Why should I feel ashamed for taking care of myself; for bucking a
trend: for doing my best to ensure my physical, emotional, and spiritual
integrity in a world of numbness and violence?
—Loolwa Khazzoom, sex educator, in the 'zine Moxie, summer 1999
You realize that you've seen his orgasm face, but you don't know what he
likes for breakfast.
—Louisa, 30, quoted in “Casual Sex: Why Confident Women Are
Saying No,” Glamour, September 1997
In the past decade, we have witnessed a mass exodus out of the closet of the most suspected and stigmatized groups: lesbians and bisexuals, the cohabiting, and single mothers.
And then there are the virgins. Like these other individualists, no longer on the defensive and apologizing for their choices, virgins are expressing a new pride and are starting to stand up for themselves and be counted. Like the women who say yes, those who say no are operating from a basic ethic of the sexual evolution: the right to control their own sexuality.
Susan, 23, reflects this emerging philosophy of having sex on one's own terms and with a higher level of consciousness. A volunteer in the Lutheran Volunteer Corps in Washington, D.C., working with the urban poor, Susan's religious views are basic to her sense of self. They were the driving force behind her past sexual restraint, not by inducing shame, but by emphasizing the spiritual component of sex, which she can't easily separate from the physical. As a result, Susan said that she waited to have sex for the first time until just recently with her fiancé, whom she had met two months earlier. “I recognized that I have certain talents and certain gifts, and I owe it to myself to