The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo - Amy Schumer (2016)
HOW I LOST MY VIRGINITY
I always fantasized about losing my virginity the way I think most girls envision their weddings: being surrounded by my friends and family, with a clergyman present. JKJK. But seriously, I’ve never been a girl who dreamed about her future wedding. Nothing about the white dress or the way I’d walk down the aisle. That was just never in my fantasy Rolodex. I’m not sure why it wasn’t. But for many years, I did think about the moment I’d lose the big V. I imagined looking the man I loved right in the eyes and kissing him and smiling and intertwining our fingers and then two becoming one and the whole thing being slow and beautiful. Lots of soft whispers of love and its feeling like a levee of good feelings was breaking, orgasms, and happy tears. I thought we’d both be virgins until the moment we took a deep breath and then we . . . weren’t, and then we’d cry and hold each other all night. I thought we’d laugh about what a big deal it was that we’d just finally done it, and spend the next day together holding hands and walking around in our own little world experiencing a new kind of calm and bliss until we could hide away again together and repeat our perfect lovemaking, and all would be right in the world. But that is not what happened. I didn’t get to have that moment.
About a year before it actually happened, I’d wanted to lose my virginity to a guy named Mike. He wasn’t officially my boyfriend, but I was crazy about him, and we’d dated off and on since I was thirteen. At age sixteen, I’d felt ready. I went to my mom and my friend Christine and told them: “I think I’m ready and I want to have sex with Mike.” Looking back, I realize that going to your mother for a pep talk about losing your virginity in high school is odd. But I was raised with no boundaries, so at the time it felt like the thing to do. I talked to my mom a lot about sex stuff, actually. Whenever I’d have a question, my mom and I would go to Bigelow’s clam bar and I’d ask away, all while downing a bowl of New England clam chowder. I’d make her laugh slurping the soup up and asking obscene questions. In retrospect, obviously none of this was okay or appropriate. But it definitely helped make me who I am. During this particular sex talk, however, my mom and Christine both said, “No, don’t do it—you need to wait and make it special.” My mom pointed out how awful I’d feel if he made out with someone else the next weekend. I thought about it and she was right. I wasn’t a hardened groupie following my favorite band on the road. I was a teenager. So I listened to them and held on to my hymen for another year.
Right around that time, I started dating a guy named Jeff. He was a classically handsome, popular guy. But there was something different about him too. He was angrier than most teenage boys, and a little misunderstood. I ignored the signs that he was probably a bit unstable. Signs like when they gave him a fish fillet at McDonald’s instead of a Big Mac, he became so furious that he cried. Truly lost it. Real tears of rage. Like the kind of tears guys are only supposed to get when they watch a movie that touches on their dad issues. (So, most movies.) Isn’t it funny that they say most girls have daddy issues, when really, every dude does? But this dude had daddy, mommy, doggy, and fish fillet issues. I just thought, Well, he can’t help it. But I understand him. I’m here for him. Even though we were both generally well liked, when we were together it was us vs. the world.
I’ve only recently broken my pattern of being drawn to the “you’re the only one who gets me” guy. Which is a bad guy to be drawn to, and it’s not a coincidence if everyone—including all your friends and family and your dog—dislikes him. But Jeff was charming, and he loved me, and I him. He was the Bieber to my Selena—except that he had no money and neither of us was particularly talented at the time.
We’d somehow gotten into the habit of watching Monday Night Raw, which is a televised wrestling show where there is a bad guy in tight shorts who talks smack to a good guy in different tight shorts, and they both get very emotionally invested and show great feats of strength for a few minutes before one guy’s arm is lifted in the air by a bald ref with a belly. I didn’t enjoy it, because although I’m now friends with some wrestlers and even dated one, it’s just not my bag. I appreciate the athleticism and the theater of it all, but . . . it just doesn’t do it for me.
I did enjoy that Jeff and I had our own tradition and that we’d sneak forties of beer into my room and make out a little. I lived for these nights. Everything was so new to me. I’d just had my first orgasm a month before—on my own of course. I’d taught myself how to masturbate while watching the movie Mannequin. I’m not particularly turned on by that movie (no judgments if you are), but I was watching it alone on the couch one day and I just put my hand down my pants and rubbed the very top of my vagina and finally came. I was so pumped. It was like a new toy. I tried to do it again right away. I soon learned you have to wait about half an hour. I really hope girls are having orgasms. Just in case they’re not, you should lick your finger and rub where your vagina comes to a point at the top in a circular motion until you have an orgasm. Show the guy you’re with how to do it so you don’t resent him for being the only one who is coming. You’re welcome, and you deserve it! Also, let him go down on you. Don’t be embarrassed. Live your life.
Where was I? Anyway, at this point, I think I’d come close to having an orgasm with Mike, but it turns out I’d been confused by the sensation and thought I had to pee. (Anyone with me here? No? Okay.) I’d excuse myself and go to the bathroom and wipe up all the moisture, which I thought was humiliating. It was later explained to me that that wetness was good. Thank God, I thought, since all those trips to the bathroom were getting suspicious.
But at that point I hadn’t done a whole lot, sex-wise, with Jeff. We’d gotten to third base, as they say, and I’d tried to jerk him off many times. But it never worked, and it became the cause of major frustration on both our parts. I was getting Michelle Obama arms, but no other good was coming of it. I think he had religious guilt about all sex stuff and couldn’t mentally get there. Or maybe I sucked at it. Either way, this seemed to either enrage him or embarrass him. I understand how that could be difficult for a guy, and he was my boyfriend, whom I really loved, so one time I told him to jerk off in front of me so he could get over the embarrassment. I acted supportive of his tugging on himself to completion even though I was kind of grossed out by it. But the plan worked. It helped him loosen up and I was (finally) able to help him reach orgasm. This was important to me because I wanted to have sex with him, but not until we’d rounded third base appropriately. I don’t know why I got that in my head. Perhaps because in high school we talk so much about getting to different bases, it seemed everything should go in order. The way it was for me growing up was that the guys were always trying to see what they could “get from us” sexually. We girls were basically conditioned to think we should hold out or we’d be labeled a slut. I wanted to wait to go “all the way” because I just wasn’t ready. I wanted a little bit of a lead-up to having sex. Step by step.
After the successful jerk-off Monday Night Raw evening, Jeff and I continued to hang out and watch wrestling every week. Mankind and Stone Cold Steve Austin pretended to beat each other up, and we drank beer. One night, as we lay on my bed with the lights off watching wrestling, I was zoning out. The combination of the time of night, the content of the show, and the beer had me in and out of sleep. At one point, I was lying on my back, not paying attention, and suddenly felt Jeff fingering me. We hadn’t been fooling around at all, so it seemed strange to go right to that. It started to hurt, which hadn’t ever been the case before, so I looked down and realized he had put his penis in me. He was not fingering me. He was penetrating me. Without asking first, without kissing me, without so much as looking me in the eyes—or even confirming if I was awake. When I startled and looked down, he immediately removed himself from me and yelled quickly, “I thought you knew!” This seemed very strange to me, for him to protest so adamantly with such a prepared, defensive line—even though I hadn’t yet said a word. I looked down and saw some blood on my bed. I was confused and hurt. He left soon after, and I rolled over and cried.
The next day he apologized. He was very upset, saying how awful he felt and that he wanted to harm himself for what he’d done. I did my best to comfort him, and I was genuinely worried about him. I wanted him to feel better. I was so confused. I was confused as to why he would have done this to me in this way, but the most dominant feeling I felt was that the guy I was in love with was upset and I wanted to help him. I put my head on his chest and told him it was okay. I comforted him. Let me repeat: I comforted him.
I was still bleeding a little and feeling sore and terribly confused. What had happened was settling in, and I was getting sick to my stomach thinking about it. It made no sense. I was his girlfriend; we’d had conversations about sex and were very open when talking things through like that. I’d just helped him figure out how to have an orgasm in front of me. I remember being the more sexual of the two of us. If he’d asked me to have sex that night, I think I would have said yes. I didn’t understand why he approached it the way he did. Did he feel like he needed to literally “sneak it in”? He had so much guilt attached to sexual activity, I recall, and lots of fear. Maybe he thought it would be a guiltless, shameless way to do it. Maybe, like the jerking-off sessions, it was easier for him to do it if I wasn’t an active participant. I don’t know. But he’d made the decision without me. It wasn’t about us, it was about him. I felt sad and betrayed. I thought he really cared about me, but this didn’t feel like something someone who cared about you would do. But I still wanted us to be okay.
The strangest part is that even though Jeff apologized and told me how bad it had made him feel, I don’t remember ever really taking him to task about how it made me feel. I did what most girls do and continued on. I didn’t know enough about it. I didn’t know that it is incredibly common for sex to be nonconsensual. Sexual assault is so widespread, in fact, that we now have big campaigns aimed at teaching boys and young men what it means to get consent.
But I was seventeen years old and I wanted my boyfriend to like me. I still wanted to be with him and I was. We kept right on dating and started having sex regularly a couple months later. The second time we did it, I tried to pretend it was the first time. I even went in my mom’s room after and told her I’d lost my virginity. But it was a lie, and I’d also be lying now if I said it didn’t feel like my whole experience was ruined. My trust had been shattered—not just my trust in him but, in a lot of ways, my trust in anyone. My fantasy of a beautiful intimate memorable moment between two people had been taken from me in a flash. He took it. I didn’t know it then, but I know now that it toughened me up in an irreversible way. For many years, when it came to sex, I didn’t get the luxury of just being myself. Half of the time I was too defensive and guarded, assuming the guy wanted to hurt me or take too much. The rest of the time, I was too flippant—almost to the point of being dissociative, as if the act of sex didn’t matter much to me. I’d tell myself I could have sex with any guy I wanted, even if I didn’t care about him. Neither one of these versions of me was real.
Today, I wish I could say that sex is finally free of this kind of self-consciousness and self-protection for me. But it’s not. Until I’m in a committed relationship, I’m on my guard hard. I want to be the one making all the choices. I have to be with someone for a while and truly trust them before sex is fully fun and carefree. And then, I love it. I’m definitely a very sexual chick. But my first experience didn’t really set me up for a happy-go-lucky journey to get to where I am today. Women, like men, deserve to enjoy sex and to figure it out on their own terms.
So many girls have nights like my “first time”—or worse. Some girls wake up to a friend or boyfriend having sex with them. Some girls are violently attacked in public or in their own homes. One out of every six women is raped. Of that, 44 percent of those women are under eighteen.
Any time someone comes forward about being sexually assaulted in some way, there are so many opinions about it. People will have opinions about this chapter. Some might say it wasn’t a big deal. Or that it was all my fault since I was drinking, he was my boyfriend, and I was lying right there next to him.
Isn’t it sad that when a girl says she was sexually assaulted, our first instinct is to think she’s probably lying? Statistics and facts tell us the exact opposite. We demand “perfect victims” who better not have been drinking or hanging out at a party in a short skirt or revealing dress or have ever been known to enjoy sex.
The facts in my situation are pretty clear to me still: He was inside of me in a way I hadn’t consented to.
Many girls remain silent about their experiences. And that is their choice. I’m opening up about my “first time” because I don’t want it to happen to your daughter or sister or friend someday. I want to use my voice to tell people to make sure they have consent before they have sex with someone. I hope all parents talk to their kids about consent, and when you do, please, please don’t make the mistake my mother made. Don’t do it over a bowl of clam chowder. Because that is just gross and creepy.
I wish I’d have talked to a parent or adult at the time to sort out my feelings of confusion and betrayal. I wish I’d have stood up for myself more and told Jeff that what he did was wrong. It shouldn’t have gone this way. I don’t want someone reading this to think, My son isn’t rageful and doesn’t cry furious tears over a breaded fish sandwich, so he probably understands that he needs to get consent before putting his penis in a girl. But this happens so frequently that clearly we need to talk about it. Everyone should understand that there are no excuses for nonconsensual sex. People who commit sexual assault should have to pay the consequences for their actions. I used to do some stand-up about this confusing area. I’d call it “grape,” as in “gray-area rape.” It’s not some crackhead who popped out of the bushes in Central Park and raped me. I wasn’t screaming no. He didn’t keep forcibly pumping away until he finished. He was only inside me for a short time. But it isn’t right that it happened that way. Virginity shouldn’t be something you “lose” or “give.” Sex is something you share. My first time didn’t need to be perfect, but I would have liked to have known it was going to happen. Or have been part of the decision. Instead, he just helped himself to my virginity—and I was never the same.