I was 14 years old when I lost my virginity. For two years afterwards, I was in a loving relationship with the boy who I lost it to. He was a bit of a ‘lad’, a lot of a flirt, and liked to mess girls around a bit, shall we say- but he also wasn’t bad. When we were together, we were in a loving, consensual relationship, and he cared for me. He would never have intended to harm anyone.
Every time I tell someone that I lost my virginity that young, they laugh in shock, or raise their eyebrows in horror. At the time, it seemed like the grown up, clever thing to do. I liked this boy- he was good looking, popular and charming.
But eight years on, and after growing to terms with the definition of consent, I’m not sure that I can say wholeheartedly that that evening was entirely consensual.
I’d told my parents that I was staying at a girl friends house- as we all used to do- but had really attended a field party with a group of about seven of us. My friend and I were the only girls there, but we fancied two of the boys hosting, and had been chatting to them for a few weeks.
Feeling smug and grown up, we’d managed to buy Smirnoff ices and WKDs from the dodgy corner shop in town, along with a packet of menthol cigarettes and a small bottle of vodka. I remember the excitement in my chest when we got served, and getting giddy for our first night of drinking ahead.
That’s another fact that stings slightly- the night I lost my virginity was the very first night I ever got drunk.
The two factors could be totally separate, but a nagging in the back of my mind knows that it’s not.
I don’t remember a lot of the evening, but it is time that has faded the memories, rather than alcohol. I can remember being in a field, setting up our tents, sitting around a campfire and chatting whilst slowly becoming familiar with the tingly sensation of being drunk. At that age, you have no idea of your boundaries, but I remember being careful not to get too wasted. I was scared, after all- the concept of alcohol was still so scary and abstract that I was cautious.
The next thing I remember clearly is lying in a tent with the cold, rough floor of the tent against my back. My leggings are down, and the boys hand is down my knickers, and I’ve been kissing him for a while. I have a feeling he asked if I wanted him to finger me, to which I mumbled a yes. And it went from there.
Before this night, I had only ever kissed three boys. All rather innocently, none with any sexual intention. I was fourteen. It all seemed too abstract.
That night, we kissed all evening. He fingered me, went down on me, and I remember hastily giving him head with absolutely no idea what I was doing. The next thing I remember we’re having sex. We didn’t use a condom. I woke up horrified, scared, and with an overwhelming feeling of shame.
But here’s the thing- at no point did I say no. I’m actually pretty sure that I said yes. I actively encouraged it to happen, wanting deep down to cement the relationship with a sexual act, show the boy that I was serious about him.
And this, for me, is where the real problem lies. No, I can’t say I was raped- as far as the boy knew, and still knows, the whole experience was entirely consensual, and was the consummation of our two year relationship that followed.
However, I know, from the bottom of my heart, that if I had been solely responsible for the decision that night, I would not have had sex. I would have kissed him, asking if he wanted to go on a proper date, waited, taken things slowly, and made it special. I was just fourteen years old. My sibling is that age now, and it actually makes me sick to my stomach thinking of them in that situation. You are young, naive and totally alone in knowing what is normal, expected, or how you should act. And it’s appalling. There’s nothing quite more derogatory than losing your virginity in the middle of a forest you don’t know.
Society had ingrained deep, deep within me that I had to have sex with this boy to solidify our relationship – that, if I had sex with him that night, and he enjoyed it (!), we were bound to be together, linked by this ‘special’ and ‘romantic’ experience. The thing that makes me sad now, is that that special and romantic experience I was hoping for would have come if only I had learnt to wait, rather than being told it was best to rush things.
That, I now realise, is really just a horrible side product of the shit storm that is our sexist society. I had to act that way that night because I was totally lacking in self-confidence and desperately searching for some self-worth. I had no confidence in myself and was stupid enough to think that I would get that from having sex with a boy.
I knew he wanted to, and because society had ingrained in me that I should do what the boy wanted, I did it. I was desperate to be cool, to be accepted, and to do it because it was the done thing. But I know I didn’t want to.
I can’t say I regret it, because as I said, the relationship lasted for two more years, and actually, we had some really lovely times together. But this is a rare, one off case where the boy who the girl convinced herself to sleep with actually stuck around. It makes me feel a little bit weak thinking of how I would have felt had he decided never to speak to me again. Abused, violated, and totally, totally alone.
Make your own decisions. Have sex when YOU want to. Look after your body, and your feelings, and your heart- because they are yours, and yours alone, and you must honour them above all else. If someone wants to have sex with you, but you are not ready, make them wait, and if they wait, they’ll be worth it. This is what I only wish society had ingrained in my fourteen year old self. I wish from the bottom of my heart that I had the courage to believe it then.