I lost my virginity junior year of High School, and compared to my friend’s first times, I was pretty late. When I would ask them about their first times, they would smile and proceed to tell me all the juicy details. I’ve always been a curious girl; I used to lie in bed when I was younger and touch myself, becoming acquainted with my pussy. Around fifth grade I discovered romance novels, via Danielle Steel, and reread steamy sex scenes and let them play out in my head. So naturally, I was very anxious to have sex. I ‘lost’ it to a guy five years older than my sixteen year-old self, but it was consensual and I was more than ready to get it over with. ‘Lost’ is a funny word to use since I didn’t lose it. I know where it went.
Fast-forward two years and a couple of months, and I’m lying on my bed in my dorm that I share with my roommate Vanessa (whose name I changed to protect her identity). Vanessa and I instantly became friends; we both have boyfriends, we’re both Latina, and we both love to eat. I don’t know if it was my array of women’s studies books or my reproductive system bandana hanging from my wall, but she felt comfortable talking to me about sex. Our conversation evolved from which positions we like best to what our first times were like. But instead of laughing it up, I started getting really pissed throughout her first time story. Vanessa couldn’t tell if her first time was consensual or if it was rape. She justified it, since at the time, he was her boyfriend.
Vanessa’s story goes like this: She met Jose (not his name) when she was seventeen through friends, and the first time they hung out, it was her first time getting really drunk. They started making out, which led to dry-humping, which led to them moving into a bedroom. He started to finger her and she told him to stop so he stopped, and told her he wanted to respect her since he grew up with women and his dad was always in jail. After that, they started going out, and after a month he told her he loved her. A month after that, she snuck out of her house (which was becoming routine) and went to Jose’s. They were drinking, and Vanessa felt drunk off a few beers. He drank the same amount as she did, said he was drunk too. They started making out on a couch in his living room. Vanessa realized later that he was faking drunk, since it normally took him about six times the amount he drank that night. He turned the couch into a bed and without her knowing, he got up to get a condom. He got naked, got on top of her and asked, “Are you sure?” All she could do was nod her head. She told me that she felt pressured into having sex, and once they started doing it, she couldn’t wait for him to get off cause it hurt so much. Afterward, he left her there crying so he could go to sleep in his room.
Months later, she started questioning him about that night, he would angrily ask her “what are you implying?” so she dropped it. When she asked her friends about it, they told her to not worry, because it’s “just sex”. But it’s not just sex. Sex doesn’t make you replay every action in your head, finding all the ways to blame yourself. Even if he was your boyfriend and you wanted to please him; if he really loved you then he would respect you.
This semester, I moved to a different dorm and one of my roommates told me a similar story about her first time. He wasn’t her boyfriend, but he was a guy at school that she had a crush on. She also couldn’t tell if it was rape, or if being forced the first time was normal. Why were my friends scared to admit that it was rape, because their friends were telling them not to worry about it?
If we call these experiences what they are – rape, would that even be helpful? I think that it would be. Let’s not forget the definition of the word. By being silent, you are being violent towards yourself. You are denying yourself the right to speak up and be heard. It’s up to you if want to Phoolan-Devi-it or whatnot, but by letting those assholes off the hook, we all let them know that they can get away with anything. And we, as listeners, need to not minimize these stories when we hear them.
Vanessa is in a great relationship right now, with a man who loves and respects her. Everyone deserves both, or at least respect, especially for their first time.