Saturday, 2 November 2013
The First Time: True Tales of Virginity Lost & Found by Kate Monro
I actually really enjoyed The First Time. I was impressed by the range of experiences that Monro was able to find and document; there is no heterosexual bias in the book and Monro goes out of her way to include experiences by disabled people as well as those who were coerced or even raped in situations of domestic violence. Although not all of these experiences made for happy reading, the book was strengthened by the diversity of the interviewees and it meant that it could offer a more panoramic portrait of what virginity loss is like.
On the whole, the social commentary was informative but it was nothing ground-breaking, and this made it the weaker element of the book. In particular, the chapter on women was full of information that anyone who has even a most basic knowledge of feminism would be familiar with. It was interesting to see how women's attitudes towards virginity had changed over time as their roles in society changed, but the commentary itself was nothing new. On the other hand, the chapter about asexuality was much more interesting, as this isn't something that is widely discussed in society. We have a tendency to think anyone who doesn't have sexual urges is very strange, so it was good to see Monro exposing and challenging that mindset. I also liked that Monro adopted a very open definition of virginity loss, acknowledging that it means different things to different people.
On the whole, The First Time is well worth reading for the interviews alone, as the commentary is a bit hit and miss. Anyone particularly interested in social history or gender issues will surely get a lot from this book.
Source: Personal copy (kindle)
First Published: 2011
Score: 3.5 out of 5