All I can do is speak from experience, which can only be my own. When it comes to sex, I find there is always a status quo, a general opinion of whether or not you are sexually active and this status quo changes throughout different phases of growing up. When you’re little, it’s often conceived as gross or a laughing-matter and the most scandalous thing are two children holding hands on the playground. Obviously it’s a commonly known fact at the time that boys are stupid if you’re a girl and vice versa. This is probably a widely spread rumour and I would argue that this is not true for most people, but they just chose to follow common protocol of that age regarding that aspect. As a teen sex is often used as a way to ridicule someone, for example by suggesting a girl is sexually active and therefore “a slut” or something similarly degrading or laughing at two teens who were caught making out in the waiting room at the train station. At that age it could also be something to pride oneself on, since exchanging bodily fluids is a notion that qualifies a person as more mature than the rest of the class. It’s almost like being back in Kindergarten and first grade, but a lot more graphic.
The whole thing drags on, sex being a scandalous and often referenced thing until the age of sixteen or eighteen or even twenty – I suppose it varies from group to group. Sex stopped being a big deal for me when I was eighteen years old. Not because I’d engaged in this much debated activity, but because most of my friends had experienced their first time and jokes about genitalia were seen as childish, us being completely grown up and all. Towards the end of this phase it became a real race for loss of virginity, it seems. One cherry was popped after the other – though I have never understood that metaphor – and soon our weekly meetings, our dinners, coffees or trips to town turned into a competition of who could offer up the better sex story, who could reveal more gruesome details and who was therefore more sexually experienced and mature. I am happy to announce that competition phased out after a while and we returned to having normal conversations about more mundane things like finals and volunteering in far-off countries.
Now I am twenty-one years old, I am a student at university, majoring in linguistics with a minor in theatre studies. To earn some money I work in a restaurant, when I find time I meet with friends, go to the theatre with my fellow students and meet up with the LGTB Group of my university. I have a pretty busy schedule and I feel like I am becoming a very serious person. AKA: An adult. Soon I will be moving into the city with some girls from university, making me resemble a grown-up even more. Yet, there seems to be an essential part missing. Something I’ve been confronted with my entire life in one way or another. Whether it’s liking a boy or a girl, whether it’s being accused of being a whore, whether it’s freaking out about my first kiss with a boy I’ve now based a villain on in one of my stories. In my mind I’ve always had this idea of what it would look like to be an adult. I would be working somewhere in a successful, creative position, I’d have a car (I don’t even have a driver’s license), I’d obviously have beautifully developed breasts after being flat-chested throughout my teenage years. And I’d have a boyfriend, a really handsome and respectful one with a beard. And we would have sex. And most importantly, the sex wouldn’t be a big deal. I would be extremely comfortable with my own body, with my sexuality and I would leave my own apartment with a smile on my face. I also used to think that once you’d had sex for the first time, you didn’t stop.
I guess what I’m saying is; I watch too much television.
And the other thing I’m saying is that I thought the sex would have happened by now. Part of the reason I’m writing this is because I recently came to the realisation that I’m carrying around my virginity like a secret. I’m not saying that it is a secret. If anybody were to ask me I would tell them: Yes, I am a virgin and no, I have never had sex before and yes, by that I mean that I have never been intimate with anyone. The closest I have come to sexual intimacy was when I was sitting on a bed with my first boyfriend, we were both seventeen, and he gave me my first kiss. I broke it off a week later. Since then I have learned a few things about myself. Possibly the fact that he wanted too much too quickly and that he was of the jealous type and referred to himself as “a Latin lover” (he was half-Italian) added to my withdrawal from his touch. But generally speaking it wasn’t his fault. I’ve been dealing with anxiety all my life and it turns out that this substantially affects my sex life too. I can’t even have a guy ask me out without getting anxious, never mind touch me or demand any type of sentiment from me.
The other day I was sitting on the steps in front of the main university building with a bunch of fellow students from my theatre studies lecture. One of them, a beautiful and vivacious woman in her twenties, was warning us never to get involved with a woman. I sniggered at the thought that she herself was a woman and it seemed an odd statement to be coming from her. That’s when she asked me if I’d ever dated a woman and if it had gone well. I said no, I had never dated a woman, and they quickly moved on to the next subject. The thing I realised here was that now they probably all assumed I was straight. Because the general assumption – as was to be shown in the continuation of our conversation – seems to be at our age that everybody is sexually active. So, following that logic combined with my statement the equation goes as follows: She has never been with a woman + she must be sexually active = She’s straight and has a love for phallic organs.
At parties, if it comes up, my virginity has become an interesting talking point, saying stuff like: “So you’re really a virgin? You don’t get many of those anymore!” If one was to play a never-have-I-ever drinking game, I’d probably stay completely sober. I know there are still plenty of women with an intact hymen* and many male virgins too. I know some who simply have not got around to it, some who have stayed abstinent for religious reasons and some who would probably suffer a panic attack if they got too close to anyone – like me.
To all you virgins out there above the age of – say – twenty: We have become a rare breed, it seems. We should carry a label that says “Protected species, don’t pet” or “rare exotic mammal”. So, me, I’m a twenty-one year old, bisexual female virgin. Confusing, right? I’m also a cat person, while we’re at it. And I dread the day when I get close enough to someone and they will simply assume I know what I’m doing and I’ll have to tell them the truth that in theory I know how a penis works or a vagina, because I’ve seen pictures and I took Sex Ed in fifth and seventh grade (also, you know, I have a vagina). I know what goes where and can even name the different parts of the vagina in Latin, but don’t expect me to know what to do with that big dangly thing between your legs that probably looks totally different in real life! I should probably start with a woman. At least she has parts I am familiar with. I can work my way forward from there. I hope.
*A hymen being broken during the first time a girl has sex is a widely spread misconception I have believed most of my life. Actually there are many ways a hymen can break – or not break. I’ll let Emily from College Humor explain:
PS.: As you read this post you might have thought to yourself: “What is she so worried about? You don’t need to have sex.” Or not – I am not a mindreader. But anyway, I would agree that obviously sex is a very controversial topic in our society. You can’t really talk about it, yet everyone is expected to be fine with it, but not too fine: That’s slutty. The other day I read an article by a girl who’d had her first time at 24 and though she’d said it had been rather mediocre and that big of a deal, she still she felt the pressure to find love before she hit 25. She had even lied about having sex to her friends because she’d been so embarassed. This I am not condemning or anything, but I just realised that even as after 24 years of abstinence, she was still succumbing to that pressure that we put ourselves and our peers under by believing we need to have achieved certain life goals by a certain age. One of those goals being sex, the other love and marriage and all that jazz. So, what I am saying with this post is not that one has to have sex or be in a relationship. It’s perfectly fine if you don’t feel you need or want it for yourself. Personally, as I wrote in an anxiety forum the other day, what bothers me is that right now I don’t have a choice. My anxiety makes that choice for me everytime. It’s okay to not have a sex and/or love life (by the way, those two are not the same thing) if you don’t want to or don’t feel the need for it, if you can find fulfillment in other ways or whatever – it would just be nice if I had a choice.