A guest post from Neelanjana Banerjee, Cherry Bomb Co-Editor and Laura Goode, Farah Goes Bang co-writer and producer, Cherry Bomb Co-Editor
Conservative obsession with female virginity, along with the persistence of abstinence-only sex education, has created a climate of inauthenticity around the experience of sexual initiation. We have so many euphemisms for the experience–popping the cherry, swiping the V-card, losing your religion, voting your hymen off the island–and very little actual candor about it. As a culture, we talk about a lot of issues that relate back to sex: pregnancy, abortion, birth control. Yet we rarely talk about the sex itself: how it’s done, how we figure out how it’s done, how it will make us feel during and after the act. (Didn’t all of us wonder if we’d look different afterwards, or if our moms would be able to tell?) What took us so long to get to this part of the discussion?
We’re unveiling our new collaborative blog, CHERRY BOMB, to start these important conversations. CHERRY BOMB was originally conceived as a companion project to the feature film FARAH GOES BANG, co-written by Meera Menon and Laura Goode. In the screenplay for the film, three young women, Farah, Roopa and K.J., go on the road to campaign for John Kerry in the months leading up to the 2004 presidential election. Also, Farah’s got a secret: she’s still a virgin in her mid-twenties, and she’s more than ready to swipe her V-card.
In honor of Farah’s virgin voyage, we offer CHERRY BOMB as a new, safe space to share stories of sexual initiation. CHERRY BOMB operates on a pay-or-play model: the blog is password-protected, and access is given, via password, only to people who either send a story of 1-1000 words to firstname.lastname@example.org, or donate $25 or more to our Kickstarter campaign. Stories can be completely anonymous, or not, and no comments will be enabled: the message our forum seeks to convey is that these are our stories, presented without commentary. New ones will be posted every Wednesday, because yes, Wednesday is Hump Day. Our first round of posts will go live for password holders tomorrow, Wednesday April 4th.
The tone of the site was partially inspired by PostSecret, which co-writer and producer Laura has read virtually every Sunday for the past ten years. Like PostSecret, we wanted to give people the space to tell their own secrets, only we’ve prioritized the secrets of losing one’s virginity—a community-based blog as a virginity confessional booth, if you will. We have already received an outpouring of diverse stories, nostalgic and casual; dangerous and traumatic; ridiculously awkward and heart-achingly sweet. What we’ve found is that people want to tell this story, especially because in this age of airbrushed vaginas and over-pornification, real, complicated stories stand out in their power.
The FARAH GOES BANG film itself, too, is one of those authentic and complex stories. Laura and Meera, friends and collaborators for ten years, envisioned the story as “a valentine to feminism, youth in revolt, and the passionate politics of idealism.” The film is Farah’s story, a travelogue of her long road to locating not just her desirability, but her desire. There’s a lot of hilarity and humiliation along the way, as well as a scene we suspect will be much-remembered that involves a squirt gun, a convenience store bathroom, and Farah’s determination to take control of her destiny.
Even though the story is set in a different time—where there was an easy target for our feminist rage named George W. Bush—with the state-by-state assault on abortion access, and the specter of Rush still looming over the media conversation, clearly we are witnessing another political climate in which women’s rights are under attack worldwide. In yet another election year in which a woman’s right to choose is being threatened, a movie about three women who hit the road to make the change they want to see—both in the world and in their own lives—is exactly the kind of story that needs to be told. And we’re so excited to tell it.
We are conducting a Kickstarter campaign to raise $75,000 or more in the month of April to fund production of the film in June and July 2012. Kickstarter is the perfect engine to jump-start our work on Farah Goes Bang, because its public forum will allow us not only to make the film itself, but also to create a community of supporters who share our mission to represent women in art as women see themselves in life. We are absolutely delighted to have raised over 25 percent of our goal in only the first three days of the campaign, and confident that our success so far is due to a wider hunger to hear candid conversations about all aspects, including but not limited to sex, of the female experience.
Though we’re hoping that April will bring a storm of new CHERRY BOMB submissions (send us your story! As Frasier said, “We’re listening.”), we’re hoping even more that CHERRY BOMB might become a force that grows beyond the film and the Kickstarter campaign. We knew CHERRY BOMB was a great idea when we realized how shocked we were that a forum and community like it didn’t previously exist. We’re eager to support and collaborate with the storytellers already engaging with this issue (check out these virginity tales on Rookie, and support this awesome virginity documentary) and even more eager to find the storytellers who might be wondering how it would feel to talk about it–for the very first time.