I’m about to talk about sex. Not the cute sex scene that you’ll find in a movie, where there is no foreplay, he miraculously finds the vagina on the first try, and everything is warm and perfect.
Nope. I’m going to talk about losing your virginity and how terrible it can be. Because it doesn’t have to be that way, but we make sure of that through the discourse surrounding virginity. So instead, I’m going to talk about why this is and how we can avoid that.
Because if we were open about losing your virginity in a way that didn’t discourage the entire possibility of pleasure, then maybe this wouldn’t be such a taboo topic for me to discuss. If we stopped presenting losing your virginity as pain and discomfort, maybe women would discover the pleasure in sex and their own bodies far sooner. They could invest in self-pleasure and begin to demand more from their partners. Perhaps sex can be good for both parties, and perhaps this starts with losing your virginity.
When you ask women what they thought about losing their virginity, as I did, the answers are kind of disheartening. Not because they’re surprising, but just because they confirm everything you already know about women, identity and the role that sex plays for them. We were told repeatedly by adults, media and peers that sex would be painful for us. We were scared with the concept of the hymen, on which we were highly misinformed - you do know that there is no actual barrier? We were repeatedly told about blood and pain, to the extent that many of us were fearful of having sex for the first time. Which probably led us to clench and worsen the experience further, kind of ironic, really.
Sex was presented as something that we had to get over with. Some of us believed in the possibility of good sex one day, but that was way down the line, miles out of sight. Losing your virginity was going to be terrible, and so you had to rip off the bandaid and do it. As afterwards, your vagina would miraculously be wider and be ready to orgasm, or so we believed.
We wanted to lose our virginity to someone we trusted and knew well, not because it was an important moment to share and for them to pleasure us correctly, but in an attempt to minimise how horrible it would be. We never considered that pleasure could be a part of this experience, as everyone told us the exact opposite. So we allowed losing our virginity to be about the man and his pleasure, and that theme continued afterwards.
As women, we’re taught from an early age that sex is for men. It is something that we hold, a power within us, that we can choose to share and repress as we see fit. It’s shown in how women in TV shows withhold sex when they’re angry or want something. It’s shown in how a man who has sex with many people is a player, and a woman would be a whore. It’s shown in how a woman shouldn’t sleep with someone before the third date, but a one night stand is a success for a man - nice one, bro! And finally, it’s shown in how we talk about virginity.
Because we tell girls that they should expect pain and discomfort, but boys are told what a glorious act it is and how they’ll get to orgasm. No one even brings up a female orgasm in relation to losing their virginity. No one ever suggests to a guy that he should wait before losing his virginity or that he has a duty to pleasure his partner as well.
When we don’t include pleasure in the act of losing our virginity, we are cementing the thought that sex is for men. Girls ’give’ their virginity to someone; a boy will ‘take’ your virginity. Because when you have sex for the first time, you are seen as losing something: your innocence and your power. I spoke to several women about what they considered before losing their virginity, and the same theme kept coming up. That they delayed having sex because it meant losing their control and power. That it kept them from being a ‘whore’ or that they needed to keep the guy interested. But at some point, they ‘owed’ it to their partner, or they were at risk of being labelled as a tease or prude. At the end of the day, you can’t win, you’re the virgin or the whore, with little in between.
From all the women that I spoke to, none of them mentioned losing their virginity for pleasure, to experience the joys of sex, because they didn’t really imagine there to be much of it. They had sex for several reasons, most of which involved the guy wanting it. We have a duty not to give sex too early, but also to give sex at some point. It’s a power we hold. And this continues later, even once we start enjoying sex more.
I feel guilty if I don’t have sex with my partner enough, especially if I have to turn him down. I feel like I need an excuse for it, an apology, and being not in the mood is not reason enough. We believe that sex is for the male and that women are just going along with it when that really doesn’t have to be the case. Sex can be for us just as much as them. We believe that a guy must always orgasm for sex to finish, but why is our pleasure not a requirement of the same right? Do you consider your orgasm as necessary as your partners?
Losing your virginity can be uncomfortable, but it doesn’t have to be painful. If you’re correctly lubricated and comfortable enough to relax, it is possible to enjoy sexual penetration, even for the first time. Whilst losing your virginity can be a squeamish experience, as people are terrified of the blood and maybe even the ejaculation aspect, it doesn’t have to be a painful one. There are many tips for not experiencing pain when losing your virginity.
You can enjoy losing your virginity. You can even orgasm from losing your virginity. I’m not saying that you have to or that you ‘fail’ if you don’t, but rather that it is more than possible and should be at least attempted.
Girls don’t realise that they can enjoy sex right away because we don’t make it a standard. The male partner won’t spend enough time pleasuring her because people haven’t told him that he has to; it’s more shocking for a male not to cum than a female. Maybe it is harder for a woman to orgasm, but it’s a hell of a lot more difficult if we don’t even try.
You can be honest about the discomforts that losing your virginity can present without confirming that fate. If you tell someone that it can hurt, tell them how they can avoid that and the importance of lubrication. If you say that it can be awkward, then talk about the need for open communication and how there is no shame in saying what you want and need. Discuss the importance of masturbation and suggest that before penetration, they can even prepare themselves if they find that more effective. These are the conversations we need to have but are not having.
I let a man touch me before I had ever touched myself. I let several men touch me before I had ever touched myself, and honestly, it’s taking everything not just to call them boys. Because that’s what they were, they were boys trying to take things a step further to say they had, rather than trying to pleasure me. And I don’t know if I can entirely blame them because I didn’t expect them to pleasure me, and I didn’t know how they could.
I didn’t know what pleasure was until I masturbated, and I had lost my virginity before that. I guess I always assumed that I was close to pleasure, that this was what pleasure in sex was. Then at a friend’s urging, I bought myself a vibrator, and I actually learned what pleasure was. And I definitely had never come close to that! Why does it feel like a big deal that I’m talking about masturbation? Why am I even nervous about what I’m going to say next? We need to discuss pleasure openly so women realise that they’re not getting it so that women realise that they can ask for it, and they should. We need to talk about masturbation and oral and stimulation and clitorises, so girls know that they deserve to feel pleasure and can.
My biggest mistake was never touching myself before I lost my virginity. I thought it was dirty and shameful, and whenever I even considered it, I felt like a disgusting person.
If I ever have a daughter, I want to start a conversation about self-pleasure because someone has to. Do you think boys are just born knowing they can masturbate? No, it’s shown in films, it’s talked about, it’s even mentioned in sex education. But who is talking about how girls get pleasure? Who is telling them that they even can?
We need to. And so I’m here, talking about virginity and masturbation, precisely because it scares me to do so. You need to know your body to help someone else discover it. You need to know pleasure to know when you’re not having it and that comes from masturbating. I think everyone needs to buy a sex toy and try it out, and learn that it’s okay to use one.
I was fortunate enough to have a friend recommend this to me and help me to find the right vibrator. But I recognise that not everyone is comfortable asking this, or has someone to ask. So let me be that friend, and I would recommend OSUGA. This revolutionary brand designs sex toys for women by women. They’re not about the male gaze in a phallic form, and they’re not terrifying at first glance like some others can be. They’re small, cute and focused on making you comfortable with your pleasure. Personally, I find the price reasonable given the quality of the product, but if you don’t, you can knock $10 off the price using the code FLEUR.
Buying a sex toy may not be for you yet, and that’s okay. For me, it was the choice to invest in my own pleasure, to break the stigma that I held around masturbation. For others, they just need a scented candle, an hour alone, and some hand stretches. My point is not to deter us from talking about sex and the realities of it. Because it can hurt, it can be uncomfortable, and it is definitely intimidating. But rather, I want us to extend the conversation past these displeasures, and I want us to clarify that it doesn’t have to be this way. If you know how to get yourself ready, then it won’t feel dry and painful. If your partner treats your pleasure as equal to their own, then it won’t feel as scary and uncomfortable. Losing your virginity shouldn’t only be good for men; it should be a moment of pleasure for both parties.
We need to correct the dialogue around losing your virginity. We need to teach women that they deserve pleasure, as much as any man does.
Please be aware that this article contains an affiliate link. This is a brand I chose to work with, so that I could give specific advice and a recommendation for those looking for it.
Welcome to Symptoms of Living! A place where I like to relieve myself of the barrage of thoughts and ideas filling my mind. Here I'll take a look at various topics, from books to BPD, series to self-harm, there's nothing that we can't, and shouldn't, talk about.
Having struggled with mental illness since the age of 15, one of the hardest parts was how alone I felt in it. While mental illness is beginning to be discussed more openly, and featured in the media, I still think there is room for improvement. So whether it is mental illness or merely mental health, a bad day or a bad year, let's make this a place to approach it and strip it back. Everyone has their own symptoms of living, and you certainly won't be the only one with it.
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