Sex + Love

The First Time

Not that one! Well, not just that one.

In an issue about “beginnings,” there’s inevitably going to be an article about this. The first time. That first time. The one everyone talks about, the one you thought about when you read the title of this piece.

That’s because the first time you have sex is special. And yet—it’s also not.

Here’s what I mean by that.

The first time you have sex is special because sex is a powerful and amazing thing. And it’s true, total cliché though it may be, that the absolute best sex is with someone you really care about and who really cares about you. It brings a whole different dimension of enjoyment and pleasure to what is already enjoyable and pleasurable in its own right.

And yet, though I would love for you to choose your first time carefully, and to do it with someone extremely special, the fact of the matter is that the vast majority of us end up with a first time that is accidental, awkward, hilarious, of the moment, “just happened”—or, for a number of people, unfortunately and sadly, happened in ways that they didn’t want at all. (The stories in Kate Monro’s recently published book The First Time: True Tales of Virginity Lost & Found run the full spectrum and make for a fascinating read.)

Which is why your first time is also not necessarily special. And that’s all right.

It’s not necessarily special because, just as you should never judge anyone based on just one encounter, you should also not judge sex based on just one encounter. As everyone goes on to find out, great sex is about trial and error, learning about yourself and your own responses over time, understanding that everyone is different when it comes to what they like doing and having done to them, and half the fun is identifying what you really love and your partner really loves—and then doing an awful lot of it.

The first time we drive a car, our first day at school, our first day at a new job, everyone knows it’s an exciting first step, but still just that—a first awkward, imperfect step to getting better over time; to building up experience; to “practice makes perfect.” A first step with everything to gain beyond it.

And yet the first time we have sex is billed as something “magical” and “special,” that at the same time is about “losing”—our virginity, innocence, purity —not gaining (experience, skills, information, fun). Society teaches us this inherent contradiction that my friend Esther Perel, author of Mating In Captivity, sums up beautifully: “Sex is dirty: save it for someone you love.”

What are we supposed to do with that?

At the same time there are other sexual firsts that we don’t treat with the specialness they deserve. Here are some less widely talked about first times that can be, in my opinion, just as important as your very first sexual encounter:

  • The first time you give yourself an orgasm. Revelation! This first time is special because not only is it the gateway to years of fabulous, free and easily accessed entertainment (plus also a great sleep aid), but when you know how to make yourself come, you are much better equipped to show someone else how to make you come.
  • The first time somebody else makes you come. Which, alas, is not usually concurrent with the first time you have sex. But you’ll certainly remember it.
  • The first time you have sex and you really, really, REALLY enjoy it. (If that’s the same as the first time you have sex, well done you!)
  • The first time you have a one-night stand and you really, really, REALLY enjoy it. That’s because, while the best sex is with someone you love, you can also have a very good time with someone you don’t. There’s nothing wrong with that, and there’s nothing wrong with a great one-nighter (as long as you keep yourself safe and use appropriate protection). As Woody Allen said, “Sex without love is an empty experience, but as empty experiences go it’s one of the best.”
  • The first time you realize that no matter what you think of your own naked body or however much you might want to change or shrink or expand bits of it, the person who’s lucky enough to have sex with you is just enormously grateful to be there and thinks you’re the biggest turn-on in the world. (This is always, always true.)
  • The first time you realize you really don’t care what anybody else thinks. This is directly related to this area, but also to many, many others in life, and this is a major first.
  • And finally: the first time you fall in love. The first time you fall in love is, unlike the more famous “first time,” always special. And it will continue to be special every time you do it—because, yes, even though it doesn’t seem like it now, you’re likely going to fall in love at least a few more times in your life. You’re going to get your heart broken again (and again). And yet your heart will miraculously mend so that you can use it again—and again.
    That’s why it’s so helpful the first time you realize: you loved them because you thought they were special—but they were only special because you loved them.
    Keep remembering that one. ♦


  • Ali K. September 14th, 2011 3:21 PM

    I’m 25 and been through all of this and could not have said any of it better myself. Good job.

  • Marie September 14th, 2011 3:29 PM

    Yes, yes, yes to it all!

  • wtwt September 14th, 2011 3:29 PM

    Such a good article and it made a lot of things make more sense so thank-you!

  • Naomi September 14th, 2011 3:29 PM

    i loved this so much, it should be taught in schools or something.

  • Minna September 14th, 2011 3:47 PM

    Also: The first time you make someone else come.

  • Nessa September 14th, 2011 4:21 PM

    Thank you so much for this article- it is the most down to earth advice on sex I’ve ever heard. I wish I had been able to read something this when I was just a bit younger :)

  • JJ September 14th, 2011 4:26 PM

    Im 22 and havent gone through any of these but I cant wait. Lovely!!

  • Bren September 14th, 2011 4:46 PM

    I’m 19, and incredibly inexperienced. But I’m glad. I look forward to all these things. Everyone experiences them in their own time. This is an awesome awesome article.

  • Luceisms September 14th, 2011 4:57 PM

    A very important article for those sexually uninitiated and even those who are. Your ‘first time’ is rarely beautiful and moving and orgasmic and wonderful…if it isn’t don’t sweat it. The importance of that ‘first time’ has been so blown out of proportion and mythologized that many young women are unnecessarily traumatized when it doesn’t go exactly the way they thought it would. I was a sexually relaxed young teenager- my first time when I was fourteen was silly and a little painful and not with someone I was IN LOVE with-but I’ve never regretted it for a second. Watching some of my friends broken up with shame and regret made me vow to teach my own daughter to do what you feel is right, not have any preconceptions, and ALWAYS USE PROTECTION.

  • brontefacey September 14th, 2011 5:08 PM

    yes, yes, yes, yes to all! great article, Cindy. I fucking LOVE rookiemag

  • posie.rose September 14th, 2011 5:08 PM

    I love this…I agree with Naomi — it should definitely be tought in schools. :)

  • Kali September 14th, 2011 5:09 PM

    Over all this is a great article, but I think it left some crucial points out.

    There’s nothing about preparing girls emotionally for sex. It has been proven that chemically, sex affects women much differently. They’re going to be facing a slew of emotions that men simply will not.

    Women are resilient and strong creatures, so some bad experiences are something we can get over, but this was left out, too: For a lot of guys, sex is not going to hold the same value as for women.

    There will often be different expectations arising after sex and not only is the guy not necessarily going to be receptive to his partner afterward (how many times do we hear: “he won’t call me / doesn’t talk to me anymore” etc.), but in some cases, she will be outright disrespected. It’s extremely unfortunate, but common for men to denegrate women after sex- especially after what might have been assumed as a casual encounter.

    While one night stands are bound to happen and are in some cases great experiences, heralding them on a teen girl’s website is not setting such a brilliant example. There’s nothing empowering about sleeping around casually. Women do not need to adopt the bad behaviors of men to reach equality, because if anything, they will never be respected by them for it.

    We have to keep in mind that men and women are wired differently. That doesn’t mean women should not be empowered by their sexuality, by all means: masturbate and have a fulfilling sex life! But it means that we need to respect ourselves first and be sure that our partner respects us too. There are some great guys out there and beautiful experiences to be had, but condoms aren’t going to protect you from everything.

    Keep up the excellent work ladies- this site is boss.

    • Hazel September 14th, 2011 5:30 PM

      “We need to respect ourselves first and be sure that our partner respects us too”

      What if one’s definition of “respecting oneself” is being adventurous sexually? Who says a teenage girl has to love someone to have sex with them?

      And how can you say there is nothing empowering about sleeping around? I think you need to change this too “I don’t find sleeping around empowering” because it is absolutely ridiculous to speak for EVERY WOMAN. You’re not every woman, I’m not every teenage girl, and assumptions about typical teenage sexual behaviors should NOT be made, ok?

      And what “slew of emotions” are you talking about? I don’t know what scientific information you’re referencing but there are plenty of teenage girls that don’t let their emotions get in the way of having a fun, sexual time. Not all women think sex is this magical moment filled with love. Trust me, there are plenty of teenage girls who don’t think this and did not expect this their first time.

      You’re idea of what a teenage girl thinks and feels is not accurate for all girls.

    • Naomi September 14th, 2011 5:53 PM

      In my experience men and women worry about the emotional side of things equally as much. It’s not a gender issue, it’s a personality issue. It doesn’t make you a weaker person if you either enjoy one night stands and numerous sexual partners or give every sexual encounter high emotional value. Both are valid. Men and women do both.

  • Stephanie September 14th, 2011 5:47 PM

    This might be the most honest and brilliant post I have ever read about sex. Yes to all of this. I wish I had realized at fifteen after I had *that* first time and due to the circumstances around it felt like I’d totally f-ed up what was supposed to be one of the most special, important things ever, that there would be other first times that would be even more profound like “The first time you have sex and you really, really, REALLY enjoy it.” and especially “The first time you realize that no matter what you think of your own naked body or however much you might want to change or shrink or expand bits of it, the person who’s lucky enough to have sex with you is just enormously grateful to be there and thinks you’re the biggest turn-on in the world.”

    This is another one of those times when I am so unbelievably proud to be a part of this mag.

  • Kali September 14th, 2011 6:19 PM

    Hi, Hazel.

    Sleeping around is not empowering because women will not be respected by most men for this. Women incur damage to their reputations even in cultures that are relatively promiscuous, like Sweden.

    What is feminism if not achieveing equality with men? If we can say that men do not respect women who are promiscuous, and respect is part of empowerment: it’s not really advisable to encourage young girls to do engage in behaviors where they will not be respected.

    I think a large part of empowerment and feminism is that as women, we’d like to be, you know- valued for MORE than just sex. Can you agree to this?

    I can say with pretty good certainty that girls don’t actually want to sleep around with a lot of men, either.

    When you look at the data of how many sexual partners people desire, it’s across the board men who desire to be with more partners. If you look at David Buss & Schmitt’s 1993 study, they found that men would always like more sex partners than women when surveyed. In one year when researchers asked unmarried college students, men reported that they would have ideally liked to have been with six sex partners, while women would have preferred one. This is not a generalization, as consistent cross-cultural data demonstrates this.

    There’s also strong evidence that men minimize commitment after sex. See Haselton & Buss’ 2001 study entitled “The affective shift hypothesis: The functions of emotional changes following sexual intercourse,” for information on how the perception of women after sex change for men.

    There’s nothing outlandish with what I’ve proposed, especially in the context of feminism- it makes perfect, logical sense.
    There is a mound of empirical data on this subject. Pick up a book on evolutionary psychology. If you want me to find more exmples and studies of these for you, I can.

    This may not be descriptive for every girl, but certainly for the vast majority of them. Women and men have different minds. That doesn’t make one better than the other, but they have different goals because of adaptations. The existence of gender differences is a fact.

    • Naomi September 14th, 2011 7:04 PM

      1993 studies and data don’t convince me. I am more interested in real life experiences Don’t you think women and girls should be able to make their own decisions and free to make their own choices not based on what the latest report tells them? It is a way of imposing this ‘one size fits all’ or rather ‘one mentality’ when it is way more complicated than that.
      we will be valued for more than sex when society stops imposing what we can and cannot do and how we should behave in our sexuality!

    • Emily Condon September 14th, 2011 7:27 PM

      Kali, your argument is really frustrating. It seems to me that empowerment and feminism are about striving to create a world in which a woman – like a man – is free to make her own decisions about how she chooses to conduct herself, and not cower under the judgments of others.

      The claims you make strike me as both kind of absurd and potentially harmful. I don’t sleep with a lot of different people because I don’t have the personality for it. I know a lot of boys and men who feel the same way. I know a lot of girls and women who don’t. You’re stating this notion of biological determinism like it’s 100% fact, and that’s just ridiculous. Who funded these studies you’re citing? Who designed the questions? Were a lot of the test subjects reared in a society that has routinely indoctrinated them to the idea that if a woman has multiple sexual partners she’s a slut? (I can answer that one: yes).

      This type of preachy righteousness disguised as “science” has led generations of women to be trapped in bad sexual scenarios and miserable marriages, and I’m disappointed to see it here. And I’ve never even had a one-night stand.

      For me sex was mostly miserable for about the first ten years I was having it. I assumed for a long time that that’s what sex was…mostly miserable. Not because I was having it with a bunch of people – I wasn’t- just because I was inexperienced and sometimes lacked chemistry and probably wasn’t super in touch with myself. Luckily I had the sense to keep trying, and eventually I got it (mostly) right. I’m so happy I did. Please don’t fill young girls with the notion that they should settle because they’re “wired” that way.

    • Jenny September 15th, 2011 4:18 AM

      Hey Kali, I sense that your intentions are benevolent and that you want to protect young girls from a certain kind of disappointment that perhaps you believe is the inevitable, biologically determined result of having casual sex. While I’m not discrediting these surveys, I do really agree with Emily that we have to frame these scientific studies within the context of societal norms and mores.

      When I read about a survey that concludes men desire more sexual partners than women, rather than taking that conclusion to mean that all men must be biologically wired to be more promiscuous than women, I would much rather ask questions, like what is it about our society and what our society privileges for men and women that causes women to value security over sexual adventurousness? Could it be that these studies are greatly affected by the pervasiveness of SEXISM in our society and all of its ugly manifestations–from more tangible ones like women being paid less than men, women facing greater obstacles in advancing forward in certain careers such as science and technology, to more abstract ones like the psychic toll it takes on our spirit to have every form of media and entertainment scaring us into believing that men are unfaithful by nature, and that we must emotionally and sexually manipulate men in order to find a lasting partnership, and that there’s nothing more horrifying and scary than being single (& middle aged!)?

      After all, it was not too long ago that racism was scientifically supported. The American government authorized the pillaging of Native American skulls and stored them in the Smithsonian for phrenological purposes, or in other words, to study the differences of skull sizes between Natives & white Americans in order to scientifically support the idea of white supremacy. And for years, the eugenics movement cited scientific studies about the inferiority of blacks, Latinos, and Asians and the superiority of whites. I’m not saying that the studies you’ve read are bullshit, but I am saying that it’s really important to remember that when you conduct a study in a society that still has very much intact racist and sexist structures, of course that study will reflect the racism and sexism inherent in a society.

      I do also fear that in your zeal to help young girls feel empowered, you’ve disempowered them from being able to act with their own intentions and motivations. If a girl wants to be sexually adventurous, or if she feels capable or interested in trying become capable of separating sex from love, then let’s not dismiss that action as simply a girl trying to adopt “the bad behaviors of men to reach equality,” because if anything THAT is not empowering. I was born in a very sexually conservative country (China,) and you’re right to say that women’s reputations can be ruined if a woman has multiple sexual partners in her lifetime. That’s certainly an unhappy fact of life for the majority of women on this earth (& while in our own first world country, maybe we are less likely to have our entire lives ruined by our sexual choices than a woman living in a much more conservative country, we are still faced with threats of violence on a physical, emotional, mental, and psychic level if we are seen as ‘promiscuous.’)

      I fear that your solution to this very sexist fact of life is to give these sexist structures the authority to continue to exist. In a sexist society women lose the respect of men for having multiple sexual partners, but men do not lose the respect of anyone. I don’t want to live in such a society. I want to live in a society where women won’t lose the respect of anyone for any sexual choice she makes for herself, and this article by Cindy is a step in that direction. It’s not prescriptive. It’s not one size fits all sexual advice for young girls. But it’s about the right for young girls to have every sexual possibility open to them the way it is open to young boys, (especially young, white, able-bodied, heterosexual, cis boys.) And what I mean by ‘every sexual possibility open to them,’ is that a girl has to figure out what kind of relationship she wants to have with sex. Does she only want to have sex with boys she loves? Does she want to treat the sex act as holy and sacred? Does treating sex as a sacred act mean having lots of it or does it mean saving it for ‘the one?’ Does she want to experience the physical pleasure of sex as separate and not totally entwined with the emotional? And you know, if we taught this kind of openness, and if we encouraged exploration, and if we as a society learn not to collectively and individually judge girls for not conforming to sexist, prescribed ideas of what a girl should want out of sex, then maybe in due time, those studies about the differences between men and women will start to see a shift in attitudes and values. One can only hope.

  • Elizabeth September 14th, 2011 6:37 PM

    THIS IS PERFECTION… i WISH I had known cindy when i was in high school, so much of this is necessary PRE-info

  • darksideoftherainbow September 14th, 2011 7:04 PM

    thank you for this…i’m 24 and haven’t “lost it” yet and i think that it’s b/c it’s what works best for me. i haven’t been comfortable enough with myself to do that yet but i’m getting there :)

    • Jamie September 14th, 2011 7:32 PM

      rock on with your awesome self. seriously… taking care of yourself is badass

  • Morris September 14th, 2011 7:38 PM

    Asking for respect is some thing some one should never do. These are the problems respected people have (regardless of sex or other things)
    -never making their own moves in life.
    -never leaving a submissive state.
    -never achieving their own goals.
    -never finding individual happiness.
    -never conecting with others.

  • william September 14th, 2011 7:55 PM

    i’m certainly not the target but a great post Cindy. – men, women, young and old. Yes this should be taught but unfortunately sexual confidence, improvement, experimentation and satisfaction has never been national curriculum material. I’m so happy to see this on this site. I hope everyone shares it.

    I was prompted to comment by a number of the comments. There is no right or wrong. There is no convention or statistical norm for sexual satisfaction or fulfillment. What you like and what your partner likes is the only thing that matters. Emotional, physical, casual, committed…it’s your choice. Do what works for you. Don’t judge others on what works for them. It doesn’t matter what ‘men’ or ‘women’ want from sex or feel about sex. It matters what the couple (MF,MM, FF) who are f#$king want from sex. Both are equally important. Both will have different wants and needs. If both are prepared to enjoy finding out and learning what is optimal. If both feel confident in sharing what they’ve learned works for them (and a few things they are interested in learning if they work for them) then the whole experience is likely to be a lot more rewarding both emotionally and physically. Reading studies won’t help you work this out. Doing it, will. Can I also add to the list, the first time one of you doesn’t have an orgasm and that’s OK too because you still had a lot of fun.

  • Josie September 14th, 2011 8:15 PM

    I think you folks are bringing up some really great points in this article and in the comments! For me, sex isn’t inextricably linked to love. I didn’t have sex with the first boy I fell in love with, yet our breakup affected me for a very long time afterwards. On the other hand, I had my first sexual encounter with a guy friend of mine and was totally unaffected by it. He, however, really liked me and was very hurt for a while when he realized that we weren’t dating. It depends on each person, each situation, and each partner. Just don’t do it before you’re really ready (if you can help it).

  • mel17 September 14th, 2011 8:56 PM

    I am 17 and just had my first time. i was under the influence and had a one-night stand with a neighbor and friend of mine, but we weren’t ever super close before. We haven’t talked since because he has been denying it and i have told a few close friends. He cried afterwards while i went on as normal (as i could be in that state). I haven’t cried once about it and it’s been about a month now. i don’t feel emotionally affected and it was overall a good experience for me. I feel like i know myself much better now and know what kind of decisions are best for me from now on. It may have been a mistake but it was needed and i have grown from it.

  • Dusta September 14th, 2011 9:17 PM

    Great post! I wanted to share my first time because it might help some people to think about all the different types of “first times” out there. I was 20 and embarrassed about being a virgin, so I wanted to get it over with. I thought all my friends had already had sex (not sure about this, they didn’t talk about it). I met a guy in another town and we struck up a long distance relationship. When he came to my town we had sex the first night. I didn’t tell him I was a virgin because I thought he would think I was weird. WHAT I WOULD DO DIFFERENTLY in retrospect: not get so hung up about sex and what other people thought about me. Being a virgin is not a big deal, and guys seem to love the idea of having a virgin (I think it is because they don’t get compared with anyone better). Think of sex as fun and not a rite of passage, it is easy to blow it out of proportion. I met my future husband a few years later. He was a virgin, and we had some corny, fun, embarrassing, hilarious times figuring out what made sex enjoyable for each other. Peace out

  • Bean September 14th, 2011 10:01 PM

    Ya know, I’m gonna post this anyways even if anyone could read it; I don’t care. My first time, not magical or the greatest thing ever. It’s just a simple fact of life, teenage boys who are also virgins, no matter how much porn they may have watched or how many stories they may have heard, do not know what they’re doing either. Not to mention, they’re just so excited that they’re finally having sex that it ends rather soon. That’s okay though. It’s kind of like this whole silly “I lost my virginity within one minute!” “Oh yeah, I lost mine in two!!” battle. They’re both awefully short times but it gives something to brag about. But yeah, not experienced. Things get better with more experience (like most things). Therefore there is no need to worry if you lose your virginity in a sweaty embrace of only a mere minute long; a lot of people have it that way.

    • Jenny September 15th, 2011 3:24 AM

      Hey, cyber high-five for posting this! I think attitudes like yours–open, accepting, and respectful but still having a sense of humor–are exactly what we need in these conversations about sex.

  • EveyMarrie September 14th, 2011 10:15 PM

    Sex has been a BIG part of my life recently. My boyfriend and I have been dating for two years and he’s not exactly pressuring into us finally having sex, but he suggests it…. a lot. The thing is, we’re both virgins. I love him, he loves me, but you know, every time we’re together, it doesn’t feel like the right time.

    And the added pressure sometimes comes from my own friends. My best friend who moved away, we used to be anti-boys when we were in 6th to 8th grade. I was the first one to get a kiss, first to date, first to get a boyfriend.. then a couple.

    My friend tried with boys but it never worked out, but the moment she moved away, she turned into this whole new person which including being the one who lost her virginity first. The next time I saw her, she told me her many tales about sex and how she’s pretty much done it in a lot of places. (We talked about this in bathroom at a party… classy ;D) and my boyfriend was at the party too. The entire time, she kept telling us “you should do it, you should do it.” And at first, it was funny, but then I felt more and more bothered by her because she knows I don’t want to lose my virginity until I’m ready. Needless to say, that became a not so much fun party.

    Anyway, ever since that party, the pleas for sex increased and it’s like, it’s not like I’m purposely holding out, it’s because I’m not ready. And the one time I felt like I was, HE wasn’t ready XD (“but you were the one asking for it!”)

    Moving on, this seriously makes me feel better that I’m not cuckoo about keeping the V-card. When it happens, it happens, but as long as it happens with my boyfriend, I’ll be happy.

    I don’t want to be like the girls who ask me “Are you a virgin?” and I say “Yes” and they’re like “I wish I waited” or say “I wish it was with someone else.” I want to make sure it happens when I’m truly comfortable with it :) Until then, my boyfriend takes care of any “urges” just fine ;D haha

    Love this article!

  • Angie Bitchface September 14th, 2011 11:34 PM

    this is such a great and useful article! I lost my virginity last winter at the age of 19 and even though it was with someone I really didn’t know that well at the time and it just “kind of happened” it was still as great an experience as I could imagine and I don’t regret a thing. society teaches women that losing your virginity should be just one way and that’s the only “right” way to lose it, but you can have a great experience even if it wasn’t exactly planned or with someone you love.

    you forgot to put “the first time you make someone else come” on the list! and “the first time you have sex with someone you love.” those are important. I think the second one is even more important than when you lose your virginity.

    also I disagree with the statement “you loved them because you thought they were special—but they were only special because you loved them”. even with the people I’ve fallen out of love with (or even out of friendship with) in my life, I still remember what made them special and why they were such an important part of my life at the time. I don’t like writing off people and the relationship you had with them just because both of you have moved on, because then you will end up doing it to the people that are meant to be close to you for life.

  • kelsey September 15th, 2011 12:12 AM

    Hm. Kinda funny to me that it was “the first time you have a one night stand” – as if it’s assumed that having one night stands, etc is the way of the world, period, no exchanges or refunds. I mean, isn’t it conceivable that some people might not want to have one night stands? Picky, but in a mag that seems so accepting and careful about the message it puts out, all this laying down of the sex laws surprised me.

    That being said, I’m ridiculously glad that you guys are talking about tough, important stuff . I’ve had my fill of Get Your Best Skin Ever! thank you.

  • heavycross September 15th, 2011 12:37 AM

    love this

  • Madeleine September 15th, 2011 1:15 AM

    I was 20 when I had sex for the first time. I was tired of waiting so I hooked up with a semi-romantic friend I’d been spending time with at dance clubs. I think we both knew it was going to happen, but he waited until I initiated so I didn’t feel at all pressured. And no, it wasn’t the most amazing experience ever but I’m glad I was ready and with a partner I trusted. A few months later I met my current boyfriend who really wanted to have sex right away. I put him off for a little while but eventually we did it, and after awhile it was better than I could have ever imagined. I think this article is great, and I think the most important message is to do what *you* want to do when *you* want to do it. And don’t forget, like everything else–it takes practice! Also, don’t discount the pleasure to be had from masturbation. I wish I had tried it earlier!

  • littleDani September 15th, 2011 1:37 AM

    I love the honesty in the article. Usually articles about sex aimed towards teens also preach abstinence(which is a perfectly fine if you decide to follow this, not trying to chastise anyone for it), but I’m glad you went past this and decided to give honest, real, sex advice. props!

    My first time was with my current boyfriend about 2 years ago(we’re still together, 3 years later squeee!) and I remember it being kind of awkward. It was still special because we were each others firsts, and I’ll be honest sex is awesome. Since we’re still together, we’ve had a lot of time to experiment and figure out what we like. There are times when I feel like I look like a Hutt, but he thinks I am a sexy beast regardless!

  • serena September 15th, 2011 1:46 AM

    mel17! I had almost the same experience as you. My first time was with a guy I didn’t know very well, super spontaneously and afterwords I was like “cool” and that was about it. It made me feel more confident in myself sexually and I’m glad that it didn’t mean anything. Also, I’m a bit confused as to why Kali assumed this was about a man and a woman. Oh well! Great article!

  • tresjojo September 15th, 2011 2:47 AM

    Darlings, I agree with the crowd that this is a lovely article and spot on honesty. However, I was much dismayed that you never mentioned using protection, especially for your first time. I don’t want to be a downer here, but my sister at 15 probably had her first time and ended up in a teenage pregnancy. I know, I’m being an serious Debbie Downer here… but it really needs to be discussed. If you are mature enough to write an article about sex, then I really urge you to talk about protecting yourself. Because we’ve all seen Juno and preggers is not something you want to be in your teen years. xx

    • Anaheed September 15th, 2011 2:54 AM

      Hey, tresjojo. Cindy does actually mention protection — “there’s nothing wrong with a great one-nighter (as long as you keep yourself safe and use appropriate protection).” Also, I think teenagers know that they’re supposed to “use protection,” but maybe some people aren’t so clear on all the details. This article wasn’t the place, we didn’t think, to get into all of those. But believe me, we have so much more up our sleeves. Thank you for the thoughtful comment.

  • Kali September 15th, 2011 3:49 AM

    To suggest that promiscuity is advisable for young girls -the demographic this site clearly states it targets- is abominable. I’m not saying that Cindy intended that from her article, but certainly much of the staff here seems to think that sleeping around is just dandy, and thus, there is there is nothing wrong with putting teenage physical and psychological health at stake.
    I don’t know about you, but I think it’s advisable for girls to be careful who they have sex with. (How about… STDs! Assholes who will mistreat girlsafterward!) Are those not reasonable threats to female health?
    Anaheed: Parents frequently want their daughters to be choosy, careful, and discriminating when it comes to dating boys. Are they, then, sexists because they consider sleeping around harmful to their well-being? Hardly.
    If you are so concerned with the impact of societal messages on women, you should also consider the messages that women have in the media that they should heed to the pleasures men.
    Feminist writer and media theorist Susan J. Douglas has a thing to say about it, too. Women demanded to be active sexual agents, but sexual liberation came at a price, she said. There’s a media contortion that “it’s through sex and sexual display that women really have the power to get what they want. And because the true path to power comes from being an object of desire, girls and women should now actively choose — even celebrate and embrace- being sex objects.” (Enlightened Sexism, pg.156)
    Please tell me what is feminist about wanting to be regarded as a sexual object and submitting to the pleasures of men. I would hope that women who are feminists would not prioritize being great in bed or being revered for how sexy they are; I think women want to be genuinely respected. I also think that’s a pretty good definition of equality- that they want their voice to matter as much as mens’ and they want to be taken seriously. Women are not going to get that by sleeping around.
    There are some exceptions, yes, but MOST women do not delight in rampant sex with strangers. Women more than men are more likely to regret having had sex with someone (See: Poore, et al, 2005 in a study entitled “Sexual Regret”).
    In a different study, 46% of men reported feeling that they had terrible feelings after having casual sex. The number one feeling here was that they were upset that the girls they’d hooked up with wanted a relationship. (Lambert, Khan, & Apple, 2003: Pluralistic ignorance and hooking up). Should we not prepare girls for that?
    I’m not proposing anything outragous, here. I’m saying this: based on the information we have, we should educate young girls to be careful with who they have sex with because they could be physically and emotionally hurt. If that offends your politically correct and anti-science sensibilities, so be it. Enjoy being riddled with STDs and disrespect.

    These studies I mentioned were funded by graduate universities, carried out by graduate students. To Emily, when I say cross-cultural, I mean that the studies were also far-reaching: outside of what Stephanie calls “a society that has routinely indoctrinated them to the idea that if a woman has multiple sexual partners she’s a slut.”
    That’s exactly why I mentioned that Sweden is a more promiscuous culture where women still are stigmatized for having many sexual partners. The Ache Indians are another example. But even in more promiscuous cultures and societies where polygamy is permissiable, most women seek monogamous marriage.
    Here’s another reason why even if you disregard all these studies, it’s not a good idea to prescribe promiscuity to young girls:
    Even if you think it “shouldn’t be stigmatized” to sleep around, that certainly doesn’t mean that girls WON’T be stigmatized for it. It’s not just the boys who are going to call girls “sluts,” but each other, too- regardless of how much Riot love there in this space. You all know well the reality of high shcool, so even then, it is bad advice for a teenage girl to sleep around- other kids are going to make high school a living hell for her.
    To Jamie, who asked about lesbians, I have a good quote from Matt Ridley’s book the Red Queen, on page 218:
    “The temptress interested in a one-night stand with a man whose name she does not know is a fantasy fed by male pornography. Lesbians, free of constraints imposed by male nature, do not suddenly indulge in sexual promiscuity; on the contrary, they are remarkably monogamous.” You will probably notice that many lesbians stay together for years.
    It’s fascinating how upset so many of you staff members are getting about claims that are both well-founded and should be uncontroversial. If anything, they support young female mental and physical health.
    Evolutionary psychology is one of the fastest growing fields that incorporates biology. Not really subjective. The relativist perspective that many of you take is about as unfounded the view of a creationist. It’s interesting how both conservatives and liberals have such contempt for scienfic findings, and let’s keep in mind that evolution is about as much a theory as the theory that the earth revolves around the sun.
    I write this with the best interest of young girls at heart, since that is the target audience at Rookie Mag. To advise them to be safe, let’s take into account their psychological health, as well. That should be undebatable. Something we all agree as true feminists is that we want all girls and women to thrive in society and in their personal lives.
    How’s that for empowerment and girl love?

    • Anaheed September 15th, 2011 12:29 PM

      I don’t want to continue a long back-and-forth about this, Kali, mostly because of what Tavi says below — about adults using our comments section to offer THEIR advice to the teenagers who read our site and can think very well for themselves.

      I just wanted to offer this further reading (for Kali and everyone):

  • Tavi September 15th, 2011 8:18 AM

    I would really prefer if adults who are worried about the messages we’re sending would email us instead of leaving comments here. This is a space for the teenagers who read our site to have a discussion and figure things out and it seems counterproductive to be dominated by adults telling them what they need instead.

    I know people are excited that there is now this platform for “getting through” to young people, and everyone has their own ideas about the best way to do that. But we are in week two. Give us time. Our format requires a bit of getting used to because of our monthly theme. You may need to wait for the calendar to fill out before you see the point of view you share reflected in an article. We can’t represent ALL IDEAS in everything we post. How boring and trying-to-please would that be?

    We have worked really hard to find our tone in the best way to get our message across. Many of the adults commenting with their ideas seem to think just preaching all-around positivity will work. You have to understand how easy that is to find even in teen magazines that still airbrush photos. Or in health textbooks that still only teach abstinence.

    You might also want to take note of all the people who commented on this post to say that they have not had sex and did not feel the need to get defensive. This is probably because they read through the post instead of categorizing it into a one-dimensional feminist idea that ignored, say, Cindy’s note about protection.

    We appreciate the feedback and I’m glad we can have this discussion but there are about a million places online for adults to talk about these things. Girls to the front, right?


    • Shohreh September 15th, 2011 2:31 PM

      Hi Tavi,
      As much as I praise you for the site you have established, I have to tell you I just got disappointed.

      “there are about a million places online for adults to talk about these things” is what disappointed me. So why some of the writers of your site are adults?!
      Do you really want your site to be referenced for justifying not-so-good things (like one night stands for teenage girls), recommended by your adult writers?

    • Tavi September 15th, 2011 8:07 PM

      Shohreh – Because if a teenager had written this article it would have felt condescending. Sometimes you need the perspective of an adult who can look back on their teenage years and understand how they affected their adult ones. I know that I don’t always want to hear advice from my peers, which is why our teenagers aren’t the only ones offering it. My issue with adults commenting about the better way to get through to our audience is that what you think you could’ve benefited from hearing as a teenager is different from what you would’ve actually listened to, which is why our staff has an age range. Feedback is welcome, but so far these comments have been on articles that the teenaged readers mostly seem to understand.

      “Do you really want your site to be referenced for justifying not-so-good things (like one night stands for teenage girls), recommended by your adult writers?”
      ….Yeah, because I don’t think it’s bad or unrealistic to write an article that lets the teenage girls who do those things know that they’re not scary sluts for it.

  • butterfly September 15th, 2011 9:18 AM

    I was thinking about having sex. But this article really helped me to just stop and think. Thank you, for stopping me from doing something i know i’m not ready for.

  • mel17 September 15th, 2011 11:20 AM

    Kali, i agree with a lot of your points and i totally get where you are coming from, however, i feel that the majority of your comments have already been presented to me, many many times, in many different ways. Maybe that’s because i am 17 and not 13, but girls usually do learn about how sex can be emotionally hurtful, STDs, pregnancy, etc. It feels like all of those ideas have been shoved down my throat for years now. I’ve heard many times that sex can be much more emotional for girls, but as i stated in my first comment, i have not really felt emotional after my experience, especially compared to my male partner. This article is the first i’ve ever read that is not trying to make me feel bad for enjoying sex as a teenager, and embracing my sexuality. Everyone is different and most of your points apply to teenage girls everywhere, but it’s up to them to do what feels right. For me, losing my virginity felt right at the time it happened and like i stated before, i know myself better from it. Every experience in life, we can grow from, so why is it that when it comes to sex, everyone thinks you are going backwards?

  • Toilets September 15th, 2011 12:44 PM

    My sex ed teacher should have taken some tips from Cindy, he was definitely of the “YOU’LL GET PREGNANT AND DIE” school of thought. This was a really useful article, thank you!

  • mirah gate September 15th, 2011 12:56 PM

    I think this article is very forward and confident, if not a little ideal. It’s cool that it highlights the pleasures of sex, particularly how out loud it is about the self-pleasures aspect. And a boost to (although not explicitly stated, predominantly female?-) independence is always welcome. Go strong minds and critical thinking capabilities. I really hope everyone can find that middle C with their happiness so to embrace the fact that you are way worth partaking in the pleasures of sex. No matter your body type, your background, your insecurities, It’s just sort of ideal to advise any person to embrace the one-night stand experimentation. In theory, it should be a clean sweep.

    Food for thought: I’m 20 and married, and although we’re totally in love, I still worry about pregnancy. I’m so not ready to have a kid. I’m still in school. I’m still having the time of my life. The real, sorry thing about sex is the story of biology (Babies: They Can Happen.) It’s nice to read something that doesn’t drill it into your head, admittedly, but there also should have been some sort of disclaimer at the bottom, like
    Warning: Sex causes babies, but not STDs, that’s a byproduct of a drunken night, just kidding, but seriously take precaution when you have a good time.

    I’m also iffy about this line, especially After partying in the city with the most grimy-est of fellow, this: “the person who’s lucky enough to have sex with you is just enormously grateful to be there and thinks you’re the biggest turn-on in the world.” While it’s true of my husband, who rocks my world, I know a few dudes who will ride your body for the tally. You’ll learn when it happens… and it sucks. But be smart, or make yourself smart after you learn. You can earn the tally too, but I find that can become a game of seduction that eventually leads to displacing of emotions. Which I still haven’t figured out is a good or bad thing.

    This is such a hot topic and there are many sides. Bottom line: The pleasure principle is right on, but don’t forget about the children. Wear a condom!

  • Kali September 15th, 2011 1:38 PM

    Hi Tavi,

    The article was written by an adult. It looks from your staff page that many of the moderators here are also young adults, too. I didn’t see anything in your house rules about not posting if you were above the age of 18.

    The staff has been insisting on their opinions vehemently, often rudely, since the first response to my comment. The general sentiment seems to be here that there are no truths about sexual behavior, but I suppose Emily would not call that opinion an adult agenda.

    I’d also like to note that I was met first with repeated attacks and extremely negative comments from mostly staff members before I responded in any less than diplomatic way. Maybe they should re-read #2.

    A few harmless points about emotions and sex were all I was putting out there. Never did I suggest that girls should not or cannot enjoy sex. But there’s a difference between being sex positive and preaching on a teen girl site (like your moderators did) that it’s OK to sleep around as much as you want because their personal view is that it’s empowering.

    It’s a shame that the message I am trying to convey in my posts about safe sex beyond just STDs would elicit such a negative response.

    If you read my first post, I said that I found Cindy’s article to be pretty great, otherwise. I did read it through, by the way, and was responding that there are more effects from sex and especially promiscuous behavior than just STDs: emotional effects and reputational damage were some examples I offered.

    At this point, I’m taking issue with the response from your staff, which seems fairly irresponsible. I think rising to my defenses is pretty warranted when I see some *adult* staff members prescribing promiscuity to young girls and putting them at risk.

    I think you all are doing a great job with your magazine- I really enjoy it and have suggested it to plenty of people. If you want all ideas to be represented, then I think comments are that intended space for discussion.

    But it’s a real bummer that some of the Rookie staff can’t be receptive to ideas about safe sex if it goes against their own ideals and conceptions about the female body.

    • Anaheed September 15th, 2011 1:58 PM

      I just realized that it’s not clear who’s a “moderator” and who’s a contributor. Any comments made by ANY Rookie staff are marked with a yellow header. That goes for writers/photographers/illustrators (a little over 1/3 of whom are teenagers) and editors (and I believe the web team too?).

      The only moderators, in that we have the power to approve comments, are Tavi, Emily, and me.

    • Anaheed September 15th, 2011 2:02 PM

      And Kali, I’m sorry for anything that felt negative to you. In my opinion everyone here has been respectful toward you. They just disagree with you very strongly. That’s a really different thing.

      ANYWAY. This isn’t a place for people who disagree with Cindy to write their own articles preaching abstinence or modesty or what have you. There is a vast Internet where such articles can be posted.

  • Kali September 15th, 2011 1:49 PM

    Anaheed: I never condoned anything like slut-shaming. I said that realistically, teenage girls ARE going to be met with this response in high school one way or another. It’s a harsh place and I think many of the writers here have acknowledged that.

  • Shohreh September 15th, 2011 1:58 PM

    “you loved them because you thought they were special—but they were only special because you loved them.”
    This is the wisest thing I have ever heard.

    But I cannot agree with “there is nothig wrong with one night stand”. There should be acommitment in all relationships. We are not animals to act like them.

  • Jacqueline September 15th, 2011 4:03 PM

    Love the mag. great work, i am from Chile in south america, i been reading rookie for a while and i love it, the mag is been amazing so far congrats to all of you

  • Dallasdude September 15th, 2011 4:05 PM

    I’m a 27 year old guy and I’ve never done any of these things. Unlike mainstream belief, all men are not pigs. I just feel like I should get my own s**t straight before I start anything with someone else, as much as I might want to.

  • Jacqueline September 15th, 2011 4:09 PM

    im 25 i had a bad first time, put as she put it, y really gets better, you discover yourself is a way that is so new, and so part of life.
    With love is good and without it is good too if you want it to be.
    i love the article is honest and simple, for a subject that is far from simple, i wish I had read this when I was 15.

    congrats and pardon my English.

  • sayuri September 15th, 2011 6:18 PM

    reading this is makes me remember things… i’m reading all the site!!! i’m 21, but i think i’ll be a teen forever

  • Anaheed September 15th, 2011 7:44 PM

    Listen up, commenters! This is important.

    This is the first post for which we haven’t approved every single comment that came in. And the comments that we received on it have been helpful in that they’ve forced us to think about the Rookie comments section and what we want it to be. Which is: a place of open discourse, where people feel free to express themselves without getting shot down, and feel free to respectfully disagree with one another without getting pulled into a flamewar.

    The way I see it, Rookie is Tavi’s house, which she built (and continues to build) carefully by hand over many long hours and sleepless nights. We staff get to live in her house. And the comments section is, to put Supercute!’s words in a slightly different context, our nonexclusive house party. You are all invited to our party and we LOVE having you here, but in order for everyone to enjoy themselves we have to make sure that no one’s being a rude guest. If one person is dominating all conversation, repeatedly making the same point, and picking fights with other guests, they will be asked to tone it down, and, if they keep up that behavior, to leave. Just like you’d ask a guest who was being rude to your other guests to leave a party at your house.

    And if everyone gangs up on one guest, that isn’t OK either, and we’ve declined to approve some of those kinds of comments, too, on this one.

    If you have a problem with one of our writers or editors, a better route than leaving multiple comments is to email us at If you want to provide a different point of view on a subject you’ve read about, one respectful comment is enough. Multiple comments making the same point will be ignored.

    In short, we love you all and we’re so happy that you’re here. Your comments, on the whole, have been so smart, funny, and inspiring, and I for one am continually blown away by the level of intelligent, thoughtful, respectful conversation provided by our readers. I value so much that you all have a place to talk back to us, and to talk to one another. The speed with which this place has turned in a real community makes me kinda emotional!! So in our efforts to keep it a safe place for all kinds of discourse, it turns out we will occasionally be using our House Rule #4.


  • kalika_ma September 15th, 2011 8:54 PM

    Well done. None of that Seventeen magazine shit that confuses the hell out of you. I wish Rookie was around when I was a teenager.

  • Flor September 15th, 2011 9:17 PM

    Loved it!! : )

  • IstRad September 16th, 2011 5:14 PM

    A friend tipped me off to this site and despite being a grown man, I think it is a pretty terrific platform for today’s youth. What I really love is the digital conversation that Tavi has created for a teen to talk about a serious topic like this in what feels like a genuine space.

    Good for you on moderating in the way that you have been thus far. The last thing any vulnerable human needs to read is some negative comment that would make them feel bad about themselves.

    Great job! I wish there had been something like this when I was younger.

  • darksideoftherainbow September 16th, 2011 8:58 PM

    i’m sad reading on the newer comments that came after i read and commented on this awesome article. the reality of the situation is that a lot of teenage girls DO have sex. i didn’t do that when i was a teenager, as i stated before, but i still feel like this helps me. i’m grateful for this article and for this website. i’m not a teenager anymore, i’m 24, but i’m still growing and websites like this one definitely help me, it’s empowering and it’s nice to know the point of view of girls that have experienced different things and those who have experienced that same things as me.

  • tantevic September 17th, 2011 12:32 PM

    I don’t doubt this blog was a sincere attempt to promote a positive message about sex to girls. By “girls,” I really mean “kids,” which carries a HUGE responsibility for obvious reasons: pregnancy, HIV, herpes, HPV, etc. That there is some pushback in the comment thread is not surprising to me. If you’re old enough to have consensual sex, then you’re old enough to learn about STDs, especially since STD transmission in youth is on the rise.

    I think talking to girls (AND boys) about sex is extremely important. Tavi suggests in a comment that the blog attempted to counter a “scary slut” message from society. Respectfully, I don’t know where she’s coming from in saying that, nor do I want to inspire a debate about feminist theory. Most of the visual messages I see from society (TV, ads, music videos, etc.) tell girls they *should act* slutty to be valued. That’s not a theory, in my view, that’s the reality girls face. (If you don’t agree, then check out a documentary called “Miss Representation,” which catalogs the visual bombardment and lets girls and women speak for themselves about their experiences:

    To me, this pro-sex blog is therefore a little lop-sided, and the Rookie staff reaction to the pushback in the comments strikes me as a little defensive. Third-rail blogging goes with the “Rookie” theme, doesn’t it? Live and learn from touching the third rail.

    Most of all, however, I wish I could pass this blog on to my teenage niece, but I don’t feel responsible doing that. I can’t advocate one-night stands to anyone I care about, least of all a teenager. And it’s the *promotion* of one-night stands in the blog that’s a problem (see the phrase “really, really, REALLY enjoy it,” which implies frequency). I wish the Rookie moderators could respect a contrary opinion in their audience, no matter the “age” of the commenter, which is irrelevant in an open-to-the-public blog, btw. Yes, a positive attitude toward *sexuality* is great—within certain realistic parameters related to *sex* itself, especially for girls and women. Women bear the brunt of the consequences of sex, even with “protection”—again, pregnancy and STDs, which take a harsher toll on women’s bodies. Like it or not, this is a fact of life that teenagers, boys as well as girls, need to be taught and generally aren’t taught (mostly they are taught about abstinence, fyi). The “really, really, REALLY” theme for one-night stands is flat-out irresponsible for this age group. Ask anyone who works in the field of public health and sex education.

    Long story short, I would have liked more balance in this blog, because knowledge is the most empowering message of all. I wish you well, and hope you can give some serious consideration to contrary opinions. I think they are offered in good faith.

  • ali September 18th, 2011 1:20 AM

    I am so thankful for this post, and i will be passing it around to some of my friends. It makes me feel a lot better about not f*cking someone’s cousin at a party like some of my peers.

    I, personally, have never done anything with anyone, but I am okay with that because I’m okay with myself. And for this post, I’m going to use examples of some of my friends, because, as teenagers, we do experiment and have sex and do a lot of ‘dangerous’ things that adults tell us not to. This is because, as teenagers (this is my opinion!) we’re finding out who we are, and that means doing something different!

    One of my friends, and another one of my (male) mates were going out and she felt like she had to offer her virginity to make them a serious couple, all because they were going through a rough patch, and even though they had been dating for 6 months. He, as the stupid male, didn’t really know what to do or say, and hey, SEX. Seriously, that is what he first thought when she told him, quite seriosuly, what she wanted to do. (I’m really good friends with him). She was always a bit of a princess, and had kind of expected her first time to be magical and with rose petals, if you get my drift. It wasn’t, although my guy friend was a lot more experienced (but had never had sex with a virgin, he went for much older girls usually) and made it as good for her as he could, but she was still disappointed with it, and needless to say, she broke up with him a few weeks later.

    As another example, another friend (the odd-one-out of our small year level) was going out with a guy and came into sex with no ‘wrong’ preconceptions, and had sex, as you do, and didn’t feel any right or wrong in it. She told me the actual first time sucked, but a couple of times later, it was so much better and she felt a lot more comfortable with herself sexually. Those two aren’t together now, and she has gone into other relationships and had sex in them, but for her, sex isn’t magical or big. It’s just there, and sure, it can be great, but an actual relationship matters more for her than an orgasm.

    I do think that ‘Making someone else come for the first time’ should have been added.

    And I think it would be wonderful to have a first time with someone you loved, but it could be equally great with someone you know well and respect, like a very good friend.

  • Kate M September 18th, 2011 1:27 PM

    Thank you Cindy for a brilliant post. I concur with everything that you say. When I interviewed people for ‘The First Time’ book, I often asked them at the end, ‘tell me about the first time you had sex and ENJOYED it’….unsurprisingly, this elicited an amazing – and joyful – response every single time. First time sex on the other hand is often awkward, clunky and a bit embarassing but it’s all par for the course. How else are we going to discover ourselves and what we like except by making a mess of a few things first? Finding a true sense of self comes from experiencing the world, in all its different facets, sexual and otherwise and only through a series of trial and error type encounters.

    The comments section on this post is especially fascinating and everyone makes such a worthwhile contribution. I stand squarely in the middle of the arguments. I think that young women should have the CHOICE to do as they please. If this involves having sex with lots of people, so be it but let that come from a genuinely empowered place – and I fear this is a place that is quite difficult to find when we are very young – for both men and women. I think that’s what one young woman was trying to explain on here….that women shouldn’t feel like they have to sleep with lots of people just because they can – or because other people want them to. I am on the receiving end of a lot of those stories on The Virginity Project, from BOTH boys and girls who feel pushed into experiences they don’t feel ready to have yet. By the same token, I also get lots of emails from young people who are far more single-minded and confident than I was at their age in the 1980’s.

  • headless September 19th, 2011 9:23 PM

    all i know is that my first time was fun and amazing i even orgasmed. i’m glad i waited until the ripe old age of 23 and for the right person.

  • graph-sky September 21st, 2011 7:11 AM

    @kelsey: yours is the only comment that gets what was bothering me about all this.

  • Faith September 22nd, 2011 11:50 PM

    I am so glad Cindy didn’t leave out “The first time you have a one-night stand and you really, really, REALLY enjoy it.” I feel like a lot of people frown upon one-night stands just because you don’t know the person but often times it’s a beautiful experience because you are connecting with someone you may not know too well. There’s no pressure for there to be a relationship or for it to develop into anything.

  • littlemustachecomb September 25th, 2011 2:29 AM

    I am a Women’s Studies major and I am constantly trying to find ways to enrich the lives of young women in my community. I am most definitely going to refer them to this mag! So many young women are fed so many lies by society and are told that it is crucial that the entire topic of sex remains mysterious and unexplored until marriage. I am so grateful that young women have an outlet like Rookie when they have thoughts or feelings about sex and love that they feel they can’t express comfortably. KUDOS to the entire project!

  • katikatikati September 25th, 2011 9:59 AM

    this might just be the perfect article about ‘the first time’. i love it!!

  • Helix September 26th, 2011 3:11 PM

    I really appreciate this article, and what you’re doing here. You guys are off to a great start!

    I’d also like to call attention to something Cindy did here that I think is awesome, and nobody else has commented on so far. I really appreciate the fact that this piece never explicitly assumes that any of these first times are, necessarily, going to be with a GUY.

    It’s really important, and it’s something I’m very much hoping Rookie is going to talk about explicitly in the next few months, instead of just by implication. (I’m willing to be patient ;-)) A lot of the girls coming to this site trying to figure out how to navigate themselves and their lives and their growing sexualities, are going to have to deal with the realization that those sexualities are partly, mostly, or entirely directed towards other girls and women. Which is every bit as wonderful and probably about five or ten times more confusing than it is for the girls who never have to question at all. (I should know; I was one of them, and it took a lot longer than high school to figure it out. Most of the time I think I’m still working on it.)

    Given how badly those girls need a place like this to come, learn, interact, and be treated just the same as any other teenage girl, not excluding them here matters a lot. I’m just hoping you guys realize that there’s a difference between saying “the person”, which only stands out if you’re really looking for it, and addressing something right-out-loud.

  • Therese September 27th, 2011 11:46 PM

    This is such a fantastic story, Cindy. Especially the idea that there are LOTS of first times to celebrate.

    I’d love to invite commenters to read our collection of First Person stories about what we like to call ‘sexual debuts and deferrals.’ And if anyone wants to contribute that would be even cooler!

    You can find our virginity project/documentary/blog at and we’d love to hear from you!