No longer a child, not yet an adult. Such is adolescence, a world in-between. For some a challenging discovery, for most unchartered seas they’d rather not to have set sail on. Then there is sex – what, rather, how, to do with it?
The conservative patriarchal society from a very early age convinces a boy that he owns the world and this assumption influences the way both society and individuals perceive male sexuality. It is the man’s desire, and pleasure, that matter the most.
In Georgia, views about virginity, and its loss, are set in stone. The blessing of a man, that is the first intercourse, is relevant. Once a child enters puberty, older family members decide whether the young boy is old enough to lose his virginity. If so, they plan a visit to a sex worker - this strengthens the idea of asserting men’s masculinity and their desires. A visit to a brothel is a way to assert the men’s authority and control.
Most abide by the custom voluntarily; some are pressured to bend into the custom. More often than not, the experience falls short of the boys’ expectations.
Take Irakli – his entry into the “men’s world” through the door of a brothel was a traumatic one, which has affected his future sexual relationships. Giorgi was luckier – he walked into the brothel voluntarily and today he still thinks it was a good thing.
Giorgi was 16 when he visited a sex worker for the first time. It was also his last. Losing one's virginity to a sex worker is not ideal, he thinks, but his was a positive experience and it is the one way to escape sexual frustration.
“In my teen years I was on a football team and stayed in a boarding school in Saburtalo, a district in downtown Tbilisi [he is from Guria, a region in western Georgia]. My family sent me some money to buy football shoes. Every football player needs sneakers, I told them to send me 400 laris [$167 as of July 2017], which was more than I needed for the trainers, they cost less than 200 laris. I planned it in advance. I wanted to visit the brothel. I bought the sneakers for 150 laris and planned the day to avoid the training session to spend the remaining 250 laris. I had to get back at the boarding place by 10pm, for a late dinner. I got in the brothel at around 6pm. Since it was my first time, I did not even know how to get there. I must have been 16 going on 17, and the only thing I knew was that the cab drivers knew the places. I stopped the cab and asked him to take me to a brothel. He said I seemed a good guy and instead of going there, I could visit someone else. I told him that it was my first time and I would not want to feel insecure with a girl, and I would prefer to try it with a sex worker.
He took me to some place nearby Peikarta street, in the outskirt of town. The bar was full of girls, and I sat there by myself. Soon two girls came up to me and asked me why I was there. “I am here for sex,” I replied. I do not remember their names. We started discussing the price, and by the way, they offered me a discount. It was 150 laris for others, but I negotiated 80 laris. I needed that 20 laris in case I got hungry. I had to get back to the boarding place.
Interestingly, when I started taking off my clothes, I did not feel insecure at all. Meanwhile, the girl was telling me stories about herself, where was she from and what happened to her. I think we both were satisfied, and she asked me to pay them a visit some other time as well."
"Georgian girls don’t have the experience, they are not free, not independent, they cannot decide for their own sexual life [most girls do not have sex before getting married]. At least the majority. I reckon that was the main reason I turned to a sex worker. For me [as a man] it is easy, for them it is not.
I have heard that sometimes older people force young boys to lose their virginity to sex workers but in my case, no one made me do it. It was my decision.
You do not need to pressure a teenage boy because very often he also wants to have a sexual relationship. Younger kids, like 11 or 12-years-old do not even have a physical demand for sex, but after 16 everyone wants to have it and no pressure is needed. Well, unless one has a different sexual orientation.
One should have his first sexual experience before the age of 20, as scientists say one thinks about sex every five minutes, and one's mind cannot be occupied by these thoughts all the time.
You need to direct your attention to something else, you have to be free from those problems or whatever they are, to think about something else and keep going forward.
Well, I told my friends and we joked a lot about me losing the virginity, and it was fun. I slightly changed the story for them, to make it more enjoyable and it was fun for all of us. It was the first time anyway. Then I knew older, much-experienced guys, over 20 years old, already with a partners and I told them myself that I was not a virgin anymore. We laughed about it together.”
An older friend pushed Irakli to visit a sex worker. He was 12, still hardly aware of those hormones which were starting to use his body as a battlefield. The whole thing was awful.
“It was one week ahead of my thirteenth birthday when my friends and I decided to have a celebration. Sex was always an ongoing theme in our circle. My friends were a few years older than me, and they already had some sexual experience. I could not define it as bullying, but they were always making fun of me for being a virgin. I always felt like an outsider, but also I was looking forward to that experience. Money was not an issue, we were all from bourgeois families and so it was quickly settled."
"They took me to the place where they lost their virginity. I distinctly remember what happened, it was a day before my birthday – I recall the nervousness, the shivers, the curiosity. The place was in a basement, and it smelled of cheap soap. There were small rooms with the beds and one big room where the women were sitting. One of them was good looking compared to the other ones. My friend gestured for her to come. She came towards us, looked at me with a cold facial expression, then turned to my friend and asked if it was a joke. I felt so embarrassed, I realized in that very moment how young I was, and looked. Then she told me to follow her and I did.
We got in the room with annoying dim light. The girl started undressing, and I did not know what to do, so I did the same. The girl’s face was telling me to get on with it quick. I felt she did not want me because I was not doing something in the right way. When we finished I put my clothes back on quickly and rushed back to my friends. None of them were there. I cannot express what I felt deep inside, but I guess it was relief. My friends would not make fun of me anymore, as I lost my virginity and I could now fit their standards. I remember I felt happy when I left the place. Now when I think about it, it just looks like a terrible experience."
"It was a decisive moment in my life. In my teenage years I was sexually attracted to women, but then I realized that I felt uncomfortable with them and I decided to try and have relationships with men. I had this feeling that I could not please women because I was not good enough and lacked masculine traits. To keep it short, even now [he is 25] he feels estranged from women. "I can be friends with them but I cannot open up, and I never act like myself around them."
"In my late teenage years, I was sexist. I considered women as lifeless creatures, functional objects tasked with certain responsibilities. I treated them badly, and I regret it now. For the greater part, I blame this experience [and my circle of friends back then, including the way I lost my virginity] for thinking that way and also the influence of those friends I had at that time, who would also passively bully me and contribute to my low self-esteem. Maybe If I had different friends I would have been a different person."