"I don't think that being a strong person is about ignoring your emotions and fighting your feelings. Putting on a brave face doesn't mean you're a brave person. That's why everybody in my life knows everything that I'm going through. I can't hide anything from them. People need to realise that being open isn't the same as being weak."

- Taylor Swift

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Speak Now #29: a caveat on virginity.

Now Playing: Wings by Birdy (damn these walls, in the moment we were ten feet tall)

Hello lovelies! I am back!

I apologise for the extremely long hiatus - I have been very ill, and then very busy, and then some. But I am back. Speak Now will be a weekly series, perhaps interspersed with a few quickies :)

A lot has happened, since I last wrote on this series. Sexually a lot of things have changed, and I have new insights and have learned new lessons. Which I am, of course, all too willing to share with you.

I wanted to make a quick caveat on virginity.

I said before that I didn't define or describe myself with the highly problematic term of 'virginity' - and I don't, because by my definition of 'virginity' I am not one, and that does not bother me in the slightest. I am a person, and I should not be judged by the things I do on the bumpy road to becoming a more informed observer of the universe. I have learned that I will do things I regret with people I will never come to love, but that's okay. Nothing on this earth will destroy the fact that I am a child of the universe, and I am of infinite worth and deserve every respect.

I should like people to adopt my definition of virginity. It is the one widely used, more or less, in the sex positive community and is the most inclusive of all sexes and genders and types of relationships and sexual encounters. That being said, I know that it is an unfamiliar concept to people and quite heavy talk when everyone is slightly drunk and out for a good time. And, you know, flirting with university boys is a whole other thing to flirting with high school boys; they're blunt, and brutally honest, and want answers.

People ask me if I'm a virgin, and I say yes. I say yes because even though I don't recognise vaginal intercourse as the only definitive form of virginity-losing 'sex', I do have my list of what I will and will not do in certain situations - and that is, for the time being, on the 'will not' list. Just logistically it is problematic, and not every guy you make out with in university will be the most mature compassionate feminist. I say yes because it sets boundaries, and boundaries are of paramount importance. In a way this muddled confusing definition of sex and virginity provides some clarity in my experiences; there are things I have not done, and will not do with you.

I am perfectly comfortable with that. I don't withold because I try to be Anne Boleyn or Elizabeth Woodville, and use sex as barter. I hold out because I have used the fundamental element of sex positivity - the right to make your own choices about your own body and your own sexuality - to empower myself. I have the right to say yes, and the right to say no. I don't hold out because I'm 'saving myself', either - it's just that some things are more high risk and fraught than others, and that would get in the way of my having a good time or staying safe. And there are so many other ways to feel good and to make other people feel good - and trust me, nothing feels as good as staying safe and in control.

I have been pressured to have sex before; I think most people by my age have. I was not tempted in the least, and for that I have sex positivity to thank. I am not so gullible, anymore, to think that vaginal sex is the only way to have fun or to please someone else; it takes the pressure off, a lot. And being open about my sexuality has been a massive confidence boost - I'm no longer the sad little girl who nobody looks at twice. There will always be another, and men are more or less much the same as one another; it is how they treat you that makes one stand out from the rest. This guy walked out, and I felt good. I had done what I had consented to and refused what I didn't feel comfortable with. That is the main point of sex positivity; you are wholly in charge, and you don't owe anyone anything.

Long story short: I don't consider myself or anyone else a virgin. But to society, I am one. It means nothing to me, but if it avoids some misunderstandings in this world of misunderstandings, then I'll happily adopt a few arbitrary labels for a few hours.


No comments: