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Virgin/Whore

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.

V-Card Diaries: Taj "India is so conservative they would kill u if they come to know u had sex before marriage"

Writing from: India

Age: Early 20s

How I define virginity: losing yourself to some both emotionally and physically

i am a girl from india where virginity is a big deal. the place is so conservative that they would even kill u if they come to know u had sex before marriage

i had no idea of sex during my school days only just girls talk. guys try to approach girls with the idea of sex sooner or later. so i decided to choose when i should lose it. entering into college i met a guy whom i fell for. both were in a relationship sooner. he was also a virgin.  we kissed, touched and we got close day by day..we shared our thoughts.and i decided that losing it with him would be good.it happened when i was 18

that time both were nervous but it  went well . and we used condoms. there was nothing much the first time except little pain. now after 2 years its good and still with the same guy!! he is such a nice guy to b with..

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: Does just the tip count as sex?

I was hooking up with a guy and we were both drunk. He had whiskey dick so he wasn't fully hard so when we tried to have sex it wasn't working... But I'm pretty sure the tip went in a little... Possibly even up to half way... But I'm thinking it was more just the tip of anything.... Does that count as sex? I thought it didn't... But since I can't fully remember what really happened it worries me. I don't want to have to count it. But I'm not sure if it really does or not. Thanks. –P

Hi P and thanks for writing! I'm reading two issues here so let's start with the first one. Some people ask a 'does this count' question because they want to know if they've lost their virginity. Others want to know how to talk about what happened with a particular person. I'm not sure which you're asking about, but I've answered a similar question before, so I'm going to incorporate part of what I wrote then.

Firstly, based on my own encounters with a 'whiskey dick,' it doesn't usually go up anywhere. But your question has more to do with what 'counts' as sex, and this kind of question is always tough to answer because different people have very different ideas about that. Is it a penis in a vagina? Is it getting naked with someone? Is it thinking impure thoughts? Is it masturbation? Based on definitions of virginity that people have sent us, sex means very different things to different people. 

The question I want to ask you is why is it important to know whether you’re you've had sex or not? Is someone making you feel bad about having (or not having) sex? 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.)

You've probably been told different things about what having sex might mean. Please know that it doesn't make anyone clean or dirty, pure or used, hot or not. So maybe you had a penis tip inside you, or maybe you didn't, and if you feel it doesn't count as sex...it doesn't. There's actually no rule book, and furthermore it's nobody's business but your own. Personally, I don’t believe there’s one specific magic sex moment that suddenly changes us. It's just part of a long series of moments, some good, and maybe some we wish hadn't happened.

Which brings me to the other issue I want to mention (putting on my concerned Aunt Trixie hat) which is the fact that you and your partner were so drunk you're having trouble remembering what happened. That means you were probably too drunk to give each other proper consent for what you ended up doing, too drunk to think about safe sex of any kind, and too drunk to remember anything else that might have happened, sexual or not. Believe me, I've been there, and we both know that it makes any situation riskier, no matter what you're doing.

I hope this helps put things into a bit of perspective, and please write back if you have any follow-up questions! 

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

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

'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.

 

Just The Tip: Teaching Sex Ed to 4-yr-olds, Duggar grossness, Your Number, V-Myths and more...

Our weekly collection of interesting links from around the internets. Click on the titles to link. (Or, why wait? Get up-to-the minute news on our Facebook page)

Bill Nye explains The Sex

Not super informative, but how can you resist? Bill Nye's at the Museum of Sex in New York to explain the evolutionary purpose of sex. Neil deGrasse Tyson hosts STARTALK (MONDAYS 11/10c on NatGeo).


Jaclyn Friedman on Caitlyn Jenner and the complicated definitions of womanhood:

"Trans people are not magical gender warriors. We may politicize their bodies, but they are not obligated to play along. As with all of us, some may decide to become activists, but most won’t, and either way, none of them will exclusively do the most politically expedient thing every time they’re faced with a choice. Because they’re human. They don’t owe the world a revolution, or even an explanation. And they’re certainly not obligated to live up to the arbitrary standards of one random cis woman."


Inside the Duggars' Dark World

Young women are not only robbed of any sexual agency, this culture also teaches that "Women are objects, controlled and exchanged by men to create and affirm the men’s identities...Women. Are. Not. People." And it has implications for all of us. An essay by one of our fave virginity geeks, Jaime Hough.


I was interviewed for this piece (along with our How To Lose Your Virginity expert Hanne Blank) about busting virginity myths. Loved contributing thoughts along with lots of screen grabs from the film:

"Male virginity wasn't even discussed as a thing until the 20th century," Therese Shechter, creator of the documentary How to Lose Your Virginity, told Mic. "Whether a man was sexual or not had little bearing on his character or value."
"The concept of virginity is all too often tied to how we talk about women's morality and sexual choices," Shechter said. "I think people should define virginity however they want, or dismiss the concept it altogether if it's not useful to them."

Is You Sexual History As Impressive As You Think?

In other words, am I a slut or a loser? So lemme just go get a pencil. But first...What exactly does 'slept with' mean? And if our definitions are different based on which parts touched other parts, then what exactly are we comparing and tallying? And what constitutes a lot? I know, I know...this is just a dumb internet game, but can we all agree 'the number' makes no sense? Instead, why not ponder the first milestone of your sexual history with our own quiz.


In the Netherlands, sex education starts in Kindergarten

We North Americans do such a lousy job of teaching our young about sexuality. The Dutch are miles ahead of us:

“People often think we are starting right away to talk about sexual intercourse [with kindergartners],” van der Vlugt says. “Sexuality is so much more than that. It’s also about self image, developing your own identity, gender roles, and it’s about learning to express yourself, your wishes and your boundaries.”

That means the kindergartners are also learning how to communicate when they don’t want to be touched. The goal is that by age 11, students are comfortable enough to navigate pointed discussions about reproduction, safe sex, and sexual abuse.

 

Be a VirginSpotter! Got a story you think we should talk about? Contact us or tweet at us here.

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.

Watch the video for the new poem "Thank God I'm A Virgin"

From the upcoming album, "All Prodigal Daughters and Sons" "Thank God I'm a Virgin" is an exploration of the logical consequences of a Christian purity culture that places undue emphasis on the status of one's virginity, especially female virginity, over against one's character and heart.

Our twitter friend Emily Joy just shared her powerful new poem with us, and we want to share it with you right away. We often talk about how the choice of waiting until marriage to have sex is a very valid one, but should never be made based on shaming, double standards, or bad science threats of disease and death. The poem from the upcoming album, "All Prodigal Daughters and Sons" and here's how she describes it:

"Thank God I'm a Virgin" is an exploration of the logical consequences of a Christian purity culture that places undue emphasis on the status of one's virginity, especially female virginity, over against one's character and heart. It seeks to correct and indict those who would set themselves up as judge of who is in and who is out of the kingdom and community of God on the basis of their sexuality.

Lyrics:

Well thank God I’m a virgin!
Or he probably wouldn’t want me.
I thought as I listened silently
While he told me
That he just couldn’t be with someone
Who had been with someone else,
Which is like 90% of adults by the age of 25,
So your already limited pool is shrinking very quickly,
But don’t let me discourage you.
Carry on.
Tell me how you saved yourself.
How you saved up enough points with God
To buy an unspoiled bride
And you will not settle for less.
Tell me about her white dress,
How it will “mean something.”
Tell me what it means.
Tell me what it’s like to have nothing you regret,
To have made it through life unscathed
By either bliss or pain.
What does that feel like?
Is it very lonely?
Or does it just feel safe,
Like keeping your cocoon heart all wrapped up and tucked away
Hoping to God someday it becomes a butterfly
Before it dies from the frost. 
I hope whoever she is,
She meets all your expectations.
I hope enough of her heart is intact
For you to feel like the wait was worth it.
I hope she never knows you wouldn’t have wanted her
If she wasn’t a virgin.
Cause everybody knows a girl is only as valuable
As the men who haven’t touched her.
Only as desirable as the experiences she hasn’t had.
But baby, when you get to her,
She better know what to do in bed.
She better satisfy your wildest pornographic fantasies,
Know all the right ways to move
Body parts she has never had the chance to use.
Cause God would never fail you, right?
You waited on his timing, now he owes you.
Anything less is not the bill of goods they sold you.
So I hope it works out for you.
I really do.
But if it doesn’t, just remember what I told you.
That a heart cannot be divided into pieces
And given away till there is nothing left.
That the greatest gift you can give
Has nothing to do with your flesh.
That love is really just grace.
That a lifetime of avoidance
Does not prepare one for a lifetime of joy and pain.
That “virgin” is not a sexual preference,
Nor is it your birthright.
Baby, your insecurity is showing.
She chose you.
What more do you want?

Professor live-tweets her son's abstinence-only sex ed class

We cannot imagine a more delightful combination of words! This is a must read if you still aren't clear about what goes on in these hideous classes that your tax dollars fund. And here's her prose version for more detail. 

Nobody puts Baby in a corner...or oppresses her with patriarchal paradigms of female sexuality

We missed this video when it came out but thought it was just too tasty not to share it with you all. The Onion's film critic looks back at Dirty Dancing and along with the usual plot points we get these gems, worthy of any Introduction To Human Sexuality and Gender Studies curriculum:

It smashed not only box office records but also the mistaken assumption that adolescent girls shouldn't wait until some arbitrarily-mandated age to explore themselves sexually.

Sexuality is not some light switch that magically turns on when kids reach eighteen.

The film is commendable for modeling to girls that as long as they find a partner who's safe and respectful like Johnny, their sexual awakening can begin whenever they are ready.

The fact that these lines are uttered by a dude who looks like someone's dad makes it extra delightful, and just a little bit creepy. Nobody puts Baby in a corner...or oppresses her with patriarchal paradigms of female sexuality.

h/t to Documentary Doctor Fernanda for sending it our way.

Note: Headline corrected because I can't believe we messed up one of the greatest quotes in cinematic history.

Ever considered a one-night stand to get it over with, virginity-wise? "Keeping It Casual" explores the possibilities

"Keep It Casual" is part of a series of short narrative films by Michael Sasso called Swipe Click Bang which looks at people who use hookup apps like Tinder, and the one-night stands that follow. We were especially intrigued by 'Keep It Casual' because it explores a scenario that several of our V-Card Diaries contributors have contemplated or actually done: Setting up a one night stand to 'get it over-with' sex-wise.

I asked the Michael and his co-producer Michael Vitale what interested them about this scenario and how it influenced their approach. Vitale, who wrote the script had this to say:

"I've always been fascinated with the weight we as a culture put on losing one's virginity, so when we came up with the series Swipe Click Bang, I knew we had a good opportunity to explore it here. I also knew I wanted the person losing their virginity to be a woman.

As far as television and film is concerned, we're very used to the male virgin archetype: the bumbling nerd who can't get out of his own way, too awkward for anyone to find him sexy until someone does, and then, upon doing the deed, he's freed of an unsavory virgin label.

The female virgin is much more interesting. For one, we don't really see them in film outside Christian stereotypes or high school melodramas, but beyond that, there's also, fair or not, a mystery surrounding them, at least from a male perspective.

With Keep it Casual, we wanted to play with that mystery, which is why we chose to never explain Rachel's reasoning for not having had sex before using a dating app to do so. We also purposely cast someone attractive (Elisabeth Hower) to further challenge the audience's expectations of who a virgin is or should be.

But more than just the female virgin stereotype, this episode tries to explore how men deal with them. This wasn't obvious at first, but as the story evolved, we realized much of the cultural importance associated with virginity is determined by men. That's not to say one's virginity isn't or can't be important, but there's a double-standard in the expectations men put on women and their sexuality. To many of us, women should be "pure" yet experienced, a nearly impossible standard to meet.

In the episode, we tried to use Nick (the male character) to capture this absurdity, especially in how he responds to Rachel's admission of having never had sex. Beyond being dumbfounded, he takes an almost paternal stance in the way he tries to protect her and the preciousness of her virginity. His almost hero-like syndrome makes it all the more satisfying when Rachel challenges him to recall the importance of his first time and he can't.

And yet, beyond the layers we tried to squeeze into it, Keep it Casual is ultimately a story about someone trying to get what they want and not feeling like they have to explain themselves for it, something I think we can all relate to."

V-Card Diaries: Aura "I asked my Indian mother her opinion on pre-marital sex, and she told me she thought it should be made compulsory"

Today we're highlighting Aura from India, currently living in the north of England, whose mother explained the importance of pre-marital sex with the help of a shoe analogy. 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 20-year-old Indian girl, currently attending University in north of England.

How I define virginity:

For me, a person loses his/her virginity when he/she has sex for the first time. What one considers as one's first, proper first time depends on him/her, and only he/she has the right to decide what it means to him/her and when he/she will lose it. I consider the day I had penetrative vaginal sex with a man for the first time as the day I lost mine.

People tend to think of Indians as quite narrow-minded and backward. What they do not understand is that it is a big country and there are many different kinds of people and cultures in it. In some areas, virginity is a huge deal, so much so that people actually use the blood stained sheet used on the wedding night to prove to neighbours the virtues of their wives or daughters. In some areas, nobody really talks about it - because it is very personal, but girls are expected to be virgins until they get married. In most areas, nobody cares, and it is a girl's personal choice - unless of course she is married and cheating on her husband/wife. The region where I am from (Bengal) falls largely into the last category. Nobody talks about your sexuality, since its private, personal and well... just very weird for family members to discuss your sex life over coffee

But my mom is my best friend, and I talk to her about everything. In my teens, I asked her for her opinion on pre-marital sex, and I was quite shocked when she told me she thought it should be made compulsory before a wedding, to make sure two people are sexually compatible! Furthermore, she said that men are like clothes. When you walk into a store, you like a few, try some on, and then look at other factors such as prices, colours, and if you are actually going to be wearing them. Similarly, you like men, date some of them, sleep with some, and then decide based on everything which one of them (if any) is right for you. Of course, she said unlike clothes, you only buy (marry) one at a time, and if you have major problems, you return (divorce) him and pick another one. I am so happy my father was perfect for her and she didn't need to 'return' him.

Here's my story:

Such a happy day it was - to finally get rid of the thing that made all men patronise me and see me as some sort of a prize. I hated the fact that my 'first' man would feel a sick chauvinistic kind of triumph, and I didn't want any man to have that pleasure, that satisfaction of knowing that he had somehow 'taken' my virginity, innocence, and what not. So, when I met a man who was extremely good looking and sexy, and also seemed like a nice, sensible person, I went home with him (to London), had sex with him, took the train back home the next morning, and was finally relieved of that sexist burden. The best part is, he doesn't know my full name, or where I live, and I will probably never see him again. Problem solved–lost virginity, but didn't give any subsequent boyfriend the satisfaction of being my first.

V-Card Diaries: Violet "I know that I will probably be a virgin forever. I've never even kissed a guy."

Today we're highlighting Violet who internalized a lot of shame about female sexuality, and it's made her feel she'll never have a relationship with a man. 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 30-year-old virgin who lives in Oklahoma.

How I define virginity:

Participating in a consensual sexual act with another person.

Here's my story:

I always knew as a child that I would have a difficult time ever finding a boyfriend. I would look in the mirror and try to convince myself that I was decent looking, but no boys paid attention to me unless to insult me by calling me masculine or ugly. In my teens, I exaggerated my flaws (& still do) to the point where I couldn't even imagine someone getting close to me. Today, as I age, and become even more aware of my worthlessness in mens' eyes, I know that I will probably be a virgin forever. I've never even kissed a guy. Once, a guy tried kissing me, but I couldn't relax, so I walked away.

A lot of my issues have to do with the shame my mother taught me about female sexuality. Virgins were worth something while non-virgins were whores. This rhetoric was repeated by other family members too. I heard this all from a young age, probably starting at 5 or 6. For me, I thought I wouldn't have any worth to a man if I lost my virginity because I had nothing else to offer.

Another problem I have is that I can't filter out the negative comments I hear men say about women in general and about their former gfs/wives. How can they date someone and say they were in love, but say such mean statements about the woman's appearance and even insult her sexuality and genitals? I think I've heard too much now to ever really trust a man at all.

At 30, no one wants to have patience with an inexperienced person. Even if I could overcome the issues regarding the shame I was taught and work on improving my self-image, it's still unlikely that I could find a good man. I don't sit at home crying about it, but there is a deep frustration that I will probably never be able to love another person. I'm damaged goods.

Editor note: Many women and men feel the way Violet does, and we want to recommend spending a bit of time at You're Not Alone, a really wonderful community of adults who haven't been able to form intimate relationships. They offer support and advice on changing that situation.

V-Card Diaries: Stephanie "Abstinence-only sex ed made me feel worthless and used up, but when I initiated sex with my (now) husband, I felt like I had claimed my sexuality."

*Trigger warning for sexual assault* Today we're highlighting Stephanie in upstate New York, who never felt like she'd had a chance to have a virginity. 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:

26, Female, Married, Upstate NY

How I define virginity:

The church I went to defined it as any sexual contact. I don't like the term. I prefer sexual awakening, more spiritual than physical.

Here's my story:

I was digitally penetrated as a very young child and raped at age 13. I felt like I never had a virginity. The church and abstinence-only sex ed. made me feel worthless and used up. I never had a chance. I grudgingly gave into sex at 16 with a boyfriend, but it wasn't until a few years later when I initiated sex with my best friend (now husband) that I felt like I had claimed my sexuality.

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)

"Jane The Virgin" is coming this Fall

[Update: The show premieres Oct 13th, 2014 on the CW]

The new comedy series Jane The Virgin, based on a Venezuelan telenovela  Juana la Virgen, is debuting on the CW. I've never seen the orginal, but from the clips on the site, it seems to be the story of a teenage girl who is accidentally artificially inseminated, and hilarity and slut-shaming ensue.

The vibe is very Ugly Betty, another telenovela remake that I really liked*, so that's promising. Bonus points for the clip above, in which they seem to be making fun of the offensive abstinence parlor games that equate dirty pieces of tape, chewed up gum and dirty toothbrushes with a young lady's destroyed virtue (even though, weirdly, the actress who plays the grandmother does not seem to be in on the joke). Here's hoping they bust a bunch of virginity myths and it's not all just one long virgin/whore joke.

h/t to virginspotter Myra Batchelder

*What's the amazing America Ferrara up to these days? I loved her in one of my favorite films Real Women Have Curves, which has hilarious and awesome virginity loss and body image story lines.

V-Card Diaries: Paola "I want to enjoy my sexual life without having to worry about being labeled a slut, bitch, whore or thirsty."

Today we're highlighting Paola in the US who does not want to be a virgin anymore. 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 17-year-old female in the US.

How I define virginity:

I define virginity as a three element process in which your sexual life is started:

1-Physical

   Where your body is being adjusted to the physical feelings of having any kind of sexual contact with another human. Most societies value this physical quality as the only element to being a virgin, especially the act of breaking the hymen.

2-Mental

   Mental virginity deals with the view of innocence. You may think you are not innocent if you already lost your physical virginity, but there is still mental virginity. It consists of being at the peak of innocence because of the presence of love...that desire to be connected with the one we love will make our innocence reach its peak in a sexual encounter, first one or not.

3- Moral

   The morals that a human is taught often do define virginity. But whether you're Christian, married, single, a millionaire, famous, or even the best person in the world, we all have sexual need. Our moral virginity is lost when we understand this: we have sexual needs, we need to satisfy them, and it  is a natural process that will never change. Society has tried to change our nature as humans by defining virginity, promoting innocence towards sexual topics, and pressuring women to satisfy this need.

Here's my story:

I am a "virgin." I don't want to be a virgin anymore. I want to enjoy the physical pleasure of sex. I want to find that special person that will make my innocence peak to its maximum. I want to enjoy my sexual life without having to worry about being labeled a "slut," "bitch," "whore," "thirsty," etc.

V-Card Diaries: Distracted Dragon "I'm offended by responses to my vaginismus, when coupled with my “virginity” and queerness."

Today we're highlighting Distracted Dragon in New York, NY, writes that our society slut shames and virgin shames at the same time, speaking out of both sides of our mouth. If you want to tell your story, go to our submission form. You can find all our V-Card Diaries here.

A little about yourself:

25. Queer cisgendered woman. New York, NY

How I define virginity:

I dislike "virginity" and "losing one's virginity" as terms because they are vague and carry negative, gendered connotations. I prefer "making one's sexual debut" over "losing one's virginity" because you aren't losing anything when you have sex, you are gaining an experience, be it a wonderful experience, a terrible experience, or a ridiculous experience. I feel what equates sex, and thus, virginity, is self-determined. Healthy communication between partners should not begin and end at “I’m a virgin”, but should be a discussion of what you have/have not done, what you do/do not want to do with another person.

Here's my story:

I've never had sex because the opportunity has yet to present itself. I have no qualms about engaging in sex, should I find a mutually interested, respectful partner. I resent that our society both condemns sexual debut that occurs “too young,” but also “too old.” God forbid any teenager engage in consensual sex but as soon as you’ve hit 18 and graduated from high school, genital exploration between you and another (preferably heterosexual) partner must ensue, pronto. We slut shame and virgin shame at the same time, speaking out of both sides of our mouth.

I discovered, via my first attempt at a pelvic exam at age 21, that I have primary vaginismus, an involuntary muscle contraction of the pelvic muscles that makes penetration painful. I'm working with dilators and Kegel exercises to treat this but I've been frustrated and offended by responses to my vaginismus, when coupled with my “virginity” and queerness.

I have been made to feel, by self-help sites, online forums, and members of the medical profession:

a) I shouldn't still be a virgin at 25. That in and of itself is indicative of "emotional trauma." I acknowledge emotional and sexual trauma can be a factor in vaginismus but it isn’t always. I have not avoided sex because of my vaginismus, although it will be a discussion to have with future sex partners.

b) Women who desire sex with women don’t have vaginismus. Because apparently painful penetration is only supposed to happen to heterosexual women? I shouldn’t know penetration hurts if my vagina has never made intimate acquaintance with a penis? Right, because the inability to accommodate a speculum or my ob/gyn’s fingers is not indicative of a problem. I don’t need penetration to have sex and even if I did I don’t need a penis for penetration. But I do need regular health exams, so can we please get past narrow views on sexual mechanics and how they relate to my preferences?

As a culture, we need to acknowledge that there are a range of behaviors that constitute sex for a range of sexual identities just as there are a range of medical problems that we encounter relating to our sexuality. Our nerve endings and our attractions do not line up in pre-scripted ways. Sex is a fascinating topic because it is so complex – our desires, our bodies, our motivations, and our practices compel myriad conversations, personally and on a national level. Sexuality will play a part in our lives, whether or not we engage in sex itself, and it is part of our human story. The sharing of stories is the transmission of culture, so let’s talk about sex, baby.