Reveal: On That Scarlett Letter V

Q. I’m a virgin, but I really want to lose my virginity. The thing is, I’m shy. I don’t really like judgment. I guess what I’m trying to say is, how could I make myself more comfortable with revealing my body to someone?

A. “I decided it was time to lose my virginity,” says author Ariel Levy. “Precocity had always been my thing. As an only child, I spent most of my youth around adults, which made me sound sort of like one. I had become so accustomed to being told I was mature, it seemed obvious to me that this next benchmark had to be hit early in order to maintain my identity. I was curious about sex, I had a reputation to uphold. ”

It’s funny, the things we convince or believe about ourselves. Or more so, the things that will supposedly save or reveal something to us, something that changes our life view forever. Even funnier? The truth that comes at you, years and years later, long after that first blush of, “I must lose this thing,” has become the gnawing bit at your brain and you have come to see the world a certain way, one which might have made the decisions a touch easier to make if we could have just known some semblance of this truth.

To lose your virginity is to transition into the world of prudes, sluts, and bitches. 

To not lose your virginity is to transition into the world of prudes, sluts, and bitches. 

I certainly do not mean to terrify you, only to show that the decisions you make about your sexual life are almost never completely your own, and you must be comfortable with that. You must be comfortable with judgement, because to make private calls about your sexual self means to suddenly have the world feeling entitled to own it just as much. Especially if you are a woman.

I repeat. Especially if you are a woman.

Your lack of sexual activity doesn’t protect you from being called a slut, nor does your sexual activity protect you from being called a prude or a bitch. It’s like a super power, only a very shitty super power that you have little control over: Your choices about your sexual self have the power to make the surrounding world crazier than a fox. Not over what you choose not to do or do. But the fact that you choose to begin with.

Certainly seems like a shitty hand, huh?

Some may argue with the idea that these decision are not always your own, and I agree with them. After time and experience, your sexual self becomes more your own the more you wade through the awkward exchanges of flesh, the trying on of different identities, and the times that leave you wanting more or feeling like you might not ever do this again. But the good thing, my sweet? The dog barks, the caravan moves on, and life keeps a-chuckin’, with you growing with each misstep or step along the way. You’ll begin to know what it is you want (truly want). Performance wears thin, and before you know it, you are doing what feels good. You are listening to you. Of course, the judgment still lies around, popping its eager head up when you least expect it, perhaps in the form of, “Ew, who would do that,” or, “That’s why he won’t marry you.” These comments? They never stop stinging, but the stinging becomes less hurtful and more a source of anger. But you learn how to navigate the world around them, around their barbs and spurs, around the way they sink their hooks in you.

You learn how to deal.

Now, the question I would ask you is, why? Why must you lose your virginity? I certainly could think of a thousand and one reasons, all ranging from the personal to the political, something that fits into the box of, “I really want to lose my virginity.” But I’m curious about why. Is it because virginity is some sort of Scarlett Letter V, a branding of a certain type of person who everyone simultaneously fears and hates? Is it because the concept of virginity seems equal parts needed and required to be shed in order to survive? Is it because once upon a time, religious clerics and over-zealous fathers wanted to protect their property; thus, the concept of “virginity” became the benchmark of how unspoiled that property was? Is it because virginity, as Levy says, is some sort of ruler that one can cross, a place from childhood to adulthood?

I don’t mean to suggest you can’t take eager steps to lose your virginity. I’m just saying you don’t have to.

You also don’t have to take the time to get comfortable with your own body. You don’t have to stand in front of the mirror, naked as the day you tumbled into this world, and say to yourself, “This is me, this is me, this is me, I am more than this.” You do not have to listen to what you are supposed to look like or imagine that your body will look that immaculate, perfect, soft-screen way it does on a big screen, where sex seems perfectly crafted to a great soundtrack. You don’t have to keep your virginity, nor do you need to lose it.

You do, my sweet, however, have to think about what it might mean if you want to reveal your body to someone. What does that mean? What is it that makes you uncomfortable? The intimacy? The new experience? Your body? Them looking at your body? What, hell, what does the whole idea of “revealing your body to someone” even mean? Why the reveal to begin with?

I invite you to look deeper into what you mean by becoming more comfortable with the reveal that seems like it might bridge the gap between “virgin” and “non-virgin.” Perhaps what you find might better soothe your nerves on what it is you actually intend to reveal. When they judge you? Because they will? You’ll know it doesn’t matter. At all.

Got a question to ask, subject you’d like us to discuss, or myth you’d like us to bust? Keep ‘em com­ing! You can send us an anonymous­ mes­sage via the Ask Us! fea­ture here.

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