Look for Part 1 of this two part series HERE.
Let’s pick up where we left off last week, on the perils young people face as they navigate the expectations of virginity and sex, and begin to consider their first forays into partnered sex.
Teenagers face enormous peer pressure when it comes to sex, yet there’s precious little education afforded them in terms of the fundamentals of human sexuality. This dearth of clear, unambiguous information on how our bodies work is just the first way we let down our children. There’s almost nothing available to teens to emotionally prepare them for partnered sex.
Mariana is 17. She writes:
I lost my virginity yesterday, but I did not bleed. Why is this?
Hold on there, missy! That’s it? That’s all you’re gonna say about your first time at bat? Is there anyone else out there who is as perplexed by this as I am?
Maybe I’m reading way too much into this. Maybe it is, after all, par for the course. For some young women, the externals of first-time partnered sex are the more important then the act itself. Maybe that’s because less than 5 percent of women have an orgasm the first time they have sex.
I guess, Mariana, I would have liked to know if congratulations are order? Was your first time enjoyable? Are you happy it happened? It’s so amazing to me that you didn’t mention any thing about your first intercourse other than that fact that you didn’t bleed. Maybe that’s your way of saying it wasn’t so special.
Sorry about the diversion there, Mariana, as you may know, the hymen is a mucous membrane that is part of the vulva, the external part of a woman’s genitals. It is located outside the vagina, which is the internal part of a woman’s genitals. Not all women have a noticeable hymen. You may or may not have had one to begin with. However, you are right in thinking that most women do. Simply put, having a hymen and/or having it rupture during one’s first coital experience is not necessarily a good indicator of virginity.
Many girls and teens tear or otherwise dilate their hymen while participating in sports like bicycling, horseback riding or gymnastics. This can also happen while inserting tampons, or while masturbating. A girl may not even know she’s done this, since there may be little or no blood or pain involved when it actually happens. The tissues of the vulva are generally very thin and delicate prior to puberty. Again, the presence or absence of a hymen (or its bleeding) in no way indicates whether or not a woman is a virgin.
Some hymens are elastic enough to permit a penis (or similar object) to enter without tearing, or they tear only partially, and there is NO bleeding at all. As I hope you know, when you are adequately aroused, your vagina will lubricate itself and become more flexible. For many women, it will stretch without discomfort. It’s even possible for a woman to have sex for years without “tearing” her hymen.
Tia, age 19, has a very unusual concern.
I have a problem. I’m still a virgin, but my bf thinks I’m not. It’s really my fault he thinks this, cuz I told him I was all experienced and everything. We’ve been going together for about eight months already, and I really want my first time to be with him, but how am I going to act all experienced when I don’t know what I’m doing.
HELP ME PLEASE!!!
That sure enough is a pickle you got yourself into, darlin’. You’ve got some “splainin’ to do, Lucy!”
Curiously enough, I’m more likely to hear from young women who are not virgins, but want to know how they can fool a new partner into thinking they are. I guess we can chalk up all this deception and confusion to the powerful associations every culture imposes on technical virginity.
And like most things sexual, there is a huge double standard between the cultural and personal implications of virginity for men and women. The cultural expectations regarding virginity are also tied to age as well as gender. For example, our society expects its 16-year-old girls to be virgins. To be otherwise at that tender age would be a scandal in most communities. But a 35-year-old woman who is still a virgin is considered an old maid—or worse, a (gasp) lesbian.
Of course, things are a bit more fluid when it comes to boys. On one hand, a 16-year-old boy who is not a virgin may raise eyebrows in some communities. But many others in those same communities would praise him for being a “stud.” On the other hand, a 35-year-old man who is still a virgin is not only the butt of jokes—or worse, a “queer”—but he’s also more of a disgrace to his gender than an old maid is to hers. Funny how that works, huh?
I hasten to add that there is a lot to argue with in terms of these arbitrary cultural norms, and I encourage ya’ll to argue away. God knows I do! And just because they’re there, and considered “norms” where you are, that doesn’t mean you have to buy into them. God knows I don’t! So make up your own mind.
But back to you, Tia. I’d love to know why you felt the need to deceive your boyfriend in the first place. Do the people you hang with prize sexual experience over sexual innocence for a woman of 19? And what are the expectations of your peer group regarding a 19-year-old guy? I’ll bet the expectation is that he be sexually experienced—right?
Well, you can see why a lot of people—and not just you—find this whole thing just too damned complicated. And rather than adding to the confusion or the deception, I encourage you to come clean with your boyfriend about the status, as it were, of your cherry.
Here’s why I think this is the best policy. First, if the boyfriend is sexually experienced, it will be very difficult for you to hide the fact that you are not. Besides, like you said in your message to me: “I really want my first time to be with him.” Tell him that! No man is gonna turn that down…ever. In fact, that may be the most sexually charged and treasured sentence in any language.
Begin the big talk with your boyfriend like this: “Baby, I got something real special to tell you. You know how I’ve been saying that I’ve been with other guys and everything? Well that was just my way of keeping all the other guys from pestering me for my junk. Baby, the truth is I haven’t had sex before now. And the best part of this is I’ve decided that I really want my first time to be with you. My cherry belongs to you, baby”
Clearing the air like this will also allow you to relax when the moment finally happens. And relaxation is the key to enjoying yourself. And you should enjoy yourself, because no one can do that for you.
Virginity is a very touchy issue in just about every culture. Curiously enough, it’s almost always exclusively about female virginity. This woeful double standard gives rise to emotional conflicts for both genders. But again, it is young women and girls who bear the brunt of it.
Let’s begin with Katelyn who’s 18 years old:
My boyfriend and I have been together for over a year. We’ve just started talking about having sex even though we both took a virginity pledge through our church. We love each other very much and plan on getting married in a couple of years. If we are practically engaged do you think having sex now would be like breaking our promise?
I’m pretty sure that the creators of all those “abstinence only” and “virginity pledge” programs out there like to think they’re keeping kids like you safe from the unforeseen consequences of sex. I’d probably have less of a problem with them if they didn’t have at their base some pretty rank scare tactics.
Scaring people away from sex is a time-honored means of controlling people.
If you have sex, you well surely get a disease!
If you have sex, you will surely get pregnant!
If you have sex, you will be breaking the commandments and you’ll go to hell!
If you have sex, you will be a slut and no one will want to marry you!
And my all-time favorite: If he gets the milk for free, why would he buy the cow?
These sex-negative messages only frighten, intimidate and instill guilt. They certainly don’t teach people how to behave knowledgeably and responsibly. And they do absolutely nothing to prepare even those who wind up honoring their pledge of abstinence for the inevitable sex life they’ll have later in life. And that to my mind is criminal. Young people have a natural, healthy curiosity about their bodies and the bodies of others. Stifling this natural curiosity with veiled threats and fear-mongering does very little good—and a whole lot of harm.
But before I respond to your question, I have a question for you. I hope you’re not actually thinking I might help you rationalize away your impending behavior—Oh sure honey, if you’re gonna marry the lug anyway, why not give it up now?—because I won’t go there. Have the courage to make up your own mind. If you’re old enough to be considering sex, you’re old enough to take responsibility for your actions.
If you abstain from sex out of fear or religious duress, then where’s the virtue in that? It’s just as bad as having sex because you fear losing your boyfriend. Neither option suggests to me that you are behaving knowledgeably and responsibly.
Of course, it’s always easier to decide on a course of action when one has all the information. And that’s where I can be of some assistance. I’m not gonna tell you what you oughtta do, but I can offer you some timely information about human sexuality that you apparently aren’t getting from your family, church or your community.
There are many sexual alternatives to full-on fucking. And if you want to remain a virgin, at least technically speaking, you might want to explore these options.
Are you both masturbating? If not, then that’s a good place to begin. You should both be familiar with your own pleasure zones and sexual response cycle before you launch into partnered sex of any kind. I believe that the best sex is mutual sex, where the partners knowingly and without reservation gift themselves to one another. And I don’t see how that’s possible unless you are well-acquainted with the gift…your own body.
I can guarantee that your boyfriend won’t know how to pleasure you, especially if he’s still discovering the pleasures of his own body. And you’d be a very remarkable young woman if you understood the mysteries of male sexuality. So if you’re both unversed in the joys of human sexuality, why not discover them together? Mutual masturbation—as well as oral sex—will help you appreciate the particulars and uniqueness of each of your sexual response cycles. And just think how far ahead you’ll be when you guys actually decide it’s time for full-on fucking. You’ll already know how your bodies work.
Even so, the two of you should be familiar with several different means of birth control—and practicing at least two methods. This is a precaution because, in the heat of the moment, you may decide to escalate things to include vaginal penetration. And if you do, you’ll be prepared. Always have water-based lubricants on hand, even for masturbation. These lubricants work very well with latex condoms. Oil lubricants, like petroleum jelly, baby oil or cooking oil, can cause latex condoms to break. So stay away from them.
I realize that procuring all this stuff is gonna be a challenge for young folks like you. But don’t just blow them off just because they’re not readily available to you. This is a big part of being knowledgeable and responsible about your sexuality. If you’re not prepared to go the distance in terms of preparation, you’re not ready to have sex.
Young men and boys have their share of trepidation about impending partnered sex. Here’s 18-year-old Tabor.
I feel kinda silly asking a complete stranger this, but here goes. I’m a pretty normal 18 year old. I’ve had a few girlfriends over the years, nothing really serious, though. Lately I’ve been seeing a lot of this one girl; she’s 20, a junior at my school. I really like her and we’re discussing taking our friendship to the next level, but there’s a problem. I’m a virgin. My girlfriend is way more experienced than me and that makes me a little nervous too. She wants me to decide when the time is right. My question is how will I know when I’m ready for sex?
I have a question for you, Tabor, and I hope it doesn’t sound flippant. When do you know it’s time to eat, or sleep? I know many of us eat even when we’re not hungry and sometimes we don’t sleep even when we’re tired. That aside, I suggest that the same bodily signals that alert you to hunger and exhaustion will let you know when it’s time for sex. You’ll want to have sex when you feel the desire to be sexual. I’m not trying to be evasive; I’m trying to get you to listen to your body, because that’s how you’ll know. To be perfectly frank, that’s how all of us know it’s time for sex. We get a hankerin’ for some pleasure and we pursue that till we’re satisfied. Sometimes that’s solo sex and sometimes it’s partnered sex.
If I were to advise you further I’d want to know how much sex you’ve already had with your GF. Has there been any sex play at all? Probably some, right? Otherwise how would you know you like her well enough to consider taking things to the next level?
Penis/vagina intercourse, or as I like to call it, “fucking,” can bring more intimacy and more pleasure than other forms of sex, but it’s not the be-all end-all either. Fucking also carries far more responsibility, particularly for fertile young puppies like you and your honey.
Is it safe to assume that you are well-versed in the complexities of the human reproductive system? I hope so. Not everyone is, of course, even some otherwise smart people. If you’re not clear on the whole concept, there’s no time like the present to do a little boning up, so to speak. Being responsible about sex is as important as being sexual. And being informed about health risks and contraception is the beginning of taking responsibility for your sexual activity.
Remember what I said earlier—that you’ll want to have sex when your body says so? Well, if you take the time to prepare now, you’ll not need to interrupt the moment when your body tells you I’m ready! You should discuss birth control with your girlfriend in advance of any foolin’ around. You should have condoms and lube available. Don’t expect that you’ll have your wits about you when your dick is hard. Remember, you’re not the one who’ll get pregnant if ya’ll screw up. I’ll bet your sweetheart will be impressed with your forethought, too.
Remember, even if your girlfriend is on the pill or has a diaphragm; condoms are a must. One in every ten sexually active teens carries one or more STDs or as we call them nowadays, STIs (sexually transmitted infections). You can consider dropping the condoms only when you’re in an exclusive relationship.
I have been attracted to male children for years. Having been arrested for viewing child porn I realize that I need to pursue a celibate lifestyle. I realize that celibacy is a demanding lifestyle. What advice would you offer me?
You present a particularly touchy issue for our culture, Adam. But before I respond, I’d like to help you with some of your vocabulary. You say you need to pursue a celibate lifestyle. I think you mean to say you need to pursue a sexually abstinent lifestyle. The two concepts — celibacy and sexual abstinence — mean different things. Unfortunately, way too many people use these terms interchangeably. This is not a good thing and only serves to muddy the waters further.
Celibacy has a very specific meaning. Let me whip out my trusty, handy dandy Funk & Wagnalls dictionary. Celibacy: the state of being unmarried. Some people infer, especially those of a strict religious bent, that celibacy also connotes sexual abstinence. Ya see, religious people are of the mind that there is no legitimate sexual expression outside the confines of heterosexual marriage. Legitimate or not, unmarried people have always been and always will be sexual, so making that unfortunate connection between celibacy and abstinence ill advised.
The only thing we ought to be able to say for sure when someone identifies him/herself as celibate is that he/she is not married. To assume a celibate person, even one who has taken a vow of celibacy, is sexually abstinent is quite a dangerous stretch indeed. Need I point out the very unfortunate sex abuse scandals that continues to plague the Roman Catholic Church?
In the same way, if someone identifies him/herself as sexually abstinent, the only thing we ought to be able to say for sure is that he/she is not engaging in any type of sexual expression. It would be false to assume that a sexually abstinent person is not married, because there are a lot of married people who are indeed sexually abstinent.
In your case, Adam, I believe you are telling me that you are both not married (celibate), and because of your particular sexual predilection — young boys — you must also be sexually abstinent. If I’ve got this right…and it is very important that I not misinterpret your words…then I think there are options you may not have considered.
I firmly believe that we learn all our sexual expression. I hasten to add that sexual orientation and sexual expression are not one in the same thing, just like celibacy and abstinence are one and the same thing.
Everything we eroticize, in your case boys, is learned behavior. You learned to eroticize boys at some point in your life; you can now learn to eroticize a more appropriate group of people. This isn’t a particularly easy thing to accomplish, but it’s not impossible either. Again, I am not saying that you can reprogram your orientation, but I am saying that you can learn to redirect your erotic attentions elsewhere.
Anytime any one of us discovers that the object of our desires is someone inappropriate, we need to adjust our eroticism immediately. This is the better part of being a sexually responsible person. In our culture, pedophilia is just one such inappropriate eroticism, but there are many other taboos. A father for his daughter, a mother for her son, a boss for a subordinate, a man for his neighbor’s wife, a teacher for her student, a counselor for his/her client, a congressman for his page…are you getting the picture? I hope so. And the list goes on and on.
I believe learning to readjust your eroticism to a more appropriate outlet is a much better option than trying to live a sexually abstinent lifestyle. The reason I believe this is that having a more appropriate outlet will at least help you channel your pent up sexuality. If you have no outlet, or limit yourself to masturbation, you will most likely intensify your longings and further fixate on the inappropriate object of your current desires.
Like anyone trying to wean him/herself off a bad habit, the task ahead of you Adam, will be challenging. But it will also be enriching and life-affirming. I hasten to add that you ought not try to do this on your own. Work with a sex-positive therapist.
You’re a relatively young man with many years ahead of you. These years can be filled with happy, healthy and appropriate sexual expression. Make it happen.
Hello sex fans! Welcome back.
I have some more fantastic SEX WISDOM for you today. This is, of course, the series where I chat with researchers, educators, clinicians, pundits and philosophers who are helping us take a fresh look at our sexual selves. And this week I have a very special show in store for you.
What if I told you that there is an entire population of people in this country and abroad who are woefully underserved with regard to access to clear and unambiguous information about human sexuality? You’d be outraged, huh? But would you even know what demographic I’m talking about?
Well, in case ya don’t, my guest today is here to help wake you up, so to speak, about this very pressing need. I am proud to welcome a fellow Seattlite and a new friend, the exceptional Jo Langford.
He is a top-notch therapist, educator and author and his primary outreach is to teens and young adults. He is the first of my guests in this series who works primarily with kids and the information he is about to share is both revealing and startling. Listen; if you are a teenager or know someone who is, then you’ll not want to miss this show, sex fans.
Jo and I discuss:
- His style of presenting to teens and their parents;
- “The Talk”;
- His background in forensic sexology;
- Sexually precocious kids;
- The sexual double standard for girls and boys;
- The dearth of sex resources for young people;
- Why parents avoid their role as primary sex educator;
- His soon to be published book;
- Kids getting their sex ed from porn;
- What kind of information do kids really need;
- Abstinence only programs;
- No one’s addressing the sexual needs and concerns of gay and lesbian kids;
- What young people think constitutes “sex”.
BE THERE OR BE SQUARE!
Check out The Lick-A-Dee-Split Connection. That’s Dr Dick’s toll free podcast voicemail HOTLINE. Don’t worry people; no one will personally answer the phone. Your message goes directly to voicemail.
Got a question or a comment? Wanna rant or rave? Or maybe you’d just like to talk dirty for a minute or two. Why not get it off your chest! Give Dr Dick a call at (866) 422-5680.
DON’T BE SHY, LET IT FLY!
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