There is undoubtedly a great deal of hype and pressure that surrounds losing one’s virginity. But as Louise Baxter* writes, it doesn’t have to be a big deal if you don’t want it to.
The world didn’t stop. I didn’t have an epiphany. My vagina was still intact.
It was one of the strangest transitions. Something had changed, but I was still the same. I was no longer a socially awkward person giggling at sex jokes. I was now a socially awkward person—confident and proud of her sexuality—still giggling at sex jokes.
At 18, I would go a shade of scarlet every time someone mentioned oral sex. And aside from a very awkward, drunken experience fumbling my way through giving a boy a hand job in the backseat of a car—which consisted of me rubbing his penis like I was making a fire—I had absolutely no experience in that area until having sex for the first time.
I was shy, timid and self-conscious about this stuff. I went to an all girls’ Catholic school where sexual education was limited. We were told sex was reserved for love, but only in marriage, and if you were having sex you were trying to make a baby. We were briefly informed about sexually transmitted diseases but that was the extent of it. My mum had given me “the birds and the bees” speech when I hit puberty and encouraged me to be open about sex and relationships.
There was always a part of me that wanted to experience and to know more about sex. Google became my confidant and teacher, as I searched things like “first time you have sex”, “what is cunnilingus?” and “where is the g-spot?”
I was the freak that hadn’t been deflowered.
In a society where advertising, pop culture and general day-to-day conversation is increasingly informed by porn, being a virgin is hard.
You feel as though there is something wrong with you, as though you have missed out on an integral part of being a teenager. My friends often referred to me as v-plated. While I was laughing it off on the outside, I was sick—and even desperate—in the knowledge I was the freak that hadn’t been deflowered.
In trying to build up the confidence to finally lose my virginity, I now had anxiety about the whole thing. I’d made it into a huge deal. I realised it was silly to think this way. To just do it because everyone else was doing it was stupid. I realised I was expecting it to change me; I would all of a sudden become a woman. But sex doesn’t make you a woman.
While for some people virginity is important—for me, it wasn’t about ‘giving myself to the right boy’, being in a serious relationship or trying not to be frigid.
I had sex for the first time to the sweet sound of Ben Howard’s album Every Kingdom, in the basement of a house where every sound we made echoed. We watched a Marvel film and then had sex. It was terribly unromantic. It was what I wanted to do and when I wanted to do it. It was about me feeling comfortable with who I was and being with a person I respected. It wasn’t something for me to keep or something for me to give as a gift. It was experiencing something fucking awesome with someone fucking awesome.
I fumbled and bumbled my way through having sex for the first time and I probably made a thousand mistakes giving him head, but I was learning and having fun.
And looking back, I didn’t lose anything. Instead, I gained something.