The Many Faces Of Jezebel: Confessions Of A Prude

At the age of fourteen*, I had given zero blowjobs. By fifteen, I hadn't kissed anyone. By twenty, I'd slept with approximately zero men. And at 28, I'm a serial monogamist with an intact bedpost.

I'm happy to talk personal history and mental health struggles, but I've never been keen on sexual exploits. Largely because there's so little to tell. I've always been embarrassed that I didn't have a cache of raunchy anecdotes and ribald mistakes to draw on, felt unworthy to contribute anything to the discussion. But lately it's seemed worth talking about - that, if we must use the term "Jezebel Lifestyle" whatever that is, it's not monolithic.

Despite sometimes feeling embarrassed or alienated, the funny thing is, I feel good about my choices. From a very young age I knew instinctively that I was not someone with the remove or resilience to sleep with a lot of people. I take things too seriously, I take them too hard, and even in those times when I've been single and considered changing my ways, I always knew, at the end of the day, that that wasn't me. Maybe there are times when I wish I had a more easygoing nature, could have more fun, but it's simply not who I am.

Here's the strange part: I've gotten flack for my staid choices, but not from my own generation - who, as a rule, genuinely does comprehend the notion of choice. It's women of my parents' generation who've been most critical; I remember one neighbor taking me aside to tell me earnestly that I was too young to settle down and should "enjoy being young." How dare she? Because she had fought for gains did not mean it was a personal affront if I chose not to live the free love dream. And what is this idea that the only way to "enjoy" youth and life is through variety - a strikingly narrow view and a didactic one at that. Once a professor grilled me on "why" I hadn't been with more men: was I religious? Repressed? From a conservative home? I explained that it simply felt right for me, which she greeted with knowing condescension.

I have a number of friends who are quietly, and not ideologically, circumspect in their love lives, with histories as tame or tamer than my own. Smart, modern women who for one reason or another, have chosen to support unfettered sexual liberation more in word than deed. And yet, to a woman, they embody the "Jezebel lifestyle" of independent, unorthodox thought and respect for choices, including sexual - a disconnect which some would apparently find "paradoxical." It's because I think there are a lot of us out there that I wanted to write this, although I'm flushed with embarrassment as I do. But is it because it's private - or because my choices feel inadequate? Because if it's the latter, I need to embrace my choices; as a Jezebel, it's the only way!

*Originally I had 12 for dramatic purposes, but perhaps too dramatic!