New review: The First Time

// 9 March 2012

Kate Monro set out to ask as wide a selection of people as possible – men and women, old and young, gay, straight, Christian and Muslim – about their personal experiences of virginity. Through her findings, Katherine Dunseath discovered that the definition of virginity, and virginity loss, isn’t as straightforward as she’d previously thought


Covering the most personal of topics, The First Time is a readable look at virginity loss through a series of personal stories. The real strength of the book is the way in which the personal stories help to illustrate the personalities behind them, underscoring the author’s argument that virginity, as well as its loss, can be something that contributes to and reflects our identities at once.

TFT isn’t intended as an academic book, but still uses interviews to discover people’s stories, forming an oral history built up around the topic of virginity. As someone who interviews people for work and study, I really appreciate how difficult researching this book may have been at times. Reading these accounts about first sexual experiences, some being given for the first time, is a real privilege. Hats off to Monro for managing to gather such intimate accounts!

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