Too Young for Sex
Dear Patrick: How do you know when you are ready to start having sex? All of my friends make fun of me for being a virgin. I think I am the last girl in my class to do it with a boy. One time, my friends even tried to set me up at a party with an older guy. They just went up to him and told him he should pop my cherry. I was so mad at them for doing that! He said he was willing. But all this public, crude talk about my body made me feel pretty sick to my stomach, so I went home. He called me a couple of times but I didn’t call him back. Now my nickname is “The Nun” or “The Baby.”
Boys ask me if I am waiting to get paid to give it up. One guy I know pulled out his wallet and said, “How much will it take? I’m serious.” He held out a $50 bill. I couldn’t stop myself from shoving him away from me because he kept getting closer and closer and was up in my face. I used to think he was cute, and maybe I even kind of liked him. It hurt me that he would talk to me that way, as if I was a prostitute. But I was the one who shoved him. So I got suspended for being aggressive toward another student. My parents were so pissed! I tried to explain what happened but they don’t understand what it is like to be a younger person today and all the relentless pressure. They said, “Sex?!? That’s ridiculous. You aren’t old enough to even be thinking about that.”
But that doesn’t make my friends stop plotting to end my virginity, and it doesn’t stop all the constant gossip and talk about doing it, it seems like that is the only thing people want to talk about, is sex. Instead of noticing whether a guy has a good personality, my friends just talk about his body and wonder out loud what his cock looks like. I don’t want to participate in these conversations so I get harassed for just keeping quiet.
I don’t want to have sex until I feel safe. I think I will have to be with a boy who loves me. I don’t want to just do it to get rid of it. My virginity is not a piece of paper that needs to be recycled. And my body isn’t like a bag of potato chips you pass around so everybody can grab a handful. I don’t want to get pregnant or have some guy give me crabs or worse. But it seems like there is all this sex and nobody is using protection. I don’t understand why more of my girlfriends aren’t getting pregnant.
Sex is an emotional topic for me. I am often confused about how I feel about it. Sometimes I think I will never have sex because it is just too hard to be with somebody who cares. Why can’t I find anybody who agrees with me? Maybe I just need some new friends. I feel so lonely and defensive all the time, it is hard to concentrate on my school work. My grades are not as good as they were last year. My parents tell me I should open up and talk to them more, but I don’t think they want to face the social realities of my life. It makes them too uncomfortable. They don’t know that there are gangs in my school and kids who pack serious hardware even in the classroom. If I had taken that $50, I could have spent the rest of the afternoon buying any drug you wanted, and partied my ass off. I have friends who are being beaten up by their parents and sexually abused at home. One of our teachers has a bad reputation. He is not safe to meet one-on-one. After he tried to seduce one of my group, we all agreed to protect each other from being alone with him. If my mom and dad knew my best friend claims she had sex when she was thirteen, they would freak the hell out and tell me I couldn’t be her friend any more. But when she is not talking about boys, I like her a lot. We have known each other since grade school. I don’t want to lose my best friend. But I still think I am—Too Young for Sex
If I were you, I would be skeptical about all these claims of rampant sexuality. It’s kind of like all the stories that fishermen tell about the big one that got away. If you don’t have any fish in the creel, I don’t want to give you any credit for a huge catch, if you know what I mean. It’s really easy to talk trash about sex and claim you’ve done it all, but in reality, I bet a lot of your friends have seen the kind of treatment you are getting and are keeping quiet about being virgins themselves because they don’t want to be teased and tormented themselves. The fact is that unprotected sex does result in unwanted pregnancy. If nobody in your social circle is getting knocked up, well, you do the math. I doubt they are being abducted and spayed or neutered by little green aliens in UFOs.
High school is such a hard time because teenagers are relentless about enforcing their norms and codes. Whether it’s “snitches get stitches” or “virgins are babies,” teenagers want to draw a line around “us” and that keeps “them” at arm’s length. You are being subjected to some really cruel and mean-spirited treatment. I have a hard time seeing any of these people as genuine friends.
You have certain values about sex. They sound like healthy and sensible values to me. You want to protect your body from being harmed. The idea of casual sex frightens you. You want your first time to be special, and you want to feel safe. One of the most important ingredients in feeling safe, for you, is to be with a partner who loves you. You also don’t want to have sex unless you are sure that you won’t conceive a child you aren’t ready to raise. And you want to protect everybody’s health. You actually sound much more mature than the “friends” who call you a baby.
One of the saddest things I’ve seen happen to teenage girls is a sharp drop in self-esteem as they realize how low the “glass ceiling” is and how much crap boys their own age expect them to put up with in intimate relationships. Adolescent girls often don’t see a clear or easy way into adulthood. Adult women who are trying to juggle marriage and careers seem overworked and stressed out. (And they are discriminated against.) Dating means trying to communicate with boys who have no idea how girls think or feel, how the world seems to them, or what their priorities are. Often, teenage girls’ worth is reduced to their physical appearance and their level of sexual compliance. It is a tragic waste of human potential. Intelligent, funny, strong human beings become self-destructive, depressed, angry, conforming, drug-popping clothes horses obsessed with popularity because that seems like the safest route to go. You may be able to control your own weight; you can’t control your parents’ marriage or the way the larger society treats women.
I can only reassure you that the world has changed a lot in the time I’ve been alive, and it will continue to change during your lifetime. If you refuse to treat yourself like a disposable paper towel, you won’t disappear into the garbage. Men are often not smart enough to tell a high-class babe from the dross of the ordinary masses on their own. So you have to tell them, “Hey, you can’t treat me like that, because I am special, so if you want me, show me something special about you.” Eventually one of them will be smart enough to decode this enormously complicated message and obey your very difficult instructions, at which point you might take mercy on him and give him various jobs to do to win your favor. This is known as “romantic love,” and it was invented by women who were worried about the number of sharp objects being carried about by men who were dressed in metal outfits. Sigh.
Anyway. My feedback is that you sound very sane, I think you have your head on properly, and if you can stick with your own program, you will do just fine. Eventually you will get out of school and do much better. Consider getting your high school degree early and going to college as soon as possible. You are just too smart to be surrounded by all of these plebes and their silly trashy notions of “helping” you by telling some random stranger to relieve you of your virginity. Eeeeek!