I never remember being a virgin. It’s sad, but very true. From my earliest memory I remember feeling like someone had taken that from me. I remember being aware of body. There was a nagging bunch of sensations from between my legs. It made me want to rub on things, pillows, edges of beds, hand held shower nozzles. I knew that some men or boys would touch me or rub me in places and that something would happen to them. It all seemed very matter of fact. Worse than me being aware of those sensations and my body was the fact that others were aware of my body. It did not slip by the boys in my neighborhood that I was developing sooner than the rest of the girls. My mother was never a source of valid information when I was entering puberty. When I was a very little girl she taught me a quick, good touch bad touch. She told me my body was mine and not for someone to do anything to. She told me, when she noticed me rubbing enthusiastically against a broom handle, that there is a time and place for things and that what I was doing was private. She didn’t explain what she meant by any of that.
I remember going to a basement party in Flatbush with my older sister. She was 14 so I had to be 8 years old. It was dark and most of the boys at the party were about 14-17 years old. She had left me on a sofa while she went to dance (or whatever) with someone in the dark music filled space of the basement. A boy came over to me, started to tell me how pretty I was and how much he liked me. He was probably 15 or 16. He was obviously not popular with the other girls, and saw me as an easy target. He asked me if I wanted to dance, which I saw no harm in. We were dancing to reggae and his hands were all over me. I looked around feeling a little panicked and it seemed to be the way it was supposed to go. So I went along with it. Even with the uncomfortable feeling in my stomach telling me that it was not supposed to be happening like this. He kissed me and licked my neck, and I allowed it to progress because I had no idea what part of that was wrong or unnatural, even with the lurch in my stomach with every pass of his hands on my skin. He was grinding against me, I could feel his erection, and I knew what that was.
By the time I had reached 14 distant uncles, family “friends” and cousins would say, “Wow, look at you, all grown up.” - While staring at my breast. I felt awkward and noticed. I tried hiding under baggy shirts and sweatpants, tee shirts to my knees and nothing remotely clingy. But it was all to no avail. I recall an event when a friend of my uncles came up behind me in the kitchen and stood very close, I could feel his hot breath on my neck, thick with the smell of beer. “Ay look at you, practically a woman and all grown up, you must make all the boys at school happy.” My stomach turned, when I looked up at him I could no longer see the man that used to go to family picnics and play volleyball with all of the kids. But a threat, a dangerous predator that would harm me. Sadly most males became a threat, a source of potential danger and harm.
I wish I could say that this was a really unique life experience. But a lot of women I know bear the scars of sexual abuse. My scars manifested themselves as a fundamental lack of judgment, a complete disconnect with my sexuality and me not owning my body or the rights to by who and when it can be used. I was molested as a small child, raped as a teen and victimized (by others and myself) as a young adult. I gave away the rights to my body readily without complaint or question because no one told me that I was too valuable and too special to do otherwise. I didn’t enjoy being sexual, I felt no power. I felt, in all honesty, like a dumping ground or a toilet where men or boys could come, do their business, and keep it moving. Sex held no intrigue or allure for me. I didn’t think I would ever enjoy my body in a sexual capacity. That just seemed to be the way of the world.
I had a close friend in HS and she used to talk to me about guarding her virginity, keeping her legs closed and not sharing herself with anyone but the true love of her life. I could not relate. That feeling left a gaping hole in me. I wanted to know what it was like to have that “gift” to share with someone you loved and more importantly, chose.
Admittedly I was not in a headspace to realize that it was much more about valuing yourself then it was about some magical gift that would make everything was right in the world. It took me many years to get to the place where I could say, I love me and my body.
The first step for me was when I was in college. I met a girl named Sabina, she was German. A freshman, like me she was piled into the same all-female dormitory I was in. She was soft spoken and very matter of fact about things which made most of the other girls uncomfortable, but made me curious. See would frequently be seen walking from the bathroom to her bedroom with nothing but a towel on her head and a toothbrush hanging out of her mouth. Most of the girls in my dorm were horrified by this. But she did it anyway like nothing in the world could be more natural. I asked her once how it was that she could walk around like that, “…aren’t you embarrassed?” She was sitting Indian style studying on her bed and I was lying on the floor. She looked down at me with a sad look on her face and said, “Why would I be? It’s a human body.” She proceeded to tell me that in
When I got to college and saw more actual fully nude pornography without the cheesy editing I was still not seeing the process of masturbation accurately. From what I was seeing it was this magical insertion technique that you had to have to climax. I heard about a magical place, “the G Spot” that was located somewhere up in the nether regions of my vagina where if I could get my finger into the proper position as to tap this, could cause mind blowing orgasms. Being of not the tallest stature my finger are equally short and I always felt that this was going to be the beginning of a futile venture.
I am and have always been a very logical person. I wanted to know how this worked, “first hand” - pun completely intentional there. So I began the scientific method of discovering how and why this worked. I knew I had these feelings of excitement if I was kissing someone intensely, an uncomfortably pleasant sensation if I watched a sex scene in a movie, but in retrospect, I guess I never owned those feelings as resulting in my pleasure in any way. I just felt like they were steps getting me closer to offering myself to someone else for their (typically quick and chronically unsatisfying) sexual use. Almost like shaving my legs or buying new underwear. I felt excited and ready, but never for me and never with the intention of feeling positive about what was about to happen.
But this time was going to be different. I was going to be alone, and I was not going to do this for anyone but myself. In typical “J” fashion, I read copiously about masturbation and orgasm. An ancient and dog-eared copy of “The Joy of Sex”; a random “Penthouse Letters” magazine my then boyfriend had and a copy of the book “Storyteller” were my resources. Not the best selection of reading. But it was good material for getting into the headspace for masturbation. The copy of “The Joy of Sex” that I had obscure pencil drawing in it that were not helpful in guiding me through the process. I was also not finding any information on the finger technique or specific location of this “G Spot” I hear friends tell me about. I was beginning to think this was some sexual chimera that was being dangled in front of my nose to get me confused on my quest.
Now came the time for the actual physical experimentation - oddly, I was not excited about this part at all. First I had to figure out what position I was going to start in. The drawings in the book were one woman almost sitting straight up and another of a woman laying face down on her arm. That second position just looked counter-productive. The first position looked reasonable and so I decided to start on my back. I remember being in my dorm room, wearing a sweatshirt and bra, socks, and no bottoms. After securing my door and being sure to stuff a towel under the door least someone hear me making whatever noise I was about to make, I sat up in my bed, knees bent like I was about to have a pelvic exam and began feeling around. Almost immediately I realized that at first I felt embarrassed which intensified to shame. I didn’t want to do this. I felt like everything was wrong with what I was about to do.
I wasn’t brought up particularly religious. Given long talks about the wages of sin or told to never do these things. My mother did not fill my head with the virtues of virginity or tell me to never do these types of things. I just always shut down when it came to anything that was remotely stimulating to my body. It was when I would zone out and stare at the ceiling or count the freckles on my partners face. I was not engaged and experiencing I was just attending.
I sat up, paced my floor for a moment while I cried. Yes, I cried, streams of tears for feeling such a disconnection with my body. I felt like a little girl. This was not a big deal, I was alone and safe, no one was there to see me or hurt me and I had to actually come to terms with those fears. Once I calmed down I was resigned to complete my mission. I was locked alone in this room and I was going to escape victorious over my sexual block.
I went back to my bed, made myself comfortable and thought about things that made me feel happy, beautiful and sensual as opposed sexual. Images of a girl I kissed in high school came to mind. The softness of her lips, her hands like little birds gliding over my skin, I felt relaxed and began to feel excited. I attempted the “insertion” method with very little success. I was at it for a good 25 minutes and not so much as a tickle. However, on my way to that method I noticed this small area that was particularly shocking to the system to touch. I decided that I would return there if the first method did not work out. I began stimulation in this area and a world of sensations washed over me. My thighs were tingling, the bottoms of my feet were numb “…was I doing this right?” I was feeling short of breath…my chest was warm and my fingers were tired but I didn’t stop, it literally felt like a moment more and my head would go flying off. I was getting nervous, what if I had a heart attack and they found me here, pant less, hands between my rigor-mortised thighs? What would my parents think? Would the local news be here “College freshman diddles herself to death… story at 11.” I stopped!
I sat up in the bed, flushed and panting. Feeling like I had ripped myself back from the clutches of death, a mixture of adrenalin and lactic acid coursing through my body. Emotionally I was feeling much less shame, although I was still embarrassed by the entire idea. I curled up on my bed trying to calm myself, carefully avoiding my self created wet spot and actually allowed myself the pleasure in basking in my “afterglow.” After about 20 minutes I realized that I was giddy, I felt flush and giggly. I realized that this was my first attempt at this venture but would not be my last. I also felt a significant vibration though my body which made me feel so much more connected, not only to my womanhood but to my entire body. I felt ok with touching myself, not entirely dirty or strange. Although I did have moments when I questioned if this was a desperate act, since masturbation was frowned upon by my peers.
What did I learn from all of this? Well, I learned how to “ring the bell” first of all. Not that day or the time after, but eventually I was able to make it happen with ease. I learned that my body belongs to me, sensations and all – before I share me with anyone I had to learn to share me with myself. Finally, I learned that there is a value to virginity. Allowing oneself the time and the space and more importantly the headspace to explore their body and learn what is pleasing and what can be left out is a beautiful thing. The best sex advice I ever got, did not come out of the mouth of an older experience cousin, the loose girl on campus or a sexual partner, but the mouth of a Virgin.