Losing your virginity. Did that sentence bring back nightmares? For some of us it does, for some it doesn't and some of us don't know yet. In the documentary How To Lose Your Virginity, which has recently become available online, filmmaker Therese Shechter decided to take on questions surrounding when people lose their virginity, how virginity is lost, and the many definitions of what "virginity" even is. I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that for many of us, losing our virginity probably wasn't as magical as we'd envisioned. For most of us, they were probably more like a scene out of American Pie than The Notebook. There's a lot of emphasis on when to lose your virginity and who to lose it to — and all the while, there's still a huge pressure on girls today to both be sexy and remain virginal. Shechter's documentary takes on the double standards women face both with regards to the shaming of those who are openly sexual, and that faced by those who have chosen not to be.
One of the way Shechtler explores the possibility of redefining virginity is through the concept of a "virginity punch card." Said the filmmaker in an interview with Bitch Magazine, "Sex is this huge, huge thing. I didn’t want to get rid of the concept of virginity altogether because it seems to be pretty ingrained in our culture, but I wanted to redefine it." She continued, "I wanted to define it by saying, 'Well, you can define it by what’s important to you and if you want to have 10 different times when you’ve lost a virginity then that’s totally fine.'"
As Schechtlxer sees it, "virginity" doesn't have to end as soon as penetration begins; rather, it can be a celebrated process of sexual milestones throughout someone's life.
One of the most unique concepts of Shechter's work is the interactive "V-Card Diaries" blog page where readers can submit their own personal stories. The blog is broken up into categories including, "I don't want to be a slut," "I think everyone else is doing it," and, "I am a sexual person." Contributors share experiences and thoughts on virginity and sexuality, discussing embarrassing first times or reasons they decided to wait. Stories also touch on deeper topics including religion, sexual orientation and sexual assault. You can check out a few highlights below, but do head on over to the V-Card Diaries site to explore even more — it's definitely, definitely worth it.
I Don't Want to Be A Slut
It Hurt Like Hell.
I Am A Sexual Person
"It was there, and then it was gone. It didn't change me," said S. R. from Charlotte, NC.
I Don't Think Virginity Is Real
"Mostly, I am deeply saddened by our culture's active hostility toward any semblance of reason and respect for nature when it comes to every single aspect of human sexuality," wrote Dan from the Bay Area.
It Gets Better
"I had totally swallowed the subliminal propaganda that girls shouldn't want sex or should at least try and hide it if they do, and thus had no knowledge of my own body or sexuality whatsoever," explained Emma from Australia.
What virginity is changes vastly depending on our religious believes, sexual orientations, the cultures we were raised in, and more. In some places, virginity is worth thousands of dollars, while in other cultures, you're shamed if you reach a certain age and are still a "virgin." The point is, that we should see that virginity is a social construct and we are the only ones who have the right to define our sexual experiences.
I agree with Shechtler when she said, "The fact that becoming sexual is this really, really long process with a lot of first times and a lot of first experiences, to isolate it into this one tiny moment when a penis enters a vagina doesn’t make any sense at all."
Watch the trailer for the film here: