I recently thought back to some of my earliest “serious” conversations about sex, which took place in the halls of Whitney Young Magnet High School. My girls and I debated the qualifications that a boy would need in order to be bestowed with our precious V-cards and lamented the fact that we really needed to focus on college guys, because they were so much more mature and you know girls mature faster than boys, so we were really 18 in spirit anyway. We spent as much time agonizing over the future boyfriends and romances that may lead to sex as we did the little courtships we actually had going on.

Alas, I was the impatient one and cast out my virginity like a pair of rundown shoes the day before homecoming my sophomore year. A college guy (who I later discovered was likely a high school student like myself) enticed me to take three buses and a train to his house during the school day with the promise of my first cunnilingus; somehow, a Jodeci tape (this makes me sound older than I am; reality is, he just didn’t have a CD player for some reason) and the loss of my cherry were involved in this. All I remember was “Huh, the blood thing isn’t a myth” and taking the piece of paper next to his phone that had my phone number written on it, because I didn’t want to talk to him again.

I was largely unaffected by the whole thing. I bought a little bean pie to eat on my long ride back and went to get my hair done for the dance, praying I’d done a good job washing up. I entertained the “I’m a woman now” foolishness for about two seconds, before deciding that I would keep this little experience to myself and would share a more “special” story with my girls. Unfortunately, dude told a friend from my school and one of our boys aired me out on a field trip. Yet and still it was not a big deal to me.

A little later in my Young days, my friends had a convo about what we thought our number of partners would be prior to marriage. With the start date of fifteen in mind and the age of thirty being the end, I threw out “fifty.”Even though I immediately backtracked (math has never been my strong suit), my girls fry me about that until this day. Though i went a bit too far in one direction, they had numbers that were also a bit questionable: three, four, five. Nearly ten years later…we’ll just say everyone’s numbers were off.

Sex has never been a source of agony for me in the way I’ve seen it be for some other women. I either wanted to sleep with someone or I didn’t; in situations of the former, I weighed the pros and cons and made a choice. Did I always make the “best” choice? Probably not, but I haven’t suffered any real consequences or pain as a result of sex, because I always put my safety and happiness first before any man’s ego and before concerns about what people may think.

I think that when some folks hear people talk about women and sexual liberation, they get an image of bra-burning feminists walking around with no panties, ready to hop on any and every available wang out there. That’s silly. The goal is for women to feel comfortable enough with sex to manage their physical affairs as they see fit; the amount of worry some of us have when it comes to “should I or shouldn’t I?” shows us that comfort is quite often a lofty goal.

My attitude about sex hasn’t really changed much over the years. While it would have been nice to lose my virginity in some sort of ‘rose petals and candles on prom night’ fantasy, the emotional detached nature of my first time reflects my overall feelings about getting physical: it can and never will define who I am as a woman. As I approach the point in which I intend to stop adding new notches to the bedpost when I utter the “I’s married nah” that will rock the souls of those who believe that sexual empowerment sentences women to a life of singledom, I’m glad that I never let it take a toll on my self-esteem or self-image. I can only hope that more women can find a space to feel the same way.

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