I feared losing my virginity like a millennial 13-year-old fears social media embarrassment. A kind of fear where you know it’s going to have to happen at some point, so you brace yourself for the day and pray that it happens quickly, painlessly, and shamelessly. This anticipatory fear was one that had brewed in my mind from my early teenage years, and been fed by society’s aversive approach to female sexuality.
The idea that a girl might possibly enjoy sex wasn’t a concept that was ever spoken about in the secondary school playground; it was always reluctantly avoided within the awkward walls that hosted those dreadful sex-ed classes. And it was rarely, if ever, depicted in the sitcoms and films that our parents banned us from watching because we were too young. In fact, it took a random episode of Sex and the City to tell me that a female might actually experience some sort of satisfaction from having sex; but even then, I assumed I’d have to wait until I reached at least 30, was still single, and had somehow adopted a ‘screw you world, I’ll fuck who I want’ Samantha Jones type attitude.
It’s undeniable that girls are subliminally taught to expect discomfort, bleeding and unbearable soreness during their ‘first time’. They’re taught to simply ‘lay there’ quietly, let the guy do all the work, make a few silent moans (if brave enough), and wait until he is finished. Yes, a girl’s first time can be uncomfortable and sometimes really quiet daunting, but I know that mine wasn’t as distressing as the rumors told me it would be (especially the one about that girl that had her ‘cherry popped’ so hard that she bled right through his bedsheets). For me, there was no bleeding, no terrible pain and, funnily enough, I was able to walk just fine after it. Okay, so I didn’t enjoy it in the slightest – in fact I lay there silently (adhering to society’s manual on virginity) nervously thinking Okay this happening, I’m a woman now. This is totally fine. Oh god, hopefully it will end soon.
It wasn’t until now, at the tender age of 20, that I’ve began to question why society’s narrative on young sex is always one where the male experiences pleasure, and the female experiences pain, or a muted grey numbness. The idea that a girl should ever look forward to an orgasm during her first time is one that is so unheard of that I myself am not sure it could ever happen. But talk to a mindless, pre-pubescent teenage boy about ‘cumming’ and you get descriptions that echo those of an American Pie script, with words that focus around the idea of it being this manly exhilaration that is the absolute goal of their first time.
We’ve allowed society to teach our boys that the whole point of having sex is not to have a pleasurable experience, but to simply ‘cum.’ So where boys are almost instructed to orgasm every single time they have sex, including the first time, how wild can it be to equally inject that same concept into the female sexual experience? How crazy could it be to expose young girls to the idea of looking forward to the pleasures of an orgasm? (Yep, I said it. ‘The pleasures of an orgasm.” Even I feel slightly vulgar saying it in my head, but I shouldn’t, and it’s stupid that I do.)
I know expecting to orgasm during one’s first time is slightly unrealistic, due to nervousness, awkwardness, and other biological factors, but one thing that a girl should not feel before, during, or after sex is fear. A girl should not fear her first time. In fact, a girl should feel free to define and identify when she has ‘lost her virginity.’ Recently I’ve considered the idea of it being when I first orgasmed, and not when I first had intercourse (I won’t trouble you with this concept just yet, for I am saving it for another time).
When I consider my younger mentality, I realize that I treated virginity as if it was a task, or a mountain that I had to begrudgingly climb over, before I reached the other side and was able to enjoy the ride. Now perhaps I am naïve, but I’d like to believe that young girls should, like the opposite sex, also be taught to feel some sort of excitement, eagerness, or even enthusiasm towards losing their virginity.
I have no doubt this piece mildly harks back to that over-saturated, but surprisingly still ever-relevant, feminist narrative of a sexist society. But this is also a narrative that I comfortably stand by and attribute great importance to, for it is one that cannot be avoided when talking about female sexuality. And although I can only speak on the female experience in heterosexual intercourse, I must acknowledge that for both sexes, and various sexualities, sex is always a personal, but not always an emotional, interaction – and so one’s experience is always dependent on their own unique circumstances.