfully though many women seem to be supportive of a friend who is considering employing a male escort.

A surprising twist on this issue is that I have been told by a father once that he would much rather his daughter lost her virginity to me (an escort who will actually try to make it a good first experience of sex), than to some random man (with all of the uncertainty that implies). Fathers may have (rightly, or wrongly) even more emotion invested in their daughter's welfare and virginity than their daughters do, so maybe that shouldn't be surprising.