The Vagenda

The Woes of the Diversion Blow Job: Why I Should Have Lost My Virginity Sooner

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

So I had sex for the first time on Sunday morning, around the time when my mum would have been driving to church. I have since slept casually with two other friends, and we’re on speaking terms. Why is this worth shouting about? Precisely because it isn’t. Losing my virginity did not change who I am at all (apart from the fact that I need a new joke for my stand-up comedy – follow me on Twitter @AnnaDominey if you want the full story.) It did not even change my relationship with the man to whom I ‘lost it’. And yet, 16-year-old me would be absolutely horrified.

I am 21 (which means that losing my virginity the other day has meant that I lost out on 5 whole years of legal, consensual, wonderful sex) and in my final year of university, having previously attended an all-girls’ church school. There was plenty that was positive about my education there (I can’t begrudge it as I type this from an Oxford library), but there was also a major problem. Regardless of the value of our very good secular sexual health classes from external speakers and the ostensibly liberal attitude of the school’s Christian ethos (we once had an incredibly awkward assembly led by our eccentric head of English, on why the Song of Songs was ace), most of my teenage life was guided by the subliminal message that boys were different and sex was a huge deal.

I became involved with the very evangelical Christian Union when I came to university because, being brought up religious and yet not even feeling the faith of a mustard seed, I was naturally overcompensating by trying really hard. Eventually, after an incredibly guilty-feeling few years, I let go of my attempts at believing in God, and, even more reluctantly, the idea that sex was the preserve of the married. But I still clung on (until about 6 months ago) to the idea that sex could be only with someone you love, in a long-term relationship.

I’m not sure if this belief necessarily manifested itself because I came from a church school, or an all girls’ school – in fact, it was probably a combination of both. Because we didn’t have any normal contact with boys, we pedestalized them, and a lot of girls had the idea that they had to please boys. I remember (with an agonised sigh) the day that one girl posted a poll on Bebo to the tune of “To my boy friends: when fingering a girl, do you prefer pubes or no pubes?’ This from a 13-year-old. At the same time, of course, the more devout of our number recoiled in horror and scorn – a very real manifestation of the Madonna/whore dichotomy.

I don’t pretend to speak for everyone coming from institutions similar to mine, although I do have a very extreme example from the opposite perspective. My elder brother attended a very strict Catholic school (mainly single sex, but with girls in sixth form) and as soon as he got a girlfriend, in his gap year, he managed to – for the lack of a better term – knock her up. He was all set to go off to university on an Army-sponsored scholarship before training at Sandhurst, doing the required years’ service, and then doing literally anything the fuck he wanted because the world was his oyster. Instead, because his Catholic conscience could not fathom the concept of baby-murder, he now has a mortgage, a nine-to-five and a heinously tedious commute, and is basically middle aged at 25.

This clearly not an issue relating exclusively to women, but if a significant number of young people have an unhealthy attitude to sex then that will definitely have an adverse effect on how ladybros live their lives. A large part of the movement towards women’s liberation is sexual liberation and we need to do all we can to encourage this. Of course, there are arguments out there that girls opt for more ambitious career paths or less traditionally ‘feminine’ subjects from all-girls’ schools, removed from the intimidation of their male counterparts. But, in my case, I believe that learning alongside boys would have made both sexes see each other as humans – with human limitations, not imaginary gender-based ones.

I lost my virginity in quite a casual way for a number of reasons, some of them better reasons than others. The good reasons were: I felt ready, I am friends with and trust the guy, and I find him insanely attractive. The bad reasons included that I was terrified of leaving uni a virgin because of the way it would complicate dating in the adult world, and to avoid the previously-experienced ‘necessity’ for giving what I call ‘diversion blow jobs’ in place of sex when I went home with guys after clubbing. Yeah, really.

But knowing what I do now, I wish I’d had sex a long time ago. If you view the birds and bees through the lens of the Madonna/whore complex, like so many I went to school with do, then I’m a whore. But I’m a healthy, happy whore who’s hoping to achieve a 2.i and a good job – so fuck you (and if you’re attractive, I’d probably quite like to).

-AD

12 thoughts on “The Woes of the Diversion Blow Job: Why I Should Have Lost My Virginity Sooner

  1. Thanks for sharing your story, it is good to hear you getting handle on life and direction :-)

    …but… Judge your brother much?!

    Maybe he isn’t living the twenties dream right now, but come the following decades he’ll be in a great place to tackle life and leisure on his terms being well established so young and with a child growing with him.

    Children are a boon, not a bust.

  2. Hi, interesting post!
    I too clung on to the idea that sex, or at least first time sex, should be with a boyfriend you’re in love with. Then all of a sudden I was like hang on- I have never wanted a boyfriend since the age of about 7, does that mean people who think like me don’t get to have sex? I quickly realised telling other people when and how to lose their virginity was bullshit and wondered why I hadn’t seen it all along. FYI I didn’t go to a religious or all girls school, I think the message that the first time is a big deal and girls save themselves for someone really special is everywhere. Hopefully we start to analyse it a bit more, see it’s silly/harmful and then let people make choices that are right for THEM. No other way other than the way I lost it would have been right for me- I just so, so wasn’t ready for a relationship in my early 20s.

    Thanks for writing :)

  3. I’m happy that you’re happy, but I agree with the fella above that, since you seem to resent the idea of being judged on your choices, you should leave your brother alone and not ask us to think he’s a twat merely because he decided to have his baby with his girlfriend a bit early.

  4. Mike – originally I wrote that with the caveat that he’s now very happy, albeit having gone through more adversity than he should’ve done to get to where he is now. That addition was edited out, probably to save space but I’m not (that) horrid!

  5. I replied to Mike’s comment explaining myself: he is happy now but he struggled to get there and closed doors for himself. I’m planning to write soon (maybe when I’ve finished my degree, maybe revision will encourage it sooner as a form of procrastination…) challenging the idea of a university education as the only viable option for a certain demographic of school leavers – but that’s probably a debate for another website!

  6. Almost all religions attempt to control sex, there is no virginity, there is no difference between consensual sex in or outside marriage, the act is entirely the same. Yet by making an arbitary division of good sex and bad sex, it takes the keys of sexuality away from the individual and allows religion to exert a great deal of power. Everyone wants sex, to a point (leaving asexuality aside) no matter what their religion, they probably wouldn’t admit to it, but it’s biological.

    Religions then have the ability to lead people with the promise of sex, hyping it up beyond what it’s really worth (a sensory experience like any other). “Come to our Church, find what we deem to be a suitable partner get married, then you can have sex with them” (Of course disguised as “having children”). I genuinely believe this is the only reason religions are so concerned with sexuality, it is a highly effective way of making people follow your rules, go to your Church etc.

    Of course that’s why I’m a virgin :)

  7. I went to a Girls’ school, where my group of friends had some boy friends from a nearby mixed school and we basically shared them (we invited them to house parties when our parents were away…and then did whatever we felt like). It was all fun, safe, no-strings, sex positive stuff…for the girls anyway. No one got pregnant, no one got STDs, everyone worked out what they liked and it was judgement free (well, we didn’t judge each other…I think we were somewhat infamous).

    The girls all have successful happy relationships, marriages and civil partnerships now (it is coming up 15 years since I finished High School).

    We sort of broke the boys though.
    They went to university thinking that all they had to do was show up and girls would fall over themselves to have sex (and not vanilla sex) with them. Talk about a rude awakening. Some of them still haven’t forgiven us.

    I wouldn’t change my teenage years.
    I met my husband when I was 19. Our marriage (and sex live) are awesome, and I’ve never had to worry about what I might be missing out on.

  8. I’m happy that you’re happy, but I’ve got to be bluntly honest and say your piece just oozes insecurity. Maybe I’m totally wrong but I was just left with the impression that you slept with people for a confidence boost. I find that sad because I’ve personally found sex a wonderfully intimate, meaningful thing and I hope that one day you do too. This wasn’t meant to sound judgmental so I’m sorry if it does, but I just feel there are better ways out there for you to get the confidence you deserve and ought to have.

  9. I didn’t lose my virginity until I was 19. I was at college abroad and thought, fuck it, what have I got to lose, found a man that I liked but didn’t really fancy and got the deed done. What a relief! Just wish I tried out a few more before I settled down with number two.

  10. Gosh, I’m depressed now.

    I don’t do penetrative, for reasons to do with a disability and vaginismus (and since I don’t ever want children I don’t especially want to go through a lot of hard work and end up with worrying about birth control and disease).

    I’ve always been very careful to be upfront with the men in my life about how to choose activities which are mutually satisfying and pleasurable — luckily they’ve all been perfect gentlemen.

    I hate it when people tell me that the sex I’ve had throughout my life isn’t sex, and I bet people more disabled than I am wouldn’t be too thrilled to be told that they’re not sexual because they don’t do whatever ‘counts’ when they’re using their ingenuity.