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.
It’s clear that we do put more emphasis on the outward signs of virginity, which, in turn trumps everything else?
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.