“And then I looked down and realised he was inside me. He was saying, ‘I’m so sorry’ and ‘I can’t believe I did this.”
These are the words of comedian and actress Amy Schumer, in a recent interview for the August issue of Marie Claire, when she revealed the first time she had sex was not consensual.
“My first sexual experience was not a good one,” the 35-year-old actress said. “I didn’t think about it until I started reading my journal again. When it happened, I wrote about it almost like a throwaway.”
It was Amy Schumer’s first time having sex. And she didn’t realise it was rape.
When you talk to women “first time” stories often aren’t full of sweetness and love hearts.
I’ve never spoken to any women who’s had mind-blowingly positive first-time sex. ‘Bad stories’ and ‘losing virginity’ are lumped together like peanut butter and honey.
Having sex for the first time is seen as something so shiny and exciting. As if losing your virginity will take you one-step closer to being an ‘adult’. It's one of life's big moments along with getting married and having a baby. It's a milestone on the way to being the sexy, self-assured woman you so want to become.
No matter how many stories of ‘it hurts’, ‘it’s not all it’s dressed up to be’, ‘take care with you who chose to do it with’, 'I don't even want to talk about it', girls still wonder. Teenagers (for the most part) will always view virginity as something mysterious, exciting, a right of passage even.
For a long time, I think, we've concentrated on the potential risks inherent in the physical side of sex. STI's and pregnancies. (These things are scary, but they are the reason we have classes where we put condoms on bananas and view horrible pictures of herpes.)
When it comes to young girls and sex, the obvious (what goes where, and the passing of the milestone) often trumps the not-so-obvious. The strange, unsettled or even terrified feelings girls have after, during, and even before having sex for the first time. These feelings aren't so obvious because they're so often masked by the wonderment and expectation of the act itself.
Often, these feelings are still not obvious, even if something goes horribly, terribly wrong.
'And then I looked down and realised he was inside me.'
In Amy’s case, she didn’t understand the first time she had sex was non-consensual until years later.
She's not alone. Many of the stories I've heard about women losing their virginity range from realising years later it was a non-consensual act to "it was just bler".
These are just some of the stories I've heard from women about losing their virginity:
My first time was awful. I don't even want to think about it. I was 17 and he was pressuring me as he was a bit older and a really big man. Afterwards he simply looked at me strangely. "I don't believe you're a virgin," he said. I protested but he sat back on his bed and said: "You knew too much to be a virgin.". He was my first grown up boyfriend and basically he called me a slut. I thought I had done everything right. I had waited. I had a boyfriend. I picked up my clothes and felt cheap. - Annie, 29.
I never think about the first time I had sex. It's like I've tried my hardest to wipe it from my memory. It wasn't particularly dreadful, I don't really remember anything about the act. I just remember lying there afterwards feeling like I'd made a big mistake because the man I was dating, who'd just had sex with me, was a bad person. I knew he was a bad person, he was manipulative and mean, and I had sex with him because he couldn't stop talking about it. He talked about the other girls he'd had sex with. And how he knew it was going to be "amazing" with me. Maybe I knew this was pressure at the time, but I convinced myself I wanted it too. Teenage stubbornness and an awful memory. - Kate, 26.
My boyfriend and I actually had a few attempts before we were able to "do" it. It was more difficult than I thought it would be. - Amy, 24.
I had sex with my boyfriend in the bathroom at a party when I was in year 11 maybe? It was very uncomfortable. We had to do it again in a bed the next week to make it stick. - Rose, 32.
I'm from a small town and there was the "hot" boy of course. I followed him around like a puppy and thought if we had sex it would be so magical he would fall in love with me and we would be together forever. We did have sex and it was over in minutes and it was in the back of a ute and he walked away and got a beer with his mates when he finished. He didn't even drop me home. Alice, 41.
My boyfriend in high school tried to get us to have sex for the first time when he didn't have any sheets on his bed and I freaked out and cried, so the next day we did it with sheets on the bed. The sheets did not make it more special. It was actually just bleh, lasted about four minutes. all my friends asked me about it and I felt really bad to have to be like "yeah, not so good you guys". - Camille, 27.
We had been going out for a while and I thought everyone else in our group had sex. I knew I didn't want to, but everyone kept asking us. Then one day he said, "If we don't have sex by May (which was the next month) we should break up." I started to get really tense as May approached. I was horrible at home to my parents. But then May came and I had sex. I never wanted to. It never felt right after that. Liz, 38.
I wonder what would happen to expectations and wonderment of all those teenagers if we talked more about the emotion around losing your virginity, not just the physical concerns.
I wonder what would happen to expectations and wonderment if we talked more about the feelings of disappointment, manipulation, fear. The emotional risks.
I'm sure the teenage girls would still wonder. But at least their wonderment will be more realistic, less fanciful. Hopefully they'll be safer and more prepared. Hopefully the first time they have sex won't be unexpected, or on account of pressure or manipulation. Because, after hearing our stories of emotion, they'll know what that looks like. And they won't have to feel it for themselves.
Watch next: The cup of tea analogy for consent.