Confessions of a Teenage Virgin is a digital diary by an anonymous 19-year-old girl living in the American Midwest.
Hi. I am 19 and I have never had sex.
Notice that I am not using the word “virgin”, as that very phrase connotes goodness and purity. It leaves very little space to interpret what it means to be the opposite of a “virgin.” In the eyes of society, especially in my town, the opposite of a virgin is a “slut.” In other words, someone who has sex and embraces it. The lack of fluidity and dialogue between point A and point B is stark.
Sex was never talked about in my school, at home, or even in my friend group. I grew up in a conservative household in a notch of the Bible Belt in America. I attended a Christian high school, where my increased interest in women’s rights deemed me “too aggressive.” I was never taught about sex or anything pertaining to the subject. Where I’m from, the mention of it is likely to cause shifting glances between parents, flushed cheeks, or a sudden change of topic.
I can now say, as an almost adult who grew up in such an environment, I am left with a seemingly infinite amount of questions and confusion surround physical intimacy.
It is not that I have not been curious or inquisitive about sex, but rather, I am too ashamed to ask or talk about it. If I was in a sexual situation with a guy I would not know how to give a blowjob, handjob, or even much about condoms. I would be going in blind (metaphorically speaking, of course) and naive.
I wish I could say that this is the story of how, despite these obstacles, I have successfully managed to undergo a transformative sexual awakening and have gotten my shit together. Unfortunately, this is not that kind of story.
In reality, this is the story of a 19-year-old who is just beginning to learn what sex means emotionally, spiritually, and physically. I write this in hopes of reaching those who really have no idea what sex education is, and to relate to those who need and desire the journey. This is a journey to bring together people who are just like… well, me.
I don’t want to think that sex is wrong. But that is certainly how it was always portrayed to me. I was never offered a class on safe sex. The closest I got was a class on abstinence.
As a young woman about to enter her twenties, I have had to educate myself through the use of websites, peer advice, and word of mouth. Premarital sex, for example, was never presented to me as an option, but rather, as a shameful and perverted deviation from the norm. As a result, I began to judge others who had premarital or casual sex.
By simply saying “don’t do it,” our “teachers” ensure anything but safety. People will continue to have sex, whether they know how to engage in the act safely or not. Yes, others will refrain, but this certainly does not mean it is always of their own volition. The dismissive nature of abstinence education only works to build a wall between educator and student, between parent and child. We as a society need to acknowledge the naturalness of sex.
We also need to provide teeenagers with a safe environment to ask questions, be curious, and explore their sexual nature without the shame that has been tied to sex for far too many centuries.
Talking to my parents about sex was never an option for me.
It was no coincidence that related topics, such as boys, crushes, or even attraction led me to feel equally as ashamed. Yet, perhaps even worse than the shame I have felt surrounding these crucial human experiences is the fear and loneliness I now feel, left to navigate this complex world of intimacy by myself.
I want to research safe sex practices, the art of oral sex, and to embrace the sensuality of my own body and what pleases me. I am done being ashamed of my body, my sexual cravings, and my fear of not knowing what to do in the bedroom.
Honestly, I am scared — terrified even — to explore sex because of the possibility of disappointing a partner, having an unwanted pregnancy, or sexually transmitted diseases. But as a young woman who is struggling and fighting to feel confident with sex, I want my peers to know that they’re not the only ones who feel overwhelmed and nervous, and that the best way to feel more comfortable is by asking questions and starting the conversation.
So, hi. I’m a 19-year-old virgin. Let’s talk.
Photos (in order of appearance) by Dariana Portes, Janeva Simone, Daniela Guevara.