The Virginity Project, aka me, has slain a few personal demons lately, specifically, my fear of standing up and talking in front of a large amount of people. I was horribly shy as a child. If I knew I had to speak at school assembly I would give myself a stress related ulcer about it for several weeks in advance. Few things filled me with as much dread as delivering some half hearted speech about the Romans whilst everyone stared at me and yet…..it all becomes a slightly different proposition when one actually has something to say. So it was proven to me recently when, on the back of my book release, I got an invitation from Euro RSCG. They look after the creative advertising account for mega brand Durex. ‘We’re organizing a strategy day for our client’, they said. ‘Would you like to come and be our guest speaker? You can tell us about your book and what it’s like for young people to lose their virginity these days.’
WOULD I? I knew it was a great opportunity, not only to promote my research but to prove something to myself. You can’t be an author in isolation these days. Quite apart from the writing, the blogging and the pr, you’ve got to have a personality and the only way to communicate it is to get out there and talk. So I did. I stood up and delivered a 15 minute journey through the most pertinent parts of ‘The First Time’. I told them why it had been nigh on impossible to interview young people (the experience is too fresh in their minds and the last thing they want to do is sit down and tell a grown up about it). I read them the hilarious and slightly tragic story of ‘Bench Press Guy’, a twenty year old male virgin.
I explained how the internet is such a double edged sword for young people today. They won’t get to their wedding nights like 25 year old Edna did in 1940 not knowing what a naked man looks like but they might be surprised to discover that women do, in fact, have pubic hair because they’ve been so over exposed to pornography. The people from Durex might also have been surprised to learn those same older generations were just as keen to explore as we were. I interviewed a lady once of 101 who had lost her virginity in the 1930’s. She’d also lost her memory, i.e. she couldn’t tell me about the precise ‘moment’ that it happened. But she was 100% certain of one thing: it was gone before her wedding day.
I won’t lie. I practised my talk beforehand. Not a lot. Enough to know that I wasn’t going to fluff it but the part of the proceedings I really couldn’t have accounted for is that I enjoyed myself. I’ll probably always be nervous standing up in front of a crowd to a degree – isn’t everyone? I like to think that’s what keeps us sharp and engaged but I was shocked to realise that I’m quite eager to speak in public again.
Afterwards, the client wrote and said that it had been really great to get that first person story from the front line of virginity loss. As a client, she said, most of your time is spent looking at spread sheets and crunching numbers. Feelings don’t really come into it but this was a visceral reminder of what it’s like to be young and on the brink of a sex life. It’s a big deal. Little did she know; I’d had my own personal first time too.
I haven't even told you about my first 'reading' at a literary event yet but thats a tale for another time.
Today’s story is a cracker. Bits of it make me slightly uncomfortable. I think you’ll guess which bits I mean. But I’m not here to judge or censor. I’m here to report from the front line of virginity loss.
Sophia, United States of America, born 1990, still a virgin
‘I grew up in a small, rural town in the Northeastern United States. When you're from a place where everybody knows you, your family, and more details about your life than makes you comfortable, it is extremely hard to live, and experience life, openly. My formative years were, like most people's, extremely difficult. My year at school was less than 200 people, and we comprised the youth of two small towns. Combine such a small pool of people with the universal nastiness of teenagers and you get a constantly harassed and repressed mass of flesh: Me.
I was (and am) an energetic, vibrant, and extremely intelligent young woman, but unfortunately these were traits that made me the target of constant bullying. To say I was never the object of male attention is an understatement. Boys at my school were unbearably cruel. Being told that they wouldn't let me give them a blowjob with a bag over my head did wonders to ruin my self-esteem (especially since I am not grotesque looking by any stretch of the imagination).
Since having a teenaged romance was clearly not an option for me, I immersed myself in my education and eventually discovered the wonderful world of feminist theory. It was perfect - analytical, controversial and evolutionary. It was a direct reaction to my teenage torment from my male counterparts (typical, I know). When, for my 16th birthday, my beautiful and loving sister gave me a copy of the book 'Cunt' by Inga Muscio, I decided at that moment that I would take control of my body for my own sake. I did not need some boy to show me my own anatomy to show me what turns me on. I could do it myself, and boy did I ever!!
Self exploration, with hand, with toy, and with mind opened me up to my inner workings, without ever having to open my legs to reveal them to another. I learned what felt good and what didn't. I learned what turned me on and what didn't. I learned that I am a fetishist, beyond a shadow of a doubt. Pain, restraint, and denial of pleasure get me hot like nothing else except for the idea of having complete control and domination over a man (all of these things make perfect sense when considering what I had to deal with while developing my sexuality).
Eventually, at the ripe age of 18, I was granted the opportunity to move beyond the suffocating bubble of my high school, starting university a year early and spending that year abroad in Bulgaria. I had been to Bulgaria many times before on holiday with my family, but this time was different. To be away from home, from family, and most of all away from anybody that knew me or my past was liberating to say the least. After a week in my dorm I had my first kiss with a Spaniard named Carlos. The vodka we consumed was apparent on his lips and tongue, and his greedy hands. He wanted way more than I was going to give. After peeling him off of me I called it a night, as I was more than satisfied and buzzing with the happiness that somebody, at least ONE PERSON in this whole wide world found me desirable. I kissed a few more people that year, both men and women, but nothing else.
When I returned home, I returned to my life of studies, and boredom, and celibacy. Life in my pipsqueak town was not enough, for I had seen the world and wanted more. I returned to Bulgaria, this time for a 4 month summer holiday. My sexual experience didn't progress much, but strides were made. My pussy was touched by a man, but I was tripping on LSD and some other drugs at the time so couldn't feel anything and couldn't stop laughing (because of the drugs, I presume, as nothing about the situation was funny). I met a foot fetishist and finally got to live out my fantasy of domination, forcing him to worship each of my toes whilst humiliating him in front of a party full of people. This was grand for both of us, yes, yes it was indeed.
The most memorable experience, though, was also the most personally traumatic. There was an older guy named Andrei, 25 years to my 19 years, who had my attention in a most intense way. We had many dates, some of which were shared with his former girlfriend (who is also my ex-best friend, but that is another can of worms entirely). I really liked him and still do. A LOT. After a long night of drinking, he was loosened up enough to honor my request for a few firm slaps on my ass. This got me hot hot hot. From that point I couldn't stop touching him and eventually we kissed, and then he invited me to his house. That night was going to be THE night. I could just feel it. But, alas, in my drunken state had forgotten that I was on my period so it would not be possible. Instead we just made out and cuddled, which was fine until the morning when I realized, still drunk, that I had a tampon in for around 20 hours. I hauled ass home, giving him only a peck on the lips as a goodbye. I'll never forget the look of disappointment on his face as I walked away. It could have been the moment to begin so many more moments. In step with the rest of my sexual history, it was not. Things were awkward between us after that, partly because of his (perceived) rejection from me and partly because of the mental breakdown I was experiencing as a result of my life being turned upside down by said ex-best friend).
I went home to America once again, and dissatisfied with that life, returned to Bulgaria. I've been here for a week and saw Andrei once. He still has the same cheeky glint in his eyes that I so much adore. He seems as if he still has interest in me.
So, Kate, I am now on a mission. Virginity shall be lost. I have made the decision to be a gifter. Wish me luck. If luck comes, you will be hearing from me once more.'