To be clear, I don’t believe in the concept of virginity. It’s a social construct that was created to keep women ‘pure’ or ‘innocent’ so that they could be sold for a higher dowry. The word’s associations in the modern world are no better. If you lose it too early, you’re considered a slut; too late, a loser. It’s also heteronormative and mainly used to shame and humiliate people. I prefer the term ‘sexual awakening’; that way, it’s up to the individual to decide when they are awakened. I don’t believe that a sexual awakening needs to be defined by one moment but can instead be a series of moments, experiments and experiences. I feel the need to clarify this because, according to most people, I am still a virgin. But more on that later.
I had my first sexual experience at the age of 21 at a party. He was older than me and when he slipped his hand between my legs, I freaked out, grabbed his hand and threw it. He laughed at my awkwardness and proceeded to kiss me. This appears to be the trend with my sexual experiences: boys laughing at how uncomfortable I am. The phrasing makes them sound like assholes but I assure you I’m laughing too. Late in the game, I have to approach bedroom activities with a ‘fake it til you make it’ attitude. I still have no idea how to successfully give a hand job. It’s just so awkward. Like, I want to remain lying down to kiss them but maybe I need to kneel beside them for a better angle? That almost feels worse, though. It’s so hard to pleasure a man without dislocating your entire body.
I digress. According to an average amount of internet research, some people define sex as ‘intimate acts that end in mutual orgasm’. If this is how sex is defined, then it’s the second definition of sex that I haven’t had. No man has ever been able to make me cum. Some have tried; all have failed. I think this has something to do with the fact that they see having to ask me what I like, or how I masturbate, as an attack on their masculinity. My ex-boyfriend used to sulk every time he failed, saying stuff like, “I could give my ex orgasms” or, “I mustn’t be good in bed.” I have discovered that counselling a grown man about his bedroom abilities is both exhausting and annoying. Seriously dude, an open discussion with your partner about what works for them shouldn’t damage your ego. If anything, that’s what makes you good in bed, but I will tear the male ego to shreds another time.
Technically, my ex is the one with whom I’ve had the most sexual experiences but I don’t consider him to be the one to whom I lost my V. In fact, I don’t tie it to a person at all. Let me explain. When I turned 21, I got vaginal thrush for the first time. The doctor told me, as a matter of routine, that the treatment was a cream that had to be applied through a plastic syringe inserted into the vagina. Cue panic. I had never even seen my vagina, let alone had anything inserted into it. That day, I finally gave myself the sex ed I’d never had in high school. I googled so many diagrams of female anatomy that by the end of it I could’ve had an honorary PhD in gynaecology. I now knew what I needed to do in theory: I just had to put it into practice. Armed with nerves and a mirror, I took my first glace at the land down under. So far, so good. Just looked like a normal vulva. I continued to read the informational packet that came with the canestan cream. “Relax, lie in the missionary position and gently insert syringe until fully inserted.” I took a deep breath; relaxing is not something that I do well. Try as hard as I might, it hurt no matter what I did. I would later blame my vulvodynia for that part of the experience.
Having had very few encounters with boys, or tampons, or anything really, I did what I always do in a moment of panic – I relied on my encyclopaedic knowledge of film and TV. And in that moment of panic, when I knew if I didn’t use the cream I would never get better, I decided to seduce myself.
I laid a towel down on my bed in case of hymen breakage or cream spillage, lit a few candles, put on the song I wanted to lose my virginity to (‘This Guy’s in Love with You’ by Herb Alpert), dimmed the lights and gave it a second crack. With a bit of manoeuvring, I finally got it to slide in like a dream. In that moment, I felt so alive, grown up and – most importantly – in charge of and empowered by my own body. After this experience, I became so open and ready to experiment, and that is how I define becoming sexually awakened; when you begin to hunt down sexual experiences because you want to, not because you feel you have to. When I was younger, I was so scared of people seeing my vagina – now, I’m like, “My pussy is so cute! Who wants to see it?!”
So yeah. I’ve never had a penis inside of me but I’m not a virgin. The main thing I want you to take away from this is that you’re allowed to experiment at your own pace. Never let someone pressure you into something you don’t want to do. Also, be safe and have fun! People forget to remind you that sex is supposed to be fun, no matter what kind you’re having. You don’t need to be in love and your virginity doesn’t have to be some sacred thing stored in a box under lock and key. At the end of the day, it’s your virginity and you can do whatever you want with it. Now! Go forth and multiply! (If you’re emotionally and financially ready for a baby!)