opinionated: losing your v-card
welcome to opinionated...
where I give my arguably-educated opinion
tw: sexual assault, human trafficking
virginity my first controversial opinion is that virginity is not a social construct. hear me out—people have always remembered their first kiss, right? whether or not it was good or bad or in-between, it was a significant moment in our lives, but no one argues whether or not our first kiss is a “social construct.” I will loudly argue that having sex is more intimate, more emotional, and more significant than kissing. it's the reason some people choose to reserve themselves for marriage—the act of sex is intimate, regardless of how many people you choose to engage with.
the social construct narrative does more harm than good I want to start by saying that I understand why this narrative began. it began as a way to end slut-shaming (specifically towards women), as a way to tell people that you don't have to reserve yourself for marriage, that it's ok to have sex. when this narrative originated, the terms virginity and purity were used synonymously and incorrectly. unfortunately, this narrative has taken a turn for the worse—we have forgotten how significant having sex is. empowerment means something different to everyone, and we have now began increasingly shaming people who choose to reserve themselves.
this narrative is also harmful to people whose first-times were not enjoyable—or worse, not consensual. when we tell people who had a negative first-time that oh, it's ok, because virginity isn't real, we are invalidating their negative experience.
the first-time for anything is stressful because it sets the tone for how you view that thing from there on out. overall, it's ok for our virginity and our first-time having sex to be important to us.
from celibates to sex workers... it is YOUR decision what you do with your body, no one else's. if a celibate is celibate because they are being manipulated, that is wrong, not because they're celibate, but because it should be their choice what they do with their body, even if they make the choice to remain celibate. similarly, if a sex worker is being forced into work (trafficking), it is wrong because they are not making that important decision regarding their body for themselves (and because, you know, trafficking is an awful modern crisis).
now let's change the conversation...
here is my guide and advice to having sex for the first time.
things I wish I knew, and things I want you to know I hardly, as in basically never, talk about my sex life (which by the way means I hate when people ask about it). but, here is my advice.
disclaimer: losing your virginity has a complicated definition: it can mean penile-vaginal penetration, penile-anal penetration, manual sex amongst other things, etc. people, especially in the queer community, always ask me what sex is because there's this heteronormative definition that we always hear (that is, penile-vaginal penetration). I'm working on an article about what sex is, but for now, read my advice as it is pretty much applicable to all sexual encounters.
location if you can find a bed, find a bed. if you can find somewhere private, find somewhere completely private, i.e. not a seemingly private room at a party, or the backseat of a car, or your partner's parents' couch. this is for many reasons: it'll be more comfortable, you won't be stressed about getting caught, and you won't risk getting in trouble (reminder, public lewdness is a charge).
contraception please do not have sex for the first time without contraception, especially if it's not with someone you see yourself being with forever. even if there is no risk for pregnancy, there is always risk for an STI/STD, even if the parties involved have never had sex. if you have the slightest interest in having sex, buy contraception. you would always rather be safer than sorry. this applies to everyone, never assume your partner(s) have contraception.
lube this is not talked about enough, especially for gay men. lube is amazing, because sometimes our bodies don't respond that fast, and sometimes sexual pain (especially in the anus) can be reduced drastically with a little lube. most sex stores have tiny, travel-sized lubes that aren't a nuisance to carry around. reminder: always test any product on your hand to make sure you aren't allergic (you do not want to find out the hard way that you are allergic to latex, silicon, etc).
pain is kind of normal, but only to an extent if you are on the receiving end of penetration, you will likely experience extremely mild pain or discomfort, and this is usually a sign of dryness (which can be “fixed” by being properly aroused or using lube). you should NOT feel sharp shooting pains, sandpaper-esque dryness, or basically anything that is so uncomfortable or painful that you either find yourself needing to stop immediately or you never want to have sex again. in vaginal sex, this can be a sign of various conditions, such as endometriosis, vaginismus, pelvic floor dysfunction, and more. if you find yourself experiencing anything mentioned above, please seek medical attention.
talk to each other I know y'all are probably nervous, especially if this is both of y'alls first times, but having a conversation before the act of sex is so important. talk about what you're curious about, or maybe what you've tried and liked/disliked. now, this doesn't have to be a weird and awkward convo where y'all are sitting and staring at each other. you can mention all these things casually, and if your partner(s) can't have an intimate conversation, proceed with caution. you also don't necessarily have to talk about these things before sex—you could also cue each other during sex, meaning if your partner does something you enjoy, make sure they know it! this can be with a sound (moan) or with verbal affirmation (I love when you _____). lastly, I encourage talking after sex, like a recap, of sorts. again, i know it sounds so awkward, but the benefits of even one conversation are substantial.
to sum it up... sex is fun! but kind of daunting! never ever let anyone make you feel like you have to do something, whether that's engage in sexual activity or refrain from it. you'll know when the time is right, so be safe and be smart!!
acknowledgement: if you are a victim of sexual trauma, you decide what your virginity means to you—your body is yours, no matter what, so treat it with grace and respect and kindness because that's what it (and you) deserves.
celibates: in this context, a person who abstains from sexual activity, particularly penile-vaginal penetration
sex work(ers): involves receiving money or goods in exchange for consensual sexual services or erotic performances, either regularly or occasionally
trafficking: to deal or trade in something illegal, common examples are drug, human, and sex trafficking
manual sex: refers to sexual activities involving hands (fingering, handjobs, etc)
public lewdness: refers to indecent or obscene behavior in public (i.e. car sex, sex in a fitting room, so on)
STI/STD: sexually transmitted infection/disease; transmitted via bodily fluid or genital-to-genital contact
“safer”: I encourage saying safer sex instead of just safe—there is no such thing as safe sex, and saying “practice safe sex” is misleading because even if you do everything right, there is always a risk.
endometriosis: in people with endometriosis, the tissue that normally lines the uterus grows in other areas of the pelvis, such as the ovaries, fallopian tubes, or intestines. the condition can be painful, including causing pain during sex.
vaginismus: the muscles at the opening of the vagina become tightly contracted, making penetration impossible
pelvic floor dysfunction: the pelvic floor muscles—the ones you tighten when you want to stop passing urine quickly—can become painfully tight. it can cause an achy pelvis and pain with any kind of insertion.