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The Virginity Myth


Name: Tia
Gender: Female
Age: 19
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 8 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.

That sure enough is a pickle you got yourself into darlin’. You’ve got some ‘splanin’ to do Lucy!

Funny, because I’m more likely to hear from young women who are not virgins, who 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 virginity…female virginity, that is.

virginityLike most things sexual there is a huge double standard between the cultural and personal importance of virginity between the sexes. The cultural expectations about 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 35year old woman who is still a virgin is considered an old maid — or worse, a dyke — in our society.

Of course, things are more fluid when it comes to boys and men. On the one hand, a 16year old boy, who is not a virgin, may raise some eyebrows in most communities. But many others in those same communities would praise him for being a stud. On the other hand, a 35year 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 you don’t have to buy into them either. God knows I don’t! But till things change these norms are the norms, like it or lump it.

I’d love to know why you felt the need to deceive your BF 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 group regarding a 19year old guy? I’ll bet the expectation is that he not be a virgin. Right?

Well you can see why a lot of people, not just you Tia, 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 the BF about your cherry.Sign-Virginville-VillageOf

Here’s why I think this is the best policy. First, if the BF is sexually experienced, it will be very difficult for you to hide the fact that you’re not. Besides, like you said in your message to me. “I really want my first time to be with him.” Tell him that, sweetheart! No man is gonna turn that down…ever. Simply put, that is the most sexually charged and treasured sentence in any language.

Begin the big talk with your man like this. “Baby, I got something real special to tell you. You know how I’ve been sayin that I’ve been with other guys and shit? Well that was just my way of keeping all the other guys from pestering me for my junk. Baby, the truth is that 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”

Like I said, Tia, no man is gonna turn that down. The BF will be so flattered you won’t have to pretend to be something you’re not. Clearing the air like this will also allow you to relax when the magic moment finally happens. And relaxation is the key to enjoying yourself. And you should enjoy yourself.

Good luck

What Happens To Men Who Stay Abstinent Until Marriage?

by Sarah Diefendorf

Russell Wilson and his girlfriend Ciara

Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson and his girlfriend Ciara arrive at a White House State Dinner in April.

Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson and his girlfriend, the singer Ciara, recently announced plans to remain sexually abstinent until marriage.

It was a vow that came as a surprise to many. After all, sexual purity is a commitment that is historically expected of, associated with – even demanded of – women. However, sexual abstinence is not something assumed of men, especially men like Russell Wilson.

Wilson, an accomplished, attractive athlete, embodies contemporary ideals of masculinity, which include style, wealth and, yes, sexual prowess.

So how does a man like Russell Wilson navigate a commitment to abstinence while upholding ideals of masculinity? Wilson’s status as an athlete and heartthrob is likely giving him what sociologist CJ Pascoe calls “jock insurance.” In other words, due to his celebrity status, he can make traditionally nonmasculine choices without having his masculinity questioned.

But what does it mean for a man who isn’t in the limelight, who makes a similar type of commitment to abstinence? And what does it mean for the women they date, and might eventually marry?

I’ve been researching men who pledge sexual abstinence since 2008, work that comes out of a larger scholarly interest in masculinities, religion and sex education.

While men make this commitment with the good intentions for a fulfilling marriage and sex life, my research indicates that the beliefs about sexuality and gender that come hand in hand with these pledges of abstinence do not necessarily make for an easy transition to a married sexual life.

Who’s Pledging “Purity?”

Comedian Joy Behar recently joked that abstinence is what you do after you’ve been married for a long time. Here, Behar makes two assumptions. One is that sexual activity declines both with age and the time spent in a relationship. This is true.

The second is that abstinence is not something you do before marriage. For the most part, this is true as well: by age 21, 85% of men and 81% of women in the United States have engaged in sexual intercourse.

purity ringIf we compare these numbers to the average age of first marriage in the United States – 27 for women, and 29 for men – we get the picture: most people are having sex before marriage.

Still, some in the United States are making “virginity pledges,” and commit to abstinence until marriage. Most of the data that exist on this practice show that those who make the pledges will do so in high school, often by either signing a pledge card or donning a purity ring.

Research on this population tells us a few things: that those who pledge are more likely to be young women, and that – regardless of gender – an abstinence pledge delays the onset of sexual activity by only 18 months. Furthermore, taking a virginity pledge will often encourage other types of sexual behavior.

Virgins In Guyland

But little is known about men who pledge and navigate this commitment to abstinence.

I was curious about how men maintain pledges in light of these statistics, and also balance them with expectations about masculinity. So in 2008, I began researching a support group of 15 men at an Evangelical church in the Southwest. All members were white, in their early to mid-20’s, single or casually dating – and supporting each other in their decisions to remain abstinent until marriage.

The group, called The River, met once a week, where, sitting on couches, eating pizza or talking about video games, they’d eventually gravitate toward the topic that brought them all together in the first place: sex.

On the surface, it would seem impossible for these men to participate in what sociologist Michael Kimmel calls “Guyland” – a developmental and social stage driven by a “guy code” that demands, among other things, sexual conquest and detached intimacy.

Rather, the men of The River approach sex as something sacred, a gift from God meant to be enjoyed in the confines of the marriage bed. At the same time, these men struggle with what they describe as the “beastly elements” – or temptations – of sexuality. And it is precisely because of these so-called beastly elements that these men find each other in the same space every week.

The men of The River grappled with pornography use, masturbation, lust and same-sex desire, all of which can potentially derail these men from their pledge.

It raises an interesting dilemma: to these men, sex is both sacred and beastly. Yet the way they navigate this seeming contradiction actually allows them to exert their masculinity in line with the demands of Guyland.

Group members had an elaborate network of accountability partners to help them resist temptations. For example, one had an accountability partner who viewed his weekly online browsing history to make sure he wasn’t looking at pornography. Another accountability partner texted him each night to make sure that he and his girlfriend were “behaving.”

While these behaviors may seem unusual, they work in ways that allow men to actually assert their masculinity. Through what sociologist Amy Wilkins calls “collective performances of temptation,” these men are able to discuss just how difficult it is to refrain from the beastly urges; in this way, they reinforce the norm that they are highly sexual men, even in the absence of sexual activity.

The River, as a support group, works largely in the same way. These men are able to confirm their sexual desires in a homosocial space – similar to Kimmel’s research in Guyland – from which Kimmel notes that the “actual experience of sex pales in comparison to the experience of talking about sex.”

A ‘Sacred Gift’ – With Mixed Returns

The men of The River believed that the time and work required to maintain these pledges would pay off in the form of a happy and healthy marriage.

Ciara, in discussing her commitment to abstinence with Russell Wilson, similarly added that she believes such a promise is important for creating a foundation of love and friendship. She stated that, “if we have that [base] that strong, we can conquer anything with our love.”

So what happened once after the men of The River got married? In 2011, I followed up with them.

All but one had gotten married. But while the transition to married life brought promises of enjoying their “sacred gift from God,” this gift was fraught.

Respondents reported that they still struggled with the beastly elements of sexuality. They also had the added concern of extramarital affairs. Furthermore – and perhaps most importantly – men no longer had the support to work through these temptations.

There were two reasons behind this development.

First, respondents had been told, since they were young, that women were nonsexual. At the same time, these men had also been taught that their wives would be available for their pleasure.

It’s a double standard that’s in line with longstanding cultural ideals of the relationship between femininity and purity. But it’s a contradiction that leaves men unwilling to open up to the very women they’re having sex with.

These married men and women were not talking to each other about sex. Rather than freely discussing sex or temptation with their wives (as they had done with their accountability partners), the men simply tried to suppress temptation by imagining the devastation any sexual deviations might cause their wives.

after marriage

After marriage, the men felt left to their own devices.

Second, these men could no longer reach out to their support networks due to their own ideals of masculinity. They had been promised a sacred gift: a sexually active, happy marriage. Yet many weren’t fully satisfied, as evidenced by the continued tension between the sacred and beastly. However, to open up about these continued struggles would be to admit failure as masculine, Christian man.

In the end, the research indicates that a pledge of sexual abstinence works to uphold an ideal of masculinity that disadvantages both men and women.

After 25 years of being told that sex is something dangerous that needs to be controlled, the transition to married (and sexual) life is difficult, at best, while leaving men without the support they need. Women, meanwhile, are often left out of the conversation entirely.

So when we urge abstinence in place of healthy conversations about sex and sexuality, we may be undermining the relationships that are the driving goal of these commitments in the first place.

Complete Article HERE!

Review: An Intimate Life: Sex, Love and My Journey as a Surrogate Partner

Hey sex fans!

I have another swell sex-positive book to tell you about today. Anyone who frequents this site will already be familiar with my dear friend and esteemed colleague, Cheryl Cohen Greene. If ya don’t believe me type her name into the search function in the sidebar to your right and PRESTO!

Not only will you find the fabulous two-part SEX WISDOM podcast we did together, (Part 1 is HERE! And Part 1 is HERE!) you will find a posting about the movie The Sessions. You’ve seen it right? It’s the award-winning film staring John Hawkes, Helen Hunt, and William H. Macy. It’s the story of a man in an iron lung who wishes to lose his virginity.  He contacts a professional surrogate partner with the help of his therapist and priest. Ms. Hunt plays Cheryl, the surrogate partner in the movie

Cheryl also contributed a chapter on sex and intimacy concerns for sick, elder and dying people for my book, The Amateur’s Guide To Death And Dying.

With all that as a preface, I now offer you Cheryl’s own story: An Intimate Life: Sex, Love, and My Journey as a Surrogate Partner. The first thing I want to say is this book is it’s not a clinical or technical tome. It is an easily accessible memoir. And that, to my mind, is what makes it so fascinating.

She writes in the Introduction:An Intimate Life

I started this work in 1973, and my journey to it spans our society’s sexual revolution and my own. I grew up in the ‘40s and ‘50s, a time when sex education was—to put it mildly— lacking. As I educated myself, I found that most of what I had been taught about sex was distorted or wrong. The lessons came from the playground, the church, and the media. My parents could barely talk about sex, much less inform me about it.

What follows is a candid and often funny look into the personal and professional life of a woman on the cutting edge of our culture’s movement toward sexual wellbeing.

Cheryl comes out of her conservative Catholic upbringing and her often tortured family dynamics with what one would expect—her own sexual awakenings as well as the conspiracy of ignorance and repression that wanted to stifle it. This is a common story, the story of so many of us.

Starting when I was around ten, I masturbated and brought myself to orgasm nearly every night. … If my nights began with anxiety, my days began with guilt. I became convinced that every earache, every toothache, every injury was God punishing me. … I couldn’t escape his gaze or his wrath. Sometimes I imagined my guardian angel looked away in disgust as I touched myself and rocked back and forth in my bed.

The miracle here is that this troubled tween would blossom into the remarkable sexologist she is today.

rsz_1greenecherylSome of the chapters in her book describe one or another of her hands on therapeutic encounters as a surrogate partner, but equally important and compelling are the chapters that describe Cheryl’s own sexual struggles as she moved to adulthood and beyond. Cheryl’s acceptance of her own sexuality enables her to build a career out of helping others do the very same thing.

Everyone has a right to satisfying, loving sex, and, in my experience, that most often flows from strong communication, self-respect, and a willingness to explore.

Despite the frank discussion of sexual topics within the book, there is no prurience or sensationalism. For the most part, Cheryl’s clients are regular people, mostly men, who have pretty ordinary problems—erection and/or ejaculation concerns, dating difficulties, as well as self-esteem, guilt and shame issues. Cheryl helps each of her clients with the efficiency and confidence of the world-class sex educator she is. Most of her interaction involves her supplying her clients with some much-needed information, dispelling myths, and giving them permission to experiment. As she says;

I continue to be amazed at how solid education delivered without judgment can eradicate much of the guilt and shame that turns life in the bedroom into a struggle instead of a pleasure.

Her most famous client, Mark O’Brien, the 36-six-year-old man who had spent most of his life in an iron lung after contracting polio at age 6, was the author of How I Became a Human Being: A Disabled Man’s Quest for Independence, in which he writes about his experience with Cheryl. This, of course, was adapted into a film, The Sessions, which I mentioned above. For her part, Cheryl delivers a most poignant remembrance of Mark early in her book.

I explained Sensual Touch to Mark. Although he was paralyzed, he still had sensation all over his body, so he would feel my hands moving up and down. … I encouraged him to try and recognize four common reactions: feeling neutral, feeling nurtured, feeling sensual and feeling sexual.

An Intimate Life chronicles Cheryl’s life-long interest in human sexuality. Her life and sometimes-turbulent loves are on display, but in the most considerate fashion. She teaches by example. She’s even able to speak with great compassion of her time living with and through cancer.

As I inch toward seventy, I appreciate more and more how much I have to be grateful for and how fortunate I’ve been. I was lucky to find a wonderful career and to be surrounded by so many smart, adventurous, caring people. My personal sexual revolution auspiciously paralleled our culture’s, and in many ways was made possible by it. I am eternally grateful to the pioneers, rebels, and dreamers who made our society a little safer for women who embrace their sexuality.

There is so much I loved about this book, but mostly it’s the humanity I found in abundance. Cheryl’sdr.-cheryl-cohen-greene enlightened soul shines brightly from every page. Her no nonsense approach to all things sexual is an inspiration. And her perseverance to bring surrogate partner therapy into the mainstream is laudable.

…what separates surrogates from prostitutes is significant. When people have difficulties grasping [that], I turn to my beloved and late friend Steven Brown’s cooking analogy that I’ve so often relied on to help me through that question: Seeing a prostitute is like going to a restaurant. Seeing a surrogate is like going to culinary school.

Finally, An Intimate Life is the culmination of Cheryl’s life as a sex educator, her surrogate partner therapy practice being just part of that mission. I highly recommend you read this book. You will, I assure you, come away from it as I have, a better person—enriched, informed, as well as entertained.

Cheryl, thank you for being in my life and being such an abiding inspiration. Thank you too for this marvelous book; now you can be in the lives of so many others who need you so that you can inspire them along their way.

Be sure to visit Cheryl on her site HERE!

Fear, Rage And Lust, A Volatile Concoction

It’s not often that I receive a message from someone that chills me to the bone. But what you are about to read does precisely that. Sadly, my correspondent chooses to remain anonymous, so I can’t address him directly or personally. But, with a little luck, this very unhappy person will return to my site and find the heartfelt response I’ve prepared for him. If not, I fear the worst will happen.


I was raised to believe that fornication would ruin my future marriage, and I believed it. But as time went on, and had trouble attracting women since I had social phobia, I noticed that no one else was waiting until marriage. I felt angry, as if I had been betrayed and left behind. As I get older, the possibility of finding a “pure” woman my age dwindles (I’m almost 30 now). I’m still a virgin myself, and fear having sex with a woman my age because she might judge my inexperience and clumsiness. I also fear that she would compare me with other men. I’m now an atheist, and I know these doctrines are wrong, but I can’t stop feeling jealous and depressed knowing that women my age have all loved other men by now, and I’ll probably never be anyone’s first. Is there treatment for this? Or even a name for this condition?

My friend, thank you for reaching out to me. I only wish you had done so in a way that I could communicate directly and personally to you. I will do my level best to be as kind as I can while I address your many-layered problem. But if I wind up being sharp with you, it’s only because I believe the situation demands that I not soft-pedal my advice to you. So here goes.ShameHands

You, sir, are in critical condition! Yes, there is a treatment for what you have and yes, there’s also the name for what you have. You suffer from acute misogyny. And my treatment recommendations are as follows.

You need to be in the care of a skilled professional, one who understands both your religious background and your current sexual malaise. I could be that person for you, but I won’t take on that responsibility through an anonymous exchange like what we’re doing here. Be a man, stand up, identify yourself, and own your shit. This will be your first step toward healing the rift you have between what you desire and what makes you angry and ashamed.

I can’t help but make the comparison between your message to me and those chilling videos made by the UC Santa Barbara shooter before he went on his rampage some weeks ago. Like you, he was motivated by his intense misogyny and his sense of entitlement to sex. And it scares the bejesus out of me that I have you within reach, all lustful and enraged, yet I am unable to help you personally.

RageI want to first address your religious upbringing. And I think I’m qualified to do this because I was a Catholic priest for 20 years, many years ago. As you now can see for yourself you were duped. The fundamentalism you were fed as a youngster has made you into a bit of a monster. It has made you sick with rage and lust and it has also made you as vengeful as the God of the Hebrew Testament. Surely you can see that nothing good can come from this volatile combination.

I call your condition misogyny because your lust and rage is directed toward woman. Somehow you got it in your head that you are entitled to some pussy and that pussy had better be virginal pussy to boot. And if you don’t get what you think is rightfully yours, because this is the birthright of all men, there is gonna be hell to pay.

Listen up, buckaroo; you are not entitled to anything sexual, no one is. You are particularly not entitled to pussy. And plank_in_eyewhoever told you that you are or suggested that you have something coming to you simply because you’re swinging some pipe between your legs is as big a fool as you are for believing that shit. I’m also pretty certain that you got this message right along with your religious indoctrination, which makes it all the more insidious. The curious thing is, I can’t tell if your fundamentalism is Christian, Jewish, or Muslim. And, in the end, I don’t suppose it make much difference. But I am willing to wager every cent I have that it is one of those three. I say that because monotheistic fundamentalism is at its core, misogynistic. The acolytes of the male god of these three traditions have enshrined the male privilege and women have been paying the price for that bullshit for millennia. It has got to stop!

When men, like you, get it in your head that one woman in particular, or all women in general, have deprived you of what is rightly yours, you know someone is gonna get hurt and hurt badly. Curiously, you don’t take yourself to task for your social phobia and awkwardness even though you acknowledge that these are precisely the things that get in the way of you making yourself attractive to the women you desire. Rather, it is somehow the fault of women because they won’t look beyond your loutishness to see the sweet guy beneath your caustic exterior. Sometimes I’m embarrassed to be a man.

perception-of-fundamentalismI’m sure glad you identified how fear and bitterness has crippled you. You are afraid that women will judge your inexperience and clumsiness and compare you with their other lovers. Welcome to the real world, my friend. We all make judgments; we all make comparisons. Just look at all the judgments you are making about women. Shame on you for trying to point out the speck in someone else’s eye while you have a plank in your own.

Instead of humbling yourself and asking for the help you need to overcome your social and sexual awkwardness, you project hate and show absolutely no compassion toward the very women who are in the ideal position to help you. What does that say about you?

This lethal concoction of hate, shame, fear, and a sense of sexual inadequacy is what perpetuate the rape culture that plagues our society. You sir, are the problem! And until you acknowledge the fact that you are the agent of your own frustration, and get your shit together, all the women around you should be afraid for their virtue as well as their life.

Another telltale sign of this facacta religious fundamentalism that has poisoned your psyche is your preoccupation with the virginity of your perspective mate. So you want someone “pure,” a woman unsullied by another man, huh? Well then here’s a tip. That kind of purity, if there is indeed such at thing, is reserved for someone equally pure; and I don’t mean sexually inexperienced. You should be pure of heart. And there is nothing pure about your heart. Your rage, shame, and lust defile you and make you base. You are, to use religious language, unclean.Love-Lust

It never ceases to amaze me that people, like you, think sex sullies a person. And yet you crave the very sex that will make you and your prospective partner impure. Believe me when I tell you this; even if you enter a marriage with a virgin, as a virgin, just like religious fundamentalists prescribe, you will come away from your first sexual encounter feeling as defiled as you know your wife will be. That’s because your sexuality is based in shame. Your vocabulary betrays you. No wonder even religious fundamentalist women keep their distance from you. You are like a suicide bomber’s vest, ready to detonate.

One more thing, you are definitely not an atheist. And no amount of you saying that you are will make it so. What you are is a disgruntled religious fundamentalist. I mean I completely understand why you are livid. You’ve been consistently lied to about sex and you never learned anything about love. Besides atheists don’t need any more angry doctrinaire lugheads, like you. They have plenty of those already. In fact, it’s often difficult to tell religious fundamentalists apart from atheistic fundamentalists these days. Everyone is so fuckin’ pissed off all the time.

misogynyHere’s my prescription for getting better. Start working with someone who will help you shed the terrors of your religious upbringing and who will show you the way to embrace a more caring and loving God? I think we both know that you will always be a theist; luckily you get to decide what kind of god will be your god.

Start working with someone who will help you heal the rift you have between what you desire and what makes you angry and ashamed. This will make you a happier person, a better person too. You will, in time, learn that sexuality is gift, not a weapon and certainly not an entitlement. You might even learn how to approach women as your equal, to honor them, not denigrate them. And if you give this therapy the time and effort it deserves you will no longer be jealous and depressed. And hell, you might even get laid.

Good luck

First Time Fears

Name: Stephani
Gender: Female
Age: 19
Location: Texas
Does sex hurt the first time?

I assume you mean fucking — penis/vagina — sex, right? The reason I ask is that there are lots of other sexual behaviors that people can engage in that don’t involve intercourse. I’m gonna give you some credit and trust that you already know this. If you don’t you have a whole bunch of remedial work to do, darlin’.

Fucking, even first time fucking never needs to hurt. One thing for sure, lots of lube is essential — first time and every time.i lost my virginity

But there is so much more you can do to prepare yourself (and your partner) for your first fuck. Begin by knowing your body and your sexual response cycle. Is it safe to assume, even though you are a virgin to full-on fucking, that you are familiar with masturbation? If not, honey, that’s where you should start. If you enjoy pleasuring your body to orgasm, you will likely know the kind of stimulation you need to achieve full arousal. This is precisely the information you will want to pass on to your partner before the first fuck-fest begins as well as throughout the event.

The more you know about your body and the mysteries of your particular sexual response cycle the smoother things will go for you and your partner. Nowadays there is absolutely no need for anyone to come to their first partnered sexual encounter uninformed about sex in general and his or her sexuality in particular.

Most women experience pain during fucking (for the first time or anytime) because of one of three basic reasons: 1) She is inexperienced, 2) Her partner is inexperienced or unversed about mutual pleasuring, 3) She is not fully aroused. Right away you can see how a familiarity with your body in general and your pussy in particular will short-circuit at least two of the three basic reasons right away. And while you can’t account for the sexual prowess of your partner, you will be able to direct him/her on how to touch and make love to you. And that, my dear, takes care of the third basic reason.

One other thing, a lot of women don’t relax during sex…thus discomfort…because they worry about becoming pregnant. If you’re not well acquainted with all methods of contraception and actually practicing at least one of them, you’re not ready to have sex.

And one other thing, sexually transmitted infections ought to be a concern of both you and your partner. Don’t be a fuck-up; if your partner has a penis, he ought always use a condom.

Good luck

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