Suck it.

Dear M-,

I’m not “worth more than that”.

I’m not cheapened because I express my sexuality in a way that does not live up to your standards. Which is funny, because I express myself in the same way as you and your partner, just outside of a marriage. That makes me worthless?

This isn’t a question of sexual orientation, really, but rather one of sexual exploration. I have spent countless years of my life being convinced that I was only worth how pure I was on my wedding night. They told me that I would be the perfect blushing bride when that “one” man decided to love me enough to make me his bride. That blushing bride would be pure, virginal, and clean.

Those years had me convinced that I was only worth how each man viewed me. The countless groups, studies, and sermons had me convinced that any side-step from the purity track would have me thrown in Hell and worse – a trampled rose that no man would deem as “worthy” of his possession.

That was wrong.

That IS wrong.

This is why:

Human beings are not, nor should they ever be property. Human nature may be propagating horrendous, demeaning and dehumanizing acts such as the sex slave trade, and in a terrifying way, propaganda and doctrine are furthering similar principles. That means, that my identity as a female should not subject me to a lifestyle in which I’m immediately considered to be less than equal with my sexual partner.

When I choose to express my sexuality, I choose to do so under a construct that should not ever live up to the expectations of society or organized groups of homogenous beliefs.

I am a woman. That makes me wrong about 70% of the time according to a lot of the male populace, who believe that we’re irrational, emotionally unstable beings who make rash decisions based off our menstrual cycles.

I am a woman. That makes me wrong about 40% of the time according to the “anti-feminist” woman populace who believe that we’ve already achieved equal rights, equal pay, and equal standing with men. When I earn the right to express my honest opinions within my career field without being called a “bitch” because I’m merely outspoken, come talk to me.

So no, M-. I’m not “worth more” than giving head, having sex, or anything that lies on the sexual spectrum that both my partner and I enjoy, together, regardless of our “relationship status”. I’m worth every single second of it. Because my inherent value does not lie within the precious (dare I say “white, American, middle-class POST MODERN”) constructs of traditionalism and Christian purity. My value lies within myself, and living truthfully as best as humanly possible.

That’s why I like giving head. Suck one. But really.

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Virginity Diaries: Julie

Naturally, the next post in this installment should go to Julie. I apologize for the delay in post updates. I’m still figuring out how I want to format this blog. I’ve concluded that I want it to be part personal-narrative, part story-line driven, and also just a huge personal reflection. So a lot of it will include decisions, and hindsight analysis. I beg you, my lovely readers, some pardon for that.

Julie’s story is specific. And intricate. She lost her virginity to the man she married. They started dating at 15, high school lovers who quickly married after they both turned 18. They had a kid and settled down (and in that proprietary order) and moved to another state. Like they became real adults with jobs and a baby. So when I moved to New York the same year they moved to Kentucky, Julie and I were both uprooted from our home, familiarity and comfort and replanted in drastically different cultures. New York is fast, liberal and very, very culturally diverse. Kentucky is dry, conservative and, well, Kentucky. We talked constantly – sometimes twice daily – and she shared her feelings about motherhood and her new place as a wife and mom.

See, Julie was my first introduction into anything remotely “sexual”. We were 15 and I was exploring my first curious notions of whatever occurs when the lights were out,  or in between the sheets, or any of those other cliche phrases that implied sexual relations. I was hopelessly infatuated with my then boyfriend, his shaggy hair and his oddly striking similarity to the boy in Avril Lavigne’s “sk8er boi”.  He was the first person to put his hand down my pants. I thought it was slightly thrilling and also stripping me of my morals at the time. I took him to church and tried to get him to believe what I believed at the time. He was perhaps one of the most important men in my life, as he would be the only man I would open up to emotionally. But he wouldn’t take my virginity (and not for lack of me drunkenly trying three years after our break up, mid our sophomore year of college). No, he was only a brick in the foundation of my developing sexual identity. Julie was the encouragement behind all of it. She told me about shaving, and instructed me on how to give a proper blow job. (That one I wouldn’t need for another few years, but the information was carefully cataloged and stored at the back of my mind.)

At the time, Julie was partying every weekend. She lived a crazy, reckless lifestyle until she met her boyfriend (now husband) and met God, and drastically turned her life around. They attended church together, grew together, and became immediately serious. The whole thing scared me, to be honest, a 16-year old headstrong young woman who was slightly too demanding to be demure. Her husband turned out to be the sweetest man she had ever met. It became immediately apparent their seriousness wasn’t foolish, and wasn’t “high school relationship” status. They took a purity vow together. And from her 16th birthday onward, Julie and her boyfriend would fail in every regard of that purity vow, yet grow tremendously from it.

I’m reminded of that thought catalog post that’s been floating around my social circles this week. The one about the girl who waited until her wedding night to lose her virginity and wished she hadn’t? It’s highly relevant, and a conversation that’s floating about numerous Christian and secular circles a lot recently. A lovely, and theologically sound counter to the teachings this poor woman was misled to believe can be found here, by a woman named Phylicia Delta. I include it since it’s the best Christian response I’ve found on the internet. A lot of them happened to be huffy “that’s not true!” responses, instead of responses that directly address the author’s individual experience.

Julie did have sex before her wedding night. And she regretted it immensely. She told me at her bachelorette party. There were no details, just two shame-filled sentences. I pitied, yet understood, the guilt that she felt. I wondered whether it was enjoyable at all, and I was so desperately trying to figure out why she hadn’t told me sooner. It had been months since IT happened. The big “IT”. That night, I realized how delusional I had been. I thought if anyone could make it, it would have been Julie. But even she had failed my expectations of her. Granted, those expectations shouldn’t have been placed in the first place. She’s human, she’s fallible, like me. And like everyone. But I also remember feeling a distinct sense of betrayal and envy. I was envious because she had experienced IT, and betrayed because she didn’t tell me. And the innocent best friend in me wanted her to give the juicy details! (Did it hurt? What was it like? Did it feel good? Is it weird? You saw him NAKED.) None were forthcoming. Nor were sex details after her wedding.

I understand and appreciate it now. I wasn’t able to comprehend Julie’s reasons for not disclosing that information on the brink of her wedding, both of us just 17, shy of being “actual adults”. Now I understand her reasons. My ego survived, and I discovered the beautiful, private act of sex on my own – and with a wonderful man – 4 years later. But until then, there were quintessential people to be met and reckoned with.

And among them were, most definitely, all four of my sisters.

The Virginity Diaries

The “V” word. Virginity. It frightened me for years.

On the path to losing it (because that’s what I was told I had to do- lose it – as if it were an object I could accidentally misplace or something), I encountered a myriad of opinions and feelings on the topic. I debated it with people from different religions, philosophies and upbringings for years. You could say I actually believed almost every single side of the virginity debate, and quite passionately too, from start to finish on the journey to becoming a non-virgin. I traveled from the abstinence side to losing my virginity in a non-committal, completely casual hookup. But the process took years – and there were many influential variables along the way that influenced my decision to go from virgin to non-virgin. See, the thing is, I don’t find that there is really an adequate term to describe someone who isn’t a virgin anymore. Like non-virgin functions to describe people who have had sex, but it’s not as succinct as virgin is to people who haven’t. So, I guess like the rest of the world, I’ll be stuck labeling people who haven’t had sex as “virgins” and those that have just as “people”, since it’s kind of a trivial thing that shouldn’t define the value, worth or identity of another human being. With that in mind, I’ll proceed with my very own virginity diary.

I was raised a good little Christian girl in the heart of rural America. I went to church in buckled Mary Jane’s and dresses every single Sunday. We went out to brunch after church, and I set up play dates with my Sunday school friends, and I lived merrily in a warm, supportive church community for 18 blissfully unaware, naïve years. I believed passionately and whole-heartedly in the inerrancy of Christianity, and not in some blinded idealistic American philosophy that God was going to bless me with a perfect, large house with a white picket fence and kids and a cherry on top if I just served him. My faith was real, studied, theologically sound and proven, even. Maybe a little misled, but I will never deny it was real. I believed that my belief in Jesus as God guided my opinions, my decisions, and my entire life until I moved out of the house (and even beyond). And Christianity played a foundational role in my understanding of virginity; what it was, what it meant to me, and how it fit into a neat little box on the shelf labeled “not until marriage”.

I left home to move to New York, with idealistic dreams of big city life. Broadway shows, late nights, rooftop bars, and coffee dates a la Sex and the City. And New York became just that to me – the land of possibility and potential – and with its glamour, came a wall of opposing opinions. One of the first people I met upon arriving in New York was Chris. Chris was openly homosexual, an avid agnostic, and a self-identified realist. We became fast friends. At the time, I was trying to prove to him that I wasn’t a stereotypical Christian. I may not have approved of homosexuality, but damn it, I was going to love him like a Christian was supposed to. And my friendship with Chris planted a giant wedge between my religion and my philosophies, one that would only continue to split the two in different directions. Our numerous conversations opened the “not until marriage” box and scattered it across the room. These conversations involved everything from biology to spirituality to gruesome details about upbringings and everything in between. And neat little conservative me began to change. Suddenly, my compartmentalized past was jumbled. An earth quake went off in my mind and I couldn’t sort what was absolute from what wasn’t. And it was the beautiful beginning into deepening my understanding of tolerance and acceptance.

As I grappled with new friendships and new social settings, I met a number of influential people who helped to drastically change my opinion and philosophy on virginity. They became necessary for the shaping of my decisions and my future; which (spoiler alert) results in me losing my virginity. The stories are innumerable.

So as the muse, I invite you to come along. Read my story; send me yours. Let’s start a conversation. As the blog develops, I think I’ll find a more streamlined vision of what I want it to be. I’m hoping it sparks conversation.

Now let’s talk about sex.