"My first sexual experience was not a good one," says Amy Schumer. In an interview with writer Allison Glock for the new Marie Claire, Schumer reveals a story of losing her virginity that sounds terrible — and will likely be depressingly all too familiar to many young women.
The 35 year-old comic has over the past few years won the hearts of her fans for her outspoken opinions on body image and sexuality. In her HBO special last year, she debunked myths around female desire by saying, "Every girl I know likes having sex. I love having sex. Not a weird amount — like a normal person. You’re made to feel really weird and disgusting if you’re a girl who likes to have sex." In her instantly classic "Inside Amy Schumer" sketch "Last F**kable Day," she enlisted a power trio of Hollywood actresses to take on the trope that females over 40 are no longer "believably f_ckable." And in her glorious 2015 Glamour UK Women of the Year speech, she accepted her Trailblazer award by saying, "I'm probably, like, 160 pounds right now and I can catch a dick whenever I want."
But her sex life wasn't always so positive. Of her first sexual experience, she says, "I didn't think about it until I started reading my journal again," she tells Glock. "When it happened, I wrote about it almost like a throwaway. It was like, And then I looked down and realized he was inside of me. He was saying, 'I'm so sorry' and 'I can't believe I did this.'" HuffPo reports that she goes on to say that the man is no longer in her life and that she doesn't want him punished for what happened. "This was 17 years ago," she says. "There are just so many factors." But she adds that in a later relationship, "I had another time with a boyfriend where I was saying, ‘No, stop,’ and it was just completely ignored." And though she doesn't appear to describe what happened to her as assault, she takes on rape culture in general when she says, "You know, with the rape survivor, it’s not just shaming, it’s fury. It makes people so mad if you’re not a perfect victim."
The borderlines around consent are not always clear and easily marked. As Sarah Hepola — who's written eloquently of her own experiences of sex, consent, and in her case, drinking — wrote earlier this year in Texas Monthly, traditional wisdom has held that "when women were being raped, they often went silent or froze. Their absence of 'no' was incorrectly interpreted by the man as a green light, which led to the idea that perhaps a more effective signpost for consent would be 'yes.'" But even a yes can be a reluctant, coerced, impaired, or simply unsure one.
Writing for The Frisky back in 2011, Rachel White shared the "frozen and surreal" story of losing her virginity at age 15, and of comparing notes with friends in adulthood and realizing, "These are treasured stories. But usually, they are not happy ones." As she said at the time, "A new study found that while guys experience a self-esteem boost after their first time having sex, women feel worse about their body image after. And past studies have revealed that women feel depressed after first time sex much moreso than guys." In 2014, Women's Health reported on the results of a long-range study that found "Women's biggest sexual regret was losing their virginity to the wrong person."And in her groundbreaking bestseller "Girls and Sex," Peggy Orenstein talks extensively about the communication and expectations gaps between young men and women surrounding sex. She told Salon in March, "Boys will say, 'I didn’t come or I wasn’t that attracted to her.' Girls will talk about pain and humiliation and degradation."
Based on the telling details that her first sexual partner apologized for what he'd done and that another partner continued even after she'd said no, Schumer's experiences were clearly non-consensual. Yet Schumer also seems to acknowledge that in the sticky dynamics of sexual encounters, there can be times when silence is taken for acceptance, and a even "no" is taken for a mere suggestion. It's entirely possible that neither of those men Schumer describes ever gave a second thought to what they'd done, or considered that it could be regarded as a criminal offense. It's not clear even how she defines those experiences. If she understatedly refers to the way she lost her virginity "not good," it's still her story to tell as she sees fit. And it's one a whole lot of women can no doubt relate to.
Mary Elizabeth Williams
Mary Elizabeth Williams is a staff writer for Salon and the author of "A Series of Catastrophes & Miracles." MORE FROM Mary Elizabeth Williams • FOLLOW embeedub
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