On Valentine’s Day, I visited the doctor. He examined me to find that clamminess, tiredness, irregular discharge and glandular swelling could all point towards an STD. The following conversation occurred:
Him: “Is their any chance you have an STD?”
Me: “No, I’m not sexually active.”
Him: “And you haven’t been for how long?”
Me: “My life.”
“That’s perfectly okay,” he calmly said with a brief chuckle. I left the surgery twenty minutes later flushed with embarrassment and slightly amused at the fact that this was my Valentine’s Day. Being comforted by a medical professional about my lack of a sex life.
The following day, I had to have a vaginal swab taken. I lay on the bed, spread my legs and attempted to relax myself. Now, let me just paint a picture for you. I’m in one of those doctor’s surgeries which more closely resemble your grandmother’s front room than any kind of hospital.
“I left feeling uncomfortable and embarrassed that my naivety had been so blatantly displayed, even if just to one person.”
I’m lying on a thin sheet of tissue paper with another to “cover myself up”. Apparently we’re more comfortable exposing our nether regions if we can’t see them ourselves. My reluctance towards this procedure was evident by the automatic slamming shut of my thighs every time the nurse attempted to make any progress.
“Would you like to do it yourself? You might be more comfortable.”
“No, at least you know where you’re going. I’ll relax.”
I’ll spare you any more details than that. But this process was one of the most uncomfortable moments I’ve ever experienced. In truth, I knew I couldn’t do it myself because I really didn’t want to be there at all.
“Yes, for many this is a time during which they sow their wild oats, where intimacy is the focus and recreational sex is a natural part of their life. But there’s another story to be told.”
Once again, I left feeling uncomfortable and embarrassed that my naivety had been so blatantly displayed, even if just to one person. My nerves were on edge. This is in no way a criticism of the doctor nor the nurse. Both were kind, caring and made every effort to put me at ease.
Virginity is not something often discussed in college society – perhaps we fear it’s synonymous with conservatism. We talk continuously about not being ashamed of our libidos, not slut-shaming, being empowered sexually.
The uber-liberal university society I live in only focuses on one end of the spectrum – and that’s the sex-inclined side. Yes, for many this is a time during which they sow their wild oats, where intimacy is the focus and recreational sex is a natural part of their life. But there’s another story to be told.
I’ve read up about consent, about safe sex, about being empowered sexually, but the questions I have aren’t being answered. As a science student, we’re taught the facts of the process – bullet-pointed, step-by-step – but in truth, I find them insignificant.
“I knew the truth, as he had drunkenly disclosed to me one evening that he too was “inexperienced”. Why did he feel compelled to lie for the sake of the others?”
I won’t lie – I’m intimidated by the prospect of sex and overwhelmed by its prevalence in college society. The cotton swab was uncomfortable, so I currently refuse to imagine anything of greater size and/or magnitude. That does frighten me, but I know in time it will all become less daunting, more commonplace and perhaps, eventually, enjoyable.
But that’s not my issue. Right now, I want to know why, as a young girl in the 21st century, I’m ridiculed for not wanting to have sex, for not having gone there. During a game of “Never Have I Ever”, a distant acquaintance wanted to know who I’d had my first time with. Upon confessing that I had yet to give it up, the group reacted with a profound sense of discomfort and judgement. They didn’t really know how to react, and moved swiftly on to talking about the scale of their genitalia.
What amused me most as the night continued was listening one of my friends rattle on about his “extensive” sexual experience, which I knew for a fact he was glorifying for his audience. I knew the truth, as he had drunkenly disclosed to me one evening that he too was “inexperienced”. Why did he feel compelled to lie for the sake of the others? I couldn’t fathom why either side was negative.
“Why was having sex or not having sex bad? In school, having sex was whispered about critically. In college, it was quite the opposite.”
Why was having sex or not having sex bad? In school, having sex was whispered about critically. In college, it was quite the opposite. I’d imagined college to be a freer space, where you were free to do as you wished. But it seemed that the judgement remained – you were just judged differently for different actions (or lack thereof in this case).
Now, I could talk for days about all the contributing factors that have led me to not have sex and, in fact, led me to be quite limited with my affections overall – broken home, Catholic secondary school, limited local talent and so on. However, the truth for me no longer lies in those facts, but that’s not to say it never did. But now, I’ve come to terms with all those aspects of my upbringing.
The urge still isn’t there, and I don’t feel that’s anything I should be worried about. Just like going to a party you’re not interested in, I can’t understand why “I don’t want to” isn’t a sufficient answer. For me, it’s not a decision dictated by fear, although there are hesitations. Overall, I just don’t want to. What I do want is to be in social circles where that doesn’t matter, where we can share stories of doing it or not doing it and not worry about how we’ll look as a result.