First Person: Lena “After a few weeks stewing over Catholic guilt, I saw him again. We now meet up most weeks.”

Our latest First Person comes from Lena, am 18 year old woman from London, England, who got over her Catholic guilt to maintain a casual, sexual relationship . If you want to tell your story, go to our submission form. We’d love to run it in this blog.

Tell us about yourself:  

I’m an 18-year-old university student from London, England.

How do you define virginity?

The first act of vaginal intercourse involving a penis. For some reason, I don’t consider oral sex to be sex (although I actually didn’t partake until after I’d lost my virginity anyway).

Tell us your story:

In my second week of university, I went clubbing with some friends, but I’d accidentally left my ID at home. I farewelled them and went to a bar with some other friends, who were more willing to just go to places I could actually get into. Anyway, we were in this dark, sleazy bar and I was buying a mojito, and all of a sudden I couldn’t see my friends. Then a guy sidled up to me - his name was Alex. I made out with him for most of the night after that, and then he offered to take me back to his place, but I refused. I got his number though.

A couple of days later, he texted me. I was sick of being a virgin, so I agreed to go to his house. I knew what “fooling around” entailed, and he seemed exceptionally keen. So was I. It hurt a bit, but it lasted for a long time and he had endless fun teaching me all sorts of positions. Despite the initial pain and slight ache (I later described intercourse as ”having your insides assaulted with a blunt instrument”), I enjoyed it. It wasn’t special, but it was enjoyable, and I think that was what counted.

After a few weeks stewing over my Catholic guilt, I saw him again. We now meet up most weeks. While occasionally I grapple with the realities of such a casual relationship, I don’t mind, and for the most part it is enjoyable experimentation.

He didn’t tell me his age until afterwards though. He’ll be 26 in July. That did make me feel slightly dirty.

First Person: Bethany “I did what was expected of a girl losing her virginity, I bought matching underwear”

Our latest First Person comes from Bethany in Michigan, who thinks virginity signifies the power that society has over women and their bodies. If you want to tell your story, go to our submission form. We’d love to run it in this blog.

Tell us about yourself:

I am 24 years old, and I live in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

How do you define virginity?  

I went to a school with a very high teen pregnancy rate in Wyoming, MI. I promised myself that I would not lose my virginity before I left high school because I was scared SHITLESS of becoming pregnant and ending up like the other girls in my class: teen moms with babies and, in my petty mind, no future.  So, in a sense, as a younger and not-so-feminist version of me, I saw my virginity as something to hold on to because it would get in the way of my success, thus defining my womanhood through this single sexual act.  I now see that I used it as a way to distinguish myself from an identity I longed to escape.  Now I see that virginity=power, and, sadly, I think it signifies the power that society has over women and their bodies.

Tell us your story:

I was in a monogamous relationship with my high school sweetheart; let’s call him “Chad”.  We had fooled around during our two year tryst, but no serious business and no sex.  The minute I packed up for college, I had sex, sex, sex on the brain and I knew it was on his
too.  Although we never made an official plan, we both knew we were going to lose our virginities when he came up during my first week of school for a big football game, and our first time without “adult” supervision.

We, being the classiest of couples, booked a hotel room in a town near my college.  Before he arrived, I did what was expected of a girl losing her virginity: bought matching underwear (which, by the way, was going the extra mile because I wore sports bras from age 11 to age 17).  I dressed in my cutest outfit, put on more make-up than I had ever had, and packed an overnight bag with my sexiest sleep shorts and tank top (I still don’t wear negligees…).  On the 20 minute drive to the hotel, my mind raced with expectations and fears, with the pervasive thought of “FUCK, FUCK, FUCK, I should have grabbed condoms from the health center before I left”.

We arrived at the hotel, paid up front (with my credit card, by the way) and proceeded upstairs. We entered into the stale-smelling room with the yellowed ceiling and the green-flowed bedspread that make all cringe.  We looked at each other, shrugged, and proceeded to make out.  He was the first person I had ever undressed in front of and, to be honest, neither one of us had a fucking clue what we were doing.  But, at one point, probably before the pants came off, I said, “Dude, we need to stop and get condoms” and Chad’s simple response was to grab a box of Trojans from his duffle and chuckle as he said, “I came prepared”.  We finally figured out how to put it on him and when he slid into me, I laughed because I didn’t know what else to do.

"You’re not going to ‘dry up’ if you spend your 20s focusing getting a better idea of what you want out of life."

From time to time, we repost comments that we really love and want to share with all our readers. Long-time contributor MHiggo gave this response to Renee who wrote the First Person “If you wait too long, you’ll be too tall to ride, and life’s tickets will run out”

I can empathize with much of this post. It’s difficult when life is made to seem like one big party and you don’t feel invited — and it must be doubly so living in “Sin City.” Virgins are seen as freaks, and it must take some doing to be considered a freak in Las Vegas.

Telling you to keep your chin up and believe in yourself would just sound hollow and patronizing, but I would ask why you are so convinced your lack of male companionship now means you’ll always be so. A person’s 20s tend to be among the most dramatic years of change, and I’d wager that anyone intelligent and capable enough to graduate from college at 18 has it within them to adapt and thrive among those changes.

That line about “the carnival doesn’t stay in town forever” sounds an awful lot like the old Japanese saying comparing women and Christmas cake–after the 25th, no one wants either. It’s just so, so wrong. You’re not going to “dry up” if you spend your 20s focusing on being a better you and getting a better idea of what you want out of life instead of using it before you lose it. If anything, that time spent bettering yourself will make you more attractive to the kinds of people you want to attract. Like you said, life is what you make of it.

First Person: AJ “I’m shy because of the negative reinforcement from mom about taboo topics.”

Our latest First Person comes from AJ in India, a shy man who fears a sexual relationship due to negative reinforcements from his mother. If you want to tell your story, go to our submission form. We’d love to run it in this blog.

Tell us about yourself:  

I turn 29 in July. I work in the S/W industry writing programs,tools and APIs for computers, networking devices etc. I have been a shy kid since my teens, and often keep to myself. Part of the reason for shyness is because of the negative reinforcement from mom about taboo topics, words etc..

How do you define virginity?  

Never having had sexual intercourse with a woman.

Tell us your story:

Naturally, I spent time in libraries reading as voraciously as I could (favorites being jokes/humour/philosophy etc..). Then I moved out of home for college, but ended up in a course with a male:female ratio of 11:1. So obviously, the library became the refuge as I escaped all the competition and developed a defensive superiority complex. It’s been 7 years since then, and I’ve been in 3/4 relationships, but it’s been awkward due to lack of experience. But I’ve been kissed and reached second base.

First Person: HOB “Virginity seemed so abstract to me until college turned it into a top priority”

Our latest First Person comes from HOB in New Hampshire, who didn’t think about sex until coming face-to-face with the social scene in college. If you want to tell your story, go to our submission form. We’d love to run it in this blog.

Tell us about yourself:  

I am a 18 year old college student in New Hampshire.

How do you define virginity?

It’s really hard to define virginity because everyone views it in different ways. My view would be that losing your virginity is having vaginal intercourse, but I have heard virginity defined in many ways (anal and oral).

Tell us your story

It seems that after 18 years, I am still a virgin as a freshman in college. Before college, I had not had much education about virginity, sex, etc, To educate myself, I looked up certain terms that I heard people refer to, and eventually I did look up porn, but sex seemed so out there for a senior in high school. So, until I made it until college, sex did not really mean anything and losing virginity seemed to
be on the back burner of my mind.

This all changed as soon as I went to college. I was thrown into the drinking, social scene culture of college where guys and girls could
casually have sex and be totally fine with it. Of course, alcohol reinforced this culture. What was I going to do as a virgin trying to navigate through this culture where being a freshman is one of the most desirable things for guys to prey on?

Something like virginity that seemed so abstract to me before college turned into a top priority for me. I heard stories about how even the most unsociable people were “getting it in” as I remained a complete “prude.” I wanted to lose my virginity as I slowly became more and more horny, but I did not want to partake in the drinking culture that resulted in possible sexual assault or health complications due to alcohol (something my mother also advocated against).

I was close to losing it with a guy who seemed a little happier than he usually was, but nothing came out of it. I worry about the day when I do choose to lose the big V. What happens if the guy is a pro with sex and I am the noob? What happens if it is not what I expected? Will it ever happen? Until it happens, the questions have yet to happen but I hope that the big V will be taken before I become the prude/noob I fear that I might become.

First Person: Renee “If you wait too long, you’ll be too tall to ride, and life’s tickets will run out”

Our latest First Person comes from Renee from Las Vegas, worries that if she can’t get a guy while she’s young, what will happen when she’s older. If you want to tell your story, go to our submission form. We’d love to run it in this blog.

Tell us about yourself:  

I will be 21 in a few days. I am currently living in Las Vegas, but originally from California.

How do you define virginity?

Never acting in a more platonic way to a person of sexual interest. Having never kissed someone, I believe there are several types of virginity.

Tell us your story:

I will be 21 in less than a week and I am still a virgin. I have never even held hands with a guy. I was always the different one in school, and I’ve done most of my life backwards. I was the ugly duckling in high school, and I haven’t grown into the “swan”. I graduated high school at 16, and college at 18. At that point I didn’t put pressure on myself to get a boyfriend; I naively thought that it would just happen.

After college I moved to Paris, also known as “the city of love”, for everyone but me. Even abroad, there wasn’t a single person I was interested in. I moved around some more and finally ended up in Vegas, the single most disgusting city in the world (seriously, the locals here are like characters from a Rob Zombie film). Alas, I am eager to lose my virginity as 21 is really pushing it, but the problem is I have no guys who are interested. I am on several online dating sites, and no bites.

I keep myself up, and I’m not the worst thing out there, but it’s very competitive. I’m also very tall and severe looking so that intimidates guys a lot. Being a virgin sucks simply for the fact that having sex is the most primal and normal of basic humans needs. To be a female and not be able to attract a guy for sex is really saying a lot. If I can’t get a guy now while I am young and fertile, how am I going to get a guy when I’m older?

I think the media puts so much pressure on people about sex, because it’s everywhere. Every ad has a sexual inneundo. Sex sells, especially in Vegas, and not being able to participate is like being deprived of water simply because the cap is still sealed. I’ve recently begun to think about losing it to a random guy in a bar to get it over with. I honestly don’t think I’ll have a boyfriend so there’s no point in waiting for something that is never going to happen.

Being a virgin in today’s society is more of a burden then a “gift”, and the idea of being pure is a novelty that has run dry. How can someone be pure in this world when sex is all around us even if it’s not happening to us? I don’t think people should wait for that “special someone”, because life is not a fairy tale, it is what you make of it. It’s a experience that everyone should get the pleasure of trying, and to have to resort to uncomfortable measures as going to a bar is definitely a low point. Losing it in high school would probably be the easiest and safest way.

If I could say one thing to my former high school self I would say, ” you only live once, you might as well do it right the first time, find a guy, be safe, and enjoy. If you wait too long, you’ll be too tall to ride, and life’s tickets will run out. The carnival doesn’t stay in town forever, go while you still have a chance.”

First Person: Brook “I wish I wish I’d gotten it overwith sooner and saved myself the years of shame and embarrassment.”

Our latest First Person comes from Brook from Minnesota, who enjoyed losing her virginity, but wishes she was more compassionate to herself as a virgin. If you want to tell your story, go to our submission form. We’d love to run it in this blog.

Tell us about yourself:

I’m 24 years old, and I currently live in Minnesota.

How do you define virginity?

I think that each person has to decide what virginity means for them. My relative virginity ebbed and flowed depending on my mindset and philosophy. I tend to think now that it’s not easy to decide who IS a virgin: it’s a lot easier to pick out someone who is NOT a
virgin. So, basically, my own personal philosophy is that you’re not a virgin anymore when you no longer feel like a virgin, when you’ve
undergone some kind of experience (any kind) that makes you feel different, like you’ve crossed a milestone, or that makes you sufficiently knowledgeable or experienced that it would feel silly to call yourself a virgin.

Tell us your story:

I lost my virginity relatively recently at the age of 24. A classic late bloomer, I had been waiting so long for the “right guy” or the “right moment” that I had suddenly found myself in my mid-twenties and still a virgin. I started to feel ridiculous and ashamed of my prolonged abstinence. It felt like a failure, like I had missed some landmark that I should have passed by now. This was despite the fact that I had many friends who were also still virgins or who had been virgins into their twenties — we talked about this frequently but were somehow never able to find any solace in our shared fate.

Finally, I had decided I was pretty sick of being ashamed and of holding back and of waiting. So one night, while feeling particularly attractive and happy, I drank my fair share of gin and tonics and went to bed with a friend of a friend, someone I liked and trusted but was by no means in love with. I’m not saying the decision was easy. I had spent so much of my life holding back and running from sex that it was a hard habit to break. But after a little motivational speech in the bathroom mirror, I had sex and it was fun. I didn’t tell him I was a virgin and I have no reason to believe he had any “suspicions” (which is actually how I thought of it — I was a fraud, pretending to be someone that I wasn’t, pretending to know what I was doing when I didn’t).

When it was over, my first reaction was one of elation and relief. It turned out that this was as close to the “right guy” and the “right moment” as I could have hoped for under the circumstances. But I also felt a little annoyed that I hadn’t done it sooner. The fact that I was a virgin had stopped me from having sex many times. Mostly, I had been terrified of being rejected when a potential sexual partner found out my dark secret. But now the milestone had passed, I wished I’d gotten it over with a lot sooner and saved myself the psychological agony, the years of feeling shame and embarrassment.

I still feel this way, but another regret has wormed its way into my conscience and has surprised me. In part due to conversations with friends who admitted never “owning” their virginity and in part due to discovering How to Lose Your Virginity, I am now beginning to regret that I was never able to be comfortable with my virginity. It’s not that I should have been proud of it —- because, honestly, that would have been asking too much. I wish that I could have at least been more compassionate with myself for being unable or unwilling to have sex before I did. I would be going too far to say that I wish I was still a virgin so I could find that piece of mind. I had fun losing my virginity, but I do wish I found the strength within myself to be happy as a virgin and to fight back against the nagging feeling that I was somehow broken because I hadn’t managed to have sex. I hope How to Lose Your Virginity can help others like me find that self-confidence and inner peace that I never found.

First Person: A. “Because I have vaginismus, I often say I’m in Virgin Limbo”

Our latest First Person comes from A in the US, whose first time wrought her sexual status (virgin or not?) unclear.  If you want to tell your story, go to our submission form. We’d love to run it in this blog.

Tell us about yourself:  I’m a 24-year-old heterosexual female living in the US.

How do you define virginity?

I’m currently rethinking how I define virginity. I used to think the loss of virginity was a clear milestone for heterosexual females like myself— the first time one willingly engages in penetrative vaginal sex— but now it doesn’t seem so simple. As someone who made the deliberate decision to have vaginal sex but was physically unable to do so, I don’t know whether or not to call myself a virgin or not. Which matters more, the intention or the act itself?

It also seems a little ridiculous to claim the label “virgin” when I have an active sex life of oral and outercourse and orgasm more frequently than some of my friends who lost their vaginal virginity years ago, but the cultural significance of vaginal virginity is pervasive and hard to just throw away or ignore, especially when it’s the standard by which so many other people define it.

I often say I’m in “Virgin Limbo”; I don’t feel right identifying as a virgin OR not a virgin. I think the definition of virginity needs tweaking to account for situations like this.

Tell us your story

Until I was 22 I was a virgin because I was waiting for the right person. My first kiss was at 18 and my first boyfriend at 19, but in college I never dated anyone long enough to feel the comfort and trust I considered a prerequisite. However, just shy of my 22nd birthday, I met him. We had been dating a few months when I decided that our relationship— and, most importantly, I personally!— was ready.

The night leading up to it was perfect. There was a rooftop sunset, spontaneous fireworks display in the distance, and making out in the rain; if it had been in a movie, you’d have rolled your eyes at how “unrealistic” it was. We went back to his room with some condoms and went for it.

Except … “it” didn’t happen. I was more than ready when he tried to enter me, but it felt like he was like he was trying to thrust against a wall— a wall that felt sharp stabs of pain every time it was hit! I normally have a very high tolerance for pain, so I couldn’t believe this was supposedly what every girl feels her first time, especially since he hadn’t even entered me more than a half-inch. I tried loosening things up more with more lube and orgasming first but it didn’t make a difference. I was so frustrated I was ready to force through the pain, but my partner had been with a virgin before and knew it wasn’t supposed to be so difficult or painful, so we stopped.

In the following months we sought advice from trusted friends and the Internet alike and were given suggestions from extra lube to getting drunk. But the only thing that actually helped was a name we discovered: vaginismus, a condition in which the pubococcygeus (PC) muscles at the opening of the vagina involuntarily close and painfully resist the entry of foreign objects, from tampons to penises. It explained everything: why I’d always hated using tampons, why I’d cried in pain during my one and only pelvic exam, and why I couldn’t have sex. I wasn’t “unusually tight” as I’d once believed; penetration objectively hurt me in ways it doesn’t hurt most people, thanks to muscle spasms I can’t control. It’s still a mystery why I have vaginismus, but knowing what it is has lead to information on how to fix it.

Fast forward two years later. I’m still with the same partner and thanks to open minds and a few compatible kinks our sex life is plenty satisfying, but vaginal sex is still a distant dream. I’ve seen a doctor and gotten advice on relaxation techniques, Kegel exercises, vaginal dilation, and insight on what muscles to move and how, but while things seem to be progressing, it’s slow-going. It’s frustrating that what is so natural and pleasurable for most people is painful and a chore for me, something I have to “work on” in an unsexy clinical way. There’s enough promise in what we have achieved that we haven’t given up and eagerly await the day we can have vaginal sex, but for now, I’m still stuck in “Virgin Limbo.”

Women Looking Remorseful After Sex

Just today, we were sitting around Trixie Films HQ discussing stock photo memes like the bizarre women laughing alone with salad and the somewhat gross women struggling to drink water. Then what should drop into our mailbox via Em & Lo but a link to an old post by The Vagenda: women looking remorseful after sex. Number 1, we love the blog name ‘The Vagenda,’ and Number 2, we’re wondering what the male counterpart to this latest meme would be. When we entered ‘men’ and ‘sex’ into a stock photo search, we got lots of early renaissance paintings, blow-up ladies and camels copulating. We’d love to hear your suggestions.

First Person: Anna “Because I’m sexually aware of myself, I’m not ashamed of wanting intercourse to be for marriage.”

Our latest First Person comes from Anna from New York, a woman who has decided to abstain till marriage on her own terms. If you want to tell your story, go to our submission form. We’d love to run it in this blog.

Tell us about yourself:  

I’m a 22-year-old female living in New York and I’m starting my senior year of college this fall. I lost my virginity at 20, and I’ve recently decided to abstain until marriage on my own terms.

How do you define virginity?

For me, first PIV (penis-in-vagina) sex. There are so many gray areas and exceptions that I could never define virginity for anyone else but myself.

Tell us your story:

I’ve always considered myself sexually aware and discovered masturbation in my early teens. In my second year of college I was brave enough to purchase a vibrator, which made me feel awesome about myself and empowered. I considered my sex life as a virgin very fulfilling and because of that I thought I was ready to have intercourse.

The young man I lost my virginity to was in the same major as me and we both worked at the TV station on campus. Over the course of two weeks I started exploring with him, and to his credit he stopped whenever I wasn’t ready to go further. The night I lost my virginity, I was the one who asked to have sex. I was scared and nervous, which I didn’t tell him. He thought I was mature and empowered (I was! but also scared and vulnerable) and he didn’t think virginity was a big deal to me. The sex was not great or special; I was too nervous to enjoy myself and cried myself to sleep afterwards. I was devastated and was depressed for several months afterwards.

Looking back on it now, I know why I became depressed. A question kept nagging me: “If I am so comfortable with my own sexuality, why was having sex for the first time such a big deal that it broke me emotionally?” Right? I enjoyed my sexuality as a virgin so much and was so satisfied. But bringing another person into the equation was so much less enjoyable - why?

I can tell you now that I was NOT emotionally ready to be intimate with someone else. My ideal of being able to do whatever I pleased sexually fell short of the pressures that society (aka, my peer group) immediately slammed on me. “What?! You lost your virginity to some random guy?” “It wasn’t even special?” “He doesn’t even want you to be his girlfriend?” Not to mention that I had to hide all of this from my family and friends back home, so what I was originally excited about turned out to be a source of shame and lies. I found myself isolated and heartbroken. It was a really shitty situation.

The silver lining of this is that I learned a lot about what sex and virginity means to me. My “virginity” is long gone, and as far as I’m concerned, good riddance! The most important thing I’ve learned about myself is that just because I’m sexually aware of myself and feel empowered, I do NOT have to be ashamed of wanting sexual intercourse to be special and important, and reserved for marriage. I’ve heard a lot of mixed messages telling me otherwise. (If you’re a virgin, you should be pure and innocent and non-sexual until marriage. Oh, but that means you’re a prude. If you’re sexually empowered, you should have sex whenever and with whoever you want. Oh, but that means you’re a slut. All of these are lies and myths taught to us by society.)

I hope that my story will reach someone out there and help them feel like they’re not alone, and don’t have to be ashamed of what sexuality and virginity means to them!

First Person: Aileen “Want an unbreakable, impenetrable hymen? Take mine”

Our latest First Person comes from Aileen from the US, a woman who had to medically remove her hymen in order to have pleasurable sex. If you want to tell your story, go to our submission form. We’d love to run it in this blog.

Tell us about yourself:

I’m a female, in my late 20’s, and from the United States.

How do you define virginity?

I don’t think there’s any one act that causes virginity to be ‘lost.’ When sexual experiences are no longer something to simply dream about or giggle over, you’re probably not a virgin anymore.

Tell us your story:

It always upsets me to hear about women who undergo surgery to “replace” their hymen, and for more reasons than those already stated here. Want an unbreakable, impenetrable hymen? Take mine, please!

When I was younger, I never used tampons because I had trouble inserting them, but I was assured this was normal and nothing to worry about. I never had the desire to try inserting anything else because it was always so uncomfortable, sometimes painful. Then, in college, I had a serious boyfriend. We did lots of fun things physically, but when we tried to have intercourse, it was like he was hitting a wall. Because he was.

Three gynecologists later, I found out I had a rigid hymen and having it surgically removed was the best option as even the slightest attempt to stretch it caused immense pain. Surgery wasn’t the magical solution to pain-free sex I’d hoped it would be (to be fair, the surgeon did tell me it wasn’t going to be an instant fix), but it certainly made things a lot easier. Good riddance, hymen!

First Person: HantaVee “A woman can erase the act of intercourse out of her mind, and make herself a new virgin.”

Our latest First Person comes from HantaVee, a Malagasy-European studying in the US, who believes a woman can erase the act of intercourse out of her mind and become re-virginized. If you want to tell your story, go to our submission form. We’d love to run it in this blog.

Tell us about yourself:  

I am a 21 year old Malagasy-European, studying in the U.S who loves politics, the arts and Rihanna. I’m currently in the Wild Wild West, more specifically in the state of Texas.

How do you define virginity?  

I look at my private hole, and if it has been entered by anyone else’s privates, I consider that losing my virginity. However, it is both a mental and physical thing. Because we are not just animals, our human minds control a lot of what we believe and how things are conceived. I believe a woman can erase the act of intercourse out of her mind, and make herself a new virgin if she chooses to.

Tell us your story:

There are stories of rape, and I believe mine happens to be a mild example of one. I lost my virginity in a bathroom stall to a high school senior when I was just 14. I went in the stall with him thinking we were going to kiss and what have you, but as things heated up I wasn’t fully prepared for his privates entering mine. When he stripped me down, he told me to sit, and as he pressed me down on him, I told him it hurt. He told me to hush, and that it’s supposed to hurt.

Since then, I’ve had a terrible view on how sex was supposed to be enjoyed. I had an even more screwed up view on how I was compared to my virgin friends, how they seemed better than me because they hadn’t “given it up yet.” I feel like I didn’t have a choice in my V-card, so I resented my non-virginity, and because it was something “that you could never get back” I continued my “unpure” sexuality, since it was already lost anyway.

Yes, this is an Bollywood/Salsa music video for female-empowerment vagina-tightener

Our friend Aggie Ebrahimi always sends us the most distressing items for this blog, and this is no exception. We’ve profiled other vag-tightening creams here and here before, but none come with an ad campaign like this one. Behold an Indian commercial for the launch of ‘18 Again' which is described as

"a vaginal rejuvenation tightening gel is redefining the term women empowerment [their italics]. It is a powerful and natural answer to intimate feminine concerns. A remarkable product to empower the new age women.”

Apparently, the cream was heartily endorsed by a group of Indian actresses at its launch, much to the dismay of Paromita Vohra, a Mumbai-based filmmaker, who writes:

I would also humbly request the beautiful, feisty ladies of a certain age present at the launch, who have rousingly performed “The Vagina Monologues,” a play which aims to rescue the vagina from a place of shame and darkness, with the use of powerful words, not tightening and whitening creams — please do not confuse this issue and rob your good work of its power. And other ladies and gents, it’s really time you rejected this claptrap. It’s dumb, it’s uncool and also, it costs Rs 2,430 a pop. Get on with the real revolution now, it’s much nicer than being 18 again.

Be-dazzled and Be-hymened by MTV’s “Awkward.”

Guest post by Libby Feltch

Ever seen the show “Awkward.” which was just renewed for a third season on MTV? It’s a teen dramedy with characters who—although cartoonish at times—for the most part seem more tangible than those in the network’s “reality” TV programs.

I’m a little late to the game, but I finally gave in to peer pressure and started watching it and I’m really REALLY glad I did. If I hadn’t, I would have never experienced “The Way We Weren’t,” a beautiful episode in which a girl who has taken a purity pledge decides to offer up her “be-hymen” to her boyfriend (around 15:06 min) after a friend suggests taking full advantage of where “God has a blind spot” (around 12:50 min).

Awkward establishes itself early on in its pilot as an alternative to the more romanticized and/or traumatizing visions of sex in most other teen dramas. **Spoiler Alert**  Two minutes in, the main character, Jenna, loses her penis-in-vagina virginity very unceremoniously in a broom closet. With tears welling up from pain, Jenna explains to her crush that the waterworks are due to an allergy attack. The scene is very simple, funny and comforting.

AfterElton did a nice piece on how the show handles sex right around the time the “be-hymen” episode first aired in 2011. I think this quote from the article by series creator/exec-producer, Lauren Iungerich, neatly sums up the show’s intent:

"When I first started having sex… I had sex with somebody because I felt like I had to get it over with," she said. "And afterwards [it] was sort of this like, ‘Oh my god, I gave this thing [up]. I’m really vulnerable… I’ve shared something truly intimate with somebody I don’t even really know.’ Not until you’re older do you realize what intimacy really is, and it has nothing to do with sex. And that’s [Jenna’s] journey."

Libby is a recent graduate of Vassar College and a talented intern here at Trixie Films. If you work in television, you should hire her. Give her a shout!

Guest Post: Yes, TLC’s ‘The Virgin Diaries’ is an exploitative tragedy, but there may actually be something productive in the stories its reality-show virgins tell us

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Guest Post by Jonathan Allan

The Learning Channel (TLC) recently showed another episode of its new program The Virgin Diaries. The premise, virgins who have somehow passed the normal age of initiation, is interesting. The result, however, has often left me speechless.

In the initial episode, we met Ryan and Shanna, two virgins about to marry, who had never kissed. The highlight of their story, the wedding and its triumphant kiss, became a media sensation, because this was one of the most uncomfortable kisses ever watched on screen. In another episode, we met Skippy (who now has a Facebook fan page),­ a virgin who lives with his mom, and collects bellybutton lint. Skippy takes his ‘wing-mom’ to the bars with him, all in hopes of finding a potential love. And most recently, we met Julie, a ‘super special unicorn,’ a Lesbian Christian virgin, who insists that while she hasn’t had sex, she is nevertheless ‘supergay’ (as though being gay requires having significant or even any amounts of sex). With respect to another engaged couple, Dan, a 36-year-old white male virgin, and Patrice, a black non-virgin woman, we were presented with a tired stereotype about black female sexuality. The perpetual and numerous double entendres throughout the program speak volumes, from the unicorn and her date eating “fish tacos,” to Dan struggling to control a champagne bottle as he attempts to open it.

All these virgin narratives begin with an admission of virginity or a declaration of identity (i.e. I’ve never had sex, or I’m a virgin), an explanation for virginity (How I ended up a virgin? It was easier to say I was a Christian), and then a concerted effort to come to terms with virginity and/or lose virginity. [I recognize the problematics of framing virginity as something to ‘lose.’]

While the narratives are admittedly endearing at times, they more often seem to be about the hilarity and ridiculousness of these virgin stories. In a word: schadenfreude, ‘malicious or smug pleasure taken in somebody else’s misfortune.’

What is being lost in these narratives is an entire identity, each virgin is above all: A Virgin. Whatever else they may be seems less important than their virginity. They are innocent, not just in terms of sex, but in terms of life–as though life is measured by sexual performance. Their life experiences before their television appearance seems irrelevant not only to the program, but to their own identities, and all of this leads to a very uncomfortable, almost tragic, viewing experience.

While it would be easy to dismiss the program as exploitative or as perpetuating myths, it does seem that there is something productive to be found in The Virgin Diaries.

Through the three episodes that have aired thus far, we’ve been introduced to about a dozen virgins. Putting aside the freak-show quality, there is something quite telling about how these virgins frame their narratives. We see that virgins are different and must define for themselves their identities and their relation to virginity. More often than not, they learn, at least by episode’s end, that virginity, though initially reified, is not really that important or not really that defining. In other words, though the program is about virgins, the virgin ultimately learns that he or she is much more than just a virgin.

In addition, while the show introduces us to religious virgins, we are not always presented with the ‘Pure Virgin’ discourse. The discussion is not about a virtue now lost, or a need to reclaim purity, or about the importance of abstinence; instead, it is about the confusing, conflicted, and complex nature of human sexuality, and that seems like a discussion worth having.

Jonathan Allan received his PhD from the Centre for Comparative Literature at the University of Toronto. In the fall, he will begin teaching in the Department of Gender and Women’s Studies at Brandon University. He last contributed to a post on Edward Cullen’s virginity.