I love writing sex education stories. I’m always thrilled when someone tells me, “Thanks for writing this story. I never knew/how to…”
I’ve always stuck to writing about the pleasures of sex, mine and for other adults, because I never want to be a Debbie Downer. I’ve never wanted to write about teens and sex because it’s just not my niche. But this story and its lessons and message are something that’s been burning a hole in my Word document folder for too long. It’s a story that I’ve struggled to tell all my life, but over these past few months, I’ve felt that it was an important story to share.
Jay* and I met at summer camp. I was 14. He was 15. We went to different schools but talked on the phone and saw each other occasionally.
Jay called me one day and asked if I wanted to go roller skating. His older friend had a car and he said that they’d pick me up. Jay hinted that his friend said we could use his car to mess around.
In some past make out sessions Jay had taken things too far. I really didn’t like him touching my breasts or between my legs. I wasn’t ready for it. All he did was touch. He didn’t know what he was doing. I’m sure just touching a girl’s private parts was considered big-time bragging rights. In my awkwardly self-conscious 14-year-old mind, I took having a boyfriend, no matter how jerky he could be, as a validation that I was admired.
But this time he wanted sex. He brought a condom and tried to persuade me by saying what a big financial sacrifice it was to buy a box.
The more I resisted, the more he said things like, “If you don’t have sex with me, I won’t be your boyfriend anymore.”
I relented. I didn’t want to be dumped and left without a boyfriend.
I wasn’t wet or aroused. It didn’t help that his condom wasn’t lubricated. It hurt like hell.
I didn’t say much afterward or during the ride home. I felt violated, shamed, and emotionally numb. I was sure that Jay boasted to his buddy with the car and the other guys who went with us that he scored. The silence in the car during the ride home was tense and awkward.
I couldn’t wait to take a shower as soon as I got home. I couldn’t scrub hard enough to get the memory of what happened and the scent of sex off my body. After I did, I locked myself in my room and cried, and did so through the next day.
I never said anything to my parents. I couldn’t. I knew I’d get a whole earful of “What were you doing in a car with a boy in the first place?” I knew judgment would be passed over as my fault for making a bad decision that only ”loose girls” made. (I was always told that any girl or woman who had sex outside of marriage was loose. It was a phrase of scorn I heard my parents use all my life.) Plus, in the late 1970s there was no such thing as date rape. I didn’t consider it rape since I let him penetrate me.
I never confided in a friend; not even my best friend. I grew up in a very conservative upper-middle class neighborhood. Sex was something that just never happened in my high school, or so I thought. Whenever word got out that a girl had sex, she carried a bad rep throughout the rest of her years in high school.
I never spoke to or saw Jay afterward. It wasn’t for another two years until I had another boyfriend. It took us four months until we agreed to have sex, but it never happened. But being sexually violated haunted me for years, even into the first years of my marriage.
The trauma of being date raped and then dumped eventually faded. I don’t remember when, why or how; it just did. However, my first time was something I couldn’t talk about until now, 35 years after the fact.
But as a woman and a sex blogger who’s pushing 50, there’s a different kind of anger and resentment about my first time that’s rearing its ugly head. It’s anger toward my parents for instilling such a monumental level of sex shaming as a child and in my coming of age years. I’m angry that I wasn’t prepared for what happened. I’m angry that I had no one to turn to at the time.
Sex shaming will always shut the door to open communication between kids and parents. The ideals of abstinence and purity are poor answers and standards for sex ed or the lack of it. Expecting that your kid will say “no” because you told them to when they’re pressured to have sex is unrealistic. Libido is a physiological drive that every has kid when they reach puberty. Sex will eventually come into a teenager’s life in wanted and unwanted ways whether they’re 14, 16 or 18. It won’t go away by ignoring it.
One of my proudest achievements as a parent was being able to talk to my sons about sex and sexual responsibility when they were teens. I only hope that they and their girlfriends were fully consensual for their first times.
*Name has been changed to protect the not-so-innocent.