Sunday, March 31, 2013

Confessions of a Christian Feminist

Like many Americans, I become emotional and especially religious around Easter. I can’t help but reflect on my complicated beliefs as a Christian feminist. Inspired by my new blogging friend Betsy, these are my beliefs.

The Church of the Jacobins in Toulouse

Section removed and added to new blog.

Today is Easter, and many of us are updating our facebook statuses and tweeting, “He is risen!” 

Today we celebrate the resurrection. 

Today I played a video of Collin Raye’s song, “What if Jesus Comes Back Like That?” for my atheist boyfriend. I know we’re incapable of godly love, but we can do a lot better with our humanly love.

Also removed.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Book Club Friday: My Real-Life Book Club

Wow, I haven’t linked up for Book Club Friday in ages. 

Confession: I’ve only read four books in 2013. I’m not doing so hot in my goal of reading one book a week (I read fifty-one books last year—missed my goal by one!). I blame moving into a new apartment and working two jobs. Plus I’ve prioritized sleep—I usually get at least seven and a half hours a night, and I aim for eight and a half hours.

But one reading goal I have met this year is keeping up with the book club I co-founded in New York. I picked the first book (Midnight inthe Garden of Good and Evil) more than a year ago, and I met with three of my friends at Starbucks right before I moved to Toronto. My friend Aria* picked the second book (The Tiger’s Wife), and we intended to meet online to discuss the book… But it just happened finally in January. Becky* picked the third book (Zeitoun), and we finally found a free date to discuss it last Saturday. Kendra* just picked our fourth book (The Remains of the Day), which I will probably buy or check out from the library a few days before our meeting, start reading the night before we meet, and conclude an hour before I join our Google Hangout. Because I’m cool like that.

So today, as I so often do, I will be reviewing TWO books. Aka the two books I read for my real-life turned online book club. Aren’t y’all lucky?


From Amazon: In a Balkan country mending from war, Natalia, a young doctor, is compelled to unravel the mysterious circumstances surrounding her beloved grandfather’s recent death. Searching for clues, she turns to his worn copy of The Jungle Book and the stories he told her of his encounters over the years with “the deathless man.” But most extraordinary of all is the story her grandfather never told her—the legend of the tiger’s wife.

This is not the kind of book I would have picked out to read, but I am SO glad Aria chose it. My friend thought it started out a little slow, but I was immediately entranced within a few pages. After just a few chapters, I had a million questions, and I was desperate to find the answer to them all.

Téa Obreht writes her story between realism and fantasy, historical narrative and fairy tale. She weaves effortlessly between different time periods, between varying points-of-view, between vague geographical locations.

The plot is so intertwined, and all the small flashbacks add up to big connections. I can’t say more without really spoiling the plot. Just trust me when I say this book was brilliant!


From Amazon: The true story of one family, caught between America’s two biggest policy disasters: the war on terror and the response to Hurricane Katrina.

Again, I never would have chosen to read this book on my own, and it turned out to be just as compelling as The Tiger’s Wife! I knew nothing about this book or Dave Eggers (the author) before I started reading it. I had checked out a digital copy through my local library, so I didn’t even read the summary on the back of the book before I started reading it. The book is so well-written that for the first few chapters, I thought it was a novel, not a true account.

One aspect of the book my friends and I all liked is the information on Islam. I really enjoyed reading Kathy Zeitoun’s conversion story, of how she discovered Islam. Abdulrahman Zeitoun’s backstory is cool too, with stories about his family back in Syria.

The major impression I had after reading this book is how privileged I am, how distorted the media is, and how scary our government is. I was still fairly sheltered when Katrina happened, and reading this one book has really opened my eyes to how little I still know about the experiences of religious minorities and people of color.

If you are looking to leave your reading comfort zone, both The Tiger’s Wife and Zeitoun are amazing choices.

What books have YOU read this year?

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Men Are Statistically More Likely to be Victims of Rape Than to be Falsely Accused of Rape

Confession: I regularly tweet at work. And not just because I manage all the social media for my company. I work for a start-up company, which means my job description includes the ability to “hurry up and wait.” In-between actual job tasks, I read the latest on Jezebel, stalk my new favorite blogs, and tweet about sexual assault.

Today, as I was getting ready to leave work, I tweeted two things. 

The response to the first was typical.

The response to the second is the most number of retweets and favorites I have ever received. By far.

Not surprisingly, I also received a small number of hostile replies to the suggestion that men shouldn’t be nearly as worried about being falsely accused of rape as they should about being victims of rape. Maybe because it’s easier to think women are more likely to lie than men are to be violent? I don’t know.

In light of the recent Steubenville case, and the disgusting amount of victim-blaming on the Internet, and the fight I had with my twin brother (the rape apologist) last week, and the replies I received to this tweet… I give you…

A post on men and sexual violence.

Monday, March 18, 2013

How I'm "Finding My Virginity"

Confession: My blog is no longer “Confessions of a Virgin.” Not because Beau and I have had coitus—we’re still unwedded, and thus unbedded, in at least once sense of the word. Nor did I change my blog title because I want my writing to be less confessional and more typical.

I am constantly evolving as a person—as a Christian, as a feminist, as a bibliophile, as a girlfriend, as a writer. My blog thus evolves with me. I started by writing mostly about virginity. I expanded a bit to include stories of online dating. I added feminist issues. I started writing book reviews. The central focus of my blog is still virginity, but writing about all these other topics provides context to my own virginity.

From when I was a debutante. Photographer information available upon request.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

A few bloggy notes

This is one of those boring, but necessary posts, like instruction manuals and class syllabi. 

1) A big BIENVENUE to all my visitors via Casey and Jessica. Enchanté! (Sorry, I lied about not speaking French to y'all).

2) Check out Casey's post featuring me and all the other lovely ladies who bought an ad on her blog this month! Includes a photo of me in France! Also, I'm participating in a giveaway, so y'all should totally get on that.

3) Check out Jessica's post featuring me and all the other lovely ladies who bought an ad on her blog this month! Includes a photo of Beau and Me at Rose's* wedding last weekend!

4) I'm sure everyone's heard about Google Reader peacing out because apparently Google forgot about their motto: "Don't be evil." As always, you can follow me on GFC (Google Friend Connect) or on Bloglovin (see both in the right column). Plus I regularly tweet links to my blog, so follow @belle_vierge for your daily dose of work complaints and sexy innuendo about Beau. (Just not at the same time). If you really want to follow me on instagram, I won't stop you, but I use it just a few times a month. I'm bellefille87.

5) I've been working on a real blog post that will answer the question y'all have been thinking: why did Belle change her blog's name? And what does "Finding My Virginity" even mean?! Stay tuned!

*Not her real name. As always.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Stand Up, Take Action: A Guest Post

Yesterday was International Women's Day, and March is Women's History Month (at least in the States). Women have come a long way in our quest for equality, and some might argue (incorrectly) that we're already there. As much progress as we've made, sexual violence against women, largely by men, is still a problem worldwide. American society has improved in taking rape seriously, but as a whole, we still dismiss sexual assault that falls short of rape. 

Every time I have opened up about my own sexual assaults, another friend confides in me about her own experiences. One of them has asked to share her story, on the condition of anonymity.

Just under two years ago, I was almost raped. I was 21, spending the summer in a foreign country. I was at a party with both Americans and foreigners. I was drunk, so I went upstairs to sleep it off. I’m not sure how long I was asleep, but the next thing I knew, I woke up with one of the Americans with on top of me, with his tongue shoved down my throat, his hands exploring my body. I was drunk and disoriented, but I managed to throw him off of me. I was so shocked that I just went back downstairs. I don’t (can’t) think about what may have happened had I not woken up at that exact moment. I didn’t say anything that night—though I did tell a few of my friends in confidence a few days later (they were sort of in disbelief; they didn’t know really how to think, or react). Not that I can blame them—I didn’t know how to react either. I didn’t report the incident because I didn’t want to start drama (how fucked up is that?) Perhaps what is even more fucked up is the could-have-been repercussions. What if I had been raped, and could not access Plan B (or the country’s equivalent?) I don’t even know if one can access it over the counter there! What if I hadn’t been able to access Plan B and I had gotten pregnant (well, I guess then it wouldn’t have been a legitimate rape, right Todd Akin)? What if I would not have been able to access an abortion? Thankfully, none of these things happened to me, but these are issues that women who are raped face. Every. Single. Day.

When I was 17, I was still a kissing-virgin.  I wanted my first kiss so badly. As a teenage girl you are taught that your worth is determined by your sex appeal (and seriously, what high school student has sex appeal--so disgusting). In addition, I had tons of body insecurities all throughout high school—I was very athletic and was frequently teased to the point of bullying about my “manliness” (and therefore lack of sex appeal). Anyway, as inexperienced as I was, I was desperate for any sort of action. The opportunity came along, and I found myself alone in a hot tub with a guy I had known since freshman year. It was sort of like a movie; we got closer and closer until our lips touched and our tongues intertwined. (And for the record, the kiss sucked—I have never experienced a more awkward, dispassionate form of affection). However, the next thing I knew, he had pulled me onto his lap, he was massaging my clitoris through my swimsuit, and he was feeling me up like I was some sort of stuffed doll. That was my first ever sexual encounter. I have never felt more violated (until I the incident abroad when I was 21), and though it happened six years ago, it still affects me.

I always knew I didn’t like what had happened between that guy and me in the hot tub when I was 17. What is even more sad is that I didn’t even know it was sexual assault until I took a Women’s Studies class my senior year of college (I will forever be grateful for that class). I thought I “deserved what I got” when I was 17. I had kissed him, so therefore I had led him on, so therefore he was allowed to do whatever he wanted to me (because society believes that men should not be held responsible for their sexual urges and actions). Because the kiss was consensual, he was therefore allowed to feel me up and fondle my vagina (again, you can’t hold men accountable). The clitoral stimulation, as badly as I didn’t want it happening, technically “turned me on.” Have you ever heard the question: “If a woman orgasms during rape (or sexual assault), then was it actually rape? She must have wanted it.” (In case you were wondering, I didn’t orgasm during this encounter, and the answer to that question is YES, women [and men] can, in fact, involuntarily orgasm during rape. It is STILL rape or sexual assault). Finally, I was wearing a bikini. You know that men cannot control their dicks (penises have their own brains) so, because I was dressed so “provocatively,” I was clearly “asking for it.” As for almost being raped when I was 21; well, let’s be honest: I was drunk, and therefore put myself in a vulnerable situation. If I didn’t want to be raped or sexually assaulted, I should have stayed home (because women belong in the home). I should not have been drinking (because bad things can happen to women who drink). Finally, I definitely should not have been wearing a dress in 100+ degree weather—I was clearly “asking for it” because I was dressed way too “provocatively.”

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Selling Out... for the Sake of My Art

Confession: I’m a sellout.

There, I said it. I’m a sellout. I participated in a giveaway, I bought an ad, and I paid for my blog design.

But you know what? I’m okay with it. My conscience and I chatted, and we agreed on a compromise.

Participating in giveaways is okay IF: I respect the blogger hosting, and I give away something related to virginity/books/feminism/Christianity. Like a cherry pendant, specially designed for How to Lose Your Virginity.

Buying an ad is okay IF: The ad isn’t crazy expensive, and I respect the blogger hosting. This is actually the first time Jessica has had sponsors,* which I think is pretty cool. Her audience is big, but not overwhelming. She’s a military wife in Italy, and y’all know how I feel about living abroad. But the primary reason I decided to test the advertising waters with Jessica is because of how long she’s been blogging. She’s been doing it since before blogging was cool. As someone who still maintains her livejournal, after about nine years, I totally respect someone who is, essentially, a hipster blogger.

Edit 03/05/13: Okay, fine, I admit it. I bought a second ad yesterday, with Casey of We Took the Road Less Traveled. She has the same cool "I live in Europe, thus Belle is totes jealous" vibe to her blog (also a military wife, but in Germany). Her ads were on sale! I can't resist a bargain! Have y'all seen how many kindle books I buy each month?! Anyway. I'll be "sponsoring" her blog for two months because I'm cool like that.

My Frog Prince

Last weekend, I was able to visit Beau for the first time since before Christmas. I basically did nothing all weekend, and it was heaven.

So Sunday morning, Beau and I were cuddling, and this happened...

Me: Did you just toot?
Beau: No...
Me: Did you just toot again?!
Beau: I think there's a frog outside.

At which point I couldn't stop laughing.

Tuesday night, Beau was traveling for work, and he spent the night with me. Again, we were cuddling.

Me: I can't believe you just tooted!
Beau: I think the frog followed me from home.

I have a feeling this will be our new favorite farting joke.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Belle is Back!

Open a bottle of the bubbly and pass around the cupcakes—my self-imposed hiatus is over!

I’ve been offline just under four weeks, but it feels like I’ve been away four months.

I needed the time to reflect, refocus, read, and just relax for awhile.

I reflected on the direction I want to take my blog and my writing, along with how I plan to get there. I refocused both my writing theme and my design elements. I read many many new blogs and finally decided on a few new ones to follow. I relaxed: I regularly went to bed by 11pm, I caught up on Pretty Little Liars (although now I’m behind again), I spent less time fighting on Jezebel, I enjoyed some spa & salon services, I continued the long but rewarding process of turning my apartment into a home, and I cuddled/enjoyed sexi time with Beau.
I usually watch it on Hulu.

I talked about life changes and blog changes in my first post of 2013, but I didn’t realize at the time how much I needed to step away from my blog in order to change it. Taking it offline for a few weeks has been a great chance to de-stress and tackle all my scattered ideas, one at a time, without worrying about updating regularly while I figured things out.

In summary form, these are all the exciting changes taking place at Finding My Virginity!


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