March 2, 2010

My First Time (Preaching on The Big V)

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Let’s get autobiographical:

(In the beginning.)

Unlike many of my brethren (sistren?), the first time I read the Torah wasn’t until the year after my Bat Mitzvah. A friend convinced me to do it. I was against it, only because I felt the act would negate my First Time. Friend made a good point: “Why do you feel like everything that comes after your first time [reading Torah] needs to be less? What if the introduction is a sort of anti-climactic stepping stone, and everything that comes after is better, or bigger?”

Lesson learned, right? Not. I forgot her words until some time later — a time I won’t define for you nosybodies — when I became no longer a virgin, or “lost it” as the people tend to grossly and problematically say.

Taylor Swift, bless her shikseh heart, may not get the message. Whether that’s because she hasn’t had a Bat Mitzvah, or hasn’t had sex, is anyone’s guess — and is just one more reason she’s a kick-ass role model. Whenever the press gets nosy about T. Swifty’s virginity, she always laughs them off: “It’s not anyone’s business, and I don’t want people to start picturing me naked.” This is, in my opinion, a much stronger and more self-aware response than Britney’s ongoing need to lie to the media about her virginity (or lack thereof), or Jessica Simpson’s virginity pledge to her dad.

So, T, I’m taking your advice. Sharing when, where or how I “lost it” is not going to happen; it’s really not a particularly interesting story, and it’s also none of your damn business. Moreover, it doesn’t matter.

This is important — perhaps the only important thing I will ever say. It is also boring, redundant and not particularly newsworthy:

How you lost your virginity does not matter in the scheme of things. It is arbitrary. It is — dare I say? — in-freaking-significant. It’s like one worker ant amongst a million other worker ants, building a … whatever it is that ants build. It feels like it matters to you (the ant) at the time. It may feel like it matters later. If it does, it only does to you.

Can you feel it, chickadees? Can you feel all of that tension, that built-up anxiety and guilt and personal shit we like to call baggage just drop off your shoulders? I can. It’s pretty sweet.

(Getting “kinda preachy,” am I? Why, sir, I’ve barely gotten started.)

We project so much shit onto sex: anger, fear, guilt, religious rules, death-and-life morality, judgment and self-loathing. So much of that ends up on sex, on people who choose to have sex, on, yes, women who choose to have sex. If they didn’t, then people wouldn’t waste so much of their precious time going on slut hunts against women like Belle de Jour when they could be focusing it on fighting human trafficking. If we didn’t, there would not be slut coughs. If you didn’t, I wouldn’t have so many emails in my Sun inbox from people I have never met calling me a “self-obsessed bitch” (debatable) or a “slut you are a slut you feminist ho-bag” (I still want to set that one to music).

And most of our pathos piles on virginity. It’s a concept that grew out of the days before paternity tests, when patriarchal societies needed to know who the real baby daddy was. Shaming a woman into virginity until marriage was supposedly a way of making sure that little brat was actually yours. History: Creating literal mindfucks since Year 0.

The sexual liberation was supposed to pull us out of this mess. It didn’t. Men, women et. al., place a ridiculous amount of weight on the big V, as if it alone was the litmus test of one’s moral center, or candidacy for a generic rom-com starring Patrick Dempsey. Way to make people feel shitty for no reason, McDreamy.

(With all this darn sex-talk, people may think, “Wow, she must get around.” Which is true. I have a car, after all. I tend to … drive places … that are around … a lot.)

These things I say are not new, and they may seem, to you, like no big deal. Like I’m singing the same old tune I always sing for no reason at all. Except these false ideals of the First Time are as persistent as cockroaches — and as toxic. From friends, from co-workers, from random biddies and dudes at clubs, I keep hearing this sound of regret-cum-self-loathing — this never-ending fear that somehow the sex we chose to have in our teens and early twenties will be the sex we have for the remainder of our lives. That somehow who and when and how you chose to have sex for the first time predetermines who and when and how you have sex the second, or the 10th, or the one thousandth. That how you “lost” your virginity (come on people, haven’t you gained something in the process?) will determine your future happiness. There’s a reason why they’re called “learning experiences.”

At the end of the day, no one else is there or able to tell you what to do or what not to, or make you feel regret because “your first time” wasn’t a fairy tale. At the end of the day, it’s just me, and you, in a room. A lot of wine. A little awkwardness. A condom, or two.

(Amen.)

Julie Block, a senior in the College of Arts and Sciences, is a former Sun Arts and Entertainment Editor. She may be reached at jblock@cornellsun.com. WTF, Mate?! appears alternate Wednesdays this semester.

Original Author: Julie Block