The V-Word is an honest and poignant collection of essays from seventeen women about losing their virginity in their teens. Five of the contributing authors had a little more to say beyond what they’ve included in the book and we’ve been sharing their guest posts every Thursday throughout March. This post is the fifth of five and comes to us from author Dawn Babb Prochovnic.
* * * * * *
I’m so glad we’ve both read THE V-WORD, and I love that we’re talking about it.
When I first heard that Amber Keyser was working on a book of essays about first-time sex, I found myself hoping that her book would be ready in time for you. In time for your friends. In time for my friends, the women I cling to as I watch you girls grow into strong and beautiful young women.
I’ve always tried to be open and approachable about any and all topics, but I suspect that talking about sex with your own mother is more awkward than you let on. It doesn’t help that I tend to reflect on my own early experiences with sex with a measure of embarrassment and regret. I wished I had a different story to tell.
I wanted to be able to hand you a book that told stories that were better than mine. Empowering stories. Heart-warming stories. Satisfying stories. More than anything, I wanted you to have access to a collection of stories that didn’t burden you with my mistakes or my fears.
I wanted to be able to say, “Here sweetie. Choose a beautiful story. One that resonates for you. One that feels good and feels right. Pick a good partner, and make thoughtful choices so you can experience that story.”
I got together with The Moms last night. We talked about The Book. They all want to read it. They all want to share it with their daughters. And they all wanted to talk. Just knowing a little bit about the book created an opening for us to begin sharing our own stories with each other, something we’d not done before. One of us has sweet memories of a lovely time with an older boy. One of us got involved with a good-looking bad boy. One of us has a funny story about a contraceptive sponge. Some of us would completely rewrite our story if we could. Some of us wouldn’t change a thing.
What I realized after reading THE V-WORD, and after talking with my friends, is that no one has a story that is inherently better than mine. There are just a lot of different stories. Each one personal. Each one unique.
Another thing that really struck me was the realization of what little consideration I gave to what I wanted when I was your age. I heard loud and clear what my church wanted. I knew what my mom wanted. I knew (or thought I knew) what boys wanted. I was inundated with conflicting input from the media about what I should or shouldn’t want, or should or shouldn’t do. But I didn’t really think about what I wanted outside of the lens of what others had to say. I didn’t have my own voice.
I am so glad this book exists, but not for the reasons I originally wanted to share it with you. I’ve come to realize that having access to a broader collection of stories to choose from isn’t the point. Yes, it’s helpful to see that there are many different ways to experience first-time sex, but I take back what I said earlier. I don’t want you to choose a story from the book that resonates for you. I want you to feel empowered to write your own story. With your body. Your partner. Your voice.
Whatever story you make, it will be beautiful because it is yours.
* * * * * *
Dawn Babb Prochovnic is the author of 16 picture books in the Story Time With Signs & Rhymes series (Abdo Publishing Group) and the Founder of SmallTalk Learning. She blogs about books, sign language, early literacy, teaching, learning, and the meandering travels of my life at www.dawnprochovnic.com.
* * * * * *
Read an Excerpt from The V-Word: