To be or not to be, that is the question.

After a seriously long summer filled with work, very little play, and very little posting to this blog (oops), I’ve finally come up with the inspiration to write again. I’ve been watching this nightmare of a show called “Virgin Territory”, and it’s given me a bit of inspiration. So we’re going to talk about the big V.

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First and foremost, your virginity is simply that. Your virginity. Your virginity does not define the content of your character. Simply because you have it does not mean that you are “pure” or “clean”, it simply means that you have not had sex. I understand the connotations of purity behind virginity, but it deeply disturbs me that both men and women alike are praised for being sexually “pure”, but are not pure of heart, mind, or spirit. Being a virgin does not guarantee that you’re a good person. I’ve known plenty of virgins who are terrible people, and plenty who aren’t. Please, do not wrap up your identity in the state of your virginity. It should not define who you are.

Second, your virginity is something that you hold the power over. You can choose what you do with it, but know that there are always some, no matter how big or small, emotional ramifications that come along with sex, regardless of your gender. Sex is intimate, sex is fun, and sex is special in many situations. If you wish to wait until you’re married, that’s great! If you just want to wait for the right person, that’s great! If you just want to “get rid of it”, you have the option to do that, but be aware that it may or may not be something you regret later on, and always, always, always protect yourself! Your virginity shouldn’t be something that hinders you. It shouldn’t be something that you feel an intense need to be rid of. Different people have sex at different times in their lives. And I guarantee you that if you are determined to have sex, you’ll have it. Again, the status of your virginity should not define you.

Third, you never have to do anything that you don’t want to do. (Except chores, and things like that. But you knew this.) If you get anything from this post, please know that your body is yours, and you have the right to do with it what you wish. Don’t ever let anyone pressure you into having sex if you’re not ready for it, and don’t ever let anyone tell you that your worth and your virginity are interconnected. They aren’t. Because you are a living, breathing human being, you are valuable. Because you are who you are, you are valuable. What you do with your body is your business, and yours alone. If you want to have sex, go for it! Just remember to protect yourself from pregnancy and STD’s. If you don’t want to have sex, please, don’t! No matter how you identify, no one should ever pressure you into having sex. Your buddies do not know better than you. Your girlfriends do not know better than you. Wait until you feel you’re ready.

If you can’t buy condoms, you’re probably not ready to have sex. But, as I’ve stated before, no one else can tell you when you are or aren’t ready. Prepare yourself, be aware of your states age of consent laws, and have contraceptives on hand. Don’t do anything you don’t want to do, and don’t be afraid to leave a situation you are uncomfortable with.

I’ll say it again, purely because I know so many people who have felt useless after losing their virginity, your worth and the status of your virginity are not intertwined. You are valuable and worthy of love, regardless of the choices you make regarding your body. At the end of the day, no one loves you any less simply because of what you choose to do with your body. Virgin or not, celebrate your sexuality, and do with it what you will, because it is one of the greatest gifts that life has to offer.

Hey Girl, Do I Have Your Consent?

Today we’re gonna address this super fun topic called consent. Basically, consent is what needs to be given before you can continue a sexual act, whether intercourse or otherwise. Consent is vital, because if you do not have consent, then what you are doing can be classified and prosecuted as rape. No one wants to go there! Our culture tends to avoid talking about consent, so here’s what both men and women alike need to know:

In the United States, every single state has different age of consent laws. Age of consent refers to the age that you are legally able to consent to sex. If sex is had before that age, it could be prosecuted as rape if charges are pressed. You should know where your state stands on the age of consent! Many young men and women find themselves on sex offender registry lists for having sex with a minor, even with their verbal consent. Even with this verbal consent given from both participating parties, it is still illegal if one of them is under their states age of consent. If parents decide to press charges, they can. Few states will consider the age gap between the two participating parties within a couple of years, but generally an age gap over 2 or 3 years will still be considered statutory rape. In absolutely no state is the age of consent under the age of 16. For a deeper look at your states particular age of consent laws, click right here.

Now, what about alcohol and consent? This is where things can become a little murkier, since we aren’t always taught when two people are able to consent to sex.  A great rule of thumb is that if the person you wish to have sex with has had more than one alcoholic drink, you should probably wait to have sex until you’re both in an environment free from intoxication, and where you can both talk about your boundaries, what you’re comfortable, etc. The fact is that we don’t know other peoples limits. A 300 pound, 6’4″ football player will more likely than not have a higher tolerance than someone that weighs 150 pounds and stands at an average height. Different people metabolize alcohol differently, so no two people have exactly the same tolerance level. If a person is passed out drunk, is slurring their words, can’t walk in a straight line, throwing up, or showing any other signs of extreme intoxication, having sex with them is considered rape, and would be prosecuted as such. 

Another important thing to note is that consent can be retracted at any time, by any participating party. If you feel unsafe, you have the right to speak up and stop what you’re doing. If your partner(s) do not respect those wishes, they’re getting into sexual assault territory. You have the right to say no when you’re uncomfortable. It is not teasing, and you do not owe anyone sex! Draw the line when you’re no longer comfortable or feel safe. Sexual coercion is never okay. Just because you’ve done it before does not mean that you have to do it again. Just because you’ve started does not mean that you have to “finish”. When you’re uncomfortable, let it be known. Consent can always, always, always, be retracted.

For some more excellent information on consent, brought to you by the lovely Laci Green, go ahead and skip to :30.

 

Also, this.

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I know, I’m using bold face for everything today. It’s an important topic! If you get nothing else out of this blog, then please understand consent, what it looks like, and what is rape and what isn’t. We consistently teach women not to get raped, instead of teaching men not to rape. Why it’s this way, I may never understand. But we have the power to change that. Many rape cases can be entirely avoided just by providing accurate information about laws to young men and women, and when a person can consent to sex and when they can’t.

If you ever need clarification on what rape constitutes, look no further. The new definition of rape, provided by the United States Department of Justice Attorney General, is “the penetration, no matter how slight, of the vagina or anus with any body part or object, or oral penetration by a sex organ of another person, without the consent of the victim.” This is the actual definition of rape. This is what the United States recognizes as their legal definition of rape, and is what rape cases will be tried based off of.

Rape happens most often between two people who know, and even trust each other. These kinds of violation of trust happen to too many men and women. RAINN (the Rape Abuse and Incest National Network) estimates that 2/3 of rapes are perpetrated by someone the survivor knows, and 1 in 6 women have been raped during their lifetime, and 1 in 33 men. In general terms of sexual assault, which ranges from molestation, indecent exposure, rape, attempted rape, and so on, the numbers come closer to 1 in 4 women and 1 in 6 men.

Consent is so extremely important, ya’ll. Without proper consent, you get sexual assault. If you’re unsure, just ask! With consent comes safety and trust, all important to the equation of having safe and informed sex. If you have any more question, please, please, please ask me!  I’ve provided a little light reading on consent, just so you have access to those resources!

http://www.uhs.uga.edu/consent/

http://healthandcounseling.unca.edu/what-consent

http://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/2012/January/12-ag-018.html