A female friend of ours, a recent college grad who wishes to remain anonymous, has a confession to make:
When I got to college, I was still carrying around my V card in my back pocket. By then, I had read erotica, watched porn, masturbated, made out furiously with high school boyfriends, even experienced cunnilingus — it just didn’t make sense to me (and, I feared, to everyone else at school) that I hadn’t had intercourse yet. I figured, with some annoyance, that my intact hymen was going to be a major speed-bump on the road to on-campus sexual satisfaction.
Turns out it was also a blow to my on-campus self-esteem. At my college — a¬†very¬†liberal, sex-positive place — everyone was having sex, and talking about having sex, and thinking about having sex. Everyone but me, it seemed. When the topic would come up among friends,¬†I would sit blushing in the corner with¬†nothing to say, uncomfortably aware of my status as outsider, as freak.
My virginity had to go! It didn’t matter who, it didn’t matter how. So when I found an interested party — a rather devastating boy who lived down the hall from me — I didn’t dare mention it. Why risk the transaction? I figured, Let’s just close the deal!
I very quickly realized this was a mistake.
Sure, there was some relief in the moment that actual, official intercourse was finally happening. But that emotion was squelched by an all-consuming fear of the unknown — a fear I couldn’t share with my partner, which ironically made me feel very alone. Then there was the pain. I wasn’t aware of how much I would need to be turned on in order to find penetration pleasurable, and lube (what’s lube?) certainly wasn’t an option back then — so it hurt like a mother. The final indignity — at least at the time — was all the blood. He freaked, I cried, and that was the end of that five-minute relationship.
Thinking back on it now, I realize that what’s worse than the break-up, worse than the physical pain, even worse than the crime scene is the ridiculous power that Virginity with a capital V still holds over our 21st-century culture. It’s like the Scarlet Letter — except this time, inexperience is the crime. Virgins don’t want to talk about it; experienced people don’t want to take it away from anyone. The shame and fear surrounding it make virginity a way bigger deal than it needs to be. After all, intercourse is just one of many different ways to have sex.
Clearly, with this issue — as with so many relationship problems — communication is the key! For all you newbies to intercourse, take it from me: Tell your partner in a non-sexual context that intercourse is new to you, and tell them how you feel about it. If it’s not a big deal to you, say that. If it is, say that too, and why! Then you and your partner can go forth fully informed and aware of what you are doing together. And maybe you’ll have the good sense to put down a towel.