Good Sex And Erotic Power: Why We Need To Lose Virginity And De-Center Marriage

I had sex for the first time when I was twenty-one years old. His name was Sam, he was my first boyfriend, and–as much as you can after two months–I loved him. I remember him being patient as I awkwardly jungle-gymed around his sturdy body–curious, eager, nervous. I remember not knowing what to do and being insanely relieved that he did. I remember laughing. I remember the whole thing going relatively quickly. I remember laying on his chest when we were finished and saying, “we just had sex,” and him saying, “yep,” and smiling. Contrary to what I’d been told growing up in church, I lost nothing that September night in San Diego: no v-card, no dignity.

I wanted to write a letter then to the pastors and peers who told me to wait until I was married to have sex, who told me that sleeping with a man was degrading, who demonized my deeply closeted identity: I wanted to write to let them know that they were wrong–that the erotic has power that should not be confined to the wedding bed. I wanted to write to let them know that the lessons they taught me about sexuality, the ones that clawed through my chest and marred my adolescent soul, took therapy and practice to undo. I wanted to write to let them know that, in spite of their fear-filled rhetoric, I have learned to have healthy, life-giving sex. Two years later, this is that letter.

Too many religious communities, the one in which I grew up included, prize–more than service to and advocacy for the oppressed–pre-marital virginity. To “lose your virginity” before your wedding day is to relegate yourself to the margins of the congregation–shame and self-loathing your near-constant companions. To get pregnant, unmarried, begets corporate mourning. To have gay sex–no matter the relational configuration–is out of the question. Like some sick, Pavlovian ploy, the erotic is almost immediately tied to guilt.

To be fair, while non-religious persons, in my experience, tend to be more sexually liberated, I have heard them speak with equal fervor about the value of virginity, heard them explain that people–more specifically, women–who retain their “v-cards” somehow have more sexual currency. This is the same psychosis, differently clothed.

In our cultural obsession with virginity and our privileging of marriage, we have done nothing but wed sex to guilt and loss–the very things that prevent sex from being good. Enough studies have been done to show that religious affiliation has a relatively negligible effect on people’s sexual behavior. The question, then, isn’t whether or not people are going to have non-marital sex: it’s how they’re going to feel about having it.

It was only after I was freed from my anxiety and took my first sexual plunge (no pun intended) that I realized how wrong my church was about sexuality. When mutually-attracted adults–possessing respect for and trust in one another–have consensual sex, I’ve discovered, no one loses anything. In fact, quite the opposite: we gain a fuller understanding of ourselves and are given access to new corners of our identities.

The devastatingly high rates of spousal abuse and rape will forever stand in protest to the juvenile and destructive assumption that marriage somehow magically creates an appropriate context for sexual discovery and intimacy to take place. It is time that the audacity of married couples claiming to be the sole participants in morally praiseworthy sex be checked. Good sex is not defined by the form of the relationship but by the character of the activity–particularly its ability to foster a deeper sense of self-worth and dignity for all parties involved. Good sex is happening non-maritally all the time.

Language is intrinsically connected to the shaping of our realities. Tying our first sexual experience to language of loss sets us up for unhealthy patterns; losing virginity is long overdue. Instead, I argue that we begin talking, simply, of the first time we had sex, of the power of the erotic to transform. We have, after all, much more to gain than lose. TC mark

image – dbrekke

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    Reblogged this on Enter the Void (Personal Blog).

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    Reblogged this on Big Blue Dot Y'all and commented:
    “Good sex is not defined by the form of the relationship but by the character of the activity–particularly its ability to foster a deeper sense of self-worth and dignity for all parties involved.” I’m not sure this is how I would describe good sex, but I am ALL ABOUT the “power of the erotic to transform”

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