Shortly, I will post on how this book will and can influence the ways in which we think about virginity in romance (and how it will affect my current work), but for now, I wanted to briefly acknowledge Monro's masterful, lovely, and absolutely thrilling book.
Tuesday, May 24, 2011
The First Time: An all too brief review
I have spent a great deal of timing thinking about “the first time” and what precisely this means for the person about to have their “first time” or reflecting on their “first time.” To these ends, I want to briefly mention – and unabashedly recommend – Kate Monro’s The First Time: True Tales of Virginity Lost & Found (Including My Own) which was published by Icon Books in May 2011. Some people may already know about Monro’s work from her blog The Virginity Project, in which she presents the stories of virginity losses of many ordinary people who share their stories. Let me begin with the glowing recitals: as a scholar of virginity, Monro’s book is clearly one of the best volumes written to date on virginity and how precisely we define virginity (and, of course, its loss). Monro unlike earlier scholars also pays a great deal of attention to male virginity – a concept that seems to have eluded many critics and historians. Monro’s book, by my estimation, is worthy of sitting alongside Anke Bernau’s important Virgins: A Cultural History (2007), Hanne Blank’s Virgin: The Untouched History (2007), and Laura M. Carpenter’s Virginity Lost: An Intimate Portrait of First Sexual Experiences (2005). What Monro’s book does so extraordinarily well is that it polemicises our definitions of virginity and what precisely makes one person a virgin or not. Readers are presented with a narrative written by Monro and interspersed throughout this narrative are the tales of virginity losses of many people that she interviewed (and, of course, her own virginity loss story). The book is incredibly rich in its insights and observations on human sexuality and the recognition of how we become sexual.