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Heather Corinna replies:
My friends are telling me I am still a virgin in their eyes because I have not had anal sex. The idea is scary to me. I do not think I want to do anal sex. They call me a chicken because I have not tried it. Is there any advice you can give me to maybe change my mind and get me through it?
There's no reason why I, or anyone else, should try to talk you into doing a sexual activity you don't have any interest in doing. Coercing someone into doing something sexual they don't want to is an abuse, and in many cases, also falls under definitions of rape, and for good reason.
What motivates us to do a given sexual activity with someone should be a shared interest in doing that activity, based in an independent desire to both experience physical and emotional pleasure, closeness to that other person and self-discovery or growth. Doing a sexual activity because of pressure from friends to do it, or to prove to a given person that you are not a virgin is not a healthy motivation for any kind of sex. For us to give real consent to sex, our decision to have sex has to be freely chosen, not something we do out of pressure from anyone.
Sex also isn't something we do to get through it: it's something we choose to do if it feels like something we strongly want sexually, emotionally, interpersonally, for ourselves and our sexual partners.
We have to get through a biology test. We might have to get through a period of time where we're in poverty. We may have to get through an illness, the death of someone we love, or a few hours in traffic during rush hour. Sex is something we should be doing because it is enjoyable, physically and emotionally, and because we feel a strong emotional, psychological and physical desire to do something, based in our own wants and those of the partner we are having any kind of sex with. If sex ever feels like something we need to "get through," then something is probably very wrong.
Your friends are both not being good friends to you, nor are their ideas sensible. Calling someone derogatory names or otherwise trying to pressure a friend into a sexual activity is not okay and also doesn't support a friend in a healthy, happy sex life, something we should want for the people we care for. If we care about someone, we're not going to want to be saying or doing something which inclines them towards having negative, traumatic or just plain lousy sexual experiences. Too, when we're being a friend, we want to do what we can to be supportive of friends so that they feel good about themselves, not crappy.
The whole notion of virginity is not only something which varies a lot from person-to-person, but also something plenty of people don't subscribe to at all for a whole lot of reasons. The way a lot of people define it often doesn't make a lot of sense.
For instance, let's say I am a lifelong lesbian. I'm in my 60's, have never had sex with a man, and haven't had penis-in-vagina intercourse or anal sex at all, but have had over 100 different female sexual partners for things like oral sex and manual sex. Does it seem like it's made sense to consider me a virgin, or someone who has not had sex? How is it that were I that person, I would be a virgin, but a 15-year-old girl who has had only one male partner for vaginal and anal sex would not be?
Many heterosexual young women who have had receptive anal sex (in other words, it's their bottoms having a penis inside) have male partners who have NOT had receptive anal sex. Does that make those guys virgins? Your friend's mothers probably had vaginal intercourse to become pregnant, then gave birth to them, and may not have ever had receptive anal sex in their lives. Are all your mothers then virgins? Do you think your friends really think that, and if so, does that seem right to you?
See where I'm going with this, and see the huge flaws in your friends' logic? Heck, for all you know, these folks don't even really think any of this about virginity, but may just be saying they do to bully you, see what you'll fall for and see how much power they can have over you. If that doesn't make you angry, it really should.
That all said, anal sex isn't scary when it is something a person wants to do, for themselves, and has interest in doing for the right reasons. Certainly, like some other sexual activities, there are things we'll need to do to assure it is safe and feels as good as it can -- things like being very gradual in anal entry, being sure that partners are communicating with each other, using plenty of lubricant, using latex barriers -- but when it is wanted and practiced soundly, it's safe for people to do who want to do it, and some people do enjoy it a good deal. If and when you do ever have a genuine, free interest in doing it for yourself, and not coming from peer pressure, then you'll find it doesn't feel so scary.
But no matter what, it's sensible to feel scared about something you don't want and are feeling pressured into doing. That is a negative situation, and one which is emotionally dangerous. We should feel scared in those kinds of situations.
So, the best way to get through this?
1. Only have the kinds of sex you want to -- not that your friends want -- when you want to, with whom you want to who shares those same desires with you, and who also respects whatever limits and boundaries you've got.
2. Let your friends know that not only is their reasoning ridiculous, but that you aren't down with being harassed or bullied and won't tolerate it. You want a sex life that's great for you and your partners, and you can't have that if the sexual decisions you make are about peer pressures rather than your own pleasure.
3. If telling them that doesn't change their behavior, or you just don't even feel like you can stand up for yourself with them at all, then it's time to get better friends, real friends who act like friends.
Here are a few more links with support and information for you: