My heart sung when I read today’s story because close to the end, Sonia picks up on an issue that’s really close to my heart. ‘I have always felt so lucky to live in the freedom that I do’ she says, ‘and was under the impression that my virginity was in my control.’
Lets break this down. If you live in the West and you’re a woman, your virginity largely is in your control. We don’t lead the lives that our mothers and grandmother’s did. We have our own free will and most of us don’t expect to hold onto virginity until marriage. Bravo for that freedom.
And yet, you only need to take one look at the race for the republican nomination in the States to realise something really chilling. ‘I feel lucky’ says Sonia…and she should do because the fight for the White House is mostly being battled over the bodies of young women just like Sonia. Even the most liberal of the three candidates, Mitt Romney, has spoken of his plans to get rid of Planned Parenthood and its contraceptive services. If you are a woman, that’s your contraceptive services he’s talking about. And that’s the best of it.
Both Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum would like to take away your right to control your own fertility full stop. If you get pregnant, guess what? You’re going to be a parent. Even if your pregnancy was, god forbid, the result of rape or incest. Sorry, but the beliefs of a bunch of backward, white village idiots (hereafter known as The Village Idiots) are more important than your future, or that of a child you are not ready to give birth to. Scared? You should be.
I realise that tactics such as these are a way of polarizing the electorate, that it may not actually come to that in the event that one of these numbskulls actually takes the reigns of the most powerful country in the world. I believe, I hope, that American men and women do not want to give these people power but as the old saying goes, many a true word spoken in jest. The fact that voice has been given to such pre-historic, Victorian and frankly dangerous ideas (link to Rush Limbaugh wank bag story. Yup, left that in on purpose) should sound alarm bells to every single young woman – and man - who is planning on having a life.
I wasn’t actually planning on mentioning the F word but bugger it, now I’m here I’m going to. I’ve never particularly liked the F word. It conjures up images that make me slightly uncomfortable but I’ve had an epiphany: I realise that as a woman, I have often been shamed out of using the F word. If I had a penny for every time I’ve been asked by sensible people, people whom I wouldn’t have thought capable of asking such daft questions like.…’are you like, one of those feminist types?’ Phrased in such a way that an affirmative answer might be seen to be slightly unappealing, I can only quote the words of a famous lady whose name escapes me in reply: ‘Every time I express an opinion that differentiates me from a door mat, I get asked if I am a feminist’. I suggest you reclaim your right to the F Word and do the same!
Because feminism in the 21st century is really quite clear. If you enjoy – and want to keep - the same life that the other half of the planet enjoys, in all probability, you are a feminist. If you’d prefer to live the life of my mother in the 1950’s, there’s a chance that you’re not. And let’s just recap that life. You won’t have a job because you’re a slave to your body. Every time you get pregnant (and let’s not forget that until the early 1970’s, rape within marriage was not a legal concept, i.e. your husband’s ‘needs’ and desires were more important than your own), you will bear another child because abortion, much less contraception is not legal or obtainable. Ergo, you will not work either, or have any control over your own finances. You will be completely reliant on the father of your children for your survival.
And this is what really worries me about today’s young women. They take their freedom for granted when really, it wasn’t that long ago that we had none. When my mother tried to open a bank account in the mid 1970’s, she was told that she could only have access to her finances if her husband came and signed the papers allowing her to do so. Seeing as she had recently become a widow, this was always going to be tricky. That was less than 30 years ago.
There is nothing in the stories that I receive from you – both men and women - that makes me believe that you want to return to the dark ages. But the fact is that The Village Idiots quite possibly do.
Don’t be complacent. My childbearing years are limited, therefore nobody can control me but yours are not. Sonia has an appreciation of her freedom. Develop the same sentiments and develop them fast. Use your voice. Use your vote. Don’t think you are exempt if you are British. Nadine Dorries managed to get this bill discussed in parliament in the last 6 months; a bill that say that girls should be taught the value of abstinence. This is worrying.
We all need peripheral vision today. Not tomorrow. Because when the younger generation get to have children, hopefully at their own behest, and not someone else’s, they too will have children one day and the choices that we make now will have a direct effect on their lives. Please lets prove to them that The Village Idiots don’t have a voice. Meanwhile, perhaps Sonia will consider decamping to the States and having a career in politics.
'I’m Sonia, a nineteen-year old Canadian girl, and I lost my virginity exactly eight weeks ago today.
Sex had been weighing on my mind for a while and in recent months grown almost to an obsession. I am not the last of my friends to lose it, and equally far from the first. But I think everyone has their own time and only you can tell when it’s yours. I trusted myself. I was ready.
I was also just the tiniest bit wary. You see, I do not know who my first kiss was. I can barely even tell you his hair colour. It was a high school dance. I was fifteen, it was wonderful, spontaneous and completely surprising all at once, and in the excitement and his rush to leave I accidentally gave him the wrong phone number, and never saw him again. Robbed of a ‘pivotal’ moment in my life, and devastated in that teenage angsty way, I promised myself then and there that losing my virginity would be different. I would know the man.
In the intervening years I had a variety of opportunities, but it never happened. My only real relationship dissolved into pieces, and I remained unwilling to cross that threshold with a stranger. Over time the situation became increasingly tense, because although society respects the ‘pure, virginal’ woman, no one wanted the responsibility of being my ‘first.’ What’s the BIG DEAL? I couldn’t understand, and I still don’t understand, when my virginity wasn’t such a precious thing to me, why everyone else had the right to decide it was some ridiculous commodity.
‘It should be special’ was the refrain…’some guy who will wine and dine and romance you...’ Well fuck that. I have never been in love, I am midway through second-year university and have no idea where my life will take me. I didn’t want a formal relationship. My future is too foggy to commit to anything long-term right now, let alone another person! I wanted a friend, someone I trusted, to show me the ropes. I was horny as hell, and smart enough to realise that everything has to be learned, even sex.
Then one day last November, I came very close. Fooling around in the backseat of a car with a guy I had been seeing informally for a while, he asked for a blow-job - and I must have hesitated just that moment too long, because he promptly realised I was a virgin. I might as well have been a leper. ‘I can’t do this,’ he said, and proceeded to list every reason why not, beginning with it being too much responsibility and fear that I would fall in love with him, and ending with his deadest assumption that I would be ‘complete crap and unable to get him to orgasm.’ I have never been so humiliated in my life.
Nor so insulted. What gave him the right to tell me how ‘special’ my virginity needed to be? Why was I desirable only when ‘love’ from inescapable hormones wasn’t an apparent danger? And most of all, how the hell did he know I would be unable to induce an orgasm?! In an attempt to preserve some morsel of my shred pride I remember saying everything I could to convince him not to cut me off, and eventually I succeeded. Perhaps against my better judgement, I continued to see him.
A few weeks later he was eating his words. Suffice it to say I proved that inexperience does by no means constitute incompetence. Men are so easily satisfied from blow jobs.....still, for weeks he silently refused to cross that final frontier, until eventually, one beautiful winter day, snuggled inside with the snow falling, he gave in and I finally lost it.
Oddly enough, my first thought was simply: ‘Thank God.’ Finally the craving my body had been cultivating was satisfied. But there was a little more to it than that. I realise that in many ways, I was lucky. By the time we slept together, our friendship had truly matured. We had endured a series of equally awkward conversations, I was completely comfortable with him, and we both understood that although a milestone, the moment wasn’t a big deal. It didn’t represent a delusional commitment to forever. He was kind, and thoughtful, and beyond the initial seconds of pain, it was fun, a long string of incredible new sensations, and of course, it didn’t hurt that he is good in bed. But it wasn’t the be-all-and-end-all, and I won’t be in love with him until I die.
So please, enlighten me. Why did everyone try and make it out into some huge ordeal? Is it the fault of the movies for supposedly building up the hopes and expectations of teenage girls? Or the pressure guys feel to ensure the ‘first time’ is perfection? I think it’s safe to say that being a virgin doesn’t automatically make you awkward or inept, and that if you are honest with yourself and your own expectations, delusions of love aren’t tied to sexual acts alone.
I have always felt so lucky to live in the freedom that I do, and was under the impression that my virginity was in my control. I knew when I was ready, physically and emotionally, yet still I had to suffer humiliation, judgement, insecurity, refusal, ostracization...and all for what? To at the end of the day draw the same conclusions I had started with.
The only thing that has really changed is my own deeper understanding of my own sexuality. So society, it’s time to somehow get over this hurdle. I’m not saying we need to devalue sex or the importance of being mature and ready, but to remove virginity from its ridiculous commoditised pedestal. No one should have the power to control your decision, or to make it any more or less important than you personally feel it to be.’