There are all sorts of ‘first times’. The first time we find out why access to our parent’s bedroom is occasionally blocked on a Saturday morning, Yeeuchhh! What a shocker. Then there’s the first time we get over our squeamishness and set out to demystify this invisible activity for ourselves. Could be good, could be bad. This may then segue into one of the most crushing blows ever dealt to a teenager. The first time our partner-in-virginal-crime decides he or she might like to experience ‘it’ with someone else. Ouch. No one forgets that pain.
Joe McCarthy of Gumption, via the very cool Shel Israel and his Naked Conversations, alludes to the maelstrom of thoughts and feelings that these experiences might engender in his candid March 9 post. Arming young people with the nuts and bolts, the sexual mechanics of how to get from A-B, is a great thing. And if we don’t want to tell them ourselves, there are many more fonts of knowledge from which they may drink – friends, books, the Internet, whatever. But who prepares them for how they might feel? Who tells them that the organ located between their ears is an incredibly powerful force, one that can buffet us this way and that with the sheer volume and ferocity of thoughts and emotions? We spend a lot of time at school. Might some of that time be better spent learning to harness the awesome power of our minds, or as my friend Jeff, a big fan of Cognitive Behavioural therapy, refers to it, ‘getting yourself a psychic toolbox’?
This thought brings to mind an interview with film director David Lynch I read a while ago. He is an advocate of Transcendental Meditation. Not only that but he has set up a foundation that aims to ‘ensure that any child in America who wants to learn and practice the Transcendental Meditation program can do so’. Children studying TM meditation apparently benefit not only from an improvement in academic performance, but it also helps those with high blood pressure and other stress-related disorders such as anxiety, depression and drug abuse. This is progressive food for thought.
Another suggestion comes via Hud Saunders, friend and author of West of Soho. Hud thinks that children should be taught philosophy, and upon investigation, the results are extraordinary. By encouraging the development of thinking, listening and speaking skills, pupils in a UK school demonstrated greater self-esteem and emotional awareness. The course’s aim is to empower children to take a more balanced view on life, because sometimes life does suck. Lots of things don’t turn out the way we imagine they might, the loss of our virginity being a case in point. A philosophical standpoint might teach us that the first time is only that - the very first step of a lifelong, potentially thrilling adventure.
Before I go, Joe McCarthy gives voice to another important virginity related thought that I have often asked my interviewees, he says, ‘Its interesting that virginity is always lost….what is gained? Forty-two year old interviewee, Hannah Jones * has the answer. ‘I think it should be called ‘gaining’ your virginity not ‘losing’, because it’s the most gorgeous thing to do, it’s so lovely and pleasurable, and how can that be a loss? That’s just patriarchal fifteenth century crap!’
Couldn’t have said it better myself Hannah.
*All interviewee names are changed to protect identity.