I meant to start November by writing about NaNoWriMo (or writing for NaNoWriMo, at least), but instead I’ve decided to write about something I watched over three weeks ago, which bothered me at the time and which has continued to bother me more and more as the weeks have passed. That thing is Channel 4’s documentary Diary of a Teen Virgin.
I’ve spent some time googling to see what the press had to say about it. The Telegraph and The Independent reviewed it in full, and seemed to have pretty positive things to say about it, with The Telegraph calling it a sensitively handled, insightful documentary. The Guardian made it one of their TV Highlights. In short, it featured in the papers enough for me to wonder why no one else seems to have blogged about it. Yes, it was good, but by focusing sharply on pornography use among teens (as almost everything on C4 seems to at the moment), it missed what I thought were two key issues.
The first was female masturbation. Filmed chatting to a female friend, one of the girls commented on how all the boys thought the girls masturbated, but they were wrong, because masturbation was disgusting. I realise that it’s possible that she just wasn’t comfortable talking about masturbation on camera, but for the sake of this piece, and because she obviously was comfortable talking about sex and virginity, I’m going to assume that she was being sincere and she actually does find masturbation disgusting. I’d hope that the reason that the boys think the girls all masturbate is because they all do and they think it’s completely natural for girls to do it too. OK, maybe it turns them on to imagine the girls wanking too, but really, there’s nothing wrong with that, is there?
When I first watched the programme, it seemed like no one else on Twitter had picked up on this – I looked again today and found two comments. One said “Girls shouldn’t masterbate that’s just wrong” – never heard such crap lol, the other, Loooool these girls think masturbating is disgusting but think they’re ready to loose their virginity? Ok. Both, in my opinion have undermined their comments by finding them laugh out loud funny. There’s nothing remotely amusing about the fact that 15-year-old girls are willing to contemplate letting someone else touch them, despite being repulsed by the idea of touching themselves. I masturbated furiously for years before I lost my virginity and while I wouldn’t go so far as to say it made me comfortable with my body, it did make me comfortable touching it and taught me a lot about what I find pleasurable. Girls, this is important. If you’re not doing it already, but you are considering sex, then you should be. Try it.
Then, I told a friend about the programme and mentioned that a lot of the parents (of the girls, at least) kept coming back to that age old issue: that you should make sure you lose your virginity to someone you love. Admittedly, one girl was thinking about sex with a boy she’d been dating only a week, who she didn’t seem that sure about, and who, having lost his own virginity, was behaving like a cocky little shit, but if anything, that highlights the point. She might well have believed that she loved him, or actually loved him (I wouldn’t dare tell you which it was – I’m nearly thirty and I still have no idea what the difference is), but the reality was that he was pressuring her into something that she wasn’t sure she wanted to do, but in the eyes of many people, that seemed to be ok as long as she was in love with him. It’s not.
Losing your virginity, as a girl at least, is fraught with worries. It might hurt, or, as one girl in the programme so eloquently put it, you might bleed all over him. Adding into that mix the emotional pressure of knowing whether you’re in love with someone is a recipe for disaster. What matters is that you’re fairly comfortable with your own body, that you’re horny and that the person that you’re planning to fuck respects you for that. In this context, at least, love doesn’t matter at all.