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This Film

Our valentine's gift to you: a month of quotes & graphics from the V-Card Diaries on sex & virginity

Every year, we do an outreach project around Valentine's Day inspired by our documentary How To Lose Your Virginity. This year, in keeping with the themes of the film, we're pushing back against standard narratives about sex, virginity and relationships (with their implied judgement of anyone who's not conforming) to show how diverse experiences around sexuality and relationships can be. 

All through the month of February (V-Month!), we're posting a graphic a day created by Trixie Films interns Bree and Sally. Incorporating quotes from stories submitted to our interactive project The V-Card Diaries, they've created 29 striking graphics. The quotes are about having sex, not having sex, being queer, being asexual, rejecting the virginity construct, and more.

You can see the full set on Tumblr, and they're also showing up on Facebook and Twitter throughout the month of February. 

Here are some ways you can be a part of this project:

See the full and growing set of graphics here along with selected V-Card Diaries stories.

Submit your own graphics and quotes on tumblr or email them to us and we'll post them.

Share your own anonymous story at The V-Card Diaries.

Read all The V-Card Diaries stories here.

Repost and amplify this project, especially if your work speaks to young women and men.  

In case you're not familiar with The V-Card Diaries, it's our crowd-sourced interactive story-sharing site where everyone can access and share diverse stories about sexuality and virginity in total anonymity. With almost 400 stories and counting, the project tells a collective story about becoming sexual–and the radical act of speaking honestly about it. The project, which as exhibited at the Kinsey Institute, is a companion piece to our documentary How To Lose Your Virginity, which examines how our sexual culture affects young people's lives.

If you'd like to write about this project, our V-Month graphics project, contact us!

A holiday gift to you: EVE & MARY, an animated clip from How To Lose Your Virginity

Happy holidays, everyone!

In the spirit of the season, here's a newly-released animated clip from How To Lose Your Virginity about Eve, Mary and our favorite dichotomy, the Virgin and Whore.

The brilliant animation is by Luke Murphy, and the clip includes a voice-over by director Therese Shechter, and an interview with Sady Doyle. Click on the CC at the bottom-right of the video if you need captions.

You can watch or buy the entire film here

Will we See you at our Chicago Premiere on Nov. 2nd?

How To Lose Your Virginity is coming to Chicago for one entertaining, eye-opening, and thought-provoking screening. Join me for a post-film Q&A moderated by Veronica Arreola, followed by a gathering nearby.

Here's the important part: We have to sell 10 more tickets in the next week for the event to happen. Why not reserve your tickets today

The Chicago Reader just did a great story about the film and screening. Here's what other reviews have to say: "The crowd was laughing and gasping throughout the movie" and “Tackles one of the last taboos in our culture’s discussion of sex – the deliberate decision not to participate in it.”

Sound good? It's going to be a great night for parents, teens, activists, educators and all our friends–and there's sure to be great conversation (there always is).

A big thank you to our partners:
Chicago Alliance Against Sexual Exploitation
Chicago Foundation for Women

Watch the trailer and get more info about the film:

What has launched both purity balls and porn franchises, defines a young woman’s morality–but has no medical definition? Enter the magical world of virginity, where a white wedding dress can restore a woman’s innocence and replacement hymens can be purchased online. But, what if all we had to lose were our virginity myths? Using her own path out of virginity, filmmaker Therese Shechter explores why our sex-crazed society cherishes this so-called precious gift. Along the way, we meet sex educators, virginity auctioneers, abstinence advocates, and young men and women who bare their tales of doing it—or not doing it. HOW TO LOSE YOUR VIRGINITY uncovers the myths and misogyny surrounding a rite of passage that many obsesses about–but few truly understand.

See you there!

"How To Lose Your Virginity" Is Now Streaming On Demand In The US & Canada + More Breaking News From Trixie Films

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You can now stream "How To Lose Your Virginity" in the US, Canada and beyond

Want to watch the film tonight? Now you can stream the film on your computer or other device with the magic of the internet. Let us know where you're watching from and we'll take you to the right Video On Demand page.
 
US & Canada
International
Psst: You can also stream I Was A Teenage Feminist (outside the US & Canada) and How I Learned to Speak Turkish (everywhere!).
Please respect our copyright. Streaming is licensed for personal home viewing with family and friends only. You need a different license to screen, loan or broadcast for educational or commercial purposes. Find resources for educators here. Or use this form and we'll help you get exactly what you need.
Get a first look at our new and improved "V-Card Diaries" project

The V-Card Diaries is our popular crowd-sourced interactive story-sharing site where anyone can anonymously access and share stories about becoming sexual. Working with fabulous developer Roopa Vasudevan, we've updated it, making it easier to use and easier to search. We have almost 400 stories (and counting) on the site. Please check it out and add your own!

We're so proud of The V-Card Diaries, which was on exhibit at The Kinsey Institute, and has been used as ethnographic data in college Human Sexuality courses. 

New Project: "Second Puberty," a Sex Ed film about HRT for the Trans Community

I'm very excited to announce that I'll be directing the film Second Puberty, an important and unique project that can really use your support for its Kickstarter campaign.

Created by producer Lux Alptraum, Second Puberty will be an informative, hilarious and accessible health education resource for trans people and their families. Inspired by the awkward (yet instructive) sex ed films we were subjected to in Junior High, it's geared specifically to people in the trans community going through the changes of Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT).

This project will also be creating media jobs for trans people. It will have an all-trans cast and as many trans people as possible behind the scenes. Second Puberty will be distributed for free, so we need to raise all the production money through fundraising.

Join us for the Chicago Premiere of "How To Lose Your Virginity" on Nov 2nd (woo!)

We can't wait to premiere the film in Chicago, which was my hometown for almost 10 years. It's Monday November 2nd at 7:30 at the AMC River East, just off Michigan Avenue.

As with our West Coast screenings, we'll need to sell enough advance tickets for the screening to happen. Please click here to be notified as soon as tickets are available Sept 29th–and then buy them! And please share with your Chicagoland pals.

Are you with a Chicago organizations that wants to spark healthy conversations around sexuality and relationships? We'd love to make you a part of this event. Contact us for more info.


In addition to the screening, I'm honored to be a part of the American Public Health Association Conference as a panelist for "Let's Talk about Sex. Shame. Power. Violence."  
 
Upcoming Events Digest:
 

Tuesday, October 27, New York, Anthology Film Archive
Vinnie: I Break For Cycles screening
I'm doing a Q&A following the screening hosted by New York Women In Film and Television
Get notified when tickets are available 

Monday, November 2, Chicago
How To Lose Your Virginity Chicago Premiere
I'm doing a Q&A following the screening (with special guests)

Get notified when tickets are available 

Tuesday, November 3, Chicago
American Public Health Association Annual Conference
I will be on the Panel "Let's talk about Sex. Shame. Power. Violence" Plus: How To Lose Your Virginity screening (excerpts) 

Sunday, November 8, New York
BinderCon 2015 
I'm presenting the Workshop "Interactive Storytelling: A non-techie's introduction to immersing and engaging your online audiences"

Want to invite me to your event? There's more info here.
Are you an educator? We have free resources for you.

Thanks for all your support!
–Therese & Team Trixie Films

'Everyone is having sex but you' and other myths busted: Coffee with 'The Sex Myth' author Rachel Hills

I've been a fan of Rachel Hills' work for a long time so I'm thrilled that her book The Sex Myth is now out. It's loaded with things I love: first-person stories from a diverse group of people, sexual myth-busting, and pop culture analysis. I recently had a virtual coffee with Rachel to talk about the book, and how the messages we get about sexuality often have little to do with the actual sex we're having (or not having). Here's our conversation:

Therese Shechter: First of all, congratulations! I love that you initially thought it would take you 6 months to finish, and here you are, what, 7 years later?

Rachel Hills: Thank you! And yes, it's crazy, isn't it? I never anticipated it would take me this long to do, but I wrote a (very long) blog post about the process for a friend's blog over the weekend, and when I lay it all out step by step, it all makes sense. I imagine that's something you can relate to, with How To Lose Your Virginity.

TS: As someone who just spent 6 years making a documentary, I totally understand. One thing I appreciated about how long it took for me was that it gave me time to really think through what the film should be about and how to approach it. I really learned from my subjects, and from the audience we were growing while we were in production. Did your understanding of your subject change as you worked on it?

RH I agree with this completely. I feel like if you're going to take on a complicated subject matter–and the social expectations around sexuality are certainly complex–you need to take the time to understand your subject deeply. And that means sitting with it, learning from people, reworking your ideas until they make sense. Even if you would have liked it to happen more quickly! I think in my case, the initial vision I had for the book was pretty similar to the final product. But in the earliest stages it was just a sketch–a kind of gut feeling that I hadn't yet found the right words to explain to anyone else. The process of making the book was really the process of trying to find the words to explain what I was thinking.

TS: I should give full disclosure and mention that you were one of the first people to write about How To Lose Your Virginity back in 2010 and you've been very supportive all along. One reason for that, I think, is that we're both on this noble quest to undo a lot of mythology around sexuality. 

RH: Absolutely.

TS: And part of that is how our sexual history defines us, from when we start to become sexual through the rest of our lives.

RH: And as I've told you, when I first watched the film, my husband overheard some of the audio on my laptop and commented that it was the closest thing he'd ever heard to my book.

TS: Having read your book, I'm very flattered. So let's talk about myths...

RH: Sure!

TS: "Everyone is having sex but me" 

RH: That is certainly the myth–and my realization that it was a myth–that started me on the journey of writing the book.

TS: And in fact a lot of young people aren't having sex. You talk about the fact that not taking a stranger home after a party is far more common than picking someone up.  And the number of high school students who aren't sexual. Which sort of leads into a feeling that you don't want to ask any questions about sex because you assume everyone knows more about sex than you do. Because you'll be socially shamed if you show any ignorance.

RH: Exactly. We're sold this idea that sex is omnipresent: That it's like this all-you-can-eat buffet that everyone is dining at at their leisure. It's a message you see in newspaper articles about "out of control" youth, in magazine stories where the readers share their most embarrassing sex experiences, and even in the banter you share between friends. We're told that to be having sex is the norm, and not to be having it–whether you're a virgin, a single person going through a dry spell, or a couple whose libido has declined recently–is strange. But most people's lives involve periods of time when we're not having sex–even quite extensive periods of time, in many people's cases.

TS: I feel like millions of cases of Axe Body Spray have been sold on that one myth.

RH: Or that Axe is the key to getting access to that sexual perma-party everyone is having but you, at least.

TS: That message goes both ways, though, right? Your personal worth depends on you dining at that same buffet. Or, depending on who you're talking to, that buffet will give you deadly food poisoning so stay away. Sorry, this metaphor is running away from me...

RH: Ha! I like that metaphor. I remember one of the guys I spoke to talking about that. Not Axe specifically, but the assumption he had growing up that being an adult would mean having unlimited access to sex with other hot guys. And when that didn't happen for him–and in his case, he was sexually active, he just wasn't having *unlimited* sex–his first assumption was that it was because he wasn't good looking enough. Even though he later realized that it was just that NO ONE's sex life really looks like that.

And yes, that dichotomy you refer to is kind of that root of my argument in The Sex Myth in some ways. That our culture that talks about how sex is dirty and dangerous and our culture that talks about how fantastic it is and how it will make you happy and whole aren't actually opposites; they are one and the same. At the root of both is this idea that sex is an incredibly powerful force that defines us; which can make us attractive and interesting and grown up, but which can also destroy us. 

TS: And no one calls it out at the risk of being labeled not normal?

RH: Well, I think that we have a pretty healthy critical discourse around sex in a lot of ways. Feminism, in particular, has been great at articulating what's wrong with the idea that sex is dangerous, or that good women shouldn't be sexual. And queer theorists and activists have been great at critiquing the marginalization of LGBT people. But one of the questions that drove me was, well, what if we interrogated heterosexuality in the same way that we've interrogated the gay and lesbian experience? And what if the way we experience sex was political in ways that go beyond gender?

TS: For example?

RH: I think that sex is one of the most social interactions we have. (Or, as discussed above, don't have.) It's not just a gut animal instinct that we do or don't engage in. Everything we do when it comes to sex is shaped by social rules and expectations, right down to what we consider sex to be. For example, why is it PIV [penis-in-vagina] intercourse that most people count when they talk about when they "lost their virginity?" Obviously, PIV intercourse can have some pretty real physical ramification, but why is it that act over all others that we talk about when it comes to the question of when we started being sexual? And when I talk about sex being political, I guess what I mean is that the ways in which we expect to be sexual, and the standards by which we evaluate our own sexual histories, don't just come from within. So it's worthwhile to me to examine what those standards are, and where they come from. 

TS: My theory is men invented all of our laws, religions and political structures–and they got to define what sex was as well. Namely whatever their penis wanted. So....intercourse. If women had invented our definitions of sex, what would it look like?

RH: That may be true, but I also think that the risk of pregnancy is a big part of it. And I think that desire to control parentage and reproduction is central to our ongoing paranoia about sex, even if it's not as relevant to the world we live in today as the one we lived in several hundred years ago. Or you know, 100 years ago. And not just if women got to define sex, either. What if queer people got to define sex?

TS: I really like talking to queer-identified people about virginity because they don't use the PIV model at all. Their ideas about becoming sexual are more nuanced. 

RH: I remember many years ago, when I was working on a women's magazine article on older virgins, one of my queer friends told me he thought of himself as having had multiple virginities. I really liked that, and it certainly resonated with my experiences of becoming sexual more than the idea of this One Defining Moment That Would Change Everything Forever.

TS: The one moment that the magical penis enters the vagina for the first time and EVERYTHING CHANGES

RH: Which is bullshit. As I write in the final chapter of the book, I was sexual before "I had sex" and I wasn't a suddenly experienced person immediately after.

TS: My own life's work seems to be to get people to think of becoming sexual as a long process. Not a magical moment. And you can pick whatever you want as your first important milestone. 

RH: And to turn the tables on you for a moment, I'm interested to know why that shift is so important to you.

TS: My first time having PIV sex was so underwhelming physically and emotionally, but it was definitely important socially. Now I was no longer 'a virgin.' But it was later that I had my first actual orgasm with a sexual partner. That was such a bigger deal for me. I remember it viscerally, who I was with, where it was, what color that carpet was... 

RH: I think it was a bigger deal for me, as well. Although in my case, that came before I "lost my virginity."

TS: I was thinking of your interviews with Evan and Greta and that dividing line that doesn't really exist. 

RH: Yes, I loved those quotes, especially Greta's. "When it happened, I was just like 'oh, it feels like there is something in my vagina.'"

TS: Interestingly, when I've talked to women about it for The Experience Engine, an online project I'm working on, a big milestone was being with a partner and feeling comfortable with your body for the first time.

RH: That makes sense.

TS: Another myth you talk about is that idea that men are unable to control their desires and it's a woman's job to manage that. (Men are the gas and women are the brakes, as one radio interviewer quoted to me in all seriousness.) I was really struck by the guy you spoke to who was relieved that his girlfriend wanted to take things slow. And the study of men who preferred relationships to hookups.  

RH: Yes. Which is not to say that there's anything wrong with having hookups, but I do think that our perceptions of men's sexuality can be really destructive. Men are assumed to be constantly up for sex, and conventional masculinity doesn’t really give them room not to be.

TS: So, who manufactures 'the sex myth?' I go back to the idea that we don't exist in a vacuum. So we're getting our cues from somewhere. Is it advertising? Religion? I liked the analogy with so-called female sexual dysfunction as a way of selling drugs for a malady that doesn't actually exist. 

RH: I tend not to believe in top-down ways of looking at power–ie, it's all religion, or it's all porn, or it's all women's magazines. I mean, all of these things are part of it. But I don't think any of them are solely to blame. I think it's about the repetition of the same ideas over and over until they're normalized, and then them being repeated over and over again some more because we've all accepted them to be true. I mean, most of these ideas are buried pretty deeply in our culture. So their earliest origins might be religion and patriarchy - and pregnancy, as I mentioned above. And today, they definitely appear frequently in movie and TV scripts, in advertising, and in lifestyle journalism.

TS: You write about the 'liberal' and 'conservative' ways of understanding and talking about sexuality (or the giant buffet). So the ideas are coming at us from different points of view.

RH: But what's most interesting to me is the way they crop up in our own conversations. In the stories we tell about our own sex lives, and the way we unconsciously manipulate our own stories to fit what we think is the ideal.

TS: What we leave out, what we embellish. 

RH: Yes, exactly. On the conservative side, we're being told that sex is sacred, that it must be cherished and protected, and that if we do sex in the wrong way, all hell will rain down on us. (Sometimes literally.) On the "progressive" side–or what we often think of being progressive, because I would argue it's not really–we're told to figuratively screw the people who told us that sex is bad, because sex is great. Sex is the key to our liberation! It's what all the cool kids are doing. And I think that in different ways, I was pretty screwed up by both of those ideas.

TS: How did that happen?

RH: I think that part of the reason I put off having "sex" was because I had internalized the idea that it was something that needed to be "saved." Not for God, or for marriage, but for the "right person"–which may have been true for me emotionally, but which also, let's face it, is a pretty strong feminine ideal. But I also felt pretty bad about waiting, because I felt like the lack of opportunities that I wanted to take up–and if I'd had the right opportunity I would have taken it–meant that I was hideous or secretly socially incompetent. Standard virgin anxiety. And I also resented the idea that if only I was more "liberated" I would have been having a lot more sex. Liberation means being able to make a free choice, not subscribing to a particular set of choices that work fine for some people, but don't work for everyone.

TS: I so relate to all of that! I laughed out loud reading about your own memories of keeping quiet when sexual banter turned to specifics so no one would know you had little sexual experience. As someone who didn't have sex until I was 23, I did the same thing right through college. I worked part time in a pharmacy and knew EVERYTHING about birth control pills, so I gave out a lot of learned advice on that.

RH: Exactly. And because I write about sex, I think a lot of people assume I'm more sexually experienced (or at least have had more partners) than I am even now. Or at least until the book comes out, anyway!

TS: What finally got to me was graduating from art school. I thought that any self-respecting artist should be having an interesting sexual life. That's what tipped me into 'getting it over with' mode. And I'm glad it did. But everyone's mileage may vary, as they say. 

RH: That's a pretty toxic stereotype all of its own, though isn't it ? That a self-respecting artist should have an exciting sex life. (Totally feel you, though.)

TS: I’m getting a t-shirt that says #vanilla on it. Want one?

RH: I'm making badges that say Fuck Prude-Shaming. And also badges that say Fuck Slut-Shaming. But the first badge really appeals to my sense of humor, because it's so incongruous.

TS: That's excellent. I wish I had thought of it! One last thing: I love the updates with some of your subjects, which really show how nuanced and changeable our sexual lives really are. (spoilers) Like Henry, who went from frustrated self-described virgin to the king of the BDSM Japanese bondage scene. Or Monica, who the book is dedicated to, who went from celibate to romantically (and exotically) coupled to celibate again. That's so important to understand, how our sexual experiences change over our lifetimes. We should be playing the long game.

RH: Exactly. And I think it flies in the face of the idea that our sexual histories are some deep-seated reflection of who we really are: of how attractive we are, how liberal we are, or of how valued we are by other people. So much of our sexual experiences are shaped by circumstance. If I'd met someone great when I was 17, I probably would have had sex then. But I didn't.

TS: Let's wrap up with that great quote in your book about getting laid being about opportunity and not attractiveness.

RH: It's from Jezebel. "Getting laid is mostly a matter of luck, opportunity and sex drive, not desirability." I think it's really well said. And quotes like that are one of the reasons I love the internet. It's such a great hive mind.

TS: Thanks for taking the time to chat, Rachel! 

RH: Thank you for the chat.

You can purchase the Sex Myth at the following outlets: 
North America: AmazonAppleBarnes and NobleBooks-a-Million, or Indiebound (for your local independent bookstore).  Australia /New Zealand: ReadingsBooktopia or Bookworld.  UK: Amazon or Book Depository.

 

Meet Bree and Sally, our 2015 Trixie Films interns!

Bree and Sally just started their internships here at Trixie Films and they're already busy researching some juicy outreach and activism projects we've got cooking for "How to Lose Your Virginity". They'll also be running our Tumblr and (hopefully) contributing to this blog. I'm super excited to have them both at Trixie Films, so please help me give them a warm welcome.

Bree

Howdy, I'm Bree. Most nights after 12 I'm scribbling self-indulgent essays. My favorite fruit is grapefruit, and I delight in anything magical realism-related. 

Since I began reading The V-Card Diaries, Trixie Films has been my dream internship. As an endlessly quirky and queer womanist human *bean, I strive for greater understanding of people who are underrepresented and how to liberate them. Working at Trixie is a cartwheel in the right direction, and I cannot wait to see what the summer has in store!
 

Sally

Hi! I’m Sally and I am a passionate advocate for gender equality and social justice. During my free time, I volunteer and intern at an organization that helps domestic violence victims and their children. 

I am proud to be a feminist because feminism gives me a voice. It empowers me. It allows me to be who I want to be, without any justification or apologies. Feminism means different things to all of us and can be very personal, which is what makes it all the more beautiful. I can go on and on about why I need feminism, but I’d like for you to ask yourself, 'why do I need feminism?' #ineedfeminismbecause

On Abstinence, Sleeping Beauty, and Victim-Blaming.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Let's do this thing, Bay Area! We now need 24 more RSVPs by Monday to make this screening happen.

Thanks to you lovely people, we got 9 more ticket reservations in just one day. We only need 24 more by Monday, so let's make it happen!

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Get your tickets by May 11 & help make this event happen! 
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heck out our new website!


We need 33 more RSVPs to make this screening happen!


Join us on
May 18 in
San Francisco:
RSVP online
by May 11 

How To Lose Your Virginity is coming to the Bay Area for one entertaining, eye-opening, and thought-provoking screening. Join Director Therese Shechter and Producer Lisa Esselstein for a Q&A and some pre- and post-screening events.

Because this is a Tugg screening, we have to sell 33 more tickets in the next 6 days for the event to happen. Reserve your ticket today* and tell all your friends in the Bay Area to join us as well (use the handy social media links below). 

It's going to be a great night for parents, teens, and all our friends–and there's sure to be great conversation (there always is!).

See you there,
Therese & Lisa & Team Trixie Films

*Like Kickstarter, your card won't be charged unless the event happens.
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San Francisco, Portland and Seattle: Join us for our West Coast screening tour this May!

Hey friends! We hope to see you at one of our West Coast one-night-stands. We need to get your RSVPs this week for each event to go forward, so if you'd like to join us, please click on the ticket links below right away!

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We can't wait to see you at our West Coast screenings!
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Watch our trailer!
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heck out our new website!

 
San Francisco Tickets 5/18
Portland Tickets 5/21
Seattle Tickets 5/26

 


It's our One-Night-Stand
West Coast Screening Tour!


Join us for these events:

May 18
San Francisco
May 21
Portland PREMIERE!
May 26
Seattle PREMIERE! 

How To Lose Your Virginity is coming to the West Coast this May, with Premieres in Portland and Seattle and a return visit to the Bay Area!

Director Therese Shechter will be there for all three screenings. She'll be joined by Producer Lisa Esselstein in San Francisco, and Editor Dina Guttmann & other special guests in Seattle. We're thrilled that community engagement pros A Fourth Act will be hosting the Portland screening. And we'll have fun pre- and post-screening events in each city.

We have to sell 67 advanced tickets to each screening to make these events happen. Reserve your tickets now–and invite your friends!

 
See you there!
Therese & Lisa & Team Trixie Films

 
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"How To Lose Your Virginity" is now 65% off for schools, organizations and libraries!

Until Dec 31, 2014, our distributor Women Make Movies is having an amazing sale on their DVDs for schools, organizations and libraries.

Just buy five of their titles (except new releases) and you get 65% off on your order. That includes How To Lose Your Virginity, as well as our previous film I Was A Teenage Feminist. Join the hundreds of institutions that have made these films part of their collections. Here are just a couple of educators using the film:

“This film is an engaging, entertaining documentary about the conflicting meanings of female virginity and sexuality in North American culture. My students loved every minute of it, and were very excited to have an opportunity to talk with Therese about the process of making the film” –Elizabeth A. Kissling, Ph.D, Professor, Eastern Washington University

“The teen Peer Leaders from the TORCH Program were grateful to have the opportunity to screen the film with Therese and discuss their reactions with her after they watched it. It was eye-opening for them to see the parallels Therese makes in the film between the historical context of virginity to some of the current cultural practices we accept as the norm. Great film!” -Kathryn Albergate, TORCH Program, The National Institute for Reproductive Health & NARAL Pro-Choice New York

Click here for more info about the titles. Bring Therese to your school or organization If you are ordering from outside the US or Canada, click here

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)

Meet Alexa and Moriah, the newest members of Team Trixie Films!

You'll be seeing a couple of new author names on this blog this summer: Alexa and Moriah, our newest interns here at Trixie Films. They're both doing great work on "How to Lose Your Virginity" behind the scenes, and they'll be popping up on the website as well. It's really exciting to have them here and I hope you check out their posts and leave lots of comments!

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Hi there! I'm Alexa. I attend Emory University in Atlanta where I double major in English and Philosophy. My passions include poetry, avant-garde film, and fighting for social justice. In my free time I like to build abstract sculptures of vaginas and listen to death metal. I am currently learning how to play the cello and (among other things) I want to be a poet. [Alexa did research for our story on The Misunderstood History of Incel]

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I'm Moriah, and I'm a queer witch attending RISD for illustration. I like to cook, make patches, and play outdated video games. Common identifiers include: Twenty-something Titan. Reluctant southerner. Postcard enthusiast.

Do you want to write for the blog? Send us a note here.

All the Lonely People: The conversation we should be having about men and virginity

If you read this blog, you know how important issues like identity and community are to us, including those of self-identified older virgins. In light of the killings at UCSB, and the torrent of misogynist hate speech 22-year-old Elliot Rodger left behind, I think there is an important conversation to be had that includes men and virginity right now. But it's not the one about the poor sex-and-love-starved virgin male (And by the way, there are many 22-year-olds who haven't become sexually active yet) Many of his rants were made on behalf of "incels" (involuntary celibates) with whom he identified but also despised. Before this weekend, most people had never heard about the incel community, but I know there are incel-identified folks in our audience as well as contributors to The V-Card Diaries. I also know the original community is a welcoming female-inclusive space far removed from the hateful rhetoric of Rodger and his ilk. (Tracy Clark-Flory did a great story focusing on that community's hate speech so I won't link to them here).

I wrote a story for Nerve as a way of framing the conversation about men, virginity and shame. I think it's important to point out that many adult virgins of all genders (who don't want to be virgins) feel some shame or frustration about their situation. It's how they deal with it and who they blame for it that makes all the difference. I'm grateful to the members of the You're Not Alone incel board for their participation and assistance in this story, and to our intern Alexa Cucopulos for her amazing research.

Here's an excerpt of the story:

“In a society where sexuality is always in our faces, if you don’t have the tools or access, or aren’t comfortable establishing intimacy it’s going to isolate you from social environments,” explains Dr. Burgess. “You don’t want to talk to your family or friends for fear of being teased or ostracized, and that’s why these incel groups have become especially valuable.”

So, why did the misogynistic groups proliferate, leaving the more introspective and female-friendly groups like You’re Not Alone, and other sites like the sub-reddits Forever Alone and Forever Alone Women, feeling like outliers?

Society still defines sex by intercourse and ejaculation, and masculinity by the tally of those sexual conquests. Men who buy into this mythology end up feeling both entitled to it, and frustrated at not getting their due. When they can’t fulfill their expected masculine roles, they blame women for not giving them what they think they deserve, instead of examining themselves and the mythology they were raised with [...]

I can only speculate that these men already had misogynistic and entitled ideas about the women they felt they were owed, and began to take advantage of the growing echo chamber and megaphone of the Internet, looking for kinship in spaces that reflected their attitudes back at them"

Please read the full story and leave your comments here.

Just The Tip: Virginity in the News with Broad City's Ilana Glazer, Purity creepiness, virginty auctioner revealed, sex myths, and campus rape stats

I've been asking people about this very thing for so many years now, and I've seen a lot of other people try it with mixed results. It's tough to get strangers to talk honestly about sex on camera, but Ilana is really sweet and funny and some of the stories are really touching. I shouldn't have been surprised given her other work, most lately Broad City, the show she created with Abbi Jacobson. It started as a web series about two young and underemployed women in NYC, and was picked up by Comedy Central, with Amy Poehler Exec Producing! If you haven't sampled it yet, do it now.

***

There's a photo series all over the internet right now by Swedish photographer David Magnusson called Purity. Everyone is freaking out about how creepy they are. So, yes, purity ball photos can sometimes look incestuous, but know why they're really creepy? They represent a culture where men own these girls' sexuality, purity balls fund CPCs, and their freak-show quality distracts us from all the sexuality bs happening in the rest of the world. Yes, I'm writing about it, so stay tuned.

PS Judy actually spotted this project last year and loved it so much she used it as part of her story "How I went from Purity Pledger to Queer Radical Feminist, thanks to two years of ‘Cotillion’ Classes." Above is the image we used (our favorite) which for some reason they're not including in the galleries online.

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Juliana at Feministing wrote a lovely piece on our film and we especially loved the fact that she watched it with her little sis! Here are two excerpts that meant a lot to us, because they spoke to our goals for the film:

I have a little sister and, like any good feminist, I spend a lot of time making sure that she knows that her worth extends beyond her beauty, her body, and her sexuality. As she is still a teenager, a big topic in her life and that of her peers lately has been virginity. Personally, I don’t think that my sexuality or “virginity” is an object to lose, or give away, and I don’t want her to think that either. That’s why I was so excited to watch How to Lose Your Virginity with her...

..In spite of the fascinating and telling historical context, the true triumph of How to Lose Your Virginity is in how relatable it is. The first time I had sex, I was surprised at how anti-climactic the whole thing was. Watching this film, it was touching to see my experience mirrored back at me."

I think we need to start a See It With Your Sister campaign, pronto!

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3adb6ae4af129bdcbd30348211f44554Over at Policy Mic, we got another shout-out in a story called 17 Lies We Need to Stop Teaching Girls About Sex, with tackles everything from virginity and hymen myths to period sex to women who watch porn (and illustrated by Ms Ilana Glazer) It warms my mythbusting heart that this exists, so I was pretty shocked at the vehemence with with people were challenging it in the comments.

One of the biggest points of contention was myth #1 "Virginity exists" and hoo boy did people have problems with that one! There were several comments to the effect of 'virginity does too exist and it's real and everyone knows what it is.' Well, everyone does NOT know what it is, and in fact the lack of any concrete definition is what's confused and terrorized women forever (the simple fact that many women don't bleed on penetration has done untold damage)

But for the record, we do think virginity exists, just not in the 'one-magic-moment-when-the-penis-goes-into-the-vagina" way. It exists in many forms, with each new experience and new partner. What doesn't and shouldn't exist is one specific virginity that's used to categorize, judge and police people (mostly women) based on their sexual choices. That's bullshit. And truth be told, that's pretty much what Policy Mic was saying as well, it's just that heading that got people so out of joint.

***

Jaclyn Friedman wrote a rather chilling but important article on a new way to select colleges– check the campus rape statistics:

Those precious few who ask at all tend to check a school's reporting numbers, assuming that a low rate of rapes reported on a campus is a good sign. But most of the time the reverse is true: every campus has a rape problem – the ones where students feel comfortable reporting are actually safer campuses.

***

Virginity auctioneer Elizabeth Raine, who I wrote about here and here, has decided to show people what she looks like. She was initially concerned about getting kicked out of her med school if people found out who she was, but now says: "I actually didn't like the anonymity. People mistake it for shame." Her top official bid is $550,000 and her auction ends May 7th.You can see more photos and learn more about her at her site.

I really enjoyed deconstructing virginity myths with Liz in our Nerve.com interview, and I hope this whole process doesn't fuck her up. I don't mean because of the sex (although I hope that goes OK as well), but because of the crude attention and News of the Weird nature of virginity auctions.

 

Found some Virginity in the News? Be a Just The Tipster and let us know! Email us, or post to twitter with @virginitymovie in your message.

 

Busting Myths About Adult Virgins

VulcanVirgin I don't think I ever posted here about another story I did for Nerve.com called Sexless in the City: The Truth About Adult Virgins. It was a chance to address a lot of the mythology about folks who haven't yet become sexually active, and all the stigma that goes with that. I was excited to include two of the women from How To Lose Your Virginity, as well as some of the men and women who contributed to the V-Card Diaries. Here's the intro:

Let's face it: if you haven't had sex by college graduation, or (the horror!) by your 30th birthday, it's hard not to feel some serious social stigma. Pop culture repeatedly brands adult virgins as religious freaks or shut-in action figure collectors. Advertisers work hard to push the message that everyone cool is getting laid as well: "Hey, loser! Buy this body spray/bustier/pickup artist book, and you'll get play like everyone you know." It's easy to believe everyone is having sex but you – and that until you start getting busy, it’s best to lock yourself in the virginity closet and hope no one finds out your secret.

But here's the actual reality: there are a lot of people not having sex. How can I be so sure? In the course of making How to Lose Your Virginity, a documentary about virginity myths, and collecting over 200 stories for The V-Card Diaries, a website compiling the personal stories of adult virgins, I've talked to a lot of people who consider themselves older virgins. It’s time to end some of the myths out there about this diverse and interesting bunch of abstainers.

Go to Nerve.com to read the rest, with profiles of several adult virgins who go against the same old stereotypes. [Excuse the section headings which I did not write quite in that way]

Does the thought of another looming Valentine's Day make you want to curl up in a little ball? Scarleteen can help.

Scarleteen Valentine for me  Scarleteen Valentine for your vibrator For a lot of people, Valentine's Day sucks. All those pictures of couples in love eating chocolate off each others' bodies while lying on a bed of  roses gets annoying really fast. When I was single, I used to host a Valentine's Day party that only single people could attend, so we could all have something fun to do that night. I'm married now, but I'm spending this Feb. 14th with my best Galentine, having dinner and watching our imaginary boyfriend Idlar Abdrazakov sing.

So what I'm saying is, don't fall for the hype...and let Scarleteen help. Readers of this blog know how much we adore this sex ed site (and so do others - they get a gagillion hits a day). Not only have they taught us a lot about sexuality, but founder Heather Corinna is one of the best things in How To Lose Your Virginity (and we're proud that her language was salty enough to be bleeped several times on our TV broadcast on Fusion!)

Now Scarleteen has launched a collection of Valentine's Day e-cards that span a huge range of relationships not usually covered by your standard hearts and flowers:

There's a big range of interactions and relationships that can all be healthy, happy and involve love -- or like, lust, or even I-don't-know-yet-what-this-is-yet-but-it-sure-is-fun-so-far -- not just one kind of relationship. Hookups or friends with benefits, open or poly relationships, friendships, sexual monogamy, love relationships without sex, exes turned friends, and even the love relationship one has with oneself can all potentially be sweet, caring, beneficial and meaningful for the people within them.

Scarleteen friends with benefits valentine  Scarleteen No Big Deal valentine

Send one or more of these to all the special people and sex toys in your life, and while you're at it, consider supporting Scarleteen in the incredibly important work they do. We here at Trixie Films support them every month, and it's so worth it. Scarleteen has been providing inclusive, informative and progressive sex education to millions of young people every year since 1998 and they've have never had any federal, state, institutional or foundational funding. They pay their bills solely with the help of independent donors.

To donate through Paypal, click here, or to do so through Network for Good, click here. Both means of donating accept credit/debit cards or Paypal funds. For a tax-deductible donation, Network for Good is the way to go.

Thanks so much for your supporting this amazing and vitally important site!

Guest Post from Belle Vierge: Why I Talk Publicly About My Virginity

When I invited Belle Vierge to do a guest post for this blog back in 2012, little did I know that she and her boyfriend would end up being in How To Lose Your Virginity, or that we be down in Miami in 2014 with the film's co-star Ellen (who's also blogged for us!) recording interviews for our TV premiere on Fusion (you can live tweet with us Saturday night using #H2LYV). Here's why Belle Vierge decided to open up about her virginity–Therese

Alicia Menedez (l) interviews Ellen (c) and BV (r) for the Alicia Menendez Show on Fusion.

I started writing Confessions of a Virgin in July 2011, after months of wanting to write about virginity. As I've mentioned before, I wrote my very first post the morning after my first date with Beau. At the time of writing my inaugural post, I had never:

  • had a boyfriend
  • been in love
  • been naked with a man
  • seen a man naked
  • performed fellatio
  • enjoyed cunnilingus or received it sober
  • used a vibrator
  • had skype sex

I wasn't just a virgin--I was downright virginal, and I felt very alone in my sexual inexperience, even if it was by choice.

About this time last year, I took my blog offline to refocus my writing. When I started blogging again, I had rebranded as Finding My Virginity. The change in title reflected both what I had learned in my first year and a half of blogging and how I had changed during that time.

I thought about these changes a few weeks ago when the Fusion Network asked me to be on two of their shows to talk about the documentary How to Lose Your Virginity. Both Alicia Menendez and Mariana Van Zeller wanted to know the same thing from me.

Why?

Not "Why are you saving coitus for marriage?" but instead, "Why did you agree to talk so candidly about virginity for this documentary?" I don't remember what I said on-camera, which required thinking on my feet and replying with only a few seconds to prepare a response.

 But the reason I let Therese interview me for her documentary is threefold.
  1. I'm not ashamed of the sexual choices I've made
  2. I want other virgins to know they're not alone
  3. I am shamelessly ambitious about my writing

Those first two reasons are why I started blogging. Why I started opening up about my life as a virgin. Why I continue to blog about virginity even though I've discovered the joys of oral sex and mutual masturbation and sex toys.

Everything I blog, or tweet, or say on TV, I do not just for who I am today, but for who I was in the past.  The teenage kissing virgin who was slut-shamed... The religious college student who thought masturbation was a sin... The closeted bisexual who discovered herself in France. I might not be the same woman that I used to be, but I remember what it felt like being her. I write candidly for that woman, and for anyone like her, women who just need a friendly feminist friend.

I hope you'll tune in to Fusion this Saturday to watch Documental. Besides getting to see the kickass documentary How to Lose Your Virginity, you'll also discover my REAL name and some big life changes that won't be on the blog for a few months.

Our US TV premiere is this Saturday on Fusion!

Have you heard? How To Lose Your Virginity will have its US television premiere on Fusion, the hot new cable channel from ABC and Univision that targets millennials. Here's all the info you need to know:

TV Premiere & Live Tweet!

Saturday, Feb. 8th at 8pm EST Team Trixie will be live tweeting the premiere! Join the conversation about sex, virginity myths and culture wars by following @virginitymovie and hashtag #H2LYV. Join us!

Encores

Saturday, Feb. 8th at 11pm EST (8pm on the west coast) Sunday, Feb. 9th at Noon EST

Find out if your cable provider carries Fusion: Click here (and then click the blue box in the upper right)

Documental.Set.Virginity

The film is part of Fusion's nonfiction film series, DocuMental: The film will be shown in their entirety, but in between segments, journalist and host Mariana Van Zeller interviewed us about the issues in the film, and what's happened since the cameras stopped rolling. We had an amazing time talking to Mariana, seating almost behind the camera on the far left. That's director Therese in the blue, and from the film, Ellen in the black, and Brita on the right.

Don't get Fusion but want to see the film?

Attend a live screening: Feb 25th in NYC, Feb 11th in Atlanta and more...

Buy the film from Women Make Movies for schools and organizations right now.

Join our mailing list and we'll let you know as soon as it's on home DVD and streaming!

Bring the film and director Therese Shechter to your town

A great opportunity for young writers interested in sexual health & reproductive rights!

RH Reality Check is one of our favorite sites for news and commentary about reproductive rights, sexual health, and politics around women's bodies. We were particularly thrilled to do a Round Table with Sarah Seltzer and Melissa Tapper Goldman earlier this year, and a Realcast with Amanda Marcotte. If you fit the criteria for this opportunity (and we know some great V-Card Diaries writers who do!) please check this out:

RH Reality Check is seeking a few great writers age 15-20 to join us for the spring semester of our Young Writers Program. Writers receive hands-on editing and mentoring, and they are paid for their published pieces. Diverse candidates enthusiastically welcomed with jazz hands. Please note the application deadline is Friday, January 17. Only full applications received to youngwritersapply@rhrealitycheck.org by Friday, January 17 will be considered.

Go to their website for more information, and good luck!