Losing my virginity – The Magaluf Way

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TW: Sexual assault, consent

Watching Molly Manning Walker’s directorial debut film, How To Have Sex, struck me like a lightning bolt. The film transported me back to 2004, I was 18, a virgin and had never had a boyfriend. A rarity amongst my friendship group and peers. 

The film follows a trio of 16 year old girls to Malia on a post-exam holiday. It’s got all the trappings of a Brits abroad holiday – binge drinking, tiny clothes, sand, sun, lewd acts in nightclubs and unfortunately for main protagonist Tara, sexual assault.

Under a close microscope is the peer pressure, anxiety and thrill of being a teenage girl. Tara’s story confronts the grey areas of consent and her relationship with her friends. The film is brilliant, recognisable and harrowing. It made me want to examine my relationship with sex and my first and last girls holiday to Magaluf, by writing this and sharing it I am setting myself free of shame. 

One of the boys

I was always more comfortable being one of the boys than being with the boys romantically. I felt so shy and disconnected from my sexuality. The idea of sex and displays of affection made my skin crawl. Something akin to shame would cling to my body just thinking about my friends watching me openly kiss or flirt with someone l unless I was very drunk. 

Knowing what I know now, it was likely that I was trying very hard to be heterosexual and not quite fitting that mould. It wasn’t possible to identify my feelings of queerness back then to myself, let alone others. 

Boys had always been my friends, I loved their company and making them laugh. I wasn’t a threat to them (I was not a good looking teenager) and even though I was probably very bad at keeping my crushes to myself, I just felt more comfortable around the lads.

On the rare occasion that a boy fancied me I would just panic and do everything in my power to discourage it. I couldn’t handle it, I didn’t feel worthy or attractive enough.

Snogging, ew

Being square in school was the equivalent of being a war criminal, it meant you hadn’t properly kissed someone. I was square until I was 16 and was absolutely terrified of being outed. School discos in particular were a source of great anxiety for me as I simply didn’t want to kiss a boy in front of anyone.

Boys and girls would take it in turns to form arches, you’d face another girl and put your hands up to meet theirs and form an arch. Boys would walk through the arch and when the music stopped you would ‘capture’ them and snog them. I thought it was gross, I always pointed to the other girl so she did it, not me. When it was the girls turn to go through the arch I’m pretty sure I always needed the loo. 

As I watched my peers snogging each others faces off I wondered what the hell was wrong with me, because surely something was? It’s not that I didn’t fancy people, I did. I just didn’t want people to know about it. The openness of it was repugnant to me. 

16 year old me decided enough was enough and I got drunk enough in town to snog a random, I couldn’t tell you his name or what he looked like. I just knew that I didn’t know him and that was good enough for me. Afterwards I went to the toilet and two of my friends were in there. One of them, with not a completely kind smile on her face, said to me “That was your first kiss wasn’t it?” I felt embarrassed but drunk enough to shrug and go into the loo. Relieved it was over and that my friends had let me get away with being square for so long. 

Thank god smart phones weren’t a thing in 2002. Any evidence would have sent me over the edge.

That experience did set something free in me, I felt a pressure relieved whilst knowing I was still so far behind others in sexual experience. I headed off to college a bit more confident in myself, at least no one could call me square.

“I want to marry someone like you”

College was a horny nest, undulating in lust, desire and polyester going out tops. Suddenly there were new people from other schools to be intrigued by, and I, of course, made friends with the boys. I loved them, in my eyes they were cool and I was brave enough to sit by them and strike up conversation. I had nothing to lose, because I had nothing to give – romantically.

One by one my friends entered into more adult relationships and I, as always, was on the outside looking in. I sat by the boys at break times and free lessons and laughed and became the gay best friend without even realising I was gay back then.

I recall being told that one of the boys had said they wanted to “marry a girl like Emina” at the time I felt so proud. It dawned on me later that “like me” was code for not me and perhaps I shouldn’t be so flattered. Clearly I was not quite marriage material. (That idiot is now married to someone nothing like me but did make me feel very awkward once by rugby tackling me onto a bed and pinning me down for a breath too long).

I still had no real desire to have sex with anyone at college and a chance encounter with a good looking rugby player got me close but I knew that everyone would know and that stopped me in my tracks. Shame overcame lust every time for me. I don’t think I was emotionally intelligent enough to handle that at the time. 

Magaluf, Shagaluf, let’s call the whole thing off 

A girls holiday to Magaluf was talked about before we all went off to university and I booked my place. Donning a tee that said Magaluf 2004 on the front and Classy Bird 69 on the back.

I had an idea in my head that losing my virginity on this trip would be a good idea, less people would know about it and I wanted to get it over with before going to university. It seemed entirely unacceptable to go to uni as a virgin.

So that’s what I did, I lost my virginity to someone I barely knew in Magaluf on a girls holiday. Cliche complete.

The encounter was entirely forgettable in many ways, I don’t remember the person’s name but I do remember how he made me feel – awkward, uncomfortable and that I should be grateful.

We met a group of Welsh boys – standard – and we hung out with them, they were in the same hotel as us. I had a mild flirtation with one of them but didn’t think much of it. On that holiday I felt like the ugly, inexperienced one of a group of girls who were more than me in so many ways.

One night him and I were on the balcony and I could tell if I wanted things to go further past a kiss they would. So they did. I was petrified, having zero experience and no confidence. I was absolutely not going to give away that I was a virgin. If I could have googled something back then it would have been “can boys smell virginity on you?”

I walked with him to his hotel room, all the while he spoke about his sexual encounters and asked me questions just so he could talk about himself. He asked me how many people I had slept with, I said one (lie), he said ten. He asked how many threesomes I had, I said none, he said he had one with two other girls recently. 

How was I meant to feel at this moment? I wasn’t impressed or swooning, I felt terrified. I know that a giveaway of my virginity being taken would be blood so I lied and said I had my period. He just smiled and said “let’s do it in the shower”. I insisted on the bed because that’s what people on TV did.

There was zero foreplay, I laid there with a quiet embarrassment and a wish to just get it over with. I also prayed he would stop talking as every sentence made him less attractive. 

The act was done, there was blood, I insisted on taking the stained sheet and putting it in the bin outside. The idea of his roommates finding it made me feel sick. It took me ages to find the bin and then I realised I had no idea where the room was so I traipsed back to the girls apartment.

I couldn’t pinpoint an emotion I was feeling, a mixture of relief, shame and a slight giddiness. 

I don’t think any of the girls I was with could believe that I’d done it, so against my character, not behaviour they were used to witnessing from me. I quite enjoyed shocking them.

Of course the next day he ignored me. Classic.

Choices, choices, choices

Were my choices to un square and de virgin myself actually motivated by me? Or societal and peer pressure? I don’t believe I was ready in either case to push myself over the line. I feel extremely sorry for the younger me because both my first kiss and sexual experience were lacking in chemistry and emotion. Blame popular culture for the unrealistic expectation of romance but I think there should be elements of self respect and kindness at the very least. 

Unlike Tara I didn’t experience sexual assault but the grey areas of consent were and now still not properly understood by the majority of people. It sickens me that most of the women I know have a story about sexual assault, the stat is 1 in 4 women have been sexually assaulted or raped, horrifying.

I don’t regret my decisions but I do wish I could go back and tell younger me that I was not weird, I was just a bit confused and it was ok to wait.

If you have been affected by anything in this blog you can access these services for support:

The Survivors Trust – Rape & Sexual Abuse Services UK

Rape Crisis England & Wales

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