One of the things I loved most about writing my book was the opportunity to talk to men. It will come as no surprise to learn that women are fairly well versed when it comes to the art of self expression. From the moment we are born, and right into adulthood, crying, talking about our feelings and expressing emotions are all acceptable (and frankly enjoyable) pastimes. Not so if you are a man. Men might embrace their feminine sides more than their grandfathers or their father’s generation did, (just check out my other blog) but in the end, men are still wedded to the idea of ‘being a man’ and all that this entails. I could write a thesis on the architecture of ‘being a man’ having interviewed so many of them for my book, and may well do at some point but for the moment, have a read of this. This story goes to show just how much men hold in – and therefore why my job was so easy. What’s the betting that if you met ‘Stuart' in regular life, you would never in a million years guess his secret?
It also brings home the idea that losing virginity is about so much more than just having sex for the first time. It’s about acceptance as a human being and an attractive one at that because if no one wants to have sex with you, what does that tell us? Of course, with hindsight, we know that it tells us bugger all. Life just isn’t that straightforward or simple but try telling that to a boy, or even a man, who has had very little close intimate contact with the opposite sex.
Warning: this story may break your heart a little bit.
I came across your article in my brother's girlfriend’s magazine. (Reader, he means last month’s issue of Glamour). I suppose I shouldn't have been reading it, but a consequence of this was that I came across your project. When I hear or read about sex, I feel frustrated, sad and depressed as I have only had negative sexual experiences in the 10 years since I SHOULD have lost my virginity at the age of 17. The sexualisation of women is a common issue raised in the news and media at the moment. One thing that is apparent to me is how people always discuss the effect this has on young women. Nobody ever considers what effect this has on young men. Here is my story on how I lost my virginity.
As a teenager I always enjoyed DJ’ing and listening to music. When I look back, I think music was my comfort zone, something I hid behind in order to avoid actual conversation with people. By the end of college at the age of 19, all of my friends had started to have sex and had girlfriends and I had not. I decided to try something completely different to my hobby of DJ’ing & music. I started a deck officer cadet-ship in the merchant navy. This lasted three years, I worked on oil rig supply ships in the stormy North Sea. I also sailed on a special underwater ops ship from Cape Town, across the Indian Ocean to my first transit of the Malacca strait (with me on Pirate watch!). This trip was concluded by a visit to the ‘Four Floors of Whores’ entertainment district, immediately on arrival at the Port of Singapore. This I didn't like. The idea of me, the western white man paying a less well off-in life Asian girl, who was only interested in me because I had money and the potential to get her out of her own country and life; quite a common thing to happen between western merchant seaman who can't get a western women. Not for me.
By the age of 22 and after much study in college, I finally passed my examination and gained my ‘Ticket’ the license required to work as a deck officer on board any merchant ship in the world, no matter what size or type. But I was still a virgin, still a boy doing a man's job.
I had kept in contact with the friends I had grown up with, so that summer, after passing my examination, I headed for Newquay where at least 15 of us partied hard for a week or so. Maybe I would meet a girl on this holiday, after all, all the friends around me (both males & female) including my younger brother had been sexually active for years. But it wasn't to be. The week ended with me feeling more frustrated than ever, particularly on that beach with all those half naked women walking about.
I went back to sea a few weeks later now wondering if I would ever have sex, yet now a 3rd officer, being left alone on the navigation bridge with sole responsibility of a multi-million pound vessel. Surely a girl would realize that I'm not a loser? I felt I had proven myself by getting my ticket - yet nobody apart from my parents seemed to realize what I had achieved.
The next year was spent working on a deep-water drilling rig out of Egypt, gaining promotion to second officer I navigated our vessel to Morocco, the Canary Islands, The Bahamas and in and around the Gulf of Mexico, working 6 weeks on 6 weeks off. The six weeks on was stressful, navigating across shipping lanes and dodging fishing vessels. My leave got even more frustrating, finding myself in the ‘negative cycle’ where ‘the more you think about sex, the less likely you are to have it’.
Finally it was my 24th birthday and I had had enough. Desperate and despairing with life, I visited a prostitute in Amsterdam. She was very nice and professional considering I had had a few beers. She was tall and she had her hair in blond pigtails and she was about 35. I only managed penetration for about 20 seconds or so. I didn't really think of sex that much during the weeks following my loss of virginity, however on return back on leave when I'm surrounded by couples and sexy women walking down the street I certainly do. I'm now 27 and have yet again been rejected by another woman I met online and went on a date with last week (the 4th rejection in as many dates). I have enough sea time to go for my Chief Officer license, but do not see myself being able to pass it; my mind is elsewhere, frustrated and depressed. I'm living in a world where women rule, they decide who they want to sleep with not men. I fear for my future, why me? When I do go back to college I will be living in a city for a year and will not be at sea. Hopefully this will increase the chance of me meeting someone.’
Born March 1984 in Scotland.